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[072] How Big Turtle Went on the War Path

How Big Turtle Went on the Warpath

How Big Turtle Went on the Warpath

_Omaha_

The people dwelt in a very populous village. Big Turtle joined them. And people dwelling at another village came regularly to war against them. Having killed one person they went homeward. Big Turtle cooked for the warpath. He caused two persons to go after guests. The servants whom he sent after guests were Redbreasted Turtle and Gray Squirrel. He made two round bunches of grass and placed them at the bottom of the stick to which the kettle was fastened.

Now they were coming. They came in sight.

"Ho, warriors!" said Big Turtle. "Warriors, when men are injured, they always take revenge. I cook this for the warpath. I cook sweet corn and a buffalo paunch. You will go after Corn Crusher for me," saying this to his servants. "Call to Comb, Awl, Pestle, Firebrand, and Buffalo Bladder also," said Big Turtle.

The two men went to call them. They called to Corn Crusher. "Corn Crusher, be sure to bring your bowl! Corn Crusher, be sure to bring your bowl! Corn Crusher, be sure to bring your bowl! Corn Crusher, be sure to bring your bowl!" Four times they called.

They called to Comb. "Comb, be sure to bring your bowl!" So they called four times.

They called to Awl. "Awl, be sure to bring your bowl!" So they called four times.

Then they called to Pestle. "Pestle, be sure to bring your bowl!" So they called four times.

They called to Firebrand, too. "Firebrand, be sure to bring your bowl!" So they called four times.

Then they called to Buffalo Bladder. "Buffalo Bladder, be sure to bring your bowl!" So they called four times to him.

Then the criers reached home, having invited the guests.

"Oh, war chief," they said, "all heard it."

All those who were called arrived at the lodge of Big Turtle.

"Ho! Oh, war chiefs! Corn Crusher, Comb, Awl, Pestle, Firebrand, and Buffalo Bladder, though those people have been injured they do not seem to stir. Let us go on the warpath for them," said Big Turtle. "Let us go in four nights."

He commanded Corn Crusher to cook. "O war chief, Corn Crusher, you will cook. And you, O Comb, will cook on the night after that. And you, O Awl, will cook, and complete the number."

That many war chiefs, four, cooked. They were war chiefs. The rest were servants.

The people of the village said, "Why! Of the persons who have been called, who is cooking for the warpath?"

And one said, "Why! Big Turtle cooked. Pshaw! Has he gathered all those who cannot move well enough, those who cannot move fast enough? Pshaw! If the foe find them out, they will destroy them. When a war chief has sense, he will carry on war."

Corn Crusher cooked. He cooked turnips, and he cooked a buffalo paunch with them, just as Big Turtle had cooked one with sweet corn. Awl cooked wild rice. Comb cooked other things.

Big Turtle said, "Time enough has passed. Let us go at night."

So they departed. Big Turtle made leggings with large flaps. He tied short garters around them. He rubbed earth on his face and he reddened it. He wore grass around his head. He put white feathers on top of his head. He took his gourd rattle thus. He rattled it. He sang the song of the war chief:

"Big Turtle is coming back from touching the foe, it is said, you say. He is coming back from touching."

He walked, stepping very lively in the dance. He walked around them. As they went, it was day.

At length a young Buffalo Bull came. "Warriors, wait for him," said Big Turtle.

He said to Buffalo Bull, "While I walk on a journey, I am in a great hurry. Speak rapidly. Why are you walking?"

"Yes, war chief, it is so. As they have told of you while you have been walking, I thought that I would walk there with you, and I have sought you," said Buffalo Bull.

"Do so," said Big Turtle. "I wish to see your movements."

Buffalo Bull rolled himself back and forth. He arose suddenly. He thrust repeatedly at the ground with his horns. He pierced the ground and threw pieces away suddenly. He stood with his tail in the air and its tip bent downward. An ash tree stood there. He rushed on it. Pushing against it, he sent it flying through the air to a great distance.

"O war chief, I think I will do that, if they speak of vexing me," he said.

