A Seneca Legend
Raven was traveling but he didn't know whence he came or whither he was going. As he journeyed along he was thinking, "How did I come to be alive? Where did I come from? Where am I going?" After traveling a long time he saw a smoke and going toward it saw four hunters--blackbirds. Afraid to go near them he hid in the forest and watched.
The next morning after the hunters had started away, Raven crept up to their camp, stole their meat, carried it into the woods and made a camp for himself. He was lonely and he said, "I wish there were other people here." Looking around he saw a house west of his camp and going to it found Robin and his wife and five children. Raven ate the youngest child, then ate the other four. The father and mother tried to drive him away, but could not. When at last Raven went off he left old Rabin and his wife crying for their children.
Sometime after this, Raven saw a camp off in the southeast and going there found a family of Sparrows. He was afraid of the old people and he ran off, but they followed him, caught up and hit him on the head till they drove him far away.
"It is a shame to let such little people beat me!" thought Raven. But he was afraid to go back.
Now Raven had gone far from his camp; he hunted everywhere in the forest but couldn't find it. "Well," said he at last, "let it go, I don't care!" and he walked away toward the North. Just before dark, he found a camp and going towards it saw four men and a large quantity of meat. He hid in the forest and the next morning', looking toward the camp, he again saw the hunters.
"I'll wait till they go away," thought Raven, "then I'll steal their meat." Soon he heard the men moving around, then all was quiet and he knew that they had gone. He crept slowly toward the camp, but when he reached it be didn't find even one bite of meat--they were the hunters from whom he had stolen before. They had finished hunting, had packed their meat and started for home.
Raven was disappointed. He walked on and toward night found another camp. Creeping near it, he again saw the four hunters. He listened to what they were saying.
One said, "I wonder who stole our meat that day?"
Another said, "I think the thief is walking around in the woods, I think his name is Raven."
"Oh," thought Raven, "they are talking about me. They will be on the watch. How can I get their meat? Then he said, "Let them fall asleep and sleep soundly!"
That minute the four hunters fell asleep. Raven went up boldly, took their meat, carried it off into the woods and hid it, saying, "This is the kind of man I am!"
The next morning the four hunters missed their meat.
One said, "Somebody has stolen my meat!"
Another asked, "Who has stolen my meat?"
The third said, "I dreamed that I saw Raven around here and he started off toward the Southwest."
Then the four said, "Let us follow the direction given by the dream."
The hunters started to follow the thief. Soon they came to the place where he was camped. Raven had been out all night and now he was sleeping soundly.
One of the men said, "We must kill him."
"No," said another, "let him live, he didn't kill us while we were asleep."
They took their meat and went away.
When Raven woke up, he was very hungry, but the meat was gone. "Well," thought he, "I must hunt for something to eat." He traveled around in every direction but found no game. About midday he heard the noise of people. He listened a while then went on till he came to a house. A man inside the house was singing and the song said, "Raven is coming! Look out! Be careful! Raven is coming!"
"Why does he sing about me?" thought Raven, "I'll go in and find out."
He went into the house and found Ground-bird and his wife and four children.
"I have come to stay a few days with you," said Raven.
"Very well," said the man.
That night Raven ate the four children, then he lay down and slept.
The next morning the father and mother asked, "Where are our children?"
Raven said, "I dreamed that a man came and carried your children off, and my dream told me which way he went. I will go with you and hunt for them."
When the three had traveled some distance Raven said, "The man who stole your children lives on that high cliff over there. I can't go there with you, for I don't like that man. I will wait here till you come back."
As soon as the father and mother were out of sight, Raven ran off. He traveled till he came to where there were many of his own people. They were dancing and he sat down to watch them.
Soon Muck-worm was seen coming from the East. The people stopped dancing and ran in every direction, but Muck-worm pursued them and catching one after another by the neck he threw them aside dead.
Raven, who was watching, thought, "What sort of man is that? I wish he would see me. He can't throw me off dead, in that way."
Muck-worm, after killing many of the Raven people, started toward the West, Raven followed him. Muck-worm kept on for a long time without seeming to know that there was anyone behind him, but at last he stopped, looked back, and asked, "What do you want?"
"I don't want anything," said Raven, "I've come to be company for you."
"I don't want company," said Muck-worm.
Raven was frightened. Both men stood still for a minute then Muck-worm sprang at Raven and caught him. He would have killed him, but Raven screamed so loudly that many of his people heard the cry and came to his aid. They flew at Muck-worm and pecked him to death.
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