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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Even a Grass Plant Can Become Someone if it Tries"

Even a Grass Plant Can Become Someone if it Tries

I will be a man."

With a single flap of wing it stood upon the ground, where it changed immediately into a fine young man. But, of course, the feathers were gone and the Man had no clothing. Night came down upon the earth soon after, and the Man sat down with his back against the stick of wood on which, as an owl, he had perched, and slept till morning. He was awakened by the sun shining in his eyes, and upon arising, felt stiff and lame from the cold night air.

He found some of the same grass which he had once been, and braided it into a kind of mantle which kept out a little of the cold. Seeing a reindeer grazing, he felt a sudden desire to kill it and eat its flesh. He crept close on his hands and knees, and, springing forward, seized it by the horns and broke its neck with a single effort.

He felt all over its body and found that its skin formed a covering through which he could not push his fingers. For a long time he tried to think how to remove the skin, and finally noticed a stone with a sharp edge with which he managed to cut through the hide. Then he quickly stripped the animal with his hands, and tore out a piece of flesh which he tried to swallow as he had swallowed mice when he was an owl. He found that he could not do this easily, so he tore off small bits and ground them with his teeth.

He had already discovered that by striking two stones together they grew warm and felt good to his cold hands. So now he struck them together until sparks came with which he lighted some dry weeds and brush and had a fire to cook his meat and to warm himself.

The next morning he killed another reindeer and the day following two more and wrapped himself in their skins from head to foot, with the raw side next his own flesh, as the animals had worn them. The skins soon dried on him and became like a part of his body.

As the nights grew colder and colder, he collected a quantity of driftwood from the shore, with which he built him a rude hut, which he found very comfortable.

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