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Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/192

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comingly modest, as you see." The wretch laughed in his sleeve; I could have strangled him.

"Ah, so rare," she retorted, "you men are vainer than my ladies."

I knew myself the target for dozens of curious eyes, under the heat of which I near melted away.

"Sing, comrade, sing some sweet love ditty of a lonely forest maiden and her lover, robed in the innocence of Eden."

Had the fool no sense? I caught the imploring expression of interest on the girl's sweet face behind Madame, and determined at all hazards they should not have the laugh at me. I saw it all then; they were in league with Jerome to play a game of "bait the bear," with me for bear.

So I pitched in and sang, such a song I warrant as my lords and ladies had never bent their ears to hear before, a crooning death incantation of the Choctaws, which fell as naturally from my lips as my own mother tongue.

Their laughter hushed, for even in the court of France, sated as it was with novelties, laying a world under tribute for amusements, that wild, weird melody never rose before nor since. One stanza I sang translated into French that they might understand;

"Yuh! Listen. Quickly you have drawn near to hearken;
Listen! Now I have come to step over your soul;
You are of the Wolf Clan;
Your name is Ayuni;
Toward the Black Coffin of the upland, in the upland of the
Darkening Land your path shall stretch out.