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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "He of the Little Shell"

He of the Little Shell

He had now arrived at the years of manhood, but he still remained a perfect infant in size.

One day, walking about in quest of game, he came to a small lake.

It was in the winter season; and upon the ice of the lake he saw a man of giant height, employed killing beavers.

Comparing himself with this great man, he felt that he was no bigger than an insect. He seated himself on the shore and watched his movements.

When the large man had killed many beavers, he put them on a hand-sled which he had, and pursued his way home. When he saw him retire, the dwarf hunter followed, and, wielding his magic shell, he cut off the tail of one of the beavers, and ran home with the prize.

The giant, on reaching his lodge with his sled-load of beavers, was surprised to find one of them shorn of its tail.

The next day the little hero of the shell went to the same lake. The giant, who had been busy there for some time, had already loaded his sled and commenced his return; but running nimbly forward and overtaking him, he succeeded in securing another of the beaver-tails.

"I wonder," said the giant, on reaching his lodge and overlooking his beavers, "what dog it is that has thus cheated me. Could I meet him, I would make his flesh quiver at the point of my javelin."

The giant forgot that he had taken these very beavers out of a beaver-dam which belonged to the little shell-man and his sister, without permission.

The next day he pursued his hunting at the beaver-dam near the lake, and he was again followed by the little man with the shell.

This time the giant was so nimble in his movements that he had nearly reached home before the Shell, make the best speed he could, could overtake him; but he was just in time to clip another beaver's tail before the sled slipped into the lodge.

The giant would have been a patient giant, indeed, if his anger had not been violent at these constant tricks played upon him. What vexed him most, was, that he could not get a sight of his enemy. Sharp eyes he would have needed to do so, inasmuch as he of the little shell had the gift of making himself invisible whenever he chose.

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Category: United States folktales
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