Tales and Trails of Wakarusa,  by A. M. Harvey

An Indian Christmas
(A legend of the camp by the spring)

     ON Christmas night the Indian camp was a noisy place. The fires were burning brightly in every tepee, and shouts and laughter told of the good time that was being had by everyone as a part of the celebration that the old French priest had taught them to have.

     Outside the wind was blowing cold, with skiffs of snow. A strange boy wandered into the camp. He stopped at the tent of the chief and asked that he be admitted and given food and allowed to get warm. The chief drove him away. He went to the tent of Shining Star and tried to be admitted, but Shining Star grunted, and his boys drove him away with whips. He then went to many of the tents, including those of Eagle Eye and Black Feather, but none would receive him, and at one they set a dog upon him. His feet were bare, and tears were frozen on his cheeks.

     He was about to leave the camp, when he noticed a small tepee made of bearskin off by itself. He walked slowly to it, and quietly peeped in. Inside he saw the deformed Indian, who was known everywhere by the name of Broken Back. His squaw sat near him, preparing a scanty meal for them and their children. The children were playing on the ground, but were watching their mother closely, for they were hungry. The fire was low, and the boy started to turn away, and broke a twig that lay on the ground.

     Broken Back ran out and stopped him as he was about to turn away.

     "What do you want?" he said.

     The boy commenced to cry.

     "I am so cold and hungry," he said, "and I have been to all the tents, and they will not let me in."

     Then Broken Back took him by the hand and led him into the tent, and they divided the food with him, and built up the fire until he became warm and happy. They urged him to stay all night and until the storm was over.

     So he sat on the ground near the fire and talked and played with the children until it was time to go to sleep.

     Then he stood up, and they all noticed that he was tall, and as they looked they saw that he was a man instead of a boy. His clothes were good, and over his shoulder hung a beautiful blanket, and over his head was a bonnet with feathers of strange birds upon it. As they looked, he reached out his hand and said:

     "Broken Back, you have been good to a poor, cold and hungry boy. You and all of yours shall have plenty."

     And Broken Back stood up; and he was deformed no more, but was large and strong and well, and his squaw stood by his side, and both were dressed in the best of Indian clothes. The children jumped about with joy, as they noticed that they were at once supplied with many things that they had always wanted.

     "Broken Back," he said, "you shall be chief of your tribe. And all of your people shall love and respect and honor you. And your name shall be Broken Back no longer, but shall be Holy Mountain."

     And as they talked, all of the Indians of the tribe came marching about his tent shouting in gladness, "Great is Holy Mountain, our chief, forever."

     As they shouted, he disappeared, and they saw him no more.

     The next day the good priest came to the camp, and they told him what had happened, and he said, "It was Jesus."

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