ALONE within his teepee sat Iktomi. The sun was but a hands breadth from the
western edge of land.
"Those, bad, bad gray wolves! They ate up all my nice fat ducks!" muttered
he, rocking his body to and fro.
He was cuddling the evil memory he bore those hungry wolves. At last he
ceased to sway his body backward and forward, but sat still and stiff as a
"Oh! I'll go to Inyan, the great-grand- father, and pray for food!" he
At once he hurried forth from his teepee and, with his blanket over one
shoulder, drew nigh to a huge rock on a hillside.
With half-crouching, half-running strides, he fell upon Inyan with
"Grandfather! Pity me. I am hungry. I am starving. Give me food.
Great-grand- father, give me meat to eat!" he cried. All the while he stroked
and caressed the face of the great stone God.
The all-powerful Great Spirit, who makes the trees and grass, can hear the
voice of those who pray in many varied ways. The hearing of Inyan, the large
hard stone, was the one most sought after. He was the great-grandfather, for
he had sat upon the hillside many, many seasons. He had seen the prairie put
on a snow-white blanket and then change it for a bright green robe more than
a thousand times.
Still unaffected by the myriad moons he rested on the everlasting hill,
listening to the prayers of Indian warriors. Before the finding of the magic
arrow he had sat there.
Now, as Iktomi prayed and wept before the great-grandfather, the sky in
West was red like a glowing face. The sunset poured a soft mellow light upon
the huge gray stone and the solitary figure beside it. It was the smile of
the Great Spirit upon the grandfather and the wayward child.
The prayer was heard. Iktomi knew it. "Now, grandfather, accept my
offering; 'tis all I have," said Iktomi as he spread his half-worn blanket
upon Inyan's cold shoulders. Then Iktomi, happy with the smile of the sunset
sky, followed a foot- path leading toward a thicketed ravine. He had not gone
many paces into the shrubbery when before him lay a freshly wounded deer!
"This is the answer from the red western sky!" cried Iktomi with hands
Slipping a long thin blade from out his belt, he cut large chunks of
choice meat. Sharpening some willow sticks, he planted them around a
woodpile he had ready to kindle. On these stakes he meant to roast the
While he was rubbing briskly two long sticks to start a fire, the sun in
the west fell out of the sky below the edge of land. Twilight was over all.
Iktomi felt the cold night air upon his bare neck and shoulders. "Ough!" he
shivered as he wiped his knife on the grass. Tucking it in a beaded case
hanging from his belt, Iktomi stood erect, looking about. He shivered again.
"Ough! Ah! I am cold. I wish I had my blanket!" whispered he, hovering over
the pile of dry sticks and the sharp stakes round about it. Suddenly he
paused and dropped his hands at his sides.
"The old great-grandfather does not feel the cold as I do. He does not
need my old blanket as I do. I wish I had not given it to him. Oh! I think
I'll run up there and take it back!" said he, pointing his long chin toward
the large gray stone.
Iktomi, in the warm sunshine, had no need of his blanket, and it had been
very easy to part with a thing which he could not miss. But the chilly night
wind quite froze his ardent thank-offering.
Thus running up the hillside, his teeth chattering all the way, he drew
near to Inyan, the sacred symbol. Seizing one corner of the half-worn
blanket, Iktomi pulled it off with a jerk.
"Give my blanket back, old grandfather! You do not need it. I do!" This
was very wrong, yet Iktomi did it, for his wit was not wisdom. Drawing the
blanket tight over his shoulders, he descended the hill with hurrying feet.
He was soon upon the edge of the ravine. A young moon, like a bright bent
bow, climbed up from the southwest horizon a little way into the sky.
In this pale light Iktomi stood motionless as a ghost amid the thicket.
His wood- pile was not yet kindled. His pointed stakes were still bare as he
had left them. But where was the deer -- the venison he had felt warm in his
hands a moment ago? It was gone. Only the dry rib bones lay on the ground
like giant fingers from an open grave. Iktomi was troubled. At length,
stooping over the white dried bones, he took hold of one and shook it. The
bones, loose in their sockets, rattled together at his touch. Iktomi let go
his hold. He sprang back amazed. And though he wore a blanket his teeth
chattered more than ever. Then his blunted sense will surprise you, little
reader; for instead of being grieved that he had taken back his blanket, he
cried aloud, "Hin-hin-hin! If only I had eaten the venison before going for
Those tears no longer moved the hand of the Generous Giver. They were
selfish tears. The Great Spirit does not heed them ever.