The Wonderful Bird
A Blackfoot Legend
One day, as Old Man was walking about in the woods, he saw something very queer. A bird was sitting on the limb of a tree making a strange noise, and every time it made this noise, its eyes would go out of its head and fasten on the tree; then it would make another kind of a noise, and its eyes would come back to their places.
"Little Brother," cried Old Man, "teach me how to do that."
"If I show you how to do that," replied the bird, "you must not let your eyes go out of your head more than three times a day. If you do, you will be sorry."
"Just as you say, Little Brother. The trick is yours, and I will listen to you."
When the bird had taught Old Man how to do it, he was very glad, and did it three times right away. Then he stopped. "That bird has no sense," he said. "Why did he tell me to do it only three times? I will do it again, anyhow." So he made his eyes go out a fourth time; but now he could not call them back. Then he called to the bird, "Oh Little Brother, come help me get back my eyes." The little bird did not answer him. It had flown away. Then Old Man felt all over the trees with his hands, but he could not find his eyes; and he wandered about for a long time, crying and calling the animals to help him.
A wolf had much fun with him. The wolf had found a dead buffalo, and taking a piece of the meat which smelled bad, he would hold it close to Old Man. "I smell something dead," Old Man would say. "I wish I could find it; I am nearly starved to death." And he would feel all around for it. Once, when the wolf was doing this, Old Man caught him, and, plucking out one of his eyes, he put it in his own head. Then he could see, and was able to find his own eyes; but he could never again do the trick the little bird had taught him.
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