"Look at the persons with whom I am traveling. There are none who are faint-hearted in the least degree. You are not at all like them. You have disappointed me. Come, begone," said Big Turtle.

Again Big Turtle sang the song. "Big Turtle is coming back from touching the foe, it is said, you say. He is coming back from touching," said he.

Again they departed. "Warriors, pass on!" said he.

There before them lay a stream, which was not small. They crossed it. Firebrand was ahead, walking with a great effort. At length, because he was weary, he plunged into the water and was extinguished.

"O war chief, I am not going beyond here with you," he said.

"Remain here for a while," said Big Turtle.

Having reached the other side, they departed. At length a Puma came.

"Warriors, wait for him. I suspect what he will say. Stand in a row," said he. "Speak quickly," he said, addressing Puma.

"Yes, O war chief," said Puma. "It was told of you regularly, saying you walked on a journey. And there I wish to walk, so I have sought you."

"Yes?" said Big Turtle. "Let me see your ways."

Puma made his hair bristle up all over his body. He bent his tail backward and upward. He went leaping to the bottom of a small hill. Having caught by the throat a fawn, about two years old, he came back, making it cry out as he held it in his teeth.

"I think I will do that, O war chief, if anything threatens to vex me," he said.

"Do something else," said Big Turtle.

"No, O war chief; that is all," said Puma.

"You have disappointed me," said Big Turtle. "Look at these persons with whom I am. Where is one who is imperfect? You are very inferior. Come, depart. You have disappointed me."

They departed. At length when they reached the foot of a hill, Black Bear came.

"O war chief, again one has come," said the warriors.

"I suspect what he will say, warriors. Wait for him. Stand in a row," said Big Turtle. "Ho," he said, addressing Black Bear. "Come, speak quickly. What is your business? When I walk on a journey, I am in a great hurry," said Big Turtle.

"Yes, O warrior, it is so. It was told of you regularly that you walked on a journey. And as I desired to walk there, I have sought you diligently," said Black Bear.

"Ho! Do something," said Big Turtle. "You may have thought how you would do it. I wish to see your ways."

Black Bear pierced the ground with his claws, and threw lumps of earth to a great distance. And there stood an oak tree which had been blackened by fire. He attacked it. Having hugged it, he threw it with force to a great distance.

"O war chief, if anything vexes me, I think I will do that," said Black Bear.

Big Turtle said, "Ho! warrior, you have disappointed me. These persons with whom I am--look at them. There is none who is faint-hearted in the least degree. You have disappointed me. Come, depart. Thus do I regularly send off the inferior ones."

They went into a dense undergrowth. At length Buffalo Bladder was torn open, making the sound, "_Qu�e._" "Alas! I am not going beyond with you," said he.

"Ho, warrior. I will come back very soon. Remain here for a while," said Big Turtle.

Again they departed. As they went, they reached a bad path. Very high logs were lying across it. Redbreasted Turtle failed to step over them.

"Ho, O war chief," he said. "I am not going beyond here with you."

"Ho, warrior. I will come again very soon. Remain here for a while," said Big Turtle.

Again they departed. As they went, behold, a Big Wolf came.

"O war chief, again one has come," said they.

"I suspect what he will say, warriors. Wait for him. Stand in a row," said Big Turtle.

"Ho," he said, addressing Wolf, "Come, speak quickly, whatever may be your business. When I walk on a journey, I am in a very great hurry."

"Yes, O war chief. It is so. It was told of you regularly, saying that you walked on a journey; and as I desired to walk there, I have sought you," said Wolf.

"Ho! Show me what you can do," said Big Turtle. "You may have been thinking about it. I wish to see your ways."

Wolf decorated himself. He reddened his nose; he reddened all his feet. He tied eagle feathers to his back.

"Well, do so. Do so. I wish to see your ways," said Big Turtle.

Wolf turned himself round and round. He went to the attack by the wood on a small creek. He killed a deer. He brought it back, holding it with his teeth.

"O war chief, I think I will do that, if anything vexes me," said Wolf.

"You have disappointed me," said Big Turtle. "See these people with whom I travel. There is none who is faint-hearted in the least degree. Come, depart. Thus do I regularly send off the inferior ones.

