The Old Man


Once an old man and a young man and two women lived together. The two women were the young man's wives.

Now the young man needed some feathers for his arrows and one day, seeing a hawk's nest in a high tree, he started to climb to it to get the hawk-feathers. The old man was jealous of the young man and followed him. When he saw him climbing the tree, he used his magic and made the tree grow higher and higher and at the same time peeled off all the bark so that the trunk was slippery. As the young man was naked he could not come down and to remain in the top of the tree.

When the young man failed to appear that night the old man said he wished to move camp and that the women were to come with him. The next morning they started out Now one of the women liked the old man but the other one, who had a baby, did not, and when they camped for the night that one would take her baby and make a fire for herself outside the camp, away from the old man. And in this way they travelled for several days.

All this time the young man was still up in the tree. As it was cold and he had no clothes he took his hair, which was very long, and wove feathers in it, and in this way formed a blanket to protect himself. The little birds who built their nests in the sticks of the hawk's nest tried their best to carry him down to the ground, but could not lift him so he had to stay where he was.

One day he saw in the distance an old woman. She walked bent over and with a stick in each hand. She came to the bottom 'of the tree where the young man was and began to climb. She climbed up until she reached the young man, and then turned into a Spider. Then Spider spun a web for him, and of the web the young man made a rope and so reached the ground.

When he came back to his camp he found it deserted, but he soon found the trail of the fugitives and started to follow. He trailed them a long time before seeing them in the distance. The woman who did not like the old man was following behind with her little boy. The child, looking back, saw his father and cried out, "Why, there is my father!" But the mother replied, "What do you mean? Your father has been dead a long time." But looking back herself, she saw her husband and waited for him to reach her and their son, and they stopped together.

The woman told her husband all that had happened - how the old man had wished to take both his wives and how she would not have him, but how the other one took him. Then the woman, who was carrying a large basket, put her husband into it and covered him up. When they reached the old man's camp she put the basket down close to the fire. The old man, however, seeing the basket, moved it some distance away. The woman brought it back, and as she did so the young man sprang out and struck the old man and killed him, then he killed his faithless wife. After this was done, he took the other woman, who was true, and the little boy, and they went back to their old home together.

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