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The Sun Snarer

A Menomini Legend

One day while two elder brothers were out hunting in the forest, the youngest went away to hide himself and to mourn because he was not permitted to join them.

He had with him his bow and arrows and his beaver-skin robe; but when the Sun rose high in the sky he became tired and laid himself down to weep, covering himself entirely with his robe to keep out the Sun. When the Sun was directly overhead and saw the boy, it sent down a ray which burned spots upon the robe and made it shrink until it exposed the boy. Then the Sun smiled, while the boy wept more violently than before.

He felt that he had been cruelly treated both by his brothers and now by the Sun. He said to the Sun, "You have treated me cruelly and burned my robe, when I did not deserve it. Why do you punish me like this?" The Sun merely continued to smile, but said nothing.

The boy then gathered up his bow and arrows, and taking his burnt robe, returned to the wigwam, where he lay down in a dark corner and again wept. His sister was outside of the wigwam when he returned, so she was not aware of his presence when she reentered to attend to her work. Presently she heard someone crying, and going over to the place whence the sound came she found that it was her youngest brother who was in distress.

She said to him, "My brother, why are you weeping?" to which he replied, "Look at me; I am sad because the Sun burned my beaver-skin robe; I have been cruelly treated this day." Then he turned his face away and continued to weep. Even in his sleep he sobbed, because of his distress.

When he awoke, he said to his sister, "My sister, give me a thread, I wish to use it."

She handed him a sinew thread, but he said to her, "No, that is not what I want: I want a hair thread."

She said to him, "Take this; this is strong."

"No," he replied, "that is not the kind of a thread I want; I want a hair thread."

She then understood his meaning, and plucking a single hair from her person handed it to him, when he said, "That is what I want," and taking it at both ends he began to pull it gently, smoothing it out as it continued to lengthen until it reached from the tips of the fingers of one hand to the ends of the fingers of the other.

Then he started out to where the Sun's path touched the earth. When he reached the place where the Sun was when it burned his robe, the little boy made a noose and stretched it across the path, and when the Sun came to that point the noose caught him around the neck and began to choke him until he almost lost his breath.

It became dark, and the Sun called out to the ma'nidos, "Help me, my brothers, and cut this string before it kills me." The ma'nidos came, but the thread had so cut into the flesh of the Sun's neck that they could not sever it. When all but one had given up, the Sun called to the Mouse to try to cut the string. The Mouse came up and gnawed at the string, but it was difficult work, because the string was hot and deeply embedded in the Sun's neck.

After working at the string a good while, however, the Mouse succeeded in cutting it, when the Sun breathed again and the darkness disappeared. If the Mouse had not succeeded, the Sun would have died. Then the boy said to the Sun, "For your cruelty I have punished you; now you may go."

The boy then returned to his sister, satisfied with what he had done.

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