Gateway to the Classics: The Red Indian Fairy Book by Frances Jenkins Olcott
The Red Indian Fairy Book by  Frances Jenkins Olcott



Young-Boy-Chief and his sister dwelt in a grass-lodge on the wide prairie, and with them lived a puppy they called Little Dog. The sister owned a magic double ball and stick, on which she rode very fast whenever she wished to travel over the prairie, while Young-Boy-Chief was a great hunter, and had a bow and four magic arrows. Two of his arrows were red, and the other two, black. He shot so many Deer that he and his sister always had plenty of fresh meat, and Little Dog had all the bones he wanted.

One hot Summer day, the sister went to the creek to fetch water, and she saw a Deer—as she thought—lying on the bank. She hurried back to the lodge and called her brother, but he did not come. She called four times, and then he came from the lodge carrying his bow and arrows. She told him where the Deer was, and he ran down to the creek.

Now, this was no ordinary Deer, but Big-Elk with magic power. Young-Boy-Chief shot an arrow at the animal, and the arrow was broken in pieces. He shot again and again, until all his arrows were broken in small bits. Then Big-Elk raised himself from the ground, and, rushing at Young-Boy-Chief, tossed him on his antlers, and carried him off across the prairie.

After Big-Elk had carried off Young-Boy-Chief, his sister waited a long time, and her brother did not come. Then she went down to the creek, and saw his broken arrows lying there. She gathered up the pieces, and took them home. She mourned for some days, after which she decided to set out, and search for her brother.

She ground enough corn to last her for a long time, and put it in a bag. She told Little Dog that she was going away, but he must stay at home and get plenty of fresh meat, so that she might have something to eat when she came back. She then filled a gourd with water for Little Dog, and taking her magic double ball and stick, she travelled on them across the prairie, and as she went swiftly along, she wept, and sang:—

"Brother! Brother!

It was all my fault, for I said it was a Deer!

It was all my fault, for I said it was a Deer!

It was Big-Elk!

It was Big-Elk!"

And she continued her journey, now weeping and now singing.

At length she came to a hill, and on the top of it stood Mountain Lion. At first he would not let her pass, but when she gave him some corn meal, he said:—

"You are a good girl; so I will tell you this. A short time ago Big-Elk went by carrying Young-Boy-Chief on his antlers. I do not know whether your brother was alive or not. If you will go to the next hill, you will find somebody who may tell you."

So the girl journeyed on, riding on her magic double ball and stick; now weeping and now singing.

At length she came to another hill, and on the top of it stood Brown Bear. At first he would not let her pass, but when she gave him some corn meal, he said:—

"You are a good girl; so I will tell you this. A short time ago Big-Elk went by with Young-Boy-Chief on his antlers. If you wish to rescue your brother, you must go to Old Bull. He lives in a dug-out on yonder hill. You will see a little child playing before the door. You must take him on your back, and enter the dug-out. Sit down, and give him plenty of corn meal. Tell Old Bull about your brother, and he will help you. The little child is his favourite son."

So the girl went on her way to the other hill, now weeping, and now singing. Soon she reached the dug-out, and saw the child playing before the door. She took him on her back, and entering, sat down by the fireplace. She gave the child plenty of corn meal. Near her sat Old Bull smoking his pipe. So she told him all about her brother, and he said:—

"You are a good girl; so I will help you. It will be hard to kill Big-Elk, but if you will stay until to-morrow morning, I will see what I can do."

The girl was glad when she heard this, and she slept in the dug-out that night. The next morning she rose, and went with Old Bull to the foot of the hill, and there she hid behind some bushes.

Soon she heard a noise like a fierce storm, and saw streaks of fire in the air. So she knew that Big-Elk was coming. The noise came nearer and nearer, and Big-Elk appeared bounding over the prairie. And the girl could hear her brother's voice singing mournfully:—

"Sister! Sister!

Big-Elk is carrying me on his antlers!

Big-Elk is carrying me on his antlers!

I am alive!

I am alive!"

Then her brother moaned, as if he was nearly dead, for he had had nothing to eat.

When Old Bull saw Big-Elk coming, he changed himself into a Snowbird holding a tiny magic bow and arrow in his claws. Big-Elk came running past, whistling like the wind, and Old Bull shot his arrow. Immediately Big-Elk fell to the ground dead.

Then Old Bull changed himself back again, as he was before, and hurried to help Young-Boy-Chief off the antlers. Together they piled wood around Big-Elk's body, and set it on fire, and burned him to ashes; so that he could not come to life again.

When the sister saw this, she came running from behind the bushes, and kissed her brother, and they were happy. They thanked Old Bull. Then they journeyed home over the prairie, the sister riding on her double ball and stick, while Young-Boy-Chief travelled on his magic arrows, for he had found them sticking in his belt, all whole again.

But, alas! when they drew near their grass-lodge, Little Dog did not run out to meet them. The sister called: "Little Dog! Little Dog! Here is my brother!" But Little Dog did not come.

They went into the lodge, and all that they saw of Little Dog was his hair and his bones lying in a pile. And near him was a heap of fresh meat, and the gourd full of water. Little Dog had neither eaten nor drunk, since the sister went away, for he had wished to keep everything for her. So he had starved to death.

Then the sister took his hair and bones, and threw them into the creek. And out jumped Little Dog alive and well, barking and wagging his tail.

After that Young-Boy-Chief and his sister, with Little Dog, lived happily together in their grass-lodge. And Young-Boy-Chief was a greater hunter than ever before.

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