The Boy Who Snared The Sun





At the time when the animals reigned on the earth they had killed all

but a girl and her little brother, and these two were living in fear

and seclusion. The boy was a perfect pigmy, never growing beyond the

stature of a small infant, but the girl increased with her years, so

that the labour of providing food and lodging devolved wholly on her.

She went out daily to get wood for their lodge fire, and took her

brother with her so that no accident might happen to him, for he was

too little to leave alone--a big bird might have flown away with him.

She made him a bow and arrows, and said to him one winter day--



"I will leave you behind where I have been chopping; you must hide

yourself, and you will see the gitshee-gitshee-gaun ai see-ug, or

snow-birds, come and pick the worms out of the wood, where I have been

chopping. Shoot one of them and bring it home."



He obeyed her, and tried his best to kill one, but came home

unsuccessful. She told him he must not despair, but try again the next

day. She accordingly left him at the place where she got wood and

returned home. Towards nightfall she heard his footsteps on the snow,

and he came in exultingly, and threw down one of the birds he had

killed.



"My sister," said he, "I wish you to skin it and stretch the skin, and

when I have killed more I will have a coat made out of them."



"What shall we do with the body?" asked she, for as yet men had not

begun to eat animal food, but lived on vegetables alone.



"Cut it in two," he answered, "and season our pottage with one-half of

it at a time."



She did so. The boy continued his efforts, and succeeded in killing

ten birds, out of the skins of which his sister made him a little

coat.



"Sister," said he one day, "are we all alone in the world? Is there

nobody else living?"



His sister told him that they two alone remained; that the beings who

had killed all their relations lived in a certain quarter, and that he

must by no means go in that direction. This only served to inflame his

curiosity and raise his ambition, and he soon after took his bow and

arrows and went to seek the beings of whom his sister had told him.

After walking a long time and meeting nothing he became tired, and lay

down on a knoll where the sun had melted the snow. He fell fast

asleep, and while sleeping the sun beat so hot upon him that it singed

and drew up his birdskin coat, so that when he awoke and stretched

himself, he felt, as it were, bound in it. He looked down and saw the

damage done, and then he flew into a passion, upbraided the sun, and

vowed vengeance against it.



"Do not think you are too high," said he; "I shall revenge myself."



On coming home he related his disaster to his sister, and lamented

bitterly the spoiling of his coat. He would not eat. He lay down as

one that fasts, and did not stir or move his position for ten days,

though his sister did all she could to arouse him. At the end of ten

days he turned over, and then lay ten days on the other side. Then he

got up and told his sister to make him a snare, for he meant to catch

the sun. At first she said she had nothing, but finally she remembered

a little piece of dried deer's sinew that her father had left, and

this she soon made into a string suitable for a noose. The moment,

however, she showed it to her brother, he told her it would not do,

and bade her get something else. She said she had nothing--nothing at

all. At last she thought of her hair, and pulling some of it out made

a string. Her brother again said it would not answer, and bade her,

pettishly, and with authority, make him a noose. She replied that

there was nothing to make it of, and went out of the lodge. When she

was all alone she said--



"Neow obewy indapin."



Meanwhile her brother awaited her, and it was not long before she

reappeared with some tiny cord. The moment he saw it he was delighted.



"This will do," he cried, and he put the cord to his mouth and began

pulling it through his lips, and as fast as he drew it changed to a

red metal cord of prodigious length, which he wound around his body

and shoulders. He then prepared himself, and set out a little after

midnight that he might catch the sun before it rose. He fixed his

snare on a spot just where he thought the sun would appear; and sure

enough he caught it, so that it was held fast in the cord and could

not rise.



The animals who ruled the earth were immediately put into a great

commotion. They had no light. They called a council to debate the

matter, and to appoint some one to go and cut the cord--a very

hazardous enterprise, for who dare go so near to the sun as would be

necessary? The dormouse, however, undertook the task. At that time the

dormouse was the largest animal in the world; when it stood up it

looked like a mountain. It set out upon its mission, and, when it got

to the place where the sun lay snared, its back began to smoke and

burn, so intense was the heat, and the top of its carcass was reduced

to enormous heaps of ashes. It succeeded, however, in cutting the cord

with its teeth and freed the sun, but was reduced to a very small size,

and has remained so ever since. Men call it the Kug-e-been-gwa-kwa.





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