"What can we do to soften the Great Spirit's wrath?" Only
silence followed his question.
At last one old medicine man arose. "There is nothing we
can do. If it is the will of the Great Spirit that we die,
then we must meet our death like brave men. The Multnomah have
ever been a brave people."
The other members of the council nodded
in agreement- all except one, the oldest medicine man. He had
not attended the wedding feast and games, but he had come in from
the mountains when he was called by the chief. He rose and,
leaning on his stick, spoke to the council. His voice was low
and feeble. "I am a very old man, my friends; I have lived a long,
long time. Now you will know why. I will tell you a
secret my father told me. He was a great medicine man of the
Multnomah, many summers and many snows in the past. "When he was an
old man, he told me that when I became old, the Great Spirit would
send a sickness upon our people. All would die, he said,
unless a sacrifice was made to the Great Spirit.
Some pure and innocent maiden of the tribe, the daughter of a
chief, must willingly give her life for her people. Alone, she
must go to a high cliff above a Big River and throw herself upon the
rocks below. If she does this, the sickness will leave us at
Then the old man said, "I have finished; my father's secret is
told. Now I can die in peace."