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The Punishment of the Stingy and Other Indian Stories, by George Bird Grinnell, [1901], at

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The Star Boy

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The Star Boy

ONE hot night in summer two girls climbed up on an arbor in front of an earth lodge to sleep where it was cool. As they lay there before they went to sleep, they were talking about the different stars that they saw in the sky above them, saying how pretty they were. One of the girls saw a bright star, and pointed to it and said: "I like that one best of all. I choose it for mine." After a little while the girls went to sleep.

When this girl that had chosen the star awoke, she was in a strange country, and saw strange people about her. She cried, and wanted to go back to her home, but the man in whose lodge she was told her that he was the star she had said she liked, and that, as she had chosen him, he had taken her for his wife. Finally, she

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got over feeling badly and was content to stay with him.

Every day when the evening came he would get ready for his journey. He would comb his hair and paint his face red, and then start out to travel. When it was morning he would be back again.

About three years after this the girl had a baby boy. One day after this she went out to dig roots. Her husband had told her not to dig too deep in the ground, and for a long time she was careful, but one day she dug too deep and dug through that ground. There before her was a hole, through which she could look down and see this world below her. She could see a camp, and near it a party of men playing the stick game. They were very small and looked like ants. She looked at them and looked at them for a long time, and then suddenly she felt that she wanted to go back to where she had come from, and wanted again to see her people—the Pawnees.

After she had thought about this for a long time, she went home and asked her husband to bring her a lot of sinews. He brought them to her, and from the sinews she began to make a

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rope. It took her a long time to make the rope, and in making it she used all the sinews that she had. After she had finished it, she waited until her man had gone out on his journey, and then put her child on her back and went to the hole, carrying the rope of sinew. She took with her also a long stake, and drove it into the ground near the hole. To this stake she tied the rope, and then let it down through the hole. It seemed to her that it did not reach the ground, but she thought that perhaps it reached almost down to it, and she made up her mind that she would try to descend.

All around the hole she dug the earth away so as to make it large enough for her body to pass through. Then she put her child on her back, and let herself slide down by the rope. For a long time she went down, and at last she came to the end of the rope, but it did not nearly reach the ground. That was far below her. She clung to the rope, crying, for she was afraid to let go and no one came to help her, for there was no one near to hear. It was a long way to the camp.

After a time the woman's husband came back to their lodge and found that his wife was gone.

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[paragraph continues] He looked for her everywhere, but could see nothing of her. At last he found the hole that she had dug, and when he looked down through it he saw her there hanging to the rope. Then he was angry. He looked about on the ground for a stone just the size of the hole, and dropped it through, and it fell on the woman's head and killed her, but by his power the Star Man took care of the little child so that when it fell to the ground it was not hurt.

When the woman fell the boy crawled out from under her. He stayed there by his mother three days. Every now and then he would start to go off somewhere, and would go a little way, and then would come back to his mother and try to rouse her; but she was dead. The fourth day he started to go off a long way, and as he was going along he came to a patch of corn and squashes, and he walked among the corn and pulled some ears and ate them.

Near by this field was a poor little lodge, in which lived an old woman and her little grandson. One day the little boy went into the corn patch and saw there the footprints of a little child. He went back home and told his grandmother about it. They did not know whether

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the tracks had been made by a girl or a boy. They looked for the child everywhere, but could not find it.

At last the old woman told her grandson to take out a flesher and a hoe and leave them in the field. "If it is a girl," the old woman said, "she will take them." The little boy did as she had said, and left the things there, but when the strange child came he did not take them. They could see his tracks where he had walked straight by them. Then the old woman said: "My son, take your bow and arrows and put them there. If it is a boy he will take them." He did so.

When the little boy next went back to the corn patch after leaving the bow and arrows, they were gone. Then the little boy went into the corn and hid himself and waited. He stayed hidden there until the little Star Boy came back; then he walked up to him. He said: "Come, let us go to where my grandmother lives. We can play there together with our bows and arrows." The boys went to the lodge and went in and ate together. Then they went out and played with their bows and arrows.

