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

Sheem, the Forsaken Boy

We have not been compelled to look on or to take a part with the red hand in scenes of rioting and bloodshed. My path now stops. I have arrived at the brink of the world. I will shut my eyes in peace if you, my children, will promise me to cherish each other. Let not your mother suffer during the few days that are left to her; and I charge you, on no account, to forsake your younger brother. Of him I give you both my dying command to have a tender care."

He spoke no more, and as the sun fell out of view the light had gone from his face. The family stood still, as if they expected to hear something further; but when they came to his side and called him by name, his spirit did not answer. It was in another world.

The mother and daughter lamented aloud, but the elder son clothed himself in silence, as though it had been a mantle, and took his course as though nothing had occurred. He exerted himself to supply, with his bow and net, the wants of the little household, but he never made mention of his father.

Five moons had filled and waned, and the sixth was near its full, when the mother also died. In her last moments she pressed the fulfillment of their father's wish.

The winter passed, and the spring, sparkling in the clear northern air, cheered the spirits of the lonely little people in the lodge.

The girl, being the eldest, directed her brothers, and she seemed to feel a tender and sisterly affection for the youngest, who was slight in frame and of a delicate temper. The other boy soon began to break forth with restless speeches, which showed that his spirit was not at ease. One day he addressed his sister as follows:

"My sister, are we always to live as if there were no other human beings in the world? Must I deprive myself of the pleasure of mingling with my own kind? I have determined this question for myself. I shall seek the villages of men, and you can not prevent me."

The sister replied:

"I do not say no, my brother, to what you desire; we are not forbidden the society of our fellow-mortals, but we are told to cherish each other, and to do nothing that shall not be agreeable to all our little household.

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