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Mountain Dweller


Source: Indian Legends Retold

Two sisters belonging to a well-known family one day became very
hungry and helped themselves to some of their mother's fat meat,
notwithstanding the girls were strictly forbidden to eat anything
between meals.

When the mother found it out she was angry, especially with her elder
daughter, for the younger was still a child. She not only scolded the
girl, but slapped her severely. At last she said: "Since you are so
fond of eating, you had better go and marry Mountain Dweller!"

Now Mountain Dweller is a being who lives alone upon the mountains and
is supposed to be a great hunter. Up to this time, no mortal had ever
seen him. The girls were more deeply offended by her words than by the
blows she had given the elder, and that night when their mother slept
they ran off into the woods.

They had wandered a long way and were crying with fear and hunger when
they heard some one chopping wood in the distance. "Perhaps it is
really he," said the elder sister, and they followed the sound.

There stood a man whose face was painted red. He was kind and asked
the girls what they were doing so far from home.

As soon as they had told him, he invited them into his house near by,
and they found it large and well stored with abundance of meat. They
remained there as he asked them, and the elder sister in time became
his wife.

Now the mother had soon repented her hasty speech and both parents
searched everywhere for their daughters. When they could not find
them, they mourned them as dead. A year passed, and the mourners'
feast had been given, when one day Mountain Dweller said to his wife
and his sister-in-law: "Wouldn't you like to see your father and
mother again?"

"Oh, yes, yes!" exclaimed the little girl, but the other thought not,
for the insult was hard to forgive. At last she consented to go,
whereupon her husband hunted continually and prepared a large quantity
of meat for a present to his father-in-law.

"Make a little basket, no larger than the end of your thumb," he told
her; and when it was finished, he put into it all those canoe loads of
meat, hung it on his finger, and the three of them went down the
mountain to the old home of the two girls.

Their little brother was playing outside the hut and saw them first.
He ran inside. "Mother, mother!" he cried, "my two sisters are

"Nonsense," scolded his mother. "Your sisters have been dead a long
time, as you well know. Did we not give the mourners' feast for them
this last moon?"

"Nevertheless I ought to know my own sisters, and I do know them," the
boy persisted. "They are coming--they are here!"

The mother came to the door and saw them, and instantly she threw
herself upon their necks, crying for joy.

The next morning, the elder daughter said to her: "Mother, back there
in the woods a little way there is a basket for you. Send my brother
to bring it."

The boy went and soon came back saying that it was too heavy for him.
The whole village went, but all of them together could not carry the
basket. Finally the young wife went herself, and she brought it easily
in one hand. But when she set it down in the house and began to unpack
it, behold! the place was filled and running over with meat of all
kinds. There was a great feast and every one was pleased, but
unfortunately the girls' mother ate so much that in the night she
became very ill, and by morning she was dead.

This is a story told to discourage greediness.

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