"Then an ancient medicine man arose, lifting his arms, outstretching his palms to hush the lamenting throng. His voice shook with the weight of many winters, but his eyes were yet keen and mirrored the clear thought and brain behind them, as the still trout pools in the Capilano mirror the mountain tops. His words were masterful, his gestures commanding, his shoulders erect and kindly. His was a personality and an inspiration that no one dared dispute, and his judgment was accepted as the words fell slowly, like a doom.
"'It is the olden law of the Squamish that lest evil befall the tribe the sire of twin children must go afar and alone into the mountain fastnesses, there by his isolation and his loneliness to prove himself stronger than the threatened evil, and thus to beat back the shadow that would otherwise follow him and all his people. I, therefore, name for him the length of days that he must spend alone fighting his invisible enemy. He will know by some great sign in Nature the hour that the evil is conquered, the hour that his race is saved. He must leave before this sun sets, taking with him only his strongest bow, his fleetest arrows, and going up into the mountain wilderness remain there ten days--alone, alone.'
"The masterful voice ceased, the tribe wailed their assent, the father arose speechless, his drawn face revealing great agony over this seemingly brief banishment. He took leave of his sobbing wife, of the two tiny souls that were his sons, grasped his favorite bow and arrows, and faced the forest like a warrior. But at the end of the ten days he did not return, nor yet ten weeks, nor yet ten months.
"'He is dead,' wept the mother into the baby ears of her two boys. 'He could not battle against the evil that threatened; it was stronger than he--he so strong, so proud, so brave.'
"'He is dead,' echoed the tribesmen and the tribeswomen. 'Our strong, brave chief, he is dead.' So they mourned the long year through, but their chants and their tears but renewed their grief; he did not return to them.
"Meanwhile, far up the Capilano the banished chief had built his solitary home; for who can tell what fatal trick of sound, what current of air, what faltering note in the voice of the Medicine Man had deceived his alert Indian ears? But some unhappy fate had led him to understand that his solitude must be of ten years' duration, not ten days, and he had accepted the mandate with the heroism of a stoic. For if he had refused to do so his belief was that although the threatened disaster would be spared him, the evil would fall upon his tribe. This was one more added to the long list of self-forgetting souls whose creed has been, 'It is fitting that one should suffer for the people.' It was the world-old heroism of vicarious sacrifice.
"With his hunting-knife the banished Squamish chief stripped the bark from the firs and cedars, building for himself a lodge beside the Capilano River, where leaping trout and salmon could be speared by arrow-heads fastened to deftly shaped, long handles. All through the salmon run he smoked and dried the fish with the care of a housewife. The mountain sheep and goats, and even huge black and cinnamon bears, fell before his unerring arrows; the fleet-footed deer never returned to their haunts from their evening drinking at the edge of the stream--their wild hearts, their agile bodies were stilled when he took aim. Smoked hams and saddles hung in rows from the cross poles of his bark lodge, and the magnificent pelts of animals carpeted his floors, padded his couch and clothed his body. He tanned the soft doe hides, making leggings, moccasins and shirts, stitching them together with deer sinew as he had seen his mother do in the long-ago. He gathered the juicy salmonberries, their acid flavor being a gratifying change from meat and fish. Month by month and year by year he sat beside his lonely camp-fire, waiting for his long term of solitude to end. One comfort alone was his-- he was enduring the disaster, fighting the evil, that his tribe might go unscathed, that his people be saved from calamity. Slowly, laboriously the tenth year dawned; day by day it dragged its long weeks across his waiting heart, for Nature had not yet given the sign that his long probation was over.
"Then one hot summer day the Thunder Bird came crashing through the mountains about him. Up from the arms of the Pacific rolled the storm cloud, and the Thunder Bird, with its eyes of flashing light, beat its huge vibrating wings on crag and canyon.