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Indian old-man stories : more sparks from War Eagle's lodge-fire online

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water, Young-man/ All the sleepers sat up in
their beds in the dark, but they saw nothing
heard nothing, save the Wind in the trees.
Then the Wind whispered so soft and low that
none of the others heard the words : Come to the
Big-water, Looks-at-the-stars. When it had
whispered, the Wind went away and hid in the
bushes near the lodge. Looks-at-the-stars knew
it was watching.

"The night was still again. The people in
the lodge lay down to sleep once more all but
Looks-at-the-stars. As soon as he was sure that
his father was asleep, he took his bow and
quiver of arrows and crept out of the lodge.
He went to the shore of the Big-water as the
Wind had commanded.

"It was smooth, and still as the places where
the dead are buried. No waves broke upon
the shore. No night-birds spoke from the dark
forest behind his father s lodge. Even the
Echoes slept soundly in their beds that no man
sees. The Moon and the Stars, wife and chil-



dren of the Sun, looked down at the Big-water
from the sky and saw themselves upon it in the

" I am here, Oh, Wind/ whispered Looks-at-
the-stars. Where are you? What would you
have me do?* No one answered. A loon
laughed from out on the Big-water where the
stars lay thickest upon it. The laugh was like
that of ghosts, but Looks-at-the-stars knew that
it was the Spotted Loon that laughed, for he
knew his voice.

" I am here, Oh, Wind/ the Young-man whis
pered, and then he saw a dark object coming
toward him from out on the Big-water. It was
a birch-bark canoe. The Wind was bringing it
out of the night. The canoe was strange and
had been made by other people in another world.
Only the Wind was paddling. The canoe
touched the shore at the feet of Looks-at-the-
stars and the Wind arose and spoke: Get into
the canoe, Oh, Young-man. Be not afraid/

"Looks-at-the-stars knelt in the canoe but



saw no paddle, and he wondered. Then the
Wind sang a song and the canoe left the shore,
paddled only by the Wind. Louder and louder
the Wind sang, and faster and faster the canoe
sped out upon the dark Big-water among the
stars that fled before it. Never before did a
canoe travel so fast. Great waves came from
their lodges when the Wind sang loud, and they
spattered Looks-at-the-stars with their spray,
but he was not afraid. The Moon had hidden
away. The Stars had faded before the graying

"At last the night was driven away by the
Sun, and yet the canoe, paddled by the Wind,
went on. Looks-at-the-stars glanced backward.
The land was gone. He could not see it. Only
the Big-water was near, and it was angry at the
Wind for bringing the canoe, but the Wind was
not afraid and drove the Waves before it. On
and on the Wind paddled the canoe until the
Sun had gone to his lodge in the West and the
Dark was coming fast. Boom, boom, boom/


A great noise was ahead of the canoe and rose
above the battle of the Wind with the Waves.
The noise came from the foot of a cliff of rocks
where the Waves were being driven against it
by the Wind. All about the cliff the water
was white as the snows of winter, and the Wind
shrieked in anger there. Suddenly the canoe
was turned, and just as the night drove the
light of day from the world of Big- water, it was
dashed upon the rocks of a strange land, and
broken into pieces.

"The Wind screamed at the Waves as they
tore the canoe into bits and threw Looks-at-the-
stars high upon the shore. His head struck a
rock upon the beach, and the Wind went away
with the Waves and left him there. The rock
had made him sleep made him as one who is
without power to move throughout the night.

"The Sun of another day was high when
Looks-at-the-stars sat up. The Big-water was
still. The Wind had gone away. His bow was
gone, but the quiver of arrows was still at his



shoulder. He rubbed his eyes. He thought
he had been dreaming. Suddenly he saw a
shadow that moved upon the shore. He turned
to see what had made the shadow that moved.
Ho ! a Mighty Person a Terrible Person stood
near him. So tall was he that he could reach
the nests of birds in the tallest tree-tops. His
face was covered with hair, and his eyes were
blue as the sky in summer. Ho ! Looks-at-the-
stars was frightened. He sprang to his feet
and ran away ran as the deer runs, along the
shore of the strange land. All the day he ran,
and fear made his steps long and fast. His
breath was gone. His heart was beating like a
war-drum when he thought he was far away
from the Terrible Person. He thought he was
safe and stopped running. There right be
fore him he saw the pieces of his own canoe
upon the shore. There right before him
stood the Terrible Person, just where he had
left him when he began to run away. Ho ! the
land was an island! Looks-at-the-stars had

Ho, a Mighty Person, a Terrible Person, stood before him/


run around it. Yes, the strange land was an
island, and it belonged to the Terrible Person.
He could not escape. He sank to his knees for
he was weak from running, and his fear was
great. He covered his face with his hands.
He was sure that the Terrible Person would take
his life.

