Late one afternoon several children were playing near their house when suddenly they saw a woman approaching. She was very old and stooping, and her hair was white. The children were greatly frightened and ran into the house, but soon returned to the old woman, who said to them: “Children, do not be afraid of me, for nothing will harm you. I am your great-great-great-grandmother, and neither you nor your mother has ever seen me. Now, go to the house and tell her that I have come.” The children did so. Then they took a deer skin and spread it on the ground for the old woman and carried her food and drink. She then asked the children when their father went to sleep and in which part of the house he lay, and the children told her all.

That night, after all had gone to sleep, the old woman entered the house and cut off the man’s head, which she put into a basket she carried for that purpose; there she covered the man’s body with his blanket and quietly left the house. The next morning the man’s wife was surprised to find him asleep (as she supposed), since it was his custom to go hunting before sunrise. So she spoke to him, and as he did not answer she pulled off his blanket. When she saw that his head was missing she became greatly alarmed.

After cutting off the man’s head Skate’ne, the old woman, immediately left the house and started down the road. Soon she met a large bear, who said to her, “What have you covered up in your basket, old woman?” “You must not see it,” said she, “for if you look on it you will lose your eyes; it is poison and bad.” The bear was contented and went on his way.

Then she met many other animals, and at last came two wildcats. “Stop, old woman, and show us what you have in your basket,” called one of the wildcats “we must see what you carry.” The old woman repeated what she had told the bear and all the others. “But we must look inside your basket, even if we do lose our eyes,” replied one of the wildcats, at the same time seizing the basket and raising the cover. When they saw the man’s head they knew it was the old woman who prowled around during the night, killing men and animals and birds, so they determined to kill her. While one held her the other went to find a large club. When he had gone she said to the wildcat holding her: “Over there is a large club. You would do well to get it and kill me before your companion returns, for the one that kills me will always have good luck, and I like you.” So the remaining wildcat went to get the club, for he believed what the old woman had told him, and hence wanted to kill her. On his return with the club he could not find the old woman, for she was Skate’ne, an owl, and had flown away.

Bushnell, David I., Jr. The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St Tammay Parish Louisiana. Washington Government Printing Office. 1909.

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