The Deserted Children
Whenever a certain young man defecated, he
discharged beads. Some little girls were playing at erecting a model
tipi. The youth purposely defecated near them, and went home. A
younger brother of his, who was playing with the children, bade the
girls fetch some water and meat. The girls looked at the excrement
and picked up the beads. The young man who had been watching them
from afar, went home. For a while he re-fused to speak. His father
asked him why he was silent. At last, he said, "Some bad girls have
played with my excrements after I had defecated, and by their magic
they are plotting to destroy us all. We must flee and abandon them
Accordingly, all the people packed their travois, muzzled their
dogs, and ran away. The girls, who were playing with other children,
did not know what had occurred. About the time of sunset one boy
asked the girls to fetch some meat. Two boys who had gone to the
camp returned, saying, "All the people have gone away." The girls
did not believe it, and the oldest asked her sister to go with the
boys. She said, "It is impossible that our mothers have abandoned
us." The girl returned crying. "All are gone." The oldest girl said,
"We had better follow them." The people had gone to a thick wood.
The children could not find the tracks, though one old woman who
pitied them had hung up moss to point the way.
At last, they came to an old cannibal witch. The bead-maker had
dreamt of her and promised her the children for food. The girls
asked her, "Where have our parents gone?" She answered, "You had
better camp with me to-night." Being tired, the children were
satisfied, and were going to stretch out near the lodge-poles, but
the witch said, "There are lots of mice there, you had better sleep
near the fire." She began boiling water in a kettle, then she cut
off the oldest girl's head and cooked it. She cut off the heads of
nearly all the children, and ate them. There was one girl who had
been carrying her little brother. She knew the woman was a witch, so
she had told her brother, "Watch while I sleep, the old woman may be
bad." When the boy saw the witch severing the children's heads, he
pinched his sister, but she continued sleeping. At last he bit her
ear, and she woke up. When she saw what had happened, she implored
the witch to spare her. "Don't kill me, I'll work for you and fetch
your water and wood." The old woman consented to let her live. The
first day the girl fetched firewood, but it was wet, and did not
burn well. "Look for dry wood; if you bring bad wood, I will kill
you. Leave your brother here." The girl said, "He is not cleanly, he
may dirty you." "Well, take him with you, but come back soon." The
girl went out with the little boy and found a buffalo skull. The
skull said, "Come here, I am going to tell you something. You had
better run after your parents. When you strike a big river, you will
see two white swans there. Pick the, lice from the swan's head and
chew them. Then just say, 'They are sweet."'
The children ran to the river, and followed directions. The swans
then put their necks together, forming a bridge, on which they
crossed. The witch called out, "Granddaughter, bring in the wood."
The skull answered, "Wait, my brother has dirtied me." She called
again, and again the skull answered for the fugitive. At last she
got angry, took her axe, and went out. She could not see anyone and
cried out, "Where are you, my grandchild?" Again the skull gave
answer. She finally discovered that the skull was speaking, and
said, "I'll break you in two." She tried to split it, but could not.
Then she cried out to the girl, "Wherever you may go, I shall catch
you." She tracked her until she got to the bank. She asked the swans
to let her cross. One swan said, "Pick and chew my lice, or I won't
let you cross." The witch obeyed, but when she chewed them, she
cried, "They stink, I don't like them." "You are abusing me, you
don't like me," said the swan. Nevertheless, the birds made a
bridge, but instead of joining necks, they joined backs. The witch
started to cross, but when she was in the middle of the stream, the
swans raised their heads, and she fell into the river and was
The girl caught up to the people. She was perspiring from running so
fast. Her mother said, "You bad girl, go back." The girl begged her
father to let her stay with them, but he refused. At last, the good
old woman who had hung up the moss said, "Bring your brother to my
lodge." She allowed them to sleep there. The bead-maker said to the
people, "Because that girl is with us, a cannibal is going to come
here. You had better tie the boy and girl to two trees, urinate on
them, and abandon them once more." The old woman remonstrated, but
was told she might be abandoned too. She had a dog called Muskrat.
She spoke to him as follows: "After I have fastened the tipi to your
back, go into the brush. After the people are gone, return, untie
the children, and let them have the tipi. Also lick the people's
urine from their bodies." Then she went with the people. The dog
stayed behind. His mistress pretended to call him, but he did not
come. At last, he appeared without the lodge. The people searched
for it. When they could not find it, the old woman said, "It is
lost," and pretended to whip her dog.