" Why did you run away, Young-man? It
was the Terrible Person that spoke. His voice
made the ground tremble.

" I was afraid, oh, Terrible Person, said

" Why did you come here, Young-man?

" The Wind brought me, oh, Terrible Person.
I do not lie.

" The Wind is my friend, said the Terrible
Person, and he stooped and picked Looks-at-the-
stars from the ground as a woman lifts a baby.
He swung the Young-man upon his shoulder and
set out toward the middle of the island with
steps that made the island shake and tremble.
The head of Looks-at-the-stars was high above



the tallest pine-trees, and he held on by grab
bing a braid of the Terrible Person s hair. They
travelled in this way until they came to a moun
tain with a Great Hole in its side, and there was
smoke coming from its top. Before entering
the Great Hole the Terrible Person lifted Looks-
at-the-stars from his shoulder and carried him
in his arms, as a woman carries a baby. The
Great Hole in the mountain was dark, and as
they entered Looks-at-the-stars saw the eyes
of , many Bears and Wolves staring at him as
they passed. The Terrible Person had to stoop
as he travelled, and the Dark grew blacker as
they entered the mountain. The footsteps of
the Terrible Person made a noise like the beat
ing of war-drums as he travelled. Little stones
that were moved by his feet rolled away with
strange sounds into blacker dark.

"The Young-man looked backward. The
Great Hole in the mountain was so far away
that it seemed no larger than a man s hand.
It looked white in the dark, but the Terrible



Person turned in his course, and it was gone
gone. All was damp. Water dripped from the
top and sides of the Great Hole in the moun
tain, and Looks-at-the-stars heard things pass
near them heard them breathing saw their
eyes burning like small fires in the night. He
was much afraid and was trembling when he
heard little voices singing just ahead. Suddenly
they came to a fire. The smoke and sparks
went straight up through a hole in the top of
the mountain, and about the fire sat many
singers. They had large heads and fierce faces,
but their bodies were bony and small. They
were no larger than little children, and their
chief was a Great Horned Owl.

"They were the Ghost People, of course, and
they lived in that mountain, but when the
Terrible Person stopped by the fire the singers
went away. Where they had been there was
nothing at all nothing. It was as though
they had never been there.

" This is my lodge/ said the Terrible Person.



Let us eat/ He handed Looks-at-the-stars a
piece of roasted meat, but it was so heavy that
he could not lift it from the ground. He knelt
beside the meat and tried to eat, but the meat
was so tough he could not chew it. Then he
saw the marrow in a bone in the meat, and he
began to eat of the marrow. He was very
hungry and ate much so much did he eat
that he crawled inside the bone to eat the mar
row. When he could eat no more he went to
sleep inside the bone and could not tell how long
he slept.

" Young-man Young-man/ called the Ter
rible Person. Come, I will take you to your
people now, but you must never tell them where
I live. I do not want visitors. I have no
woman. I have no daughters for your young
men. I have no sons for your young women,
and I have nothing to trade. Remember what
I have said. Come/

"He carried Looks-at-the-stars to the shore
of the island near the spot where the canoe had



been broken by the waves, and, after making
him sit upon his mighty head, the Terrible Per
son stepped into the Big-water. The Sun was
not high in the morning when he began to walk
in the Big-water. The water was hardly over his
moccasins when the day was half gone, but as
the Sun turned toward his lodge in the West
the Big-water covered the knees of the Terrible
Person, and when the Sun had gone, the Big-
water was above his waist.

"The dark came and the Big-water grew
deeper, but the Terrible Person kept travelling
throughout the night. When morning came
again the Big-water was upon the shoulders of
the Terrible Person and the feet of Looks-at-
the-stars were wet. Little Waves dashed in
the face of the Terrible Person when he stopped
walking in the Big- water, and said: Can you
see your own country, now?

" I can see the land/ answered Looks-at-the-

" Well, that is your own country/ said the



Terrible Person. It is not far off, now, but I
must not go farther. I dare not step upon
your country. I will call the Turtle. He will
take you to your own people. Then the Ter
rible Person sang a song The Song of the
Waters and the Turtle came to the top of
the Big-water near them.

