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Native American Stories : The Conquering Gambler

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Tales of the North American Indians

The Conquering Gambler

Once two men played lehal together, and one of them lost everything he had. Finally he bet his wife, but soon lost her too, and went away sad and sorrowful. He went to a place near Tatlah Lake, and lay down under an overhanging rock, which covered him like a roof. As he lay there and wondered how he could get his property back, he heard some ducks flying over, and, looking up, found to his surprise that he could see the ducks straight through the rock. Then he took his lehal-bones and laid them on top of the rock, and looked to see if they were visible through it, and he found he could see which was the white and which was the black one. Then he was joyful once more, and went home. All that summer he spent alone in the, snow mountains, hunting ground-hogs, and making blankets of their skins, and he made a great many.
About salmon time he came back for the fishing, and met the man who had won his wife, and said, “Come, let us play lehal again, for I have blankets to bet now.” So they started in to play again, and this time the man could see right through the other’s hands and see the lehal-bones, and so could not lose. However, he let the other man win a few times, just to make him rash. And the other man said, “I think I’m going to beat you this time, just as I did before.” The man replied, “Yes, I’m afraid you will.” However, he soon started in to win, and won everything back, until his rival had nothing left to play for, except the two women. Then the man said, “Now let us play for my wife again.” But the other replied, “I’d rather not play for your wife, for I should like to keep her; but my own wife I’ll bet, for I don’t care for her.” The man agreed, and soon won the woman, and then they started to play for his own wife. When he had won back half of her, the other man said “Let us stop for to-night, so that she can stay with me one night more,” But the man answered, “I didn’t talk that way the other time we played, and I don’t want to stop now.” So they played again, and the man won both the women, and thus had his revenge.

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