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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Sheem, the Forsaken Boy"

Sheem, the Forsaken Boy

At last, even the roots and berries gave out. They were blighted by the frost or hidden out of reach by the snow, for the mid-winter had come on, and poor little Sheem was obliged to leave the lodge and wander away in search of food.

Sometimes he was enforced to pass the night in the clefts of old trees or caverns, and to break his fast with the refuse meals of the savage wolves.

These at last became his only resource, and he grew to be so little fearful of these animals that he would sit by them while they devoured their meat, and patiently await his share.

After a while, the wolves took to little Sheem very kindly, and seeming to understand his outcast condition, they would always leave something for him to eat. By and by they began to talk with him, and to inquire into his history. When he told them that he had been forsaken by his brother and his sister, the wolves turned about to each other, lifted up their eyes to heaven, and wondered among themselves, with raised paws, that such a thing should have been.

In this way, Sheem lived on till the spring, and as soon as the lake was free from ice, he followed his new friends to the shore.

It happened on the same day, that his elder brother, Owasso, was fishing in his magic canoe, a considerable distance out upon the lake; when he thought he heard the cries of a child upon the shore. He wondered how any human creature could exist on so bleak and barren a coast.

He listened again with all attention, and he heard the cry distinctly repeated; and this time it was the well-known cry of his younger brother that reached his ear. He knew too well the secret of his song, as he heard him chaunting mournfully:

"My brother! My brother! Since you left me going in the canoe, a-hee-ee, I am half changed into a wolf, E-wee. I am half changed into a wolf, E-wee."

Owasso made for the shore, and as he approached the lament was repeated. The sounds were very distinct, and the voice of wailing was very sorrowful for Owasso to listen to, and it touched him the more that it died away at the close, into a long-drawn howl, like that of the wolf.

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