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Native American Legends

The Wren

A Seneca Legend

A boy was once told that he must not shoot wrens, for the wren is a strange bird, difficult to hit and mysterious in its ways. One day he went out to hunt when the sun was already beyond the middle of the sky. He soon saw a wren and although warned he determined to try his luck in killing it.

He shot arrow after arrow, but no use, he could not hit the bird. Sometimes it dodged the arrows, sometimes it flew to another tree. All his efforts were vain.

At last he hid behind a bush and waited till he had an excellent aim, then he let his arrow fly. It just grazed the top of the bird's head, scratching the skin. The wren flew away fluttering. The boy watched till it disappeared behind a log at some distance in the thicket, then he ran forward quickly.

As he got near the log he heard groans and low cries of pain, and looking over the log he saw a man lying on the ground, apparently in great pain. His scalp was gone and the whole top of his head was covered with blood.

The boy, terribly frightened, ran home and told what had happened. People hurried back with him to aid the wounded man, but they could find no trace of him; the wren had flown.

The wren is to this day called "the bird without a scalp."

It had turned itself into a man to avoid being captured while stunned by pain.

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