Quail kills cold weather and the Thunder Family
A Seneca Legend
A Man and his wife lived in an ugly-looking cabin in the forest. They had one child, a little boy. When the boy was four or five years old, another child was born, a boy no longer than a hand. The mother died and the man burned the body. Then, wrapping the baby up in a blanket, he put it in a hollow tree, for he thought it was dead.
Each day the man went to hunt and left the elder boy to play around the cabin. After a time the boy heard something crying in a hollow tree and going to the tree he found a baby. The child was lonely and almost starved. The boy fed it with soup he made of deer intestines.
The child drank the soup with great relish, drank again and again and soon became strong. The boy gave his little brother plenty to eat and at last he came out of the tree.
The two boys played together. The elder boy made the little one a coat of fawn-skin and put it on him. Then, as he ran around, he looked exactly like a chipmunk.
One day the father noticed a decrease of provisions and asked the boy what he had done with the deer intestines.
The boy said, "I eat a good many."
The father looked around the fire and seeing very small tracks, said, "Here are the tracks of a little child."
Then the boy told how he had found his brother, had fed him and made a coat for him, and how they played together.
"Bring him in," said the father.
"He won't come; he is afraid."
"We will catch him. Tell him to come with you and hunt for mice."
The man caught a great many mice, put them in his bosom and his clothes and, going beyond the hollow tree, turned himself into an old stump.
The boy went to the hollow tree, and called, "Come out, Brother, we will play catching mice."
The little fellow came out of the tree and he and his brother ran to the stump, ran around it and caught a number of mice. The child laughed and shouted with joy. Suddenly the stump became a man. The man caught the little boy and ran home. The child screamed and struggled. No use; he couldn't get away; but he wouldn't be pacified. At last his father put a little club in his hand, and said, "Strike that tree!"--A great hickory that stood near the house.
The child struck the tree, the tree fell to the ground. Everything that he hit with his club was killed. He was delighted, he didn't cry any more.
The little fellow stayed now with his brother and the two played while their father was off hunting.
"You must not go towards the North," said their father; "bad people live there."
"Let's go North," said the little one, as soon as his father was out of sight, "I want to find out what is there."
The boys started and went on till they came to wooded and swampy ground, then the little one heard people call, "My father my father, my father," and he said to himself, Those people want to hurt my father, I'll kill them."
He piled up stones, made them red hot, and hurled them "'to the swamp till he had killed all the people there--they were frogs and they sang, "Ho´qwa! Ho´qwa!"
When the boys got home their father was angry, and said, "You must not go to the swamp again, and you must not go West. It is dangerous there too."
The next day when his father had gone hunting, the little boy said to his brother, "I want to know what is in the West, let us go there."
The two traveled West till they came to a tall pine tree. On the top of the tree was a nest made of skins.
"Oh," said the little boy, "that is a queer place for a nest. I would like to see what is in it. I'll climb up there."
Up he went and on the top of the tree he found two naked children, a boy and a girl. They were terribly frightened when they saw him. He pinched the boy till he cried out, "Father! Father! Some strange child has come and is frightening me."
Suddenly a terrible voice was heard in the far West. The voice came nearer and nearer, and a great dark object hurried along in the air till it reached the nest on the top of the tree--It was Old Man Thunder.
The boy raised his club and struck him on the head, crushed him and he fell to the ground, dead.
Then the boy pinched the little girl till she called out, "Mother! Mother! Some strange boy has come and is teasing me."
That minute the voice of Mother Thunder was heard in the West and soon she was at the nest.
The boy raised his club and struck her on the head and she too fell to the ground, dead.
"This Thunder baby will make a splendid tobacco pouch for my father," thought the boy, "I'll take him home."
He struck the boy with his club and threw him to the ground. He threw the little girl also, then he went down himself, and said to his brother, "Now we will go home."
When the boys got home the little one said, "Oh, Father, I have brought you a splendid pouch."
"What have you done now?" asked the father when he saw the Thunder baby. "Old Man Thunder and his wife have never done us any harm. They bring rain and do good, but they will destroy us in revenge for what you have done."
"They'll not harm us," said the boy, "I've killed the whole family."
