Sacred Texts  Native American  Southeast  Index  Previous  Next 


A certain man lived alone with his wife who was pregnant. Every day he would go off hunting and come back at night with a deer, but before he set off he closed his house up tight because many strange creatures who ate people lived in the neighborhood. Whether these were monkeys, gorillas, or other animals they did not know. These would come up to the house and speak to the woman, telling her that they wanted to have a dance. One day when these creatures were dancing together outside, males and females, she opened the door and went out among them. A short time afterwards they caught her and devoured her.

That night, when the woman's husband came home, he heard a baby crying outside and said, "Bring the baby to the house. Why have you got it out there?" His wife did not appear, and after a long time the man made a light and went to the place where he heard the baby's voice. Looking about, he saw a little blood dropped upon a leaf. He picked the leaf up and brushed off the dirt, and it turned into a human being. Then he fed it on deer soup and when it had attained a considerable size he shat it up in the house when he went hunting, Meanwhile the navel string of the baby which the woman

p. 223

had been carrying had been thrown away and had become another boy a little bigger than the first. But this boy was wild, and lived upon bugs which he would get by turning over logs, though his brother said to him, "I live upon this kind of meat," showing a piece of deer meat. He also had the power of flight. He was afraid of his father and when the latter came home he would fly away, while his brother ran after him crying. Finally his father determined to capture him and tame him so that he could be a companion for his other son. He turned himself into a duck and squatted down at the corner of the house waiting for him. The wild boy wanted something with which to sharpen his arrow, and the other came to his father to get it. The father gave it to him. Then the wild boy went into the house to get it, and his father ran out from behind the corner and pursued him. The wild boy tried to get out through the smoke hole, but his father caught him and hobbled him so that he could not get away. Then he hung him up crosswise in the smoke hole and built a big fire under him, the smoke of which made him throw up all of the bugs which he had been eating. After that his father took him down, but he kept him tied until he had become gentle and had begun to eat deer meat.

After this wild boy had become gentle his father had to go off hunting, but before he set out he shut his children up in the house, telling them they must not go away anywhere. When their father had been gone a short time, however, the larger boy took the other up on his back and carried him out at the smoke hole. Many trails led from their house, and they deliberated for some time which they should choose, but finally they went eastward. By and by they heard people playing and shouting ahead of them, and when they reached the place they found that the noise was made by Wolves. The Wolves had a ball, perhaps half a foot in diameter, which could move about of itself as if endowed with life. The Natchez name of this ball is må'tåga. It moved from side to side among the Wolves, and some would run with it while others slapped at it to make it go.

The boy who had been wild said, "I am going to get hold of this ball. Go on and I will overtake you." When the Wolves saw the boy they recognized him and said, "There is that fool boy standing there. That is just a navel string. Don't take it." "Pshaw!" said the boy. For a considerable time he stood there looking on, and every time they spoke to him he answered with this same word, "Pshaw!" After a long time the ball slipped through the crowd and rolled to where the boy stood. Then he seized it and ran, and they pursued him, howling. Finally he came up with his brother, grasped him and flew off home. When they got into the house they made the ball fly all over it from one wall to another, and when their father got home they said, "Look here at what we have found." "Well!" said he, "keep it in the house. Don't go outside with it. If you do it will get away from you." Then he left them again.

p. 224

The boys played around in the house with this ball until they became tired, and at last the larger boy said, "Let us play outside." So they played outside, but they had not been there long before it got away from the smaller and began rolling away. They followed it for a long distance until at last it reached a creek over which hung a crooked tree. The ball ran up this tree with the larger boy in close pursuit and fell into the water and was lost. When the boy who was following got tired of hunting for it he went back to his brother on the bank. When he got to him he said, "Our uncle lives on the other side of this creek. Shout to him and let him take you over in his canoe. Stay with him. I am going to hunt for that ball again. When you call to our uncle he will tell you to come across on a foot log, but you must not do so or you will fall off and be drowned. Make him bring the canoe over." So when the smaller boy called his uncle and his uncle told him to come over on the foot log he said, "No; I want the canoe." Then his uncle brought the canoe and carried him across. His uncle had some fish on the other side which he told his nephew to bring along, and when they got to the house his uncle told him to cook it. Then he told him to make some mush. When the boy began to cook and to rake out the fire with a stick his uncle told him to use his hands and took the stick away from him. And when he burned his hands in consequence his uncle laughed at him. When the boy stirred the mush with a stick his uncle took that away from him also and made him stir it with his hands. Everything being done, the uncle told his nephew to lie down. So he lay down on his back, and his uncle set a jar of mush on his belly and began to eat out of it. When he was through he gave the boy a little and said, "I am going to stick up a sassafras," meaning that he was going fishing.

Then the man went out fishing with his nephew, and while they were there a big red perch began singing close by. The perch's song was this, "You old man, you have: sassafras stuck up here." The perch kept going back and forth singing this over and over, and finally the uncle became angry, dipped up the perch in his net and ate him, bones and all. Then they began fishing again. After they had sat there for a while, however, the uncle beard the perch singing in his belly. He sang at intervals, and the old man became very angry, but he could do nothing. Then he went off and defecated and came back to fish. Another space of time elapsed and again he heard the same song, this time from the place where he had defecated. He became angry again, seized a stick and beat the pile of dung all to pieces. For a while after everything was quiet.

