The Punishment of the Stingy and Other Indian Stories, by George Bird Grinnell, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 186 p. 187
p. 188 p. 189
THERE were two young men growing up in the Blackfoot camp. They were both good warriors and were making great names for themselves. One was lucky in taking horses. His name was Shield Quiver. The other was fortunate in killing enemies when he went to war. He was called Bearhead. When either of the two went to war, he always had a big party to follow him. Bearhead was jealous of Shield Quiver, because he always brought in horses.
One time the Blackfeet were camped at the Bear Paw Mountains, when Shield Quiver made up his mind that he would go off on the war-path. When he said that he was going, a large party intended to go with him.
Before he started the chief of the camp sent for him to come to his lodge, saying that he wished to speak with him. When Shield Quiver
had come to the lodge the chief said: "Here, my young man, now that you are going to war, take my daughter with you, for you are the man that ought to have her. But you will have to be on your guard against Bearhead. He wants my daughter, and for a long time has been trying to get her, but I cannot let him have her. He has a bad disposition. He has had many wives, but, after living with them for a short time, he has got angry with them and killed them. I am afraid that if I give him my daughter he might kill her."
Shield Quiver thought for a little while, and then said: "Very well; I will go to war, and I will take your daughter with me, but if I go with a woman I cannot let men go with me. I shall have to go alone."
The chief said: "I cannot say anything about that. You will do what you think best. I cannot advise you."
So Shield Quiver took the chief's daughter for his wife. He said to his followers: "Now I am going to war, but you men cannot come with me. I shall be gone two moons, and then I will come back. I am going alone."
He started with his young wife, and they
went towards the Snake Country. They travelled for a good many days, until they came to a range of mountains and crossed it. Then they went on towards the head waters of a stream that they could see a long way off. When they reached this stream they found that the Snakes had been camped there, and had moved away that day. The fires were still burning in the camp.
When Shield Quiver found that the Snakes had only just moved from there, he said to his wife: "Here, let us get back in the brush. These people are not far from here. They may see us. We must hide ourselves." They went back into the brush and hid.
While they were waiting in the brush a dark cloud came up in the west, and it looked as if they were going to have a storm. Shield Quiver said to his wife: "While we have to wait, I will fix up a little shelter of brush here, so that we may keep dry; but to-night we will go to the camp and take horses."
"Very well," said his wife, "while you are fixing the place, I will go around the point and into the old camp and will see if I can find anything there that has been left behind."
[paragraph continues] For often something may be forgotten and left in the camp.
That day the Snakes had left this camp, and had moved over to another creek. The head chief of the Snakes had but one son, a fine-looking young manthe handsomest in all the Snake camp. That morning, before they moved, he had painted himself and had dressed himself finely, and after he had finished he handed his mother his sack of paints to pack. While his mother was packing, she put down the paints in a little patch of brush, near the lodge, and then went away and forgot them.
When the young man came into camp that evening he said to his mother, "Mother, where are my paints?" Then his mother remembered that she had left them in the camp they had just come from. She said, "Oh, my son, I forgot the sack, and left it in a little patch of brush just back of where the lodge stood." The young man caught up a horse and went back to get it that same evening.
When he rode into the old camp, and came to where the lodge had been, he saw there on her knees a woman with an elk robe over her head, and in her hands his paints, which she
was looking at. When he rode up to her, and when she looked up at him, he saw that she was very pretty, and he liked her as soon as he looked at her; and she, when she saw him, so handsome and finely dressed and painted, liked him.
He made signs to her, saying, "Who are you, and what tribe do you belong to?" She signed back to him that she was a Blackfoot. Then she asked him, "Who and what are you?" He answered, "A Snake." He asked her by signs, "Where is the party that you are with?" She said, "There are only two of us." He said, "Come, get on my horse behind me here, and let us go to my camp." She answered: "No, there are some things that I have here that I want to get. Then I will go with you." Then she thought a little and said: "The only other person here is my husband. Why do you not kill him? I will help you." The Snake said: "It is good. I will do it." The girl said to him: "I will go to him, and do you creep through the brush, and as soon as I see you I will throw my robe around him and hold him, and you can kill him with your lance."
She went back to the camping-place, and when she got there her husband was stooping down hobbling the horses. The Snake was right behind her, creeping through the brush. She walked up to her husband and threw herself down over him, and kissed him while he was hobbling the horses. He looked up at her and laughed. He thought she was only playing with him. In a minute he heard the footsteps of some one coming, running, and he said, "Look out! here comes somebody," and he tried to throw her off, but he could not. He raised himself up while she clung to him, and the Snake made a pass at him with the lance, but he was afraid of killing the woman, and he missed the man, and Shield Quiver caught hold of the lance. He kept calling to his wife: "Let go of me. This man is trying to kill me. He will kill us both. Let us try to save ourselves."
Shield Quiver and the Snake wrestled and tugged backward and forward to see who should get the lance. They were both strong men, and at length the shaft broke, and Shield Quiver held the piece on which was the head. Then he jumped back and shook off his wife, and
rushed at the Snake and thrust the lance into his breast, and so killed him with his own lance.
Then he turned to his wife and said: "Now, woman, I have killed this man that you have tried to help, and I would like to have you tell me what is the reason that you acted as you did, and tried to help him to kill me."
Then the woman explained her reasons, and said: "When I left you I went into the camp and found this sack of paint, and while I was looking at it he came up and asked me to go to his camp with him, and I liked him, and thought that I would go with him. So we laid a plan to kill you before we went to camp."
Shield Quiver said to her: "Now, woman, listen. Bearhead wanted you. He has had a good many women, and he has killed all that he had. Through pity I took you. I never expected to take a wife. I will not do anything to you for what you have done to me, but will take good care of you and will give you back to your father."
He scalped the Snake and took everything that he had. The woman was crying hard. He asked her what she was crying about, and she
answered: "I am crying for my lover, who is dead." He said: "Saddle up your horse. We will go home."
They started, and after many days travel reached the Blackfoot camp. It was in the night. The next morning Shield Quiver said to his wife: "Put on your best clothing. I told you I was going to give you back to your father, and I am going to take you there this morning. So get ready to go."
The woman put on her best clothes, and painted herself up nicely, and they started off to the old chief's lodge. The old chief was glad to see his son-in-law and his daughter back again. No one knew that Shield Quiver had killed a Snake. He had not spoken of it to any one. After they had sat down the young man reached down into his belt and drew out the scalp and said: "Here, old man, here is all I have done on this journey. I have taken no horses, but I have killed a Snake. I have killed your daughter's lover. It is only by the help and the power of the Sun that you see me here to-day. Your daughter tried to kill me on this trip, while I was fighting with this Snake Indian. I am afraid to live with her,
and have brought her back to you again. This is the best I can do, to give you this scalp and your daughter back again." When Shield Quiver had said this he got up and walked out of the lodge, and went back to his own home. The old man said nothing.
The girl had two brothers, and both were sitting in the lodge while Shield Quiver was speaking; and when they had heard the story told, and had thought about it, they got up, and each took hold of one of the girl's arms, and they led her out of the lodge. Then they said to her: "You cannot live here with us. You had better go and join your dead Snake lover."
So they killed her there.