The deserted girl put up the lodge. The boy asked her, "My sister,
what ought we to eat?" "Buffalo meat, the meat of the animal of
which we saw the skull." "In the morning a nice fat buffalo will be
at our door," said he. "That is impossible." But the next morning,
when she got up, she found a buffalo at the door. ,She was glad,
skinned it, and dried the meat. Her brother said, "Make me a
sweat-lodge." "No, you are too young." At last, however, she made
one. He went in, and prayed. After a while, she noticed a change in
his voice, as though it were that of a larger boy. He opened the
door, and was a little taller than before. Every time he opened the
door, he had grown somewhat. The fourth time he was a well-sized
youth. He said, "To-morrow morning a big bear will lie at our door."
"Bears are wild, how can we get his meat?" The next morning, never
the less, she found a big bear at the door. She roused her brother,
and told him about it. They had plenty of meat now. He said,
"Tomorrow we shall have a handsome lodge." When she woke up the next
morning she found herself in a beautiful lodge.
The boy said, "I am going to travel a little now." "Don't go far, or
you will get lost." He made some arrows of willow-sticks, and
feathered them. His sister gave him sinew. He made one arrow with a
round head. Then he declared he was going to cross the mountains. "A
big bear dwells there. He always kills people, he will kill you." He
said, "I will go in another direction," but went straight towards
the bear, singing, "I should like to meet something half-stone,
half-bear." When he reached the cave, the bear came out. "What are
you saying about me?" The boy repeated his song. "You are a wretched
boy, I'll swallow you." "I'll kill you with my round-headed arrow."
The bear said, "Yonder are four big trees. Stand over here and try
to split them with one shot." "I can do that, the wood is not hard."
He shot his arrow, and broke them easily. The bear became
frightened. There was a big rock near his cave. "Shoot at this stone
and break it," he said. "That is not hard," said the boy. He shot
off an arrow, and the splinters flew like snow-flakes. The bear was
afraid now, and ran away. The boy said to his arrow, "Enter his
anus, go up to his neck, and break him in two." Thus the arrow
killed the bear. The boy cut off his claws, and brought them to his
sister. "Are these the claws of the bear you spoke of?" "How did you
kill him?" "With this bow and arrows." "You always go to evil
beings. Don't go to the giant. He kills moose and just puts them in
his belt. He also carries a large staff."
The boy set out to meet the giant. He found his tracks. At last he
saw him coming with moose in his belt. The giant said, "Who is this
little man? I'll put him into my glove." He put him inside, and
tried to crush him. with his clenched fist, but the boy tore his
glove. Then he said, "I'll kill you with my staff." "You can't kill
me that way." The giant held him in one hand, and tried to strike
him with the other, but the boy held his other hand, so that the
giant could not hurt him. The giant was perspiring. The boy said, "I
thought you were strong." Taking his staff, he truck the giant's
back, breaking it in two. He took one of his gloves, and went home.
"Is this the one you called a strong man?" "How did you get this
glove?" "I played with the giant, and split him in two with his own
staff." "That giant has killed my people."
The boy said, "Some people are going to come to our camp." A short
time after, a brother of theirs came there. He looked thin and
starved. The girl fed him with pemmican and gave him food to take to
his people. He did not recognize them, but told his people he had
met a handsome man and his sister, who had given him all kinds of
food. The people, who were famishing, came to the boy's lodge, but
the girl would not give them any food. At last, the good old woman
came with her dog, Muskrat. The girl called her. The dog knew her,
and wagged his tail for joy. The girl fed both hospitably. Then her
father came and begged for some food. She said, "Chew this up." He
tried to eat some, but it was as hard as bones. Then the girl hit
her father in, the neck with the dry meat. After this, she and her
brother lived together with the old woman and her dog.
The Two Brothers.1
Two orphan brothers were traveling together along
the shore of a big lake. They saw an old man paddling a canoe. The
younger boy was playing with a white-tailed deer's hoofs, which he
threw into the air and caught in his hands. The old paddler
approached the shore. When the boy threw one of his hoofs into the
air, it fell into the canoe, but the old man refused to give it up.
