At first my fears were even worse than the re- ality. The facts were these: A Canadian with whom my uncle had traded much had six daugh- ters and no son; and when he saw this handsome and intelligent little fellow, he at once offered to adopt him.
"I have no boy in my family," said he, "and I will deal with him as with a son. I am always in these regions trading; so you can see him two or three times in a year."
He further assured my uncle that the possession of the boy would greatly strengthen their friend- ship. The matter was finally agreed upon. At first Chatanna was unwilling, but as we were taught to follow the advice of our parents and guardians, he was obliged to yield.
This was a severe blow to me, and for a long time I could not be consoled. Uncheedah was fully in sympathy with my distress. She argued that the white man's education was not desirable for her boys; in fact, she urged her son so strongly to go back after Chatanna that he promised on his next visit to the post to bring him home again.
But the trader was a shrewd man. He immedi- ately moved to another part of the country; and I never saw my Chatanna, the companion of my childhood, again! We learned afterward that he grew up and was married; but one day he lost his way in a blizzard and was frozen to death.
My little cousin and I went to school together in later years; but she could not endure the con- finement of the school-room. Although appar- ently very happy, she suffered greatly from the change to an indoor life, as have many of our peo- ple, and died six months after our return to the United States.
IT will be no exaggeration to say that the life of the Indian hunter was a life of fascination. From the moment that he lost sight of his rude home in the midst of the forest, his untutored mind lost it- self in the myriad beauties and forces of nature. Yet he never forgot his personal danger from some lurking foe or savage beast, however absorbing was his passion for the chase. The Indian youth was a born hunter. Every motion, every step expressed an inborn dignity and, at the same time, a depth of native caution. His moccasined foot fell like the velvet paw of a cat--noiselessly; his glittering black eyes scanned every object that appeared within their view. Not a bird, not even a chipmunk, escaped their pierc- ing glance.
I was scarcely over three years old when I stood one morning just outside our buffalo-skin teepee, with my little bow and arrows in my hand, and gazed up among the trees. Suddenly the instinct to chase and kill seized me powerfully. Just then a bird flew over my head and then another caught my eye, as it balanced itself upon a swaying bough. Everything else was forgotten and in that moment I had taken my first step as a hunter.