: IROQUOIS TALES
: Indian Legends Retold
There were once three comrades who went upon the warpath, and when
they were a long way from home, one had the misfortune to fall and
break his leg. The other two made a litter in which they undertook to
carry him, but there was a ridge of high mountains to cross, and the
way grew very painful and difficult. At last they became discouraged,
set the litter down, went a little aside and consulted together in
By and by they took up their burden again, and coming to a deep
crevasse they let it fall as if by accident, so that the injured man
rolled into the abyss. They went home and reported that they had met
the enemy and that their comrade had died of his wounds. To console
his weeping wife, they assured her that he had fought bravely; also
that they had tended and cared for him until he died and had then
given him suitable burial.
In the meantime, the abandoned one fell to the bottom of the pit,
where to his surprise he beheld a very old man sitting with his hands
clasped about his withered knees.
"What is this?" inquired the old sage. "Is it possible that your
comrades have deserted you and left you to perish miserably?"
"It seems that they have done so," calmly replied the youth.
"You may live, nevertheless," the other promised, "if you will agree
to my conditions. I am now too old to hunt. Stay here and keep me
supplied with game as long as I live, and I will cure your leg."
As the young man had no choice, he agreed without hesitation, and the
ancient bound up his limb with healing herbs, fed and tended him until
he was able to hunt.
There was game in abundance in that part of the country, and the old
man told him that if ever he shot more than he could carry, he should
call out and he would come to his assistance. One day the hunter
succeeded in killing an immense bear, and while he was skinning it,
behold! three very tall strangers clad in garments of cloud appeared
"We are the Thunderers," said they. "We should be glad to help you,
for you have not deserved your misfortunes. That old man for whom you
hunt is not what he seems to be. Call him, and you shall see!"
Since the youth saw no harm in calling his benefactor to help him with
the game, he did as they advised, and the aged man climbed out of the
pit very cautiously, first calling aloud to inquire if there were any
cloud in the sky.
"There is none," replied the hunter, and the other hobbled forward,
continually peering into the heavens as if in fear of some enemy.
Suddenly a rumble of thunder was heard, and immediately he turned and
fled in the form of a Porcupine, throwing back sharp quills like
arrows as he ran. Louder and louder pealed the thunder, and just as he
reached the edge of the pit a bolt of lightning struck the Porcupine,
and he fell dead into his den.
After this the young man returned to his own people.