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THE MOTHER'S VOW
heard her voice ring out loud and clear in a song,— a song, I doubted not, that carried a message to the mighty storm, in which to her the gods were present. Many years have passed since I witnessed this scene and learned the story of the woman's song. She is now at rest, and let us hope her lifelong sorrow may have turned to joy.
In the early part of the century a Dakota woman fasted and prayed, and Thunder came to her in her vision. To the god she promised to give her firstborn child. When she became a mother, she forgot in her joy that the life of her little one did not belong to her; nor did she recall her fateful vow until one bright spring day, when the clouds gathered and she heard the roll of the thunder, — a sound which summoned all persons consecrated to this god to bring their offerings and to pay their vows. Then she remembered what she had promised; but her heart forbade her to lay the infant, which was smiling in her arms, upon the cloud-swept hill-top. She pressed the baby to her breast, and waited in silence the passing of the god in the storm.
The following spring, when the first thunder pealed, she did not forget her vow; but she could not gather strength to fulfil it.