The Lone Lightning

: Folk-lore And Legends: North American Indian

A little orphan boy, who had no one to care for him, once lived with

his uncle, who treated him very badly, making him do hard work, and

giving him very little to eat, so that the boy pined away and never

grew much, but became, through hard usage, very thin and light. At

last the uncle pretended to be ashamed of this treatment, and

determined to make amends for it by fattening the boy up. He really

wished, however, to
ill him by overfeeding him. 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 nearly choked him to death by forcing the fat down

his throat. The boy escaped, and fled from the lodge. He knew not

where to go, and 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.

As he was asleep a person appeared to him from the high sky, and


"My poor 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 in the air until he reached the lofty

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 a 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 weapons, which had been given to him by a good

spirit, and had power to kill if aimed aright. At length the boy drew

up his last arrow, took aim, and let fly, as he thought, into the very

heart of the chief of the manitoes. Before the arrow reached him,

however, he changed himself into a rock, into which 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."

So saying, he transformed the boy into the Nazhik-a-wae wae sun, or Lone

Lightning, which may be observed in the northern sky to this day.