Native American Legends
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
Mashtinna, the Rabbit, was a handsome young man, and, moreover,
of a kind disposition. One day, when he was hunting, he heard a
child crying bitterly, and made all haste in the direction of the
On the further side of the wood he found one tormenting a baby
boy with whips and pinches, laughing heartily meanwhile and humming
a mother's lullaby.
"What do you mean by abusing this innocent child?" demanded
the Rabbit; but the other showed a smiling face and replied pleasantly:
"You do not know what you are talking about! The child is
fretful, and I am merely trying to quiet him."
Mashtinna was not deceived, for he had guessed that this was Double-Face,
who delights in teasing the helpless ones.
"Give the boy to me!" he insisted; so that Double-Face
became angry, and showed the other side of his face, which was black
"The boy is mine," he declared, "and if you say
another word I shall treat you as I have treated him!"
Upon this, Mashtinna fitted an arrow to the string, and shot the
wicked one through the heart.
He then took the child on his arm and followed the trail to a small
and poor tipi. There lived an old man and his wife, both of them
blind and nearly helpless, for all of their children and grand-
children, even to the smallest and last, had been lured away by
"Ho, grandfather, grandmother! have brought you back the child!"
exclaimed the Rabbit, as he stood in the doorway.
But the poor, blind old people had so often been deceived by that
heartless Double-Face that they no longer believed anything; therefore
they both cried out:
"You liar! we don't believe a word you say! Get away with
Since they refused to take the child, and it was now almost night,
the kind- hearted young man wrapped the boy in his own blanket and
lay down with him to sleep. The next morning, when he awoke, he
found to his surprise that the child had grown up during the night
and was now a handsome young man, so much like him that they might
have been twin brothers.
"My friend, we are now comrades for life!" exclaimed
the strange youth. "We shall each go different ways in the
world, doing all the good we can; but if either is ever in need
of help let him call upon the other and he will come instantly to
The other agreed, and they set out in opposite directions. Not
long after, the Rabbit heard a loud groaning and crying as of some
person in great pain. When he reached the spot, he found a man with
his body wedged tightly in the forks of a tree, which the wind swayed
to and fro. He could not by any means get away, and was in great
"I will take your place, brother!" exclaimed the generous
young man, upon which the tree immediately parted, and the tree-bound
was free. Mashtinna took his place and the tree closed upon him
like a vise and pinched him severely.
The pain was worse than he had supposed, but he bore it as long
as he could without crying out. Sweat beaded his forehead and his
veins swelled to bursting; at last he could endure it no longer
and called loudly upon his comrade to help him. At once the young
man appeared and struck the tree so that it parted and Mashtinna
He kept on his journey until he spied a small wigwam quite by itself
on the edge of a wood. Lifting thedoor-flap, he saw no one but an
old blind man, who greeted him thankfully.
"Ho, my grandson! you see me, I am old and poor. All the day
I see no one. When I wish to drink, this raw-hide lariat leads me
to the stream near by. When I need dry sticks for my fire, I follow
this other rope and feel my way among the trees. I have food enough,
for these bags are packed with dried meat for my use. But alas,
my grandson, I am all alone here, and I am blind!"
"Take my eyes, grandfather!" at once exclaimed the kind-hearted
young man. "You shall go where you will, and I will remain
here in your place."
"Ho, ho, my grandson, you are very good!" replied the
old man, and he gladly took the eyes of the Rabbit and went out
into the world. The youth stayed behind, and as he was hungry, he
ate of the dried meat in the bags.
This made him very thirsty, so he took hold of the raw-hide rope
and followed it to the stream; but as he stooped to the brink, the
rope broke and Mashtinna fell in.
The water was cold and the bank slippery, but after a hard struggle
he got out again and made his way back to the tipi, dripping wet
and very miserable. Wishing to make a fire and dry his clothes,
he seized the other rope and went to the wood for sticks.
However, when he began to gather the sticks he lost the rope, and
being quite blind he did nothing but stumble over fallen logs, and
bruise himself against the trunks of trees, and scratch his face
among the briers and brambles, until at last he could bear it no
longer, and cried out to his comrade to come to his aid.
Instantly the youth appeared and gave him back his eyes, saying
at the same time:
"Friend, be not so rash in future! It is right to help those
who are in trouble, but you must also consider whether you are able
to hold out to the end."
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