THE BOY AND THE WOLVES, OR THE BROKEN PROMISE !
O NCE upon a time an Indian hunter built himself a house in the middle of a great forest, far away from all his tribe ; for his heart was gentle and kind, and he was weary of the treachery and cruel deeds of those who had been his friends. So he left them, and took his wife and three children, and they journeyed on until they found a spot near to a clear stream, where they began to cut down trees, and to make ready their wigwam. For many years they lived peacefully and happily in this sheltered place, never leaving it except to hunt the wild animals, which served them both for food and clothes. At last, however, the strong man felt sick, and before long he knew he must die.
So he gathered his family round him, and said his last words to them. ' You, my wife, the companion of my days, will follow me ere many moons have waned to the island of the blest. But for you, O my children, whose lives are but newly begun, the wickedness, unkindness, and ingratitude from which I fled are before you. Yet I shall go hence in peace, my children, if you will promise always to love each other, and never to forsake your youngest brother.'
' Never !' they replied, holding out their hands. And the hunter died content.
Scarcely eight moons had passed when, just as he had said, the wife went forth, and followed her husband ; but before leaving her children she bade the two elder ones think of their promise never to forsake the younger, for he was a child, and weak. And while the snow lay thick upon the ground, they tended him and cherished him; but when the earth showed green again, the heart of the young man stirred within him, and lie longed to see the wigwams of the village where his father's youth was spent.
1 A North American Indian story.