Tales of the North American Indians
The Seven-headed Dragon
THERE was once an old man living alone with his wife. They had a horse and one dog, a spaniel. They hunted and fished only in the big lake. Once upon a time they could not get any fish in the nets, and they were very hungry. The man went to look after his net in the morning, and found a jackfish with a large head. As he was going to kill the fish, it said, “Hold on, old man! Don’t kill me right away!” The old man stopped, and the fish told the old man to take all its scales off and not to lose any, and to go and put these in the garden. It also told him to cut off its fins and place them in the garden, to cut its head off and give it to his wife to eat, half of its body to be fed to the dog, and the other end to the horse. He told the old man to shut the stable, but not to look at it for four days and four nights, and not to look at the scales for four days and four nights, but each morning after that he could look. The old man then killed it and took it home. He told his wife about it; and she asked, “Is that true?”–“Yes,” answered the old man, and repeated all. “We will obey. We are poor and hungry; maybe we shall have good luck.” He scaled and cut the fish and put it in the garden. He also fed his wife, dog, and horse as he had been told, and shut the stable. For four days and nights he could not sleep. His wife became pregnant; and on the fourth morning she had two sons, and the old man was glad. He ran to the stable, and found that the mare had two foals, the dog two pups. He went to the garden, and there was silver money where the scales had been placed. There were two fine swords where the fins had been. The old man ran in to tell his wife what had happened, and they were delighted. After that the old man caught many fish. Soon his boys grew up.
[Page 202] One time, when they were home in the evening, the elder boy said, “Are there any other people in the world?”–“Certainly, there are many people.”–“Where can I find them?”–“You can find them anywhere.” The youth said, “I will start to-morrow to try to visit some people.” He left his sword, and told his brother, “I shall take yours, and leave mine hanging here. Do not touch it! If I have trouble or if I am killed, it will become rusty.” Then he went off. About dinner-time he dismounted and drank from a spring. He found silver water; and when he dipped his little finger into it, it became solid silver. He put some of the water on the horse’s ears, and they became silver. He did the same to the dog’s and also on his own hair. Then he started off.
When he came to a large town, he took off his clothes, found some old ones, and put rags around his finger and a handkerchief over his hair. He had a little box in which he put the horse and dog after making them small and hid them in a blacksmith’s shop. The blacksmith looked at him. “Where are you from?”–“Is there a town here? I am very poor.”–“Oh, come in!” The blacksmith fed him. The man said, “I can keep you here,” and engaged him to do the chores in the house. He staid there a while, when one night the blacksmith came home and said, “The king of this town has a fine daughter, and she is going to be fed to the Windigo that has eight heads. He eats only people.”–“When is she going to be taken there?”–“To-morrow morning.”
The next day, after his work, the young man went out. He mounted his horse, took his dog, put on his own clothes, and rode out of the city. After a while he heard some one weeping in the woods. He turned in that direction, and found a young girl who was crying. She stopped when she saw him. The young man asked her, “Why are you crying?”–“There is no use telling you.”–“Oh, no! tell me! Where are you going?”–“There is no use telling you.”–“Oh, yes! you must tell me.” Then the girl, seeing that he was a stranger, said, “I will tell you. I am going to yonder bluff. There is an eight-headed manitou there, and I am going to be eaten by him.”–“Why?”–“He wants me.”–“What if you do not go?”–“Then he would devour every one in the city. Therefore I must go.”
Then the youth said, “I will go first. You can go when I come back.”–“No, No! you must not go. I am not going [Page 203] there for life, I am going there to die.”–“If that is so, I must see him first.”–“Oh, no!” The young man said, “I will go and come back. You stay here.”–“Well, go on! but he will kill you,” and she gave the boy a ring. He then went to the bluff, and saw that the trees were shaken by the breath of the manitou. He stopped, and said to his horse and dog, “Try as hard as you can to help me,” and then he rode on. The horse and dog sank deep into the soil. The boy took his sword and cut off one head, which sprang back again. Then he told his dog to catch it;. and he hit the monster again, cutting off another of his heads. The dog seized it and shook it. The youth cut off another one, and the horse kicked it. When he had cut off four heads, the manitou was not breathing very strongly. Finally he killed him. He cut out all the tongues and put them in a handkerchief. When he came back, he found the girl waiting, and told her that he had killed the manitou. He told the girl to go home and take the tongues with her, but not to tell who killed the manitou. “Give the tongues to your father, and say that a young fellow did it, but that you do not know who.”