The boy began to cry. The older brother demanded the toy, but still
the old man refused. At last, he stretched out his paddle, bridging
the distance between the shore and his canoe, and said, "Stand
there, and I'll hand it to you." The youth obeyed, but the old man
pulled in the paddle, so that he fell into the canoe. He cried,
"Wait for my younger brother."' But the old man would not listen to
him, and paddled away. The younger boy cried, running along the
shore. Then he called out to his brother, "I am going to turn my
feet into a wolf's."
The old man took his captive home. When they had landed, he turned
his boat upside down, covering the young man with it. He then told
the older of his two daughters to bring in her husband. She ran to
the canoe, turned it over, and looked at him; but, as she did not
like him, she turned the boat upside down again. When she returned
to the lodge, her father asked, "Where is the young man?" She said
he was too ugly for her. Her father said, "No, he is good-looking."
He looked ugly because his eyes were swollen with crying. The father
now asked the younger girl to bring him in. She took him home,
washed his face, and combed his hair. He lived with her as her
husband. Every day he went out hunting. His father-in-law had many
manitou helpers. The youth killed one of them every day. In
consequence, the old man grew tired and sickly. One day, the youth
killed the last of the helpers, and the next day the old man did not
wake up from his sleep.
The young man then set out to find his lost brother. He went to the
spot where he had last seen him, and found the track to be that of a
boy on one side and of a wolf on the other. Whom ever he met, he
asked concerning his brother's whereabouts. At last, he was told,
"He is living far away among the wolves." "Can't any of you bring
him to me?" "No one can get him, he is too fast a runner to be
caught." Then the youth said, "I'll turn myself into a dead moose.
Tell the animals and the wolves, too."' They obeyed, and all the
animals came. The wolves were there, and the wolf-boy among them.
The wolf-boy recognized his older brother and refused to go to the
carcass. The other wolves told him to eat without fear. Then,
although he was afraid, he began to eat the buttocks. After a while,
his brother jumped up in human shape, and seized him by the legs.
The wolf struggled, but was overcome.
The two brothers then lived together, but were not
on good terms with each other. The older boy sent his brother out to
drive moose, himself following with his bow and arrows. One day they
went out for moose. A fat moose ran into a lake, and the wolf
followed. When the hunter saw this, he ran along the shore to where
he expected both to land. When he got there, he only found moose
tracks leading from the lake. He began to cry. At last he saw a
bald-headed eagle on a tree inclined toward the lake. "What are you
looking at?" he asked him. "I am watching the dogfish playing with a
wolf-skin," replied the eagle. "How do these dog-fish live?" "About
the time of dawn they come up to sleep on a sand-bank." The youth
went to the sandbank where he found many dogfish rolling about. When
they had fallen asleep, he approached and began shooting those
nearest the water. He killed many of them, but others he merely
wounded, and they fell back into the water with the arrows sticking
in their bodies.
As he was standing by the shore, waiting for more fish to kill, he
heard someone singing. He listened to the words, and walked towards
the singer. He beheld a large toad with a reddened rattle slung
across his breast and singing, "I am going on the warpath to cure."
When the youth was close to the toad, he asked, "Where are you
going?" The toad answered, "I am going to doctor the dogfish in the
lake. Some one has killed many of them, and wounded others, whom I
am going to treat." The youth asked when and where the toad was
expected. When the toad had told him, he asked, "What are you going
to do to cure the dogfish?" "I'll sing, 'I am going on the warpath
to cure."' The young man slew the toad, flayed him, donned his skin,
and walked on, singing his song. He went to the dogfish, who were
waiting for the toad. He sang the toad's words, but instead of
pulling out the arrows he killed the dogfish with them.2
1 Cf. Wissler and Duvall, p. 138
(Blackfoot); Kroeber, (e), p. 102 (Gros Ventre); Dorsey and Kroeber,
p. 286 (Arapaho); Kroeber, (d), p. 185 (Cheyenne); J. 0. Dorsey,
(d), p. 92 (Omaha); G. A. Dorsey, (c), p. 36 (Osage); Id., (a), p.
2 For the "sham doctor" episode, cf. Maclean, p. 73
(Cree); Grinnell, (c), p. 152; Curtis. III, p. 116 (Dakota); J. 0.
Dorsey, (d), p. 241 (Omaha); Schooleraft, p. 37 (Ojibwa); Hoffman,
p. 133 (Menomini); G. A. Dorsey, (a), p. 250 (Pawnee); Jones, p. 357
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