The Buffalo Wife

The people had prepared a buffalo fall, but the herds driven toward it always swerved to right or left, down the sloping hills, and across the valley to safety. So the people were in danger of starvation.

A young woman, early one morning fetching water, looked up and saw a herd on the cliff above the corral. Oh! she cried, if you would jump I would marry one of you. To her amazement the buffalo began coming over, and she was then terrified when a big bull, with one bound, cleared the corral and was approaching. Come! he said, and he took her arm. No, no! she cried, resisting.. You said, said he, you would marry one of us, and see! The corral is filled. Then he led her up over the bluff and away.

When the people had finished slaughtering, they missed the young woman, and when her father could not find her, he took his bow and quiver, climbed up the bluff, and went onto the prairie. When he had traveled far, he came to a wallow and saw a herd a little way off. Sitting down, tired and thinking what to do, he watched a magpie alight nearby. Ha! You beautiful bird! he said. Help me! As you fly about, should you see my daughter, tell her, Your father waits by the wallow . The bird winged away toward the herd, and, seeing the young woman, alighted nearby. Picking around, turning his head this way and that, he came very close and said, Your father is waiting by the wallow. Sh-h-h! she whispered; for the big bull was nearby, asleep. Tell him to wait. I will come. The magpie flew and reported to the man, Your daughter is with the herd and says to wait.

When the bull awoke, he said to his wife, Get me some water. She took from his head a horn and hurried to the wallow. Oh father! she said. Why did you come? You will be killed. I came, said he, to take my daughter home. Come! Let us hurry! No, no! she said. They would follow and kill us. Wait until he sleeps again. I'll be back. She filled the horn with water and returned to her husband. He took a sip. Ha, ha! said he. There is a person here. Her heart rose. He drank some more, got up, and bellowed. What a fearful sound! Up rose the bulls, raised their short tails, shook them, tossed their great heads, and bellowed back. Then all pawed the dirt, rushed about, and coming to the wallow, found that poor man, trampled him, hooked and again trampled him, until not even a small piece of him could be seen. His daughter cried, My father! Ah! said the bull; you mourn for your father. Now you see how it is with us. We have seen our mothers, fathers, and many of our relatives hurled over the rocky walls and killed for food for your people.. But I will have pity and give you one chance. If you can bring your father to life, you and he may return to your people.