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Nezhik-e-wa-wa-sun Or The Lone Lightning

Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha


A little orphan boy who had no one to care for him, was once living
with his uncle, who treated him very badly, making him do hard things
and giving him very little to eat; so that the boy pined away, he never
grew much, and became, through hard usage, very thin and light. At last
the uncle felt ashamed of this treatment, and determined to make amends
for it, by fattening him up, but his real object was, to kill him by
over-feeding. He told his wife to give the boy plenty of bear's meat,
and let him have the fat, which is thought to be the best part. They
were both very assiduous in cramming him, and one day came near choking
him to death, by forcing the fat down his throat. The boy escaped and
fled from the lodge. He knew not where to go, but wandered about. When
night came on, he was afraid the wild beasts would eat him, so he
climbed up into the forks of a high pine tree, and there he fell asleep
in the branches, and had an aupoway, or ominous dream.

A person appeared to him from the upper sky, and said, "My poor little
lad, I pity you, and the bad usage you have received from your uncle
has led me to visit you: follow me, and step in my tracks." Immediately
his sleep left him, and he rose up and followed his guide, mounting up
higher and higher into the air, until he reached the upper sky. Here
twelve arrows were put into his hands, and he was told that there were
a great many manitoes in the northern sky, against whom he must go to
war, and try to waylay and shoot them. Accordingly he went to that part
of the sky, and, at long intervals, shot arrow after arrow, until he
had expended eleven, in vain attempt to kill the manitoes. At the
flight of each arrow, there was a long and solitary streak of lightning
in the sky--then all was clear again, and not a cloud or spot could be
seen. The twelfth arrow he held a long time in his hands, and looked
around keenly on every side to spy the manitoes he was after. But these
manitoes were very cunning, and could change their form in a moment.
All they feared was the boy's arrows, for these were magic arrows,
which had been given to him by a good spirit, and had power to kill
them, if aimed aright. At length, the boy drew up his last arrow,
settled in his aim, and let fly, as he thought, into the very heart of
the chief of the manitoes; but before the arrow reached him, the manito
changed himself into a rock. Into this rock, the head of the arrow sank
deep and stuck fast.

"Now your gifts are all expended," cried the enraged manito, "and I
will make an example of your audacity and pride of heart, for lifting
your bow against me"--and so saying, he transformed the boy into the
Nezhik-e-wae wae sun, or Lone Lightning, which may be observed in the
northern sky, to this day.

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