8.MOOWIS

In a certain tribe in the far West there was a maiden who was very beautiful. Many warriors loved her, but she would listen to none of them.

In the same tribe there was a young man who was called Beau-man, because he was so beautifully dressed. He was very handsome too, and so when he fell in love with the maiden, he felt sure she would love him also; but when he came to see her, she would not listen, and when he tried to make her hear, she made a dismissive motion with her hand which showed contempt. This made him feel very mean. All his friends laughed at him, and this made him so very angry that he went away to his tent and lay down. He remained without eating anything for many weeks. His parents and friends all coaxed him to get up, but he would not.

At length the time came for the tribe to move camp, as this was just a hunting trip, and when the summer arrived they always went back to the village. They asked Beau-man to come with them, but still he would not move. So they lifted the tent, and left him lying there in his bed all alone.

The next day he got up, for he had thought of a splendid plan to have revenge on the maiden. He knew a spirit who would help him when asked.

He began to gather all the bits of colored cloth, old beads, and feathers that were lying on the ground where the camp had been. Most of them were very dirty, and some were wet with snow. But he put them all in one pile, and then with the help of the spirit, he made them all look clean. Then he made beaded moccasins from some of the scraps; leggings and a coat from some others. At last a frontlet with feathers sticking in it for the head. He gathered up snow and dirt, and filled the moccasins and the rest of the suit with it. The spirit changed the whole thing into a man,—a fine-looking warrior, to whom was given the name Moowis. The Beau-man at once took him to the village where the maiden lived.

Moowis was kindly received by the chief, who invited him into his lodge. He was finely dressed, and held himself so proudly that the maiden fell in love with him. The chief asked him to sit near the fire. But he could not sit there very long, as the heat began to melt the snow, and soon he would have been a pile of rags. He put a boy between himself and the fire, and kept moving away until he was near the door.

Then the chief came and asked him to sit in the bridegroom’s chair. This meant that he was married to the maiden. When it became evening, Moowis said he must go now, as he had a long journey to make. The maiden begged to go with him, but he told her she could not. Still she coaxed so hard that he asked the Beau-man what he should do. “Let her go with you,” he answered; “it will serve her right.”

In a little while they set out. Moowis walked so fast that the maiden had to run to keep up, and in a short time she was very tired. Still he walked on so swiftly that he was soon far ahead. They walked all night, and when the sun rose the bridegroom was almost out of sight. As the day grew warm, his snow began to melt, and as it did so, his fine clothes began to turn back into rags. Then they began to fall off. First the maiden found his mittens, next his moccasins, then she picked up his coat. She walked on calling, “Moowis, where are you?” But all she could find was bits of rags, beads, and feathers scattered over the fields. She wandered on from one village to another calling, “Moowis, Moowis, oh, Moowis, where have you gone?”

The village maidens turned her cry into a song, and used to chant it as she passed. She never saw anything more of him, although she wandered on for years, always calling, “Moowis.”