"Warrior Gray Squirrel, go as a scout," said Big Turtle. Gray Squirrel went as a scout. At length he was coming back, blowing a horn.

"Ho, war chief, he is coming back to you," they said. Big Turtle went there. "Ho, warrior. Act very honestly. Tell me just how it is," said Big Turtle.

"Yes, O war chief, it is just so. I have been there without their finding me out at all," said he.

"Let us sit at the very boundary of their camp," said Big Turtle. He spoke of going. "Warriors, I will look around to see how things are, and how many persons there may be there," he said.

He came back. "Warriors, let us go in that direction. This far is a good place for sitting," he said. So they moved forward. Then he said, "O war chief Corn Crusher, go to the end lodge of the village before us, and sit on the outside."

Corn Crusher did so. A woman came out of the lodge. When she saw him, she said, "Oh! Heretofore have I desired mush. I have found for myself an excellent corn crusher." But when she pounded on the corn with it, she hurt her hand. Then she threw it out. "Bad Corn Crusher!" she said.

He came back to Big Turtle, who was near. "He whom you call 'Corn Crusher' has come back," he said, "having killed one right at the lodge."

Big Turtle said, "O war chief Comb, make an attempt. Sit in the door of the lodge where Corn Crusher sat."

Comb did so. He was very handsome. Then a woman came out of the lodge. She found Comb. "Heretofore I have been without a comb. I have found a good comb for myself," she said. Very soon she combed her hair with it. Comb pulled out all the hair on one side by the roots.

She said, "A very bad comb, but I thought it was good." She threw him away at the door. Then he went back. He went back with the hair he had pulled out.

"He whom you call 'Comb,'" he said, "has come back, having snatched all the hair from one at the lodge."

"Good!" said Turtle. "O war chief, when we reach home, we shall cause the women to dance."

Then Big Turtle said, "O war chief Awl, make an attempt. Go sit in the door of the lodge where war chief Comb sat."

Awl was very handsome. He was very good to look at. He sat in the door of the lodge. A woman passing out, found him. "Oh! I have found a good awl for myself," she said. "Heretofore I have had no awl. It makes me thankful." She went back to the lodge with him. She spoke of sewing her moccasins with him. "I will sew my moccasins with it," she said. She sewed them. She pierced her fingers with him. She missed in pushing him, sending him with force. There was much blood from her fingers. She threw him away at the door. "The awl is indeed bad. I have indeed hurt myself. I have wounded myself badly." She threw him far out from the door, sending him homeward.

"He whom you have called 'Awl,' O war chief," he reported, returning to Big Turtle. "I stabbed one right at the lodge; I killed her." He returned with his spear very bloody.

"O war chief," said the others to Big Turtle. "Awl is coming back, telling his own name. He has killed one."

Big Turtle said, "Ho! O war chief. You make me thankful. Since it is you, I will blacken my face. The village shall be joyful. Ho! O Pestle, make an attempt. You will lie in the door of the lodge where Awl lay."

Now Pestle was very handsome. Then he arrived there. He lay where he was commanded to lie. A woman went out and found Pestle. "Oh! I have found a very good pestle for myself. I had no pestle heretofore," she said.

She took him back to the lodge. She took some corn. She filled the mortar and pounded the corn. She beat it fine. She thrust Pestle beyond, right on her knee. She missed the mark in pushing, sending him with force, and so she struck him on her knee.

"_Oh!_ A very bad pestle," she said. She threw him outside, sending him homeward suddenly.

"You have been used to saying 'Pestle.' He is coming, having stabbed one right at the lodge. He has killed one," said Pestle, returning. He reached Big Turtle again. "O war chief, I have killed one."

"You make me thankful," said Big Turtle. "Ho! warrior Gray Squirrel, make an attempt."

"O war chief, how can I do anything?" said Gray Squirrel. Now the lodges were placed among the trees.

"You will pass along the trees above the smoke holes of the lodges. If they find you, they will shoot at you. Do your best. Do your best to evade the blows or arrows. If one goes aside, rush on him," said Big Turtle.

