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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "The Origin of the Narwhal"

The Origin of the Narwhal

A long, long time ago a widow lived with her young son and daughter in a small hut. They had a hard time to get enough to eat. But the boy was anxious to do all he could, and while he was still quite small he made a bow and arrows of walrus tusks which he found under the snow. With these weapons he shot birds for their food.

He had no snow goggles and one day when the sun shone bright and he was hunting, he became utterly blind. He had a hard time finding his way back to the hut and when he got there without any game, his mother was so disappointed that instead of pitying him for his blindness she became angry with him.

From that time she ill-treated him, never giving him enough to eat. He was a growing boy and needed a great deal of food, and she thought he wanted more than his share, so she gave him less, and would not allow her daughter to give him anything. So the boy lived on, half starving, and was very unhappy.

One day a polar bear came to the hut and thrust his head right through the window. They were all much frightened, and the mother gave the boy his bow and arrows and told him to kill the animal.

"But I cannot see the window and I shall miss the bear. Then it will be furious and will eat us," he said.

"Quick, brother! I will level the bow," said his sister.

So he shot and killed the bear, and the mother and sister went out and skinned it and buried the meat in the snow.

"Don't you dare to tell your brother that he killed the bear," said the mother. "We must make this meat last all winter."

When they went back into the hut she said to her son, "You missed the bear. He ran away as soon as he saw you take your bow and arrow. We have been following him a long way into the woods."

The sister did not dare to tell her brother. She and her mother lived on the meat for a long time while the boy was nearly starving. But sometimes when the mother was away, the girl gave him meat, for she loved her brother dearly and used to weep because she knew he was hungry.

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Category: Andrew Lang
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