A brief episode from:

The Rising Fawn and Noccalula

by David M. Raley

A shout was heard from the Northeast. It was Rising Fawn and the rest of the hunters coming toward camp. They had proof that they too had a great day. The ponies were laden with game. Some of the hunters were walking and leading their mounts which were literally staggering under their loads. Three Leg Turkle had seen a large bear before it had seen him. It was too heavy to load on his pony. The time it had taken him to make a travois was part of the reason for the group cutting it so close to dark, the other part was the size of the load itself. The travois was the closest thing to machinery that they had developed. He cut two slender poles which he lashed to the sides of the pony. The animal couldn't move the load with the poles joined over his back and the dragging ends spread. Now the rigging was reversed and the trailing ends were fastened together.

With great effort the hunter again loaded the huge carcass and headed for his rendezvous point. He had to re- secure the load more than once and finally arrived, just as the rest of the hunters began to think some harm had befallen him. A larger, fresher horse was put to the load and the travois was made better with cross ties of rope.

The cargo was quickly unloaded and the ponies were taken where they could get in a little good grazing before it became necessary to bring them behind the guard fires for the night. Cooking fires were getting down to coals. And there was that heavy old bear. It would do no good to take him home, the women would want to eat him right away instead of curing him. The women were spoiled and would make life miserable until they had their way with their favorite dish. And, by the way, wasn't the first bear supposed to belong to the women, and hadn't it fallen into a ravine? Surely the Great Spirit didn't intend for the women to have bear right now. The creature was so heavy that it wasn't fair to make a pony drag it that far. If they divided it, it would surely spoil. In all fairness to their four footed partners they really ought to eat him here. The braves would, of course, just as soon have venison, several of them said so. Shoot Quick wondered about this conversation since he loved bear above all other meat, and until now thought the others did also. Somehow he managed not to say anything and soon the odor of broiling bruin was wafted away on the evening breeze to the sensitive nostrils of the wolf on the opposite bank. His mournful wail now harshly broke the stillness of the closing day. He wanted some too.


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