At length a boy found Gray Squirrel. "This moving one is a gray squirrel," he said. They went in a great uproar. They shot at him. They even hit him with sticks. One boy stood aside. Gray Squirrel attacked him and bit him. They said, "Wonderful! Heretofore the gray squirrel has been very easy to approach, but we have failed. He has bitten us; we have done nothing to him," they said.

"He whom you used to call 'Gray Squirrel' is coming back, having killed one right among them," he called. He told it to Big Turtle.

"Ho! real warrior, act very honestly," said Big Turtle.

"O war chief, it is just so. I have killed one," said he.

"Ho! warrior, you make me thankful," said Big Turtle.

"Ho! warriors," said Big Turtle again. "I, even I, will make a trial. I shall not come back for some time. Beware lest you go homeward. Beware lest you leave me and go homeward."

He arrived there. Some ashes had been poured out. They were extinguished. At length Big Turtle pushed his way through. He went within. He sat within, with his eyes sticking out, looking around. A woman approached when it was morning. She stood very close to where Big Turtle sat.

"You will tread on my shield," he said. The woman looked around. "From what place does he speak?" she thought; therefore she looked around. Again he said to her, "You will tread on my shield. Stand further away." And the woman found him.

"Oh!" she said.

"Stand still. I send you with a message," said Big Turtle. "Go home and say, 'Big Turtle says he has come to war. He says he has come desiring the chief's daughter, whose body has been placed on the bough of a tree.'"

The people came. All the people said, "Break in his skull suddenly." He said, "How is it possible for you to break in my skull suddenly? If you let your weapons slip off suddenly from me each time, you will break your legs with the blows."

They said, "When the water is hot, it will be good to put him in it."

"Fie!" said Big Turtle. "When the water is hot and I scatter it with kicking, many of you will be scalded to death."

"He tells what is probably true," they said.

"And if it be so, it is good to burn him," said the people.

"For shame! If I scatter the fire by kicking, I will cause all the land to blaze. Beware lest many of your children, too, die from the fire," he said.

"He tells what is probably true," they said.

A child begged for water. "O mother, some water," it said. Big Turtle said, "_Oh!_" He tempted them with reference to water.

"Cause the child to ask for water," said one.

"What do you mean by that?" said others.

"When the child said, 'O mother, some water,' this one, Big Turtle, said '_Oh!_'" answered one.

"Wonderful!" they said. "He is fearing the sight of water." They took him to the water, holding him by the tail. Notwithstanding Big Turtle clung to the ground with his forelegs, they held his tail, and reached the water with him. They threw him forcibly right into the water. He walked the water for a while, crying a little, and pretended he did not know how to swim. He said, "_Wi! wi! wi!_"

"Wonderful! Throw him out into the middle of the stream," they said. Again they sent him headlong. He was wandering around. At length he sank. They said, "He is dead," and went homeward. "You should have done that to him at first," said the people.

When the people went homeward, some boys stood there. Big Turtle approached, floating. He came peeping. Some boys stood looking at the place where the deed was done.

Big Turtle said, "When Big Turtle came in the past to war on you, you said that you killed him. Look here at me."

The boys went homeward to tell it. "You said that you killed Big Turtle, but as this one behind us showed his body, he laughed at us. Big Turtle is he who is alive."

"Ho! We attack him," said the people. They attacked him. They arrived there.

"In what place?" said they.

"In this place," said the boys.

"Where is Otter? Where is Grass Snake? Let those two seek him," said they.

Big Turtle sat under the mud at the bottom of the water. Only the tip of his nose and his eyes were sticking out. Snake and Otter sought him beneath the water. They passed very near to him, and stepped regularly over his head. When Otter was about to pass the second time, Big Turtle bit him in the stomach.

"Ho! elder brother, you give me pain," said Otter. Big Turtle said, "Why do you seek me?"

"I did not seek you. As I desired food, we have met each other," said Otter.

"No, you wished to join those who desire to kill me, so you sought me," said Big Turtle.

"O elder brother! O elder brother! O elder brother! I pray to you. I have not sought you," he said.

