There were no schools in the days of which
I speak, but there was a spot near the forest, a playground, where children
used to play. One little boy that played there had a knife--what kind
I don't know; it happened a long, long time ago.
The other children wanted to borrow that
knife but the boy told them, "My mother and father won't allow me
to lend it. My mother said you might cut yourself with it, then blame
me. My father said you might lose it and never return it. That is what
my parents told me."
Well, you know what kids are like. The children
decided they would not play with the little boy with the knife. "Let
him go by himself," they said to one another. They taunted the boy
and teased him. Their backs were to the forest.
Suddenly the boy with the knife cried, "Hey
I see a big figure in the trees!"
The children did not turn around and look
but kept their backs to the forest.
"You're just saying that because we
won't play with you," they shouted.
"No, I'm not," argued the boy.
"There it is again! A big figure. It's watching us."
But the children would not listen. "You're
just trying to fool us but it won't work," they chided. "We're
not going to have anything to do with you."
"It's coming!" screamed the boy.
The children saw it then. It was a big,
big man, bigger than any other. He had hair all over his body and his
eyes were set deep in his face. He carried a large basket on his back.
The children's strength drained out of them in fear. They were helpless.
The woods giant grabbed the boy that had
the knife first and threw him in his basket. Then he threw all the rest
of the children on top of him. He set off through the forest while the
children peeked through the cracks of the basket, trying to se where he
was taking them.
The boy with the knife was right at the
bottom of the basket and could hardly move with all the children on top
of him. Finally he was able to cut a slit in the basket big enough to
squeeze through and he dropped to the ground. The man did not notice,
and the boy ran back to his village crying, "Big Figure has taken
all the children!" The men of the village gathered together. They
asked the boy to lead the way that Big Figure had gone. They traveled
over roots and under logs. At the place the boy hadkm fallen through the
basket the trail became harder to follow. They could see where something
big had gone through the bush and followed that till eventually the trail
ended at a large cave. km
The men of the village could dimly see some
of their children hanging by the feet in the dark cave. A huge figure
of a man was tying up the other children's feet and putting pitch in their
eyes. Hs wife and children were helping him.
"What are you doing with our children?"
the villagers cried.
"We're going to smoke them," answered
"Those are our children! We want to
take them home with us," said the villagers.
"We're going to smoke them and eat
them," replied the big man. He and his wife finished tying the children's
feet and started hanging them up, one by one, with the other children.
"Don't do that," the fathers of
the children pleaded. "Let us take them home with us."
The big man started building a fire under
the children. Then he said to the men, "Why are your faces so nice
and smooth and not rough like mine? You have nice eyes. They don't sink
way in your head like mine do."
The villagers thought fast. One of them
said, "You can have a face just like ours. We can fix you up. Go
outside and get a big flat rock and another small rock with a sharp end."
So the big man did what they asked. It was
easy for him to carry the big flat rock because he was so strong. Then
the men of the village said to the giant, "Lie down and use this
flat rock for a pillow. We're going to fix you up just like us."
"How long will it take?" he asked
as he lay down and put his head on the flat stone.
"Just four days," they answered.
"Close your eyes. Close your eyes tight." Then they took the
rock with the sharp end and sunk it between the big man's eyes. He was
"How long is he going to lie there?"
asked the giant's wife.
"Oh, about four days," answered the men. They took their children, untied their legs and removed the pitch from their eyes. Then they went home to their village where the people were very happy.
Big Figure and the Smoked Salmon
A family was camped by a river so that they
could put up salmon for the winter. The salmon they had caught were hanging
in a split cedar smokehouse.
One day before he went to bed with his family
in the shelter they had made, the eldest boy went into the smokehouse
and noticed some gaps between the fish that were hanging there. "Some
of our smoked salmon seems to be missing," he told his father.
"We're the only ones here," his
father replied. "Our family is camped all alone. Just forget about
it--we'll get some more."
The next morning when the boy built the
fire in the smokehouse, he noticed even more of the smoked salmon was
missing. "Tonight I am going to hide in the smokehouse and find out
who it is that is taking the salmon," he announced. "I will
have my bow and arrow with me, but if it is a man that comes I will not
That night they did not bank the fire very
high and it soon went out. The boy hid in the corner of the dark smokehouse
and waited. Except for the rush of the wind in the cedar trees and the
voice of the river, the camp was quiet.
It was not long before the boy heard a new
sound--footsteps. Heavy footsteps were approaching the camp. They came
closer and closer and stopped just outside the smokehouse. The boy was
frightened but he had his bow and arrow ready.
Slowly the roof of the smokehouse lifted
up. The boy pulled his bowstring taut. He dimly saw a huge hairy arm reach
in toward the salmon and sent his arrow where the arm was coming from.
There was a terrible cry that woke up the
others. "I think I got it! I think it's the woods giant!" shouted
the boy to his parents. "Let's go after him."
"We will wait 'till morning,"
said his father. "He will be a lot easier to trail in the daylight
and if you wounded him he might be dead by then."
The family rose early the next morning.
The boy, his father and younger brother headed out on the trail of the
giant. The trail they found had a few drops of blood on it. It led deep
into the forest and ended at a cedar bark house. A pool of fresh water
was nearby with a tree leaning over it.
"You wait here," the father said
to his elder son, "and your brother and I will skirt around the back
of the house."
While he was waiting, the elder boy climbed
up the tree, as it was a good place to see from. Soon a large hairy girl
came out of the cedar bark house with a bucket in her hand and walked
over to the pool of water that the tree leaned over.
When she stooped to scoop up some drinking
water, she saw the boy's reflection in the pool. "My, I didn't know
how pretty I was," she exclaimed. "I'm different from the rest
of my family. Their eyes all sink in their heads and mine don't. They
are hairy and I have smooth skin."
The boy above her moved in the tree, and
a branch broke and fell into the water. The girl jerked her head up and
saw him. "Oh, it is you that I see in the water," she cried.
Then she paused and added, "My father has been terribly sick since
he came home last night. Can you come and help him?"
"I'll get my father," the boy
answered. "This must be where the person lives who was stealing fish
from us," he said when he reached his father and brother. "I
think he is very sick from my arrow. His daughter wants us to help him."
"Okay," said the father, "let
us go in."
They went in the cedar bark house and a
big hairy man more than six feet tall lay almost dead with an arrow deep
in his chest. His wife and children were standing around him.
The boy who show the arrow walked up to
the big man and tried to pull the arrow out. It would not come out straight,
and he had to twist it this way and that way. Finally it pulled free.
"I feel better already," said
the giant weakly. "You have helped me, so I will give my daughter
to one of you to marry."
"No!" cried the elder boy. "I
do not wish to marry your daughter."
"I do not wish to marry your daughter
either," exclaimed the younger son.
"Have you another offer, then?"
asked the father of the two boys.
"Yes, my offer is this. You may use
us on your totem pole and face mask. No one else can make our likeness,
only you. You can make the mask just like our face."
The father and his sons accepted the giant's
offer and went home. They took their arrow with them.
No one else had a mask like theirs. It was a frightening mask with the eyes sunk deep in the head.