Tale of The Young Men And The Cannibals

Ten boys lived with their grandmother. One day the oldest went out to hunt and did not return. The grandmother worried about him, and so the next day one of his brothers went to look for him. He did not return, and so the next brother went out to look for his brothers. He did not return and another went, and so on until the ninth boy went out, leaving his little brother at home with his grandmother. They waited long, but none of the brothers returned and no news came of them. They worried and grieved and became sadder each day, until at last the youngest boy declared that he was going to look for his brothers. His grandmother begged him not to go and leave her alone, for she felt that the same evil fate would befall him that had come to his brothers; but the boy was determined and prepared to go. He went out and prayed for help and put an eagle feather in his hair just before starting, thinking that it might have some hidden power. The boy traveled far, and after a time he saw a tipi. He approached the tipi, and as he went near he heard some one laugh and say: “Another one is coming. Cook some corn and we will soon have the meat.” The boy understood the meaning of this, but he was so sad and weary that he thought he would as soon die as live, and so he went on to the tipi. An old man came out of the tipi and said to him: “Are you looking for your nine brothers?” “Yes,” the boy answered. Then the man said: “I know where your brothers are and I will put you on the right path to find them, but first you must do some work for me. Lift that big log there and put it on the fire. I will give you four trials, and then if you cannot do it yon must lie down upon the log and let me lift it.”

The boy did not believe anything the man said, but thought he would try to lift the log and see if some power would not come to his aid in answer to his prayers. He tried four times, but could not move the log; then he lay down upon it. The old man was just about to spear him with the iron nose of the mask he wore, when some unseen power pulled the boy off the log, and the iron nose of the mask caught in the log and held the old man fast. A voice said to the boy: “Run to the tipi and take the pounder away from the woman who is pounding corn, bring it here, and beat the old man to death.” The boy obeyed, and when the old man was dead, the voice said: “Gather up all of your brothers’ bones. I will help you, for I know the bones of each boy, and put them in nine piles.” A strange man, the possessor of the voice, appeared and helped the boy gather up the bones. When they had them all piled up the man said: “Put your robe over them, shoot an arrow up in the sky, then cry: ‘Look out, brothers, the arrow will hit you!'” The boy obeyed, and as he cried “Look out, brothers, the arrow will hit you!” his brothers jumped out from under the robe. The man then told them to burn the tipi with the man and his wife in it and to scatter the ashes. After they had done all that, the man said: “Return now to your grandmother. I am the Sun and I have helped you destroy the cannibals.” Then he disappeared. The brothers all returned to their grandmother, who had almost grieved herself to death. They told their story, and the youngest boy told how the Sun had taken pity on him and helped him; and from that time all the people knew that the Sun was their friend and always willing to help them in times of trouble.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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