"I will by no means let you go from my mouth," said Big Turtle.

"Ho! elder brother! How long before you will open your mouth and let me go?" said Otter.

"When the Thunder God has come back, I will let you go."

"Halloo!" shouted Otter to the people. "He will let me go when the Thunder God comes back. Halloo! He bites me between the legs. Halloo!" said he.

"He says that he is bitten," said the people. "He says that he is bitten between the legs. Hit tent skins for him."

They made the tent skins resound by hitting them.

"Ho! elder brother, the Thunder God has come back," said Otter.

"They hit the tent skins," said the Big Turtle.

The people said, "It is good to fell trees." They began felling trees here and there. The trees said, "_Qwi! qwi!_" as they fell.

"Ho! elder brother, the Thunder God has come back," said Otter.

"They are felling trees," said Big Turtle.

At length the Thunder God roared, very far away.

"Ho! elder brother, he has come back," said he. Big Turtle let him go. Otter was very thin. He went homeward. He reached home very lean.

"Let the two birds drink the stream dry," said the people. "Bring the Pelicans here."

When they came, the people said, "Drink the stream dry. A person came here to war and we killed him, but he is alive. He laughs heartily at us."

The birds drank the stream dry. There was only a very small quantity left in which Big Turtle sat.

Big Turtle called, "Ho! warrior Gray Squirrel, be coming hither, wherever you may be moving. They have almost killed me."

Gray Squirrel was coming back, crying loud. He was coming back to attack them. He attacked the two birds. He tore open their water pouches by biting. He bit holes in them. At length all the water returned to its former place. At the creek and the lake it was as before; they were filled with water.

"Sew up their pouches for them," said the people. So they sewed up the water pouches of the Pelicans. They finished sewing them.

"Come, drink it dry again. Do your best. Beware lest we fail," said the people. They drank the stream dry again. Again very little of the water was left.

"Ho! warrior Gray Squirrel, wherever you may be moving. They have nearly killed me. Be coming hither again," said Big Turtle. He came back again. He bit and tore the throats in many places. It made their throats very bad. He made them bad to be sewed at all. It was difficult to sew them.

"Yet we shall fail," said the people. "Gray Squirrel is abominable! I think Gray Squirrel is the only one with Big Turtle. I think he is the only one siding with them. Therefore we have failed to hurt them," said the people.

They ceased. When it was night, Big Turtle went back. He reached his comrades again.

"Ho! Warriors, when men get the better of their enemies in a fight, they usually go homeward. I suspect that your sisters are tired of waiting to dance!"

They went homeward. He walked around them, rattling his gourd.

"Warriors, I said that I would do thus, and so it is," he said. He burnt the grass.

He burnt the grass so that they might think he was coming home after killing the foe. At length they arrived at the village. They tied scalps to a stick. Then those in the village said, "Yonder come those who went to war!" The returning warriors raced around and around as victorious warriors do. People said, "There they are coming home, having killed the people of the enemy."

An old man shouted: "Corn Crusher says that he killed one. _Halloo!_ He says he killed her right at the lodge. _Halloo!_ Comb says he killed one right at the lodge. _Halloo!_ Awl says he killed one right at the lodge. _Halloo!_, Gray Squirrel says that he killed three right in the midst of the people. _Halloo!_ It is said they held the war chief, Big Turtle, right among them, in a great uproar. _Halloo!_ It is said they failed to injure him. _Halloo!_"

Big Turtle walked very proudly, carrying his shield. He went homeward to enter the lodge. He sat there telling them about himself. As people wished to hear it, they continued arriving there.

"Why did they fail, when they were so near you? If you sat very near them, how is it that you are alive?" asked the people.

"I pretended to be afraid of water, so I am alive," he said.

"If so, then those over there have no eyes. How is it that they did not find you when you were alive?"

"I sat in the ashes, therefore I am alive. I have come home, having killed people. Why did you doubt me? As you did not take vengeance on the people who used to kill you, I went to war on them myself. I killed them. How can you doubt me? I will tell no more about myself," said Big Turtle. "I have ceased."

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