Manstin The Rabbit





MANSTIN was an adventurous brave, but very kind-hearted. Stamping

a moccasined foot as he drew on his buckskin leggins, he said:

"Grandmother, beware of Iktomi! Do not let him lure you into some

cunning trap. I am going to the North country on a long hunt."



With these words of caution to the bent old rabbit grandmother with whom

he had lived since he was a tiny babe, Manstin started off toward

the north. He was scarce over the great high hills when he heard the

shrieking of a human child.



"Wan!" he ejaculated, pointing his long ears toward the direction of the

sound; "Wan! that is the work of cruel Double-Face. Shameless coward! he

delights in torturing helpless creatures!"



Muttering indistinct words, Manstin ran up the last hill and lo! in the

ravine beyond stood the terrible monster with a face in front and one in

the back of his head!



This brown giant was without clothes save for a wild-cat-skin about his

loins. With a wicked gleaming eye, he watched the little black-haired

baby he held in his strong arm. In a laughing voice he hummed an Indian

mother's lullaby, "A-boo! Aboo!" and at the same time he switched the

naked baby with a thorny wild-rose bush.



Quickly Manstin jumped behind a large sage bush on the brow of the hill.

He bent his bow and the sinewy string twanged. Now an arrow stuck above

the ear of Double-Face. It was a poisoned arrow, and the giant fell

dead. Then Manstin took the little brown baby and hurried away from the

ravine. Soon he came to a teepee from whence loud wailing voices

broke. It was the teepee of the stolen baby and the mourners were its

heart-broken parents.



When gallant Manstin returned the child to the eager arms of the mother

there came a sudden terror into the eyes of both the Dakotas. They

feared lest it was Double-Face come in a new guise to torture them.

The rabbit understood their fear and said: "I am Manstin, the

kind-hearted,--Manstin, the noted huntsman. I am your friend. Do not

fear."



That night a strange thing happened. While the father and mother slept,

Manstin took the wee baby. With his feet placed gently yet firmly upon

the tiny toes of the little child, he drew upward by each small hand the

sleeping child till he was a full-grown man. With a forefinger he traced

a slit in the upper lip; and when on the morrow the man and woman awoke

they could not distinguish their own son from Manstin, so much alike

were the braves.



"Henceforth we are friends, to help each other," said Manstin, shaking a

right hand in farewell. "The earth is our common ear, to carry from its

uttermost extremes one's slightest wish for the other!"



"Ho! Be it so!" answered the newly made man.



Upon leaving his friend, Manstin hurried away toward the North country

whither he was bound for a long hunt. Suddenly he came upon the edge of

a wide brook. His alert eye caught sight of a rawhide rope staked to the

water's brink, which led away toward a small round hut in the distance.

The ground was trodden into a deep groove beneath the loosely drawn

rawhide rope.



"Hun-he!" exclaimed Manstin, bending over the freshly made footprints in

the moist bank of the brook. "A man's footprints!" he said to himself.

"A blind man lives in yonder hut! This rope is his guide by which he

comes for his daily water!" surmised Manstin, who knew all the peculiar

contrivances of the people. At once his eyes became fixed upon the

solitary dwelling and hither he followed his curiosity,--a real blind

man's rope.



Quietly he lifted the door-flap and entered in. An old toothless

grandfather, blind and shaky with age, sat upon the ground. He was

not deaf however. He heard the entrance and felt the presence of some

stranger.



"How, grandchild," he mumbled, for he was old enough to be grandparent

to every living thing, "how! I cannot see you. Pray, speak your name!"



"Grandfather, I am Manstin," answered the rabbit, all the while looking

with curious eyes about the wigwam.



"Grandfather, what is it so tightly packed in all these buckskin bags

placed against the tent poles?" he asked.



"My grandchild, those are dried buffalo meat and venison. These are

magic bags which never grow empty. I am blind and cannot go on a hunt.

Hence a kind Maker has given me these magic bags of choicest foods."



Then the old, bent man pulled at a rope which lay by his right hand.

"This leads me to the brook where I drink! and this," said he, turning

to the one on his left, "and this takes me into the forest, where I feel

about for dry sticks for my fire."



"Grandfather, I wish I lived in such sure luxury! I would lean back

against a tent pole, and with crossed feet I would smoke sweet willow

bark the rest of my days," sighed Manstin.



"My grandchild, your eyes are your luxury! you would be unhappy without

them!" the old man replied.



"Grandfather, I would give you my two eyes for your place!" cried

Manstin.



"How! you have said it. Arise. Take out your eyes and give them to me.

Henceforth you are at home here in my stead."



At once Manstin took out both his eyes and the old man put them on!

Rejoicing, the old grandfather started away with his young eyes while

the blind rabbit filled his dream pipe, leaning lazily against the tent

pole. For a short time it was a most pleasant pastime to smoke willow

bark and to eat from the magic bags.



Manstin grew thirsty, but there was no water in the small dwelling.

Taking one of the rawhide ropes he started toward the brook to quench

his thirst. He was young and unwilling to trudge slowly in the old man's

footpath. He was full of glee, for it had been many long moons since he

had tasted such good food. Thus he skipped confidently along jerking the

old weather-eaten rawhide spasmodically till all of a sudden it gave way

and Manstin fell headlong into the water.



"En! En!" he grunted kicking frantically amid stream. All along the

slippery bank he vainly tried to climb, till at last he chanced upon the

old stake and the deeply worn footpath. Exhausted and inwardly disgusted

with his mishaps, he crawled more cautiously on all fours to his wigwam

door. Dripping with his recent plunge he sat with chattering teeth

within his unfired wigwam.



The sun had set and the night air was chilly, but there was no fire-wood

in the dwelling. "Hin!" murmured Manstin and bravely tried the other

rope. "I go for some fire-wood!" he said, following the rawhide rope

which led into the forest. Soon he stumbled upon thickly strewn dry

willow sticks. Eagerly with both hands he gathered the wood into his

outspread blanket. Manstin was naturally an energetic fellow.



When he had a large heap, he tied two opposite ends of blanket

together and lifted the bundle of wood upon his back, but alas! he had

unconsciously dropped the end of the rope and now he was lost in the

wood!



"Hin! hin!" he groaned. Then pausing a moment, he set his fan-like ears

to catch any sound of approaching footsteps. There was none. Not even a

night bird twittered to help him out of his predicament.



With a bold face, he made a start at random.



He fell into some tangled wood where he was held fast. Manstin let go

his bundle and began to lament having given away his two eyes.



"Friend, my friend, I have need of you! The old oak tree grandfather

has gone off with my eyes and I am lost in the woods!" he cried with his

lips close to the earth.



Scarcely had he spoken when the sound of voices was audible on the outer

edge of the forest. Nearer and louder grew the voices--one was the clear

flute tones of a young brave and the other the tremulous squeaks of an

old grandfather.



It was Manstin's friend with the Earth Ear and the old grandfather.

"Here Manstin, take back your eyes," said the old man, "I knew you would

not be content in my stead, but I wanted you to learn your lesson. I

have had pleasure seeing with your eyes and trying your bow and arrows,

but since I am old and feeble I much prefer my own teepee and my magic

bags!"



Thus talking the three returned to the hut. The old grandfather crept

into his wigwam, which is often mistaken for a mere oak tree by little

Indian girls and boys.



Manstin, with his own bright eyes fitted into his head again, went on

happily to hunt in the North country.





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