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Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away
This version of the legend comes from Stith Thompson's 1929 collection Tales of the North American Indian.
Once upon a time there lived a couple, the woman being pregnant. The man went hunting one day, and in his absence a certain wicked woman named Red-Woman came to the tipi and killed his wife and cut her open and found boy twins.
She threw one behind the tipi curtain, and the other she threw into a spring. She then put a stick inside the woman and stuck one end in the ground, to give her the appearance of a live person, and burned her upper lip, giving her the appearance as though laughing.
When her husband came home, tired from carrying the deer he had killed, he saw his wife standing near the door of the tipi, looking as though she were laughing at him, and he said: "I am tired and hungry, why do you laugh at me?" and pushed her. As she fell backwards, her stomach opened, and he caught hold of her and discovered she was dead. He knew at once that Red- Woman had killed his wife.
While the man was eating supper alone one night a voice said, "Father, give me some of your supper." As no one was in sight, he resumed eating and again the voice asked for supper. The man said, "Whoever you are, you may come and eat with me, for I am poor and alone." A young boy came from behind the curtain, and said his name was "Thrown-behind-the-Curtain." During the day, while the man went hunting, the boy stayed home.
One day the boy said, "Father, make me two bows and the arrows for them." His father asked him why he wanted two bows. The boy said, "I want them to change about." His father made them for him, but surmised the boy had other reasons, and concluded he would watch the boy, and on one day, earlier than usual, he left his tipi and hid upon a hill overlooking his tipi, and while there, he saw two boys of about the same age shooting arrows.
That evening when he returned home, he asked his son, "Is there not another little boy of your age about here?" His son said, "Yes, and he lives in the spring." His father said, "You should bring him out and make him live with us." The son said, "I cannot make him, because he has sharp teeth like an otter, but if you will make me a suit of rawhide, I will try and catch him."
One day, arrangements were made to catch the boy. The father said, "I will stay here in the tipi and you tell him I have gone out." So Thrown-behind-the- Curtain said to Thrown-in-Spring. "Come out and play arrows." Thrown-in- Spring came out just a little, and said, "I smell something."
Thrown-behind-the-Curtain said, "No, you don't, my father is not home," and after insisting, Thrown-in-Spring came out, and both boys began to play. While they were playing, Thrown-behind-the-Curtain disputed a point of their game, and as Thrown-in-Spring stooped over to see how close his arrow came, Thrown-behind-the-Curtain grabbed him from behind and held his arms close to his sides and Thrown-in-Spring turned and attempted to bite him, but his teeth could not penetrate the rawhide suit.
The father came to the assistance of Thrown-behind-the-Curtain and the water of the spring rushed out to help Thrown-in-Spring; but Thrown-in- Spring was dragged to a high hill where the water could not reach him, and there they burned incense under his nose, and he became human. The three of them lived together.
One day one of the boys said, "Let us go and wake up mother." They went to the mother's grave and one said, "Mother, your stone pot is dropping," and she moved. The other boy said, "Mother, your hide dresser is falling," and she sat up. Then one of them said, "Mother, your bone crusher is falling," and she began to arrange her hair, which had begun to fall off. The mother said, "I have been asleep a long time." She accompanied the boys home.
The boys were forbidden by their father to go to the river bend above their tipi; for an old woman lived there who had a boiling pot, and every time she saw any living object, she tilted the kettle toward it and the object was drawn into the pot and boiled for her to eat.
The boys went one day to see the old woman, and they found her asleep and they stole up and got her pot and awakened the old woman and said to her, "Grandmother, why have you this here?" at the same time tilting the pot towards her, by which she was drowned and boiled to death. They took the pot home and gave it to their mother for her own protection.
Their father told them not to disobey him again and said, "There is something over the hill I do not want you to go near." They were very anxious to find out what this thing was, and they went over to the hill and as they poked their heads over the hilltop, the thing began to draw in air, and the boys were drawn in also; and as they went in, they saw people and animals, some dead and others dying. The thing proved to be an immense alligator-like serpent.
One of the boys touched the kidneys of the thing and asked what they were. The alligator said, "That is my medicine, do not touch it." And the boy reached up and touched its heart and asked what it was, and the serpent grunted and said, "This is Where I make my plans." One of the boys said, "You do make plans, do you?" and he cut the heart off and it died. They made their escape by cutting between the ribs and liberated the living ones and took a piece of the heart home to their father.
After the father had administered another scolding, he told the boys not to go near the three trees standing in a triangular shaped piece of ground; for if anything went under them they would bend to the ground suddenly, killing everything in their way. One day the boys went towards these trees, running swiftly and then stopping suddenly near the trees, which bent violently and struck the ground without hitting them. They jumped over the trees, breaking the branches and they could not rise after the branches were broken.
Once more the boys were scolded and told not to go near a tipi over the hill; for it was inhabited by snakes, and they would approach anyone asleep and enter his body through the rectum. Again the boys did as they were told not to do and went to the tipi, and the snakes invited them in. They went in and carried flat pieces of stone with them and as they sat down they placed the flat pieces of stones under their rectums.
After they had been in the tipi a short while, the snakes began putting their heads over the poles around the fireplace and the snakes began to relate stories, and one of them said "When there is a drizzling rain, and when we are under cover, it is nice to sleep." One of the boys said, "When we are lying down under the pine trees and the wind blows softly through them and has a weird sound, it is nice to sleep."
All but one of the snakes went to sleep, and that one tried to enter the rectum of each of the boys and failed, on account of the flat stone. The boys killed all of the other snakes but that one, and they took that one and rubbed its head against the side of a cliff, and that is the reason why snakes have flattened heads.
Again the boys were scolded by their father, who said, "There is a man living on the steep cut bank, with deep water under it, and if you go near it he will push you over the bank into the water for his father in the water to eat." The boys went to the place, but before going, they fixed their headdresses with dried grass.
Upon their arrival at the edge of the bank, one said to the other, "Just as he is about to push you over, lie down quickly." The man from his hiding place suddenly rushed out to push the boys over, and just as he was about to do it, the boys threw themselves quickly upon the ground, and the man went over their heads, pulling their headdress with him, and his father in the water ate him.
Upon the boys' return, and after telling what they had done, their father scolded them and told them, "There is a man who wears moccasins of fire, and when he wants anything, he goes around it and it is burned up." The boys ascertained where this man lived and stole upon him one day when he was sleeping under a tree and each one of the boys took off a moccasin and put it on and they awoke him and ran about him and he was burned and went up in smoke. They took the moccasins home.
Their father told them that something would yet happen to them; for they had killed so many bad things. One day while walking the valley they were lifted from the earth and after traveling in mid air for some time, they were placed on top of a peak in a rough high mountain with a big lake surrounding it and the Thunder-Bird said to them, "I want you to kill a long otter that lives in the lake; he eats all the young ones that I produce and I cannot make him stop."
So the boys began to make arrows, and they gathered dry pine sticks and began to heat rocks, and the long otter came towards them.
As it opened its mouth the boys shot arrows into it; and as that did not stop it from drawing nearer, they threw the hot rocks down its throat, and it curled up and died afterwards. They were taken up and carried through the air and gently placed upon the ground near their homes, where they lived for many years.
More stories to read:
Native American heroic legends
Native American monster stories
Native American legends about twins
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