The Man Who Was Afraid of Nothing
Now, there were four ghosts sitting together, talking, smoking ghost smoke, having a good time, as far as it’s possible for ghosts to have a good time. One of them said: “I’ve heard of a young man nothing can scare. He’s not afraid of us, so they say.”
The second ghost said: “I bet I could scare him.”
The third ghost said: “We must try to make him shiver and run and hide.”
The fourth ghost said: “Let’s bet; let’s make a wager. Whoever can scare him the most, wins.” And they agreed to bet their ghost horses.
So this young man who was never afraid came waling along one night. The moon was shining. Suddenly in his path the first ghost materialized, taking the form of a skeleton. “Hou, friend,” said the ghost, clicking his teeth together, make a sound like a water drum.
“Hou, cousin,” said the young man, “you’re in my way. Get off the road and let me pass.”
“Not until we have played the hoop-and-stick game. If you lose, I’ll make you into a skeleton like me.”
The young man laughed. He bent the skeleton into a big hoop, tying it with some grass. He took one of the skeleton’s leg bones for his game stick and rolled the skeleton along, scoring again and again with the leg bone. “Well, I guess I won this game,” said the young man. “How about some shinny ball?”
“Ouch!” said the skull. “You’re hurting me; you’re giving me a headache.”
“Well, you asked for it. Who proposed this game, you or me? You’re a silly fellow.” They young man kicked the skull aside and walked on.
Further on he met the second ghost also in the form of a skeleton, who jumped up at him and grabbed him with bony hands. “Let’s dance, friend,” said skeleton said.
“A very good idea, cousin ghost,” said the young man. “What shall we use for a drum and drumstick? I know!” Taking the ghost’s thighbone and skull, the young man danced and sang, beating on the skull with the bone.
“Stop, stop!” cried the skull. “This is no way to dance. You’re hurting me; you’re giving me a headache.”
“You’re lying, ghost,” said the young man. “Ghosts can’t feel pain.”
“I don’t know about other ghosts,” said the skull, “but me, I’m hurting.”
“For a ghost you’re awfully sensitive,” said the young man. “Really, I’m disappointed. There we were having a good time, and you spoiled the fun with your whining. Groan somewhere else.” The young man kicked the skull aside and scattered the rest of the bones all over.
“Now see what you’ve done,” complained the ghost, “it will take me hours to get all my bones together. You’re a bad man.”
“Stop your whining,” said the young man. “It gives you something to do.” Then he went on.
Soon he came upon the third ghost, another skeleton. “This is getting monotonous,” said the young man. “Are you the same as before? Did I meet you further back?”
“No,” said the ghost. “Those were my cousins. They’re soft. I’m tough. Let’s wrestle. If I win, I’ll make you into a skeleton like me.”
My friend,” said the young man, “I don’t feel like wrestling with you, I feel like sledding. There’s enough snow on the hill for that. I should have buffalo ribs for it, but your rib cage will go.”
The young man took the ghost’s rib cage and used it as a sled. “This is fun!” he said, whizzing down the hill.
“Stop, stop,” cried the ghost’s skull. “You’re breaking my ribs!”
The young man said: “Friend, you look funny without a rib cage. You’ve grown so short. Here!” And he threw the ribs into a stream.
“Look what you’ve done!” What can I do without my ribs? I need them.”
“Jump in the water and dive for them,” said the young man. “You look as if you need a bath. It’ll do you good, and your woman will appreciate it.”
“What do you mean? I am a woman!” said the ghost, insulted.
With skeletons I can’t tell, you pretty thing,” he said, and walked on.
Then he came upon the chief ghost, a skeleton riding a skeleton horse. “I’ve come to kill you,” said the skeleton.
The young man made faces at the ghost. He rolled his eyes; he showed his teeth; he gnashed them; he made weird noises. “I’m a ghost myself, a much more terrible ghost than you are,” he said.
The skeleton got scared and tried to turn his ghost horse, but the young man seized it by the bridle. “A horse is just what I want,” he said. “I’ve walked enough. Get off!” He yanked the skeleton from its mount and broke it to pieces. The skeleton was whimpering, but the young man mounted the skeleton horse and rode it into camp. Day was just breaking, and some women who were up early to get water saw him and screamed loudly. They ran away while the whole village was awakened by their shrieking. The people looked out of their tipis and became frightened when they saw him on the ghost horse. As soon as the sun appeared, however, the skeleton vanished. The young man laughed.
The story of his ride on the skeleton horse was told all through the camp. Later he joined a group of men and started to brag about putting the four skeleton ghosts to flight. People shook their heads, saying, “This young man is really brave. Nothing frightens him. He is the bravest man who ever lived.”
Just then a tiny spider was crawling up this young man’s sleeve. When someone called his attention to it, he cried, “Eeeeeeeeech!” Get this bug off me! Please, someone take it off, I can’t stand spiders! Eeeeeeeech!” He shivered, he writhed, he carried on. A little girl laughed and took the spider off him.