The Ten Princes

: Indian Legends Retold

The ten sons of a chief went hunting, and all took their wives with

them except the youngest brother, who was unmarried. They all camped

together at night, and in the morning the eldest prince went out in

search of game.

The first thing he saw was a fat porcupine coming toward him, which he

easily caught. He wrung its neck, and hung it on the branch of a

tree, and went on.

he top of a hill, he met a handsome white she-bear and shot her

dead. He kept on to the very top, and looking down, perceived a

strange town at the foot, which made him very curious. He walked up

boldly to the first hut, in which a pretty young woman sat alone. She

beckoned to him through the window, but he had scarcely entered when

some one called out from the next dwelling:

"You have a visitor. Send him here: the chief wishes to see him."

At the chief's door, several young men met the stranger with much

kindness and greatly admired his weapons, which they begged to be

allowed to examine. As soon as he went in, the chief greeted him with

all hospitality. He ordered that the softest robes be brought for his

seat and caused him to be served with the choicest food. While he ate,

his weapons were returned to him and laid at his side. When night

came, the chief said, "Bring the best blanket for our guest; he will

remain with us to-night"; and it was done.

In the morning a cry arose, "The bears are coming!"

"Let my best hunters go out against them," ordered the chief. Now the

young prince was an expert hunter and had a mind to display his skill,

so he hastened to attack the foremost bear. He drew out his best

arrow, but to his astonishment the arrow broke. Hurriedly he seized

his spear, and the spear broke. In a moment the grizzly bear was upon

him and bore him to the ground.

As soon as he was dead, the young men dragged his body into the

chief's hut, where the chief caused it to be cut in pieces and hung

up to dry.

Now when this young man did not come back to camp on that day or the

next, his wife grew anxious, and the next in age offered to go in

search of him. He set out in the same direction, and half-way up the

hill he met a fat porcupine, which he clubbed and hung in a tree as

his brother had done. A little further on, he saw a white she-bear and

killed her, after which he went toward the village which he observed

in the distance.

The pretty young woman invited him to come in, and the young men

welcomed him cordially and took away his weapons, which they returned

to him as he sat feasting in the house of the chief. In short,

everything happened to him exactly as it had happened to his brother;

and in the morning, when his arrows broke off short, he was at the

mercy of the bear, and his body was cut up and hung beside that of the


Next day, the third youth went to look for the other two, and so on,

until all were gone except the youngest. The nine widows mourned

continually, and they begged the last brother not to follow the

others, for if he should, they felt sure that he too would be lost and

they would all be left without a protector. However, he insisted upon

going, assuring them that not only would he come back safe and sound,

but would bring back their husbands also.

He took the same path up the hill, and when he saw the fat porcupine

coming to meet him, it occurred to him that he had better let her pass

unharmed, and he did so. A little later, he met the white she-bear and

shot her; but when he came to her he could not help laying his hand

gently on her side and exclaiming aloud, "How beautiful she is!"

Instantly the bear became a handsome young woman, who smiled upon him,

and warned him of the dangers that he would meet in the Bears' town at

the foot of the hill.

"These people are really Bears," said she, "and I am one of them sent

to deceive you. But you have no wife, and I like you very much. Do not

let the young men take your weapons even for a minute, or they will

change them to dry sticks as they did those of your nine brothers, who

killed me without remorse."

Finally she gave him two small pups and told him to hide them in his

robe, and if ever he was in trouble to set them one by one on the

ground, saying, "Red, grow up quick and help me!" "Spot, grow up quick

and help me!" and it should be so. Then she kissed and embraced him,

and he went on down the hill to the village.

In the first hut he came to he found his sweetheart again, and she

greeted him lovingly. When the chief sent for him, she delayed parting

with him as long as she could, but was at last forced to let him go,

with many charges as to the best way to outwit her kinsmen.

Accordingly he kept fast hold of his weapons, when the young men

crowded admiringly about him, and even lay awake all night lest they

should take them from him while he slept.

In the morning, when the Bears came on as before, and the chief called

for men to go out and meet them, the young prince drew his bow and

shot the foremost through the heart. More followed, and he killed them

one after another until his arrows were all gone. Then he fought with

his spear until he was tired out, and still the Bears came on.

Finally he remembered the pups that his sweetheart had given him, and

he placed the first one on the ground, saying, "Grow up quick, Red,

and help me!"

Instantly the pup became an immense dog which rushed at the Bears and

drove them back.

Then he put down the second pup, saying, "Grow up quick, Spot, and

help me!" and another savage dog attacked and put to rout the last of

his enemies.

Then the young man returned to the Bear chief's wigwam for his nine

brothers. He took down the pieces of their bodies and laid them side

by side, and they all came to life and followed the hero and his Bear

wife back to their own camp, where they were welcomed with great