The Elk

Old Man was very hungry. He had been a long time without food, and was thinking how he could get something to eat, when he saw a band of elk on a ridge. So he went up to them and said, “Oh, my brothers, I am lonesome because I have no one to follow me.”

“Go on, Old Man,” said the elk, “we will follow you.” Old Man led them about a long time, and when it was dark, he came near a high-cut bank. He ran around to one side where there was a slope, and he went down and then stood right under the steep bluff, and called out, “Come on, that is a nice jump, you will laugh.”

So the elk jumped off, all but one cow, and were killed.

“Come on,” said Old Man, “they have all jumped but you, it is nice.”

“Take pity on me,” replied the cow. “My child is about to be born, and I am very heavy. I am afraid to jump.”

“Go on, then,” answered Old Man; “go and live; then there will be plenty of elk again some day.”

Now Old Man built a fire and cooked some ribs, and then he skinned all the elk, cut up the meat to dry, and hung the tongues up on a pole.

Next day he went off, and did not come back until night, when he was very hungry again. “I’ll roast some ribs,” he said, “and a tongue, and I’ll stuff a marrow gut and cook that. I guess that will be enough for tonight.” But when he got to the place, the meat was all gone. The wolves had eaten it. “I was smart to hang up those tongues,” he said, “or I would not have had anything to eat.” But the tongues were all hollow. The mice had eaten the meat out, leaving only the skin. So Old Man starved again.

Blackfoot, Legends,

Grinnell, George Bird. Blackfoot Lodge Tales: The Story of a Prairie People. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1892.

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