The young(ish) Lakota looked on as her mare finally settled down and let her long legs fold under her, taking a position of rest. Chapawee herself crawled silently towards the dark horse and laid herself against her side, letting the gentle breathing that made her body rise and fall soothe her. Everything was quiet....peaceful. For now. She took another bite out of her apple and glanced at the others gathered on the opposite side. That's how it had always been – She didn't mind being somewhat of a pariah for five years. Kept people off her back. She was only still here because she promised her father that she would help them.
A sigh came from her as she motioned towards the apples in the bag. “There's dessert. Savor it.” She bit into the apple again, indeed savoring the sweet juice. If they could ever find some peaches that hadn't spoiled. Oh, Great Spirit! That would be perfect. She pulled out her hunting knife from its strap on her boot and gently cut off one half of her apple. “Niye komna ye.” She spoke aloud to the horse, causing Sutake to turn her head, being a bit more gentle with gobbling up the apple slice. Emi enjoyed the horse's presence. She was a playful creature and could always bring a smile to Emi's face. Not to mention she pretty much just ate grass and whatever flowers and wild vegetables were in her grazing area. Besides her low maintenance, she would be useful in the future for carrying more supplies.
“Atewaye...Ehapi k'un? Letanun welo...Ninwankabya, awaniglak' unk'un pi ca. Taku otehila wanicin ktelo. Ehapi k'un? Letanun welo...Ninwankabya, awaniglak' unk'un pi ca. Taku otehila wanicin ktelo. Ehapi k'un? Letanun welo...” She sang softly, honoring and speaking to her father's spirit, praying that he had passed on peacefully. She was glad that he didn't die from the diseased, but rather from a bad flu. He made no fuss over his passing and spent his last days sleeping. When he finally died, Emi spent an hour hoisting his body into a giant oak, using lots of rope, where she tied his body to the top and left after blessing his spirit and the tree. She was still mourning his loss, as it had been less than a week ago that he had passed. The Sioux would pray at night with her horse, sing a song, or chant by the fire whenever the others were sleeping.
Of course, the others thought that she was strange for doing so. She only wished that she could have the same when her time came. But, most likely, she'd be left where she fell or buried in a shallow grave. Hanhon tohatu kici pa iyukca. She chided herself mentally for such negative thoughts, reminding herself that she needed to remain positive. A sigh escaped her as she let her head lean back and her eyes fall upon the stars. “Atewaye used to tell me stories about the stars. The seven girls, the magpie's race...” She paused, her words wandering off as she simply stared.
“My favorite was the tale of Man Who Couldn't Be Scared.” She smiled softly before rolling onto her side.
“Now, there were four ghosts sitting together, talking, smoking ghost smoke, having a good time, as far as it's possible for ghosts to have a good time. One of them said: "I've heard of a young man nothing can scare. He's not afraid of us, so they say." The second ghost said: "I bet I could scare him." The third ghost said: "We must try to make him shiver and run and hide." The fourth ghost said: "Let's bet; let's make a wager. Whoever can scare him the most, wins." And they agreed to bet their ghost horses.
So this young man who was never afraid came walking along one night. The moon was shining. Suddenly in his path the first ghost materialized, taking the form of a skeleton.
"Hau, friend," said the ghost, clicking his teeth together, making a sound like a water drum.
"Hau, cousin," said the young man, "you're in my way. Get off the road and let me pass."
"Not until we have played the hoop-and-stick game. If you lose, I'll make you into a skeleton like me."
The young man laughed. He bent the skeleton into a big hoop, tying it with some grass. He took one of the skeleton's leg bones for his game stick and rolled the skeleton along, scoring again and again with the leg bone. "Well, I guess I won this game," said the young man. "How about some shinny ball?" The young man took the skeleton's skull and used the leg bone to drive it ahead of him like a ball.
"Ouch!" said the skull. "You're hurting me; you're giving me a headache."
"Well, you asked for it. Who proposed this game, you or me? You're a silly fellow." The young man kicked the skull aside and walked on.
Further on he met the second ghost also in the form of a skeleton, who jumped at him and grabbed him with bony hands.
"Let's dance, friend," the skeleton said.
"A very good idea, cousin ghost," said the young man. "What shall we use for a drum and drumstick? I know!" Taking the ghost's thighbone and skull, the young man danced and sang, beating on the skull with the bone.
"Stop, stop!" cried the skull. "This is no way to dance. You're hurting me; you're giving me a headache."
"You're lying, ghost," said the young man. "Ghosts can't feel pain."
"I don't know about other ghosts," said the skull, "but me, I'm hurting."
"For a ghost you're awfully sensitive," said the young man. "Really, I'm disappointed. There we were, having a good time, and you spoiled my fun with your whining. Groan somewhere else." The young man kicked the skull aside and scattered the rest of the bones all over.
"Now see what you've done," complained the ghost, "It will take me hours to get all my bones together. You're a bad man."
"Stop your whining," said the young man. "It gives you something to do."
Then he went on. Soon he came upon the third ghost, another skeleton. "This is getting monotonous," said the young man. "Are you the same as before? Did I meet you further back?"
"No," said the ghost. "Those were my cousins. They're soft. I'm tough. Let's wrestle. If I win, I'll make you into a skeleton like me."
"My friend," said the young man, "I don't feel like wrestling with you, I feel like sledding. There's enough snow on the hill for that. I should have buffalo ribs for it, but your rib cage will do." The young man took the ghost's rib cage and used it as a sled. "This is fun!" he said, whizzing down the hill.
"Stop, stop," cried the ghost's skull, "You're breaking my ribs!"
The young man said: "Friend, you look funny without a rib cage. You've grown so short. Here!" And he threw the ribs into a stream.
"Look what you've done! What can I do without my ribs? I need them."
"Jump in the water and dive for them," said the young man. "You look as if you need a bath. It'll do you good, and your woman will appreciate it."
"What do you mean? I am a woman!" said the ghost, insulted.
"With skeletons I can't tell, you pretty thing," he said, and walked on. Then he came upon the chief ghost, a skeleton riding a skeleton horse.
"I've come to kill you," said the skeleton.
The young man made faces at the ghost. He rolled his eyes; he showed his teeth; he gnashed them; he made weird noises. "I'm a ghost myself, a much more terrible ghost than you are," he said. The skeleton got scared and tried to turn his ghost horse, but the young man seized it by the bridle. "A horse is just what I want," he said. "I've walked enough. Get off!" He yanked the skeleton from it's mount and broke it into pieces. The skeleton was whimpering, but the young man mounted the skeleton horse and rode it into camp. Day was just breaking, and some women who were up early to get water saw him and screamed loudly. They ran away while the whole village was awakened by their shrieking. The people looked out of their tipis and became frightened when they saw him on the ghost horse.
As soon as the sun appeared, however, the skeleton vanished. The young man laughed. The story of his ride on the skeleton horse was told all through the camp. Later he joined a group of men and started to brag about putting the four skeleton ghosts to flight. People shook their heads, saying, "This young man is really brave. Nothing frightens him. He is the bravest man who ever lived." Just then a tiny spider was crawling up this young man's sleeve. When someone called his attention to it, he cried, "Eeeeech! Get this bug off me! Please, someone take it off, I can't stand spiders! Eeeeeeech!" He shivered, he writhed, he carried on. A little girl laughed and took the spider off him.” Emi supressed a giggle at the end of her story as the mare gave a few snorts and tossed her head back with a whinny. “I don't see you telling any stories.” She teased the horse, speaking to it as if speaking to a person, running her hand along Sutake's belly with more gentle cooing.