Friday, June 6, 2014

Great Plains: The Ghost's Resentment

This story is part of the Great Plains unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Great Plains by Katharine Berry Judson (1913).




The Ghost's Resentment
Dakota

Long, long ago, a Dakota died and his parents made a death lodge for him on the bluff. In the lodge they made a grave scaffold, on which they laid the body of their son.

Now in that same village of Dakotas lived a young married man. His father lived with him, and there were two old men who used to visit the father and smoke with him, and talk with him about many things.

One night the father of the young man said, “My friends, let us go to the death scaffold and cut off summer robes for ourselves from the tent skins.”

The young man said, “No! Do not do so. It was a pity the young man died, and as his parents had nothing else to give up for him they made the death lodge and left it there.”

“What use can he get from the tent?” asked the father. “We have no robes, so we wish to use part of the tent skins for ourselves.”

“Well, then,” said the young man, “go as you have said and we shall see what will happen.”

 The old men arose without saying a word and went to the lodge on the bluff. As soon as they were gone, the young man said, “Oh, wife, get my piece of white clay. I must scare one of those old men nearly to death.”

But the woman was unwilling, saying, “Let them alone. They have no robes. Let them cut off robes for themselves.”

But as the husband would not stop talking about it, the wife got the piece of white clay for him. He whitened his whole body and his face and hands. Then he went to the lodge in a course parallel to that taken by the old men. He went very quickly and reached there before they did. He climbed the scaffold and lay on it, thrusting his head out through the tent skins just above the doorway.

At last the old men approached, ascending the hill, and talking together in a low tone. The young man lay still, listening to them. When they reached the lodge, they sat down.

The leader said, “Fill your pipe, friends. We must smoke this last time with our friend up there.”

“Yes, your friend has spoken well. That should be done,” answered one of them.

So he filled the pipe. He drew a whiff, and when  the fire glowed, he turned the pipestem toward the seam of the skins above the doorway. He looked up towards the sky, saying, “Ho, friend, here is the pipe. We must smoke with you this last time. And then we must separate. Here is the pipe.”

As he said this, he gazed above the doorway and saw a head looking out from the tent.

“Oh! My friends!” he cried. “Look at this place behind you.”

When the two looked, they said, “Really! Friends, it is he!” And all fled.

Then the young man leaped down and pursued them. Two of them fell to the ground in terror, but he did not disturb them, going on in pursuit of his father. When the old man was overtaken, he fell to the ground. He was terrified. The young man sat astride of him. He said, “You have been very disobedient! Fill the pipe for me!”

The old man said, “Oh! My grandchild! Oh! My grandchild!” hoping that the ghost would pity him. Then he filled the pipe as he lay stretched there and gave it to his son.

The young man smoked. When he stopped smoking, the old man said, “Oh! My grandchild! Oh! My grandchild! Pity me, and let me go. We thought we must smoke with you this last time, so we went  to the place where you were. Oh! My grandchild, pity me.”

“If that be so, arise and extend your hands to me in entreaty,” said the young man.

The old man arose and did so, saying continually, “Oh! My grandchild! Oh! My grandchild!”

It was as much as the young man could do to keep from laughing. At length he said, “Well! Begone! Beware lest you come again and go around my resting place very often! Do not visit it again!” Then he let the old man go.

On returning to the burial lodge, he found the two old men still lying where they had fallen. When he approached them, they slipped off, with their heads covered, as they were terrified, and he let them go undisturbed. When they had gone, the young man hurried home. He reached there first and after washing himself, reclined at full length.

He said to his wife, “When they return, be sure not to laugh. Make an effort to control yourself. I came very near making them die of fright.”

When the old men returned, the young people seemed to be asleep. The old men did not lie down; all sat in silence, smoking together until daylight. When the young man arose in the morning, the old men appeared very sorrowful.

Then he said, “Give me one of the robes that you and your friends cut off and brought back. I, too, have no robe at all.”

His father said, “Why! We went there, but we did not get anything at all. We were attacked. We came very near being killed.”

To this the son replied, “Why! I was unwilling for this to happen, so I said, ‘Do not go,’ but you paid no attention to me, and went. But now you think differently and you weep.”

When it was night, the young man said, “Go again and make another attempt. Bring back a piece for me, as I have no robe at all.”

The old men were unwilling to go again, and they lost their patience, as he teased them so often.





(1000 words)

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