Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
Good Running had raised Long Arrow from an outcast, mangy little orphan into a fine young warrior. Now he bid his grandson farewell and watched the young man leave to begin a dangerous journey. As Long Arrow began his mission to find the Elk Dog, the old chief watched, then returned to his lodge to pray for his grandson.
The journey took Long Arrow south. After four days he saw a small pond. A man was there waiting for the young warrior and asked what he wanted. Long Arrow told him he came to find the Elk Dog. The strange man, who was the spirit of the pond, said he could not help and sent Long Arrow on his way to a bigger lake to meet one of his uncles, then the man returned to the bottom of the pond. For a little over two weeks, Long Arrow traveled with his travois and dog.
He came to the bigger lake that the Pond Spirit has sent him to. He met the tall spirit of the lake, who told him that he could not help. He sent Long Arrow on south for another two week journey, to meet the grandfather of the Great Mystery Lake. Long Arrow traveled far, barely resting at all. Exhausted and weak, he finally came to the biggest lake he had ever seen. He collapsed in a meadow of wildflowers and slept.
When Long Arrow awoke, he blinked in the very bright sunshine. A beautiful spirit boy stood not far from him. He told Long Arrow that he and his grandfather had been expecting him, and said "Follow me."
Long Arrow told his dog to stay, took his medicine, shield and bow, then followed Spirit Boy.
Spirit Boy pointed to the lake and said his grandfather lived down there, then turned himself into a kingfisher and dove to the bottom. Long Arrow thought he would surely drown if he followed. Then he knew this was part of his mission, and must follow, so he dove in. He was surprised to learn he did not drown, but stayed dry and could breath. When he reached the bottom he slid down, down, further to the center, where he saw a flat valley. There was a large tipi in the center of the valley.
Spirit Boy welcomed Long Arrow and invited him inside to meet the grandfather. The grandfather sat in his place of honor. He wore a long black robe and had long white hair. He was very powerful in spirit. The grandmother brought much food to Long Arrow. After Long Arrow ate, the Spirit Grandfather and he smoked a pipe and prayed. Spirit Grandfather said that only Long Arrow, of all the warriors who came on the same mission, had the courage and bravery to plunge into the lake and come to the center. Because of this, the grandfather said a wonderful gift will be given to Long Arrow. Then the grandfather sent him outside with Spirit Boy, who took him to a meadow where there were many strange animals. They were beautiful, with gentle eyes and had long manes, soft and silky. Long Arrow then realized he was looking at the Elk Dogs!
Spirit Boy showed Long Arrow how to ride the Elk Dogs. Long Arrow observed closely then rode one just as Spirit Boy had done. Long Arrow stayed at the lodge of Spirit Grandfather and learned how to ride the powerful and fiery-spirited shiny black Elk Dog as expertly as Spirit Boy did. Spirit Boy told Long Arrow that he would receive a herd of the Elk Dogs, but, must do some important things first.
He reminded Long Arrow that Spirit Grandfather wore a long robe that hid his feet. "You must try to see Grandfather's feet, for if you do, he will not be able to refuse you anything." Then he said that Long Arrow must ask for three things -- the quilted belt and the robe that grandfather wore, and also a herd of the Elk Dogs.
For the next few days, Long Arrow tried, but did not see the grandfather's feet. Then on the fourth morning, as Spirit Grandfather was leaving the tipi, his robe caught on a flap of the entrance and Long Arrow saw grandfather's feet -- they were hoofs, just like the Elk Dogs feet. Grandfather heard the surprised yelp of Long Arrow and looked back, seeing Long Arrow staring at his feet.
Grandfather said that Long Arrow had achieved his mission goal and told him to ask for anything he wanted. Long Arrow said he wanted the black robe, the quilted belt of rainbow colors and a herd of Elk Dogs. The grandfather agreed and told Long Arrow that the robe and belt had Elk Dog magic in them. He said that if Long Arrow always wore the robe when trying to catch Elk Dogs, he will succeed, and at night, if he listened to the belt, he would hear the Elk Dog dance song and prayers. Then Grandfather also gave Long Arrow a rope made from the hair of a white buffalo bull. This rope would never fail to catch whatever Elk Dog he wanted.
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Please click on the related link below to read the final chapter of this story, titled Long Arrow Returns Home With Elk Dogs. Thank you for reading this story.