18.THE LONE LIGHTNING
There once lived a lonely little boy whose father and mother were dead. His uncle took care of him, but did not treat him kindly. He made him work very hard and gave him little to eat. The little fellow grew very thin, and began to pine away.
Then his uncle changed his way of treating him, and began to fatten him. He pretended that he was doing this to make the boy grow strong. But he really intended to kill him after a while. He told his wife to give the boy lots of bear meat to eat. He made him eat a lot of the fat as well. This is supposed to be the best part of the bear’s meat.
One day the boy did not want to eat the fat. His uncle pushed some down his throat and nearly choked him. He managed to get away from his uncle, and ran out of the cabin. He ran as fast as he could, and by night he was many miles away. He found himself in a bush and was afraid to lie down on the grass for fear the wild beasts would come and eat him, so he climbed to the top of a tall pine-tree, and rested in its branches.
As he was sleeping he had a dream. He thought a spirit came from the upper world and said, “My dear child, I have seen how cruel your uncle has been to you, and how brave you are, so I have a deed I want you to do; come with me.” Then the boy woke and followed the spirit. They went high up in the sky and then the spirit said:
“Over in the north live many Manitous. They are bad spirits and unfriendly to all that are good. Here are twelve magic arrows; shoot them at these spirits, and see if you can kill them.”
He gave the arrows to the boy, and he at once began to shoot.
His first arrow did not hit any one, and as it flew through the air a long, single streak of lightning showed where it had gone. The next arrow was the same, so he kept on till eleven arrows had been shot. By this time the bad spirits were very angry. The chief of them called out, “I shall punish you for daring to aim your arrows at us.” Just then the boy aimed the last arrow at the chief. As it came near, the spirit changed himself into a rock, and the arrow sank deep into its stony side. But at this instant the boy was changed into the lone lightning which may be seen in the northern sky on autumn nights.