The blacksmith was working at home. “Where are you going,–home? No, you have to be eaten by the manitou.”–“The manitou has been killed.”–“Nobody can kill him.” The girl showed him the tongues. Then the blacksmith believed her, and asked her who had killed him. “I do not know, he is a youth.”–“Go home and tell your father that I killed him. If you don’t, I will kill you.” The girl agreed, and he went with her. Her father and mother asked her why she had come back, and she told them that the blacksmith had killed the manitou. She called him in, and they asked him, “How did you do it?”–“I hit his tongues.”
The king was very glad, and gave the girl to the blacksmith. The youth went home, put his horse back into the box, and dressed in his old clothes.
There was to be a four-days’ dance before the wedding. After three night’s dance, the blacksmith was very glad, and told the boy that this was the last night. Then the lad put on his clothes. He came into the lodge and sat down by the door. The girl knew him at once, and told her father secretly that he had slain the monster. The king invited him to a better place. The blacksmith wanted to go out, pretending that his [Page 204] stomach pained him, but he was not allowed to leave. He was locked up, taken to the sea, and thrown in. The youth married the girl; and the king gave him half of the town, half of his money, and half of everything he owned, he was so glad that his daughter had been saved.
They went upstairs into their rooms. There was a window at the top on the east side of the house, and from there could be seen a blue fire at a distance.
“What kind of fire is that?” asked the youth.
“Do not ask about it,” said the princess, “and never go near it.”
On the next day he took his little horse and dog and went to the fire. There he saw an old, long house. He entered the first room, but there was no one there. After a while he heard some one. The door opened, and a white-headed old woman came in, and said, “Grandchild, hold your little dog, he will bite me. I am cold.”–“Warm yourself, the dog will not touch you.”–“You must tie him”–“I have nothing to tie him with.” So the old lady gave him one hair, and said, “Nosis, tie him with that.” The youth did so, and also tied the horse. The old woman had a cane. She touched him with it on the feet, and he died.
One morning the other youth, who had been left at home, saw rust on the sword. He said to his father, ” I fear brother is dead somewhere, for his sword is rusty. I must go and try to find him.” His father consented, and told him to be careful.
The next morning the elder brother left. About noon he found the same spring, and did as his brother had done. In the evening he came to the city and went to the chief’s house. The girl came out and kissed him, and asked him where he had been, but he did not answer. They had supper, and he thought to himself “That must be my brother’s wife.” At night he refused to go to bed. Through the window he saw the blue fires. He asked, “What kind of fires are those?”–“Why did you not go over to see?”
In the morning he went there. When he arrived there, he saw his brother’s horse and dog tied with brass wire, lying down and frozen to death. He went into the lodge, and saw that his brother also lay dead by the fire. Soon he heard some one coming. An old woman appeared, and said, “I am cold.”–“Warm yourself by the fire.”–“First tie your little dog.”
[Page 205] He refused to do so, and finally said, “Now, granny, make that man and horse and dog alive! If you do not do so at once, I shall send the dog after you.”–“Nosis, I cannot bring a dead man to life”–“You have to.”–“No.”
Then he set his dog on her. The dog bit her, and the horse kicked her.
“Stop! I’ll bring them to life.” He stopped the animals, and the old woman walked forward. The youth kept away from her cane. She told him to take up a little bottle and put it on his frozen brother. As soon as he dropped some of the liquid from the bottle into his mouth, he came to. She did the same to the dog and to the horse. Then the brothers killed the old woman. They took the bottle away from her and went home. As. they rode along together, the elder brother said, “You must be married. Yes. Your wife mistook me for you, but I only let her sleep with my arm. That’s how I found out.”
The younger brother, on hearing this, became jealous. He drew back and shot his brother with his revolver. He also shot his dog and horse. Then he went home, and his wife was glad to see him. She asked him why he refused to sleep with her last night. “You only let me have your hand.” Then the brother began to sorrow for his brother. He took his horse and went back to the corpse. There he wept over his brother. His little dog ran around the dead body, and began to look inside the coat. There he found the old woman’s little bottle. He put some of the liquid on the wound, and thus brought the brother back to life. Then he dropped some on the dog and the horse, and they all came to. They went home, put their horses and dogs away, entered the lodge, and sat down. The younger one’s wife saw them, and was unable to tell them apart. On the following day they started to return to their parents. When they came to a forked road, they decided to go in different directions. The elder one took one road, and said, “I will go this way, and my name will be God.” The other said, “I will follow the other, and I will be the Devil.” That’s the end of it.