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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Weendigoes and the Bone-Dwarf"

Weendigoes and the Bone-Dwarf

In a lonely forest, there once lived a man and his wife, who had a son. The father went forth every day, according to the custom of the Indians, to hunt for food to supply his family.

One day, while he was absent, his wife, on going out of the lodge, looked toward the lake that was near, and she saw a very large man walking on the water, and coming fast toward the lodge. He was already so near that she could not, if she had wished to, escape by flight. She thought to herself, "What shall I say to the monster?"

As he advanced rapidly, she ran in, and taking the hand of her son, a boy of three or four years old, she led him out. Speaking very loud, "See, my son," she said, "your grandfather;" and then added, in a tone of appeal and supplication, "he will have pity on us."

The giant approached and said, with a loud ha! ha! "Yes, my son;" and added, addressing the woman, "Have you any thing to eat?"

By good luck the lodge was well supplied with meats of various kinds; the woman thought to please him by handing him these, which were savory and carefully prepared. But he pushed them away in disgust, saying, "I smell fire;" and, not waiting to be invited, he seized upon the carcass of a deer which lay by the door, and dispatched it almost without stopping to take breath.

When the hunter came home he was surprised to see the monster, he was so very frightful. He had again brought a deer, which he had no sooner put down than the cannibal seized it, tore it in pieces, and devoured it as though he had been fasting for a week. The hunter looked on in fear and astonishment, and in a whisper he told his wife that he was afraid for their lives, as this monster was one whom Indians call Weendigoes. He did not even dare to speak to him, nor did the cannibal say a word, but as soon as he had finished his meal, he stretched himself down and fell asleep.

In the evening the Weendigo told the people that he should go out a hunting; and he strided away toward the North. Toward morning he returned, all besmeared with blood, but he did not make known where he had been nor of what kind of game he had been in quest; although the hunter and his wife had dreadful suspicions of the sport in which he had been engaged.

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