Our parents gave us better names, 'Chet-woot, the bear, who swims well, and 'Lapool, the water fowl, whose home is on the waters, whose feet are webbed, and who floats even while he sleeps. No, our young brother, Ta-la-pus, the prairie wolf, was never meant to cross the great salt Straits."
"Yes, there would be someone," said the chief, his eyes snapping fiercely. "You would be here to help your mama." "I?" exclaimed the young man. "But how can I, when I shall be at the Potlatch? I go to all the Potlatches." "So much more reason that you stay home this once and care for your mama and baby sisters, and you shall stay. Lapool and little Ta-la-pus will go with me.
Keep that name honorable, little Ta-la-pus; it will be worth far more to you than many blankets or much of the white man's chicamin." The Scarlet Eye "I tell you that fellow is an Indian! You can't fool me! Look at the way he walks! He doesn't step; he pads like a panther!"
I only use it because I started to when you were the only baby I had, and it was your name, so I covered you with it at night." "And I want to cover myself with it now," he explained, "its head as my headdress, its front paws about my neck, its thick fur and tail trailing behind me as I dance." "So you are going to dance, my little Ta-la-pus?" she answered proudly.
As he stepped from the great canoe, Ta-la-pus thought he felt a strange thrill pass through the soles of his feet. They had touched the mainland of the vast continent of North America for the first time; his feet seemed to become sensitive, soft, furry, cushioned like those of a wild animal. Then, all at once, a strange inspiration seized him.
It is time the boy saw something of the other tribes. Yes, I'll take Lapool and Ta-la-pus, and there is no change to my word when it is once spoken." Chet-woot sat like one stunned, but an Indian son knows better than to argue with his father. But the great, dark eyes of little Ta-la-pus glowed like embers of fire, his young heart leaped joyously.
Then little Ta-la-pus would creep away to his lonely rock, trying to still the ache in his heart and forcing back the tears from his eyes. Prairie wolves must not cry like little girl babies and sometimes when his heart was sorest, a clear, dazzlingly bright day would dawn, and far, far off he could see the blur of the mainland coast, resting on the sea like an enormous island.
"One more dance, then we sleep," said the chief to the great circle of spectators. "This Tenas Tyee will do his best to amuse us." Then Ta-la-pus felt the chief's hand unclasp, and he realized that he was standing absolutely alone before a great crowd of strangers, and that every eye was upon him.
Across his chanting and his "padding" in the sand came murmurs from the crowd. Then at last, "Ow," "Ow," meaning "Our young brother." On and on went Ta-la-pus. The wolf feeling crept into his legs, his soft young feet, his clutching fingers, his wonderful dark eyes that now gleamed red and lustrous in the firelight.
"Wear it on your first journey into the larger world than this island, and do nothing in all your life that would make her regret, were she alive, to see it round your waist." So little Ta-la-pus set forth with his father and brother, well equipped for the great Potlatch, and the meeting of many from half a score of tribes.