Another day the father said to the boys, "You mustn't go North, that is the country of the Stone Coats (Ice and Great Cold)."
The elder brother wouldn't go, so the little one started off alone. About midday he heard the loud barking of a Stone Coat's dog and knowing that its master must be near he crawled into the heart of a chestnut tree.
Soon Stone Coat came, looked at the tree, and said, "There is nothing here."
But his dog, as tall as a deer, barked and looked up, so Stone Coat struck the tree with his mallet. The tree split open and the boy fell out.
"What a strange little fellow you are," said Stone Coat, looking at the boy, "You are not big enough to fill a hole in a tooth."
"I'm not here to fill holes in your teeth," said the boy, "I came to go home with you and see how you live."
"All right! come with me."
Stone Coat was enormously tall, he carried two bears in his belt as a common man would carry two squirrels. Once in a while he looked down at the little fellow running by his side, and said, "Oh, you are a curious little creature!"
Stone Coat's house was very large and long. The boy had never seen anything like it.
Stone Coat skinned the two bears, took one himself and put one before his visitor, saying, "Eat this bear or I'll eat you and the bear together."
"If you don't eat your bear before I eat mine, may I kill you?" asked the boy.
"You may kill me," said Stone Coat.
The boy cut off pieces of meat as fast as he could and put them in his mouth, but he kept running in and out, hiding the meat. He was so small that Stone Coat didn't see what he was doing. In a short time all of the flesh of the bear had disappeared, then he said to Stone Coat, "You haven't finished eating your bear. I am going to kill you."
Stone Coat said, "Wait till I show you how to slide down hill."
He took the boy to a long icy hill that ended in a cave,
put him in a bark bowl and sent the bowl down at great speed. Presently the boy ran up to where he had started from.
"Where is my bowl?" asked Stone Coat.
"I don't know; it has gone down somewhere," said the boy.
"Let's see who can kick this log highest," said Stone Coat.
The log was large around, long and very heavy. Stone Coat put his foot under the log and lifted it into the air twice his own length.
The boy put his foot under the log and sent it whistling through the air. It was gone a long time, then came down on Stone Coat's head and crushed him.
"Come home with me," said the boy to Stone Coat's dog.
"Now my father will have a splendid dog," thought he.
When the man saw the dog he cried out, "What have you done? Stone Coat will kill us."
"I've killed Stone Coat. He'll not trouble us," said the boy.
"My boys," said the man, "You must never go Southwest. That is where the people live who are always gambling."
The next day the little boy started off alone; about midday he came to an opening in the woods. At the farther end of the opening was a roof on posts, under the roof was a man whose head was larger than the head of a buffalo. He was shaking dice for the heads of men who came along. Crowds of men were betting in threes. When the game was lost, the big-headed man had the three men stand on one side while he played with three other men. When they lost, they stood with the first three and so on till the number of losers was large enough, then he cut off each man's head.
As the boy came, a large number of men had lost and were waiting to be killed. Hope came to them for they knew that the boy had great power.
The game began again; the boy playing. When the bigheaded man threw the dice, the boy caused some to remain in the dish and others to go high and when they came back to be of different colors. He threw; the dice became woodcocks, flew high and came down dice, all of one color.
The two played till the boy won back the men who were waiting to have their heads cut off, and the big-headed man lost his own head.
The crowd shouted, and said, "Now you must be our chief!"
"How could such a little fellow as I am be chief? Maybe my father would like to be your chief, I will ask him."
The boy went home and told his father, but his father would not go to the land of the gamblers, he said, "You have come back from the Southwest, but you must not go to the East, bad men play ball there."
The next day the boy went toward the East till he came to a beautiful plain, a large level space where Wolves and Bears were playing ball with Eagles, Turtles and Beavers.
The boy took the side of the Wolves and Bears and they said, "If you win the game for us, we will make you chief of this country."
The boy won.
He went home and said to his father, "I have won all the beautiful country of the East. You must go there and be chief." The father and his two sons went to that country and there they lived.--This is the story.
The little boy is called Popkpéknos, Quail, and is said to personify Summer or Warm Weather. He kills Stone Coat, a character known to be Ice and Cold Weather, and he also kills the Thunder Family.
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