The Queer Little Animal





An Indian was once wandering across the prairie. He was tired and

hungry and very lonely, too, for he had not seen a human being for many

weeks. He lay down on the ground and fell asleep. While he was lying

there, he dreamed that a small voice said, "My grandson," to him. He

wakened with a start and again heard the voice. It came from the grass

near him, but he could see nothing.



"Pick me up," said the voice, "and I shall be your friend forever. Put

me in your belt and never lay me aside, and you will always have

success."



The Indian looked closely in the grass and saw a tiny creature. It was

about the size of a baby mouse, and had no hair on its skin excepting a

little bunch on the tip of its tail. He picked it up and sewed it in

his belt. Then he travelled on until he came to a village where a

tribe of Indians lived. A broad road ran through the centre of the

village, but the strange thing was, that the lodges on one side of the

road were empty, while those on the other side were filled with

Indians. He walked boldly into the village. The people ran out to

meet him, crying, "Here is the being of whom we have heard so much.

Welcome, Anishinaba."



The chief's son was very kind to him and took him to his father's

lodge. The people of this tribe spent most of their time in games and

trials of strength. The trial they liked best was called The Freezing

Water Trial; that was, they had to lie down in icy, cold water and let

it freeze around them. The man who could stay the longest was

considered the bravest. The next night they asked Anishinaba to try

the test with them. He was quite willing and went with them to the

place where the test was to be made. He kept on his belt, and so felt

very comfortable, for the little animal made everything easy for him.

The water began to freeze and the Indians called out, "How are you

feeling?" He did not answer them.



About midnight, he noticed they had stopped talking. He called out,

"How are you feeling now? I am very warm." They did not answer him,

so he arose and walked to where they were lying. They were frozen

stiff. He went back to the camp and told the other Indians. Everybody

declared that he was the bravest warrior, since he had not been frozen.

The chief was so pleased with him that he gave him his daughter. The

Indians went to fetch the bodies of the frozen men, but were surprised

to find them changed into buffaloes. These animals went to live in the

other side of the village; and after that, every one Anishinaba killed

was changed into some kind of an animal and went into that part of the

village to live. Very shortly the empty lodges were filled.



One day Anishinaba lay down on the grass to have a sleep. He had taken

off his belt, and it lay in the long grass beside him. When he

wakened, he forgot about it. This was the first time he had ever gone

without the little animal since he came to the village. That night

some Indians who were unfriendly to him, asked him to try the freezing

trial again. He consented, for he was not at all afraid. But still he

did not think of his belt, and so the freezing water benumbed his body

and in a short time he was frozen stiff. His enemies then cut his body

into many pieces and scattered them over the village. His wife wept

bitterly for many days. Then suddenly she remembered his belt, and

went in search of it. She found it in the grass where he had slept.

As she picked it up, the tiny voice said, "Unpin me." She opened the

little seam where the animal lay and out he came. He began to shake

himself, and at each shake grew larger, until at last he was the size

of a small dog.



The queer-looking animal ran away then as fast as he could go. All

around the village he went, gathering up the pieces of his master's

body. When he had them gathered, he laid them together in their right

places. Then he uttered a loud howl, and the pieces joined together.

He uttered another, and the body began to breathe. Then he uttered one

that reached to the skies, and his master arose and stood before him.

The animal then spoke. "You should not have parted with me," he said.

"That was why you lost your life. Now, I shall reveal myself to you."

He began shaking himself like a dog, and at each shake he grew larger,

until at last he was immense. Then a long snout grew from his head,

and two big, shining teeth from his mouth. His skin was still smooth,

without one hair excepting the bunch on the end of his tail.



"I am going to give my gift to you," said the wild boar. "After this

you shall live on the meat of animals, instead of the animals eating

you. But you and all mankind must respect me and must not eat my flesh

nor that of any of my kind."





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