"Looks-at-the-stars did not know that there
were such Turtle people as this one that came
when the Terrible Person sang. This one was
as large as a buffalo robe, and painted with
many colors.

" What is it you want? asked the Turtle.

" I want you to take this Young-man to the
land to his own country. Let him sit upon
your back, and you must swim high so the
waves will not wash him from your shell.

" I will do the best I can/ said the Turtle,
but the Young-man must sit still or he will
make me tip/

"The Terrible Person put Looks-at-the-stars
upon the Turtle s back, and said: Good-by,



Young-man. Never tell where I live. If you
do I will make Trouble come to you and stay
a long time/

" * Good-by, said Looks-at-the-stars, you
have treated me well/

"The Turtle swam away and so fast was he
that before the day was gone his feet touched
the shore of the land. Get off my back now/
said the Turtle, and remember what the Ter
rible Person has told you. Good-by, Young-
man. I must get back to my family/ Then
he was gone in the Big-water.

"The people thought that Looks-at-the-stars
was dead. His father and mother had mourned
for him. His father had cut off his hair in his
grief, and his mother would speak to none. Ho !
they were glad to see Looks-at-the-stars alive.
There was a feast and much dancing. They
asked him many questions, and he answered
them all all, but one. He would never tell
where the Terrible Person lived, and we do not
know to this day. Looks-at-the-stars is dead.



Uncounted snows have passed since he died,
but yet we do not know where he met the
Terrible Person because he kept his promise.




"TT7AS Win-to-coo, the Man-eater, the
worst Person on the World when it
was new, grandfather ?" asked Eyes-in-the-
water one night in the lodge.

"No," replied War Eagle. "There was an
other Person with evil ways. He was strong
and his heart was as bad as Win-to-coo s, but
I never saw him. He had left the World be
fore I came. His name was Ca-mee-no-wa-sit,
the Hairy Man. My grandfather told me that
he had never seen Ca-mee-no-wa-sit, and grand
father lived many snows ago. So the Hairy
Man must have been on the World when all the
people were young. Those who saw him have
never talked with me, but many of our old men
have heard of him, and, of course, he did live
long ago. He may still be alive in some other


country, but I am sure it must be far off or
some of our people would see him, for they travel
a great deal.

"Wah-ki-oose was a great hunter. He was
of our own people, and my grandfather has told
me of him. One night he dreamed. A Fox
talked to him as he slept. This is what the
Fox said: There is an Owl on your lodge-poles,
oh, Wah-ki-oose. He is calling you/ Then
the Fox went away into the forest. Wah-ki-
oose saw him dig a hole in the ground near the
roots of a pine-tree. In the digging the Fox
found a feather. He brought the feather to the
lodge and laid it upon the breast of Wah-ki-
oose. Then he said again: There s an Owl on
your lodge-poles, Wah-ki-oose. He is calling
you. I have spoken. As soon as he finished
speaking the Fox went away in the night, and
Wah-ki-oose saw him no more.

"The night was old when Wah-ki-oose awak
ened. Whoooo-Whoooo-Who-Whoo, said an
Owl right over his head. Yes, there was an Owl



on the lodge-poles, and he was calling, as the
Fox had said.

"Ho ! Wah-ki-oose was frightened. That is
always bad, to have an Owl call from the lodge-
poles. Wah-ki-oose sat up and a feather fell to
his knees. It was the feather that the Fox had
laid upon his breast, and it was from the wing
of the Thunder Bird Ho !

"As soon as Wah-ki-oose sat up the Owl
flew away from the lodge and did not call again,
but fear was upon Wah-ki-oose. His heart
was on the ground, and he was afraid. Finally
the Sun came and looked in through the lodge
door. It was in the summer, and as the Sun
warmed the World, a Butterfly flew within and
settled upon the youngest son of Wah-ki-oose.
Ho! that was bad very bad, and Wah-ki-
oose watched the Butterfly fan the sleeping
child with his wings. Slowly the wings moved
in the bright sunlight and Wah-ki-oose knew
that the child would die. He was sad. He
thought he would take the little boy and go



away from there far away. He lifted the
sleeping child from the ground to his shoulders
and ran through the forest. He saw the Fox,
but he did not speak to him. He saw the Owl,
too, but he did not go near him. All of the day
he travelled toward the West until, when the
day was old, he came to the plains.

