"Perhaps you wonder, Ohiyesa, why I did not use my gun in the beginning; but I had learned that if I once missed my aim with it, I had no second chance. I have told of this particular ad- venture, because it was an unusual experience to see so many different animals in one night. I have often been in similar places, and killed one or two. Once a common black bear stole a whole deer from me without waking me. But all this life is fast disappearing, and the world is becoming different."
IT was one of the superstitions of the Santee Sioux to treat disease from the standpoint of some ani- mal or inanimate thing. That person who, according to their belief, had been commissioned to become a medicine man or a war chief, must not disobey the bear or other creature or thing which gave him his commission. If he ever ventured to do so, the offender must pay for his insubor- dination with his life, or that of his own child or dearest friend. It was supposed to be necessary that the supernatural orders be carried into effect at a particular age and a certain season of the year. Occasionally a very young man, who ex- cused himself on the ground of youth and mod- esty, might be forgiven.
One of my intimate friends had been a sufferer from what, I suppose, must have been consump- tion. He, like myself, had a grandmother in whom he had unlimited faith. But she was a very ambitious and pretentious woman. Among her many claims was that of being a great "medicine woman," and many were deceived by it; but really she was a fraud, for she did not give any medicine, but "conjured" the sick exclusively.
At this time my little friend was fast losing ground, in spite of his grandmother's great preten- sions. At last I hinted to him that my grand- mother was a herbalist, and a skilful one. But he hinted back to me that 'most any old woman who could dig roots could be a herbalist, and that with- out a supernatural commission there was no power that could cope with disease. I defended my ideal on the ground that there are supernatural powers in the herbs themselves; hence those who under- stand them have these powers at their command.
"But," insisted my friend, "one must get his knowledge from the Great Mystery!"
This completely silenced my argument, but did not shake my faith in my grandmother's ability.
Redhorn was a good boy, and I loved him. I visited him often, and found him growing weaker day by day.
"Ohiyesa," he said to me one day, "my grand- mother has discovered the cause of my sickness."