Heroes: The Jealous Uncle (cont.)

This story is part of the Native American Hero Tales unit. Story source: Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1929).

The Jealous Uncle (cont.)

When the boy reached his father's home, he found them weeping and mourning. "Don't weep!" he pleaded. "He cannot hurt me; no matter where he takes me, I will always come back."

In the morning he was again summoned to appear at his uncle's. Before going, he entreated his parents not to feel uneasy, assuring them that no harm would befall him, and that he would be back.

The uncle called the boy to go with him after some ducks and eggs. They passed several places abounding in ducks and eggs, and each time that the boy suggested, "Let us take these and go back," the uncle replied: "Oh, no! There are better ducks and eggs farther on."

At last they came to a steep bluff, and, looking down, saw a great many ducks and eggs. "Go down carefully, nephew, and gather those ducks and eggs. Be quick, and come back as soon as you can.

The boy saw the trap at a glance and prepared for it by taking the eagle-down in each hand, between thumb and finger. As the boy took a step or two downward, the uncle gave him a push, causing him to lose his footing. "He will never come back alive from here," smiled the uncle to himself, as he walked back.

If he had remained awhile longer and looked down before going, he would have seen the boy descending gently instead of falling. The eagle-down kept him up in the air, and he lighted at his own pleasure safe and sound. After gathering all the ducks and eggs he wanted, he ascended by holding up the down, as before, and blowing under it. Up, up he went, and in a short time stood on the summit.

It was night before he sighted his uncle's home. At the door he deposited the birds and eggs and shouted: "Here, uncle, are the ducks and eggs."

"What! back again!" exclaimed the man, very much mortified. His wife again pleaded with him to leave the boy in peace. "You will come to grief, if you don't," she said. "No; he cannot hurt me," he replied angrily, and spent the remainder of the night thinking and planning.

Although he assured them that he would return, the boy's parents did not have much faith in it, for he found them on his return weeping for him. This grieved him. "Why do you weep?" he said. "Didn't I say I would come back? He can take me to no place from which I cannot come back."

In the evening of the third day the aunt appeared and said that her husband wished the boy. He told his parents not to be disturbed and promised to come back soon.

This time the uncle invited him to go with him after clams. The clams were very large, large enough to inclose a man. It was ebb tide, and they found plenty of clams not far from the beach. The boy suggested that they take these and go back, but the uncle put him off with, "There are better clams farther out."

They waded into the water, and then the man noticed an extraordinarily large clam. "Take him," he said, but when the boy bent over, the clam took him in. So confident was Unnatural Uncle of his success this time that he uttered not a word, but with a triumphant grin on his face and a wave of his hand he walked away.

The boy tried to force the valves apart but, not succeeding, he cut the ligament with his piece of a knife, compelling the clam to open up little by little until he was able to hop out. He gathered some clams, and left them at his uncle's door as if nothing had happened.

The man, on hearing the boy's voice outside, was almost beside himself with rage. His wife did not attempt to pacify him. "I will say nothing more," she said. "I have warned you, and if you persist in your ways, you will suffer."

The next day Unnatural Uncle was busy making a box.

"What is it for?" asked his wife.

"A plaything for our nephew," he replied.

In the evening the boy was sent for. On leaving his parents he said: "Do not feel uneasy about my absence. This time I may be away a long time, but I will come back nevertheless."

(700 words)

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