"Far out in the open country he saw some
thing moving and watched it. It looked like a
man, and Wah-ki-oose was hungry. Perhaps
that man s lodge is near. I will go to him and
ask him to give us something to eat. Yes, I
will speak to him/ he said to himself. Even
if he is an enemy he will not refuse food/

"When he was yet far from the Person he
stopped, for the Person had held up his hand
in warning. Then Wah-ki-oose saw^that it was
Ca-mee-no-wa-sit, the Hairy Man, and fear
was in his heart. He could not move. He
stood and gazed at the awful Person, and then
Ca-mee-no-wa-sit waved his hand as though it
held a knife. Suddenly Wah-ki-oose felt his


When he was yet far from the Person he stopped, for the Person had
held up his hand in warning."


shoulder growing warm and looked to see why
it was so. It was blood. Yes, it Vas blood on
his shoulder that made it warm, and the little
boy was dead. Ca-mee-no-wa-sit had killed
him. Ho! Wah-ki-oose turned to run, but
the Hairy Man made another motion with his
empty hand, and the runner fell bleeding upon
the ground. He died there, and our people
found them both Wah-ki-oose and the boy
dead upon the plain.

"The Fox knew, and the Owl had told the
truth. Even the Butterfly had given his warn
ing, but Wah-ki-oose thought he could escape
by running. What is to be, will be. Ho !"




" TT AVE I ever told you the story of Strikes-

Al and-kills?" asked War Eagle.

"No, grandfather," said Buffalo-calf. "Tell
us the story."

"My grandfather knew a woman who was
related to Strikes-and-kills," began War Eagle.
"The woman was old when my grandfather was
born, but she told him the story that I will tell

"The father of Strikes-and-kills lost his life
in our wars with the Sioux. Strikes-and-kills
had seen but four snows when his father fell in
battle, and there was no one to kill meat for the
family. People gave them meat, of course, but
that is never the same as killing it yourself.
Sometimes the meat that is given is not of the
best, and Strikes-and-kills was proud. When
he had seen eight snows his mother died and



left him to take care of his brother, Little Bear,
who had been on earth but a little more than
four snows. Soon after his mother died the
village moved, but Strikes-and-kills left his
lodge standing. He said he would not go with
the village. The old men that had known his
father talked to him, but he said No, I am old
enough now. I can kill my own meat and take
care of my brother. I am going to stay here
for a while/

"So the village moved away. Where all the
lodges had been there was nothing save the
marks of the fires. Each morning Strikes-and-
kills left his brother in the lodge and went hunt
ing. Each day he killed two rabbits and caught
a few fish in the river. But each night when he
returned to the lodge with the meat and fish
he found his little brother crying. One night
he brought some willows to the lodge, and in
the firelight made them into small hoops.
These hoops he gave to Little Bear, and taught
him how to roll them. The little boy played



with the hoops and seemed happy, but every
day he cried in the lodge, because he was lone
some. Strikes-and-kills was sorry for Little
Bear, and one morning as he set out to hunt
said: Come, my brother, I will take you with
me. We will hunt together. I will walk slowly/

So they started to hunt in the forest. Little
Bear had his willow hoops strung on his arm, for
he would not leave them behind, and kept talk
ing and laughing. You must not talk, Little
Bear/ said Strikes-and-kills. How can I kill
rabbits when you talk and laugh. They hear
your voice and run away and hide/

"At last, they came to the shores of a large
lake a strange lake, as you shall see. They
had travelled far, and Little Bear was tired.
He began to cry, and Strikes-and-kills rolled
the hoops for him. The shore of the lake was
sandy and smooth, and the hoops rolled mer
rily. Sometimes a hoop would roll into the
water and Little Bear would shout with delight
when his brother stepped into the water and



grabbed it before it floated away. I 11 roll just
one more hoop into the water, Little Bear/ said
Strikes-and-kills. Then we must be going.

The hoop danced over the sand, struck a rock,
bounded high, staggered, reached the sand
again, and then jumped into the water with a
splash. Ho! a man in a canoe was there.
They had not seen him before. No, not until
the hoop struck the water and splashed it.
The man scooped the hoop into his canoe with
his paddle, and looked at them without speaking.

" Do not take that hoop/ cried Strikes-and-
kills. My brother will cry if you do/

" Come and get it, then/ said the man in the
canoe, and he put his paddle-blade upon the
shore to hold the canoe near the land.