By and by, however, the uncle's hook became caught and he told his nephew to dive in and free it. He did so and saw his brother sitting there under water holding the hook. He asked his younger

p. 225

brother what had been done to him, and the latter described how his uncle had burned him and eaten off of him. Then the bigger boy said, "I am going to get revenge." So he went about in the water, seized a number of fish, and laid them ashore near where the old man was fishing. "Take these up with you and cook them," he said; so the old man took them up and began to cook them. When he grasped the poker, however, the boy took it away and told him to use his hands. "Now make mush," he said, and when the old man got a stick with which to stir the mush the boy took it away from him. So the old man stirred the mush with his hand, and as he did so he said, "hīgigigigi," pretending to laugh. When everything was cooked the boy told him to lie down. Then they put the jar of mush on him, piled the fish around him, and getting on each side began to eat. The old man began to be burned by the hot bowl and raised it up a little with his hands, saying "Hīgigigigi" as before. When the boys were through eating they told the old man to eat, but before he was through they got up, struck him in the head and killed him. In his house they found various things which their uncle used in dressing himself up. They started off, leaving the old man lying on a blanket on one of his ears, which were very large. After a while the boys came back again and the larger boy said, "You are in a pretty position. Just remain that way." The fourth time they came back the old man spoke up and said to the larger boy, "You are a navel string. You are mean. You have been in the habit of treating people meanly, and you have done it again."

They went away again and came to another person sitting down sharpening nails or tacks to put into the heels of shoes. They asked him if he could kill a person by sticking the nails into him. "If you can kill a person that way," said the bigger boy, "try it on my brother." He did so and killed him, whereupon the biggest boy killed him also with a blow. Then he doctored the smaller boy and brought him to life. Then they took the nails off of the man's feet and carried them away, saying, "These would be good things for our father to use in making shoes." So when their father came home they said, "We have found these nails to make shoes with." But their father told them that that was not what they were for and they had better put them back on the owner. They did so and he returned to life.

The boys started on again and came to a house where cannibals lived. They climbed up on top of the house and heard the cannibals laughing, feasting, and playing inside. While they were there a number of cannibals came carrying a baby which they set in a bowl on the fire. Then one of the boys on the housetop dropped something into the bowl and broke it. "This baby is alive," said the cannibals. "He has broken our bowl." Then they put the baby on the coals

p. 226

to roast it, and when it was done all squatted down and began eating. Afterwards they lay down all around the house to sleep. As soon as they had fallen asleep the bigger boy got down off of the house and tied all of their hair together, and then they set fire to the house. By and by the cannibals discovered this and said, "Why, the house is on fire." They tried to get up and began shouting to one another, "You are pulling my hair. You are pulling my hair." And they fought until the house burned down. Then the boys ran away.

After this the bigger boy said to his father, "What do you do in order to kill deer, bear, etc.?" He answered, "I always use medicine." Then the boy said to his father, "I can find what kind you use." So he went to a creek, brought back a big turtle and said, "Is that the kind of medicine you use?" "No," he said. The boy went a second time and brought a dead snake. He brought all kinds of dangerous things, everything he could think of, but he could not find what the medicine was. Then the boys determined to follow their father on one of his hunting trips, so they made all kinds of arrows and hid them in order to be prepared for the journey. When he set out they kept only just within sight, for he was on the lookout for them on account of the questions they had asked him. Finally he came to a high mountain, and stood up and looked far up into it. Then he opened a door at the foot of the mountain and out came a deer, which he shot. Then he shut the door, picked up the deer and started back while the boys hid until he had passed them. When he had reached a distance at which one can barely hear a person whooping the boys went to the door and opened it. Then deer, turkey, and all kinds of creatures began running out, and the boys began shooting at them, but they made no impression. All they could do was to whoop and clap their hands. Their father heard them, ran back, and shut the gate. Then he told them there were just a few things, left inside. He said, "You can now go your way. You have let out all the game we had to live on. I had this game for my own use. Now you may get on as best you can. I am going back."

After their father had started off the larger boy began thinking over what had happened, and he made something to follow his father. This is called wå'gul (in Natchez), and it was round and flat. 1 When he had made it he threw it after his father and said, "What is father saying?" The thing followed their father and when it had overtaken him struck him first on the heel and then on the knee. He looked around in surprise, stood still for a time, and then went back to his boys, and said, "I am sorry for you, but you have wasted what we had to live on. We can not live any more on that, and we will go westward." 2


226:1 It was evidently a chunk stone.

226:2 Creek Sam, the father of my informant, interpreted this to mean that the Natchez had been obliged to migrate westward to the place they now occupy, but that as some animals were left in the mountain some hope was still left for the Natchez.

Next: 6. Lodge Boy and Thrown-Away