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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "The warlike seven"

The warlike seven

The Fish was spokesman. With a peculiar omission of syllables, he said: "Shu... hi pi!"

"Wan! what? what?" clamored eager voices of men and women.

Again the Fish said: "Shu... hi pi!" Everywhere stood young and old with a palm to an ear. Still no one guessed what the Fish had mumbled!

From the bewildered crowd witty old Iktomi came forward. "He, listen!" he shouted, rubbing his mischievous palms together, for where there was any trouble brewing, he was always in the midst of it.

"This little strange man says, 'Zuya unhipi! We come to make war!'"

"Uun!" resented the people, suddenly stricken glum. "Let us kill the silly pair! They can do nothing! They do not know the meaning of the phrase. Let us build a fire and boil them both!"

"If you put us on to boil," said the Fish, "there will be trouble."

"Ho ho!" laughed the village folk. "We shall see."

And so they made a fire.

"I have never been so angered!" said the Fish. The Turtle in a whispered reply said: "We shall die!"

When a pair of strong hands lifted the Fish over the sputtering water, he put his mouth downward. "Whssh!" he said. He blew the water all over the people, so that many were burned and could not see. Screaming with pain, they ran away.

"Oh, what shall we do with these dreadful ones?" they said.

Others exclaimed: "Let us carry them to the lake of muddy water and drown them!"

Instantly they ran with them. They threw the Fish and the Turtle into the lake. Toward the center of the large lake the Turtle dived. There he peeped up out of the water and, waving a hand at the crowd, sang out, "This is where I live!"

The Fish swam hither and thither with such frolicsome darts that his back fin made the water fly. "E han!" whooped the Fish, "this is where I live!"

"Oh, what have we done!" said the frightened people, "this will be our undoing."

Then a wise chief said: "Iya, the Eater, shall come and swallow the lake!"

So one went running. He brought Iya, the Eater; and Iya drank all day at the lake till his belly was like the earth.

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