"Strikes-and-kills stepped into the canoe to
get the hoop and the man began to paddle
away. Wait ! I want to get out/ cried Strikes-
and-kills. But the man paid no attention to his
words and kept at paddling the canoe. The
shore was far away now, and Ho ! where Little



Bear had been only a Wolf was standing. Then
Strikes-and-kills knew that his brother had been
changed into a Wolf. He looked to see what
kind of a Person paddled the canoe. Ho! it
was a Mountain Lion not a Man-person, at
all, but a Mountain Lion that paddled the

"At last the canoe touched the shore and the
Lion-person told Strikes-and-kills to get out,
and he did. "Come with me/ said the Lion-
person, picking up his canoe. He led the way
to a dark cave in the rocks near the lake and
entered. A young woman-lion was in the lodge
and the Lion-person said: Daughter, I have
brought you a Man-person. Keep him until
he grows up, and then you may have him/
Then he covered Strikes-and-kills with his
canoe and went to sleep in the lodge.

"The young Lion- woman was kind to Strikes-
and-kills. She let him out from under the
canoe whenever her father was gone, but told
him he must never try to run away. If you



do, my father will trail you and kill you/ she

Sometimes the Lion-person took his canoe
to the lake, and then Strikes-and-kills walked
about until he returned.

"At last he was a man. Strikes-and-kills had
grown up, and he loved the Lion-woman. She
had always been kind to him and so he loved
her. He was a good hunter, and when her
father, the Lion-person, forgot to bring meat
to the lodge, Strikes-and-kills would kill a deer
and bring in the meat. That made her love
him, so one day they were married. Her father
treated her badly, and sometimes Strikes-and-
kills was made angry, but he dared not fight
the Lion-person even when he abused her in
the lodge.

"One day Strikes-and-kills was looking for
service-berry bushes. He wanted to make some
arrows, and complained because all the bushes
grew crooked limbs. I know where there are
plenty of straight ones/ said the Lion-person.



Get into my canoe and I 11 take you to them/
So Strikes-and-kills got into the canoe and the
Lion-person paddled away. They had been long
upon the lake when at last they reached an
island. Get out/ said the Lion-person. You
will find plenty of straight service-berry bushes
on this island/

Strikes-and-kills got out of the canoe, but as
soon as he was on the land the Lion-person
paddled away. Wait/ called Strikes-and-kills.
Wait for me/

" I 11 leave you for the Eagles. They will
pick your bones/ answered the Lion-person,
and kept paddling the canoe. Strikes-and-kills
thought of his wife, the Lion-woman. He called
and begged the Lion-person to come back, but
he would not come, nor answer.

"Gulls flew about the island and at last an
Eagle came and sat upon a limb of a dead tree
near the water. There was a large rock under
the tree, and on the rock sat a White Gull.

"Kill that Eagle/ said the White Gull to



Strikes-and-kills. Kill him before he flies

"Strikes-and-kills fitted an arrow to his bow
string. ZIPPP ! went the arrow, and the Eagle
fell dead.

" Now take his skin from his body before it
grows cold/ said the White Gull.

" Who are you? asked Strikes-and-kills as
he began to take the skin from the Eagle s

"I am Old-man, said the White Gull. I
saw it all. I know all about it. That s a
mean Person, that Lion-man, but you shall go
back to your lodge back to your wife and
stay there/

"When Strikes-and-kills had taken the skin
from the Eagle s body, he looked at the White
Gull to see what he wanted him to do next.

" Now crawl into the Eagle s skin/ said the
White Gull. It will stretch and fit you as
well as it did the Eagle/

"Strikes-and-kills crawled into the skin, as



the White Gull told him he must, and the skin
did stretch and did fit him as well as it had
fitted the Eagle.

" Now/ said the White Gull, fly to your
lodge and see if you can get along with your
father-in-law. Good-by.

"Strikes-and-kills took a big stone in his
talons and flew high up in the air. He went
up, up, up until he was very high above the
water, and then he headed for his lodge with
the big stone in his talons. Away out on the
waters of the lake there was a speck. Strikes-
and-kills knew it was the canoe of the Lion-
person, so he flew straight over it, and when
he was high above the canoe and right over
the head of the Lion-person, he let go of the
big rock. SWOW! HO! the big rock missed
the head of the Lion-person, but went straight
through the bottom of the bark canoe. HO!

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Online LibraryFrank Bird LindermanIndian old-man stories : more sparks from War Eagle's lodge-fire → online text (page 4 of 6)