THE ROVER OF THE PLAIN 199
and the head fell to the ground, dead and corrupt as it was before.
The girl entered the hut, where her husband and his mother were getting ready to go out.
'I want to go down to the lake, and bathe,' said she.
'But you could never walk so far,' answered they. 'You are so tired, as it is, that you can hardly stand!'
However, in spite of their warnings, the girl left the hut in the direction of the lake. Very soon she came back weeping, and sobbed out:
'I met some one in the village who lives in my country, and he told me that my mother is very, very ill, and if I do not go to her at once she will be dead before I arrive. I will return as soon as I can, and now farewell.' And she set forth in the direction of the mountains. But this story was not true; she knew nothing about her mother, only she wanted an excuse to go home and tell her family that their prophecies had come true, and that the buffalo was dead.
Balancing her basket on her head, she walked along, and directly she had left the village behind her she broke out into the song of the Rover of the Plain, and at last, at the end of the day, she came to the group of huts where her parents lived. Her friends all ran to meet her, and, weeping, she told them that the buffalo was dead.
This sad news spread like lightning through the country, and the people flocked from far and near to bewail the loss of the beast who had been their pride.
'If you only had listened to us,' they cried, 'he would be alive now. But you refused all the little girls we offered you, and would have nothing but the buffalo. And remember what the medicine-man said: "If the buffalo dies you die also! "'
So they bewailed their fate, one to the other, and for a while they did not perceive that the girl's husband was sitting in their midst, leaning his gun against a tree. Then one man, turning, beheld him. and bowed mockingly.