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The Old Elk Mama [Red Folk And Wild Folk] "See, the geese have returned; they are" flying to the North, and we shall soon have spr...

The Old Elk Mama

The Old Elk Mama [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

The Old Elk Mama [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

"See, the geese have returned; they are" flying to the North, and we shall soon have spring," said an Indian father to his wife. "To-morrow we will take our little ones and start for the mountains. We are very poor now, and we must lay in a good supply of furs, skins and dried meat before the summer is over again. "

Next day the mother took her tiny little new baby on her back, and the papa took his little girl, who was five years old, and off they started for the mountains.

The Old Elk Mama [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

They travelled many, many days, and at last the father said they would stop and camp. So the mother put up the tepee while the papa went off to hunt.

He was a very good hunter, and it was not very long before the papa had a nice pile of warm furs and the mama had quite a little dried meat put away for the winter supply.

One morning the Indian mama put her baby in the little girl's arms and said: “You must take good care of your little brother, for I am going over the river with your father to get some berries. I will be back soon." She got into the canoe, and the papa paddled out into the river.  

 They were almost in the middle of the stream when a great storm suddenly broke right over them, and the wind lashed the water into fury. Soon the canoe was tipped over, and the wind blew it away. The father and mother could not save themselves and were drowned.

When night came on and the baby's mama did not return he began to cry. The sister knew her baby brother was hungry, but she did not know what to give him to eat, because he had no teeth. He cried harder and harder, and at last the little sister gave him some dried meat. Though he could not eat it, he liked the taste of the meat and stopped crying for a little while.

Soon the baby grew so hungry that he cried harder and harder, and the sister cried with him because she felt so sorry for her little brother and did not know how to help him.

Mother Elk happened to hear the child cry. She had just lost her little baby elk, and she said: “Why is that poor baby crying?”

“My mother went off this morning," answered the child, " and the little baby is very hungry, I do not know what to give him to eat, for he has no teeth."

“I have plenty of milk," said Mother Elk; “bring the child to me, and I will feed him."

 The little girl took the baby to Mother Elk, and when the child had taken all the milk he wanted, he stopped crying and was happy again. The older child ate the dried meat her mother had left behind.

When the baby had satisfied its hunger, Mother Elk went off into the forests to feed; but she always returned to give the baby milk. Soon the little girl had eaten all the meat her mother had left behind, and she did not know how to get more, for she was herself only a baby. When Mother Elk came to feed the baby, she said: "I have nothing more to eat, will you tell me where I can find food?”

"You may drink some of my milk, I have plenty for you both; then you will not be hungry.”

The child thanked her and it was not long before Mother Elk learned to love the two children very dearly, and did not like to be separated from them.

When she went to the forests to feed, she took the babies with her, and, when night came on, she took them back to the lodge and slept outside, for she was too big to go in.

The little girl would wrap herself and the baby; in warm furs, and then lie as close to him as possible, so that they should be warm. They were not afraid of the dark—why should they be? Nobody would want to hurt two poor little children, and then, their elk mother was lying right outside of the tepee.

The Old Elk Mama [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

When the cold winter came the children could not go out with Mother Elk, but had to stay in the tepee and keep warm under the furs, while the Elk mother went to eat whatever herbs or grasses she could find.  

It happened that some Indian hunters came over the mountain just as the sun was getting up one morning. They could see far down in the valley a tepee. Outside of the tepee were the sticks set in the ground, and from them was hanging an old kettle. No smoke was coming out of the smoke-hole in the tepee, and the snow was piled way up over the kettle.

 The hunters went down to see what the trouble might be. Had all the Indians been killed? There were only elk-tracks around the lodge, and they saw where the elk had been sleeping. The kettle had been hanging for a long time, and there were no signs of life.

They lifted the fly and walked in. There, lying on the ground, just as close together as they could get, were two little pappooses, almost hidden by their covering of furs. The children were sleeping soundly and looked as happy and comfortable as if they were sleeping at their own home in the Indian village.

Mother Elk just came back at that moment and called the children. They went out and had their breakfast; then the hunters picked them up and carried them away. Mother Elk watched them until she could see them no more, and she was sad again, for she had lost two more babies—at least she felt so, for she had been the mother of the children so long.

The men carried the children back to the village and gave them to their grandmother to bring up. When the baby boy grew to be a big man they called him "Elk" and made him chief of the elk clan, because, for a little while, he had been the baby of a Mama Elk. 

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