They lived thus for a long time. When they

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had grown so that they could go a long way from home, they would sometimes stay away too long, and the old woman would get frightened about them and would scold them when they came back.

One day she said to the boys: "My sons, you must never go over there to that place where the timber grows thick. Never go there. That is where your fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and brothers were killed by a grizzly bear. It is dangerous to go there."

Not long after that the little Star Boy said, "Let us go out and kill little birds." They went out, and when they had got some distance from the lodge he said, "Brother, let us go over to that place where grandmother told us not to go." The other boy said: "It is good. We will go." They went over there, and when they had gone into the thick timber, suddenly they saw a bear. It seemed very angry and roared and growled. The Star Boy laughed at it, and walked up to it and tapped it on the head with his bow. His father was using his power so that the bear could not hurt him. The boy took the bear home with him to the lodge, and called to his grandmother to come

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out and said, "Grandmother, here is a bear; you can have him to pack wood and water for you." The old woman was scared. The boy killed the bear with his little arrows.

One day after that the old woman said to the boys: "Now, boys, do not go to that thick-timbered place over there. That is where some of your brothers and relations disappeared. Do not go there." Soon after this, one day when they were out hunting little birds and had got away from the lodge, the Star Boy said, "Brother, let us go over to that place where grandmother told us not to go. Let us see what is there." They went, and as they were going along through the timber they saw a panther. The panther growled and looked very fierce, but the boy walked up to it and shot his little arrow at it and killed it. His father was helping him. The boys skinned it and took it home and stuffed it with grass and stood it up in the lodge. Their grandmother was away. When she came back they told her to go into the lodge; they said, "We have something nice for you in there." She went into the lodge, and when she saw the panther she was frightened almost to death, and the boys laughed. The

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boys said to the old woman, "Grandmother, we have done this so that we away other animals outside the lodge to scare a so that they will not come near us."

The grandmother said: "Boys, boys, you must not do as you have been doing. You must not go so far away, and you must not go into danger. Right up there on the hill is a den of snakes. I do not want you to go there. You must not go near that place." Soon after this the Star Boy said to his playmate "Brother, let us go over to that hill where the snakes live. Let us each take a piece of rock and we will kill them." They went, and when they got to the place he said: "Sit down. Put your rock on the ground and sit down on it. I know what the snakes are going to do, but our father will take care of us."

The snakes came out of the den—great lots of them—and came towards the boys. All at once the boys saw a cloud rising and coming towards them, and pretty soon it began to rain where the snakes were, and the water got so deep  that the snakes were swimming, but where the boys were it did not rain. On them the sun was shining warm and bright. Then the

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sun got hotter and hotter, and at last it was so hot it made the water boil and killed all the snakes.

The boys went home, and the old woman's grandson told her what had happened—just how it all was. Then she said to him: "Grandson, I believe there is power in this little boy. Now we will go back to our people." They had left their people because they were poor and had no horses, and the others in the camp did not take care of them. She said, "We will go back and try to find out where this boy came from, and whether he is a relative of any of our people there." Before they started the grandmother asked the Star Boy where he came from. He told her that he did not know; that he had come from above, but he remembered that his mother had told him that they did not belong up there, but down below, and that she had been taken up by a star. He said that she had come down with him on her back, but had been killed by a stone dropped from above, which had hit her on the head but did not kill him.

Then the old woman remembered that once a girl had disappeared one night from the camp

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when she was sleeping on an arbor, and that this girl was the daughter of a chief.

They left their lodge and went back to their people. When they reached the camp, they had a lodge of their own and all lived together. His relations, when they found out who the Star Boy was, wanted him to come and live with them, but for a long time he would not do so. When he did go, he took the old woman and her grandson with him.

When he grew up he began to go on the warpath, and he had good luck and struck many of his enemies. At length he married the daughter of a chief, and the grandson married another daughter.

Next: The Grizzly Bear's Medicine