"This is a tale the old men tell
around the tepee fire, when the stars are blown clean on a windy
night, and the coyotes are howling on the Cree Jump.
And when, sometimes, over the wind, comes clearly the sound of
running horses, their hearers move a little closer to one
another and pile more wood on the fire."
This is a story from a long time ago, say the Old Ones. What the
man's name was, no one knows now, and so they call him "The
Long ago, The Traveler was a wealthy chief. A warrior in his
young days, he had taken many scalps, many horses, many another
trophy of value. And he had increased his possessions by hard
dealings with those less fortunate, and by gambling with younger
men who were no match for his cunning.
He was not loved by his fellow
tribesmen -- though they admired his bravery -- for in times of
hardship, when other chiefs shared freely whatever they had, he
drove hard bargains, and generally prospered from the ills of
others. His wives he had abused till their parents took them
away, his children hated him, and he had no love for them.
One morning, when he went to the little valley in which his horses were
kept, he found in the herd an ugly white stallion. He was old, with crooked
legs, and a matted coat, thin, and tired looking.
The Traveler flew into a rage. He took his rawhide rope, and caught the poor
old horse. Then, with a club, he beat him unmercifully. When the animal fell
to the ground, stunned, The Traveler broke his legs with the club, and left
him to die. He returned to his lodge, feeling not the slightest remorse for
Later, deciding he might as well have the hide of the old horse, he returned
to the place where he had left him. But, to his surprise, the white stallion
was gone. That night, as The Traveler slept, he had a dream. The white
stallion appeared to him, and slowly turned into a beautiful horse, shining
white, with long mane and tail - a horse more lovely than any The Traveler
had ever seen.
Then the Stallion spoke: "If you had treated me kindly," the stallion said,
"I would have brought you more horses. You were cruel to me, so I shall take
away the horses you have!"
When The Traveler awoke, he found his horses were gone. All that day, he
walked and searched, but when at nightfall he fell asleep exhausted, he had
found no trace of them. In his dreams, the White Stallion came again, and
said, "Do you wish to find your horses? They are north, by a lake. You will
sleep twice, before you come to it."
As soon as he awakened in the morning, The Traveler hastened northward. Two
days' journey, and when he came to the lake there were no horses.
night, the Ghost Stallion came again. "Do you wish to find your horses?" he
said. "They are east, in some hills. There will be two sleeps before you
came to the place.' When the sun had gone down on the third day, The
Traveler had searched the hills, but had found no horses. And so it went
night after night the Stallion came to The Traveler, directing him to some
distant spot, but he never found his horses. He grew thin, and foot sore.
Sometimes he got a horse from some friendly camp, sometimes he stole one, in
the night. But always, before morning, would come a loud drumming of hoofs,
the Ghost Stallion and his band would gallop by, and the horse of The
Traveler would break its picket, and go with them.
And never again did he have a horse; never again did he see his own lodge.
And he wanders, even to this day, the old men say, still searching for his
lost horses. Sometimes, they say, on a windy autumn night when the stars
shine very clearly, and over on the Cree Jump the coyotes howl, above the
wind you may hear a rush of running horses, and the stumbling footsteps of
an old man. And, if you are very unlucky, you may see the Stallion and his
band--and The Traveller, still pursuing them, still trying to get back his
~Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of