Boy of Great Strength and the Giants
The Boy of Great Strength and the Giants
ON the banks of a mighty river near a great lake in the West, there lived in old times a boy who was very small in size. As he grew older he did not grow larger, and he remained very tiny. He lived alone with his sister, who was older than he. His sister looked upon him as a child and made him toys to play with. One day in winter he asked his sister to make him a ball to play with on the ice of the river. And she made him a ball out of strong cord. The boy played on the ice, throwing the ball in front of him and running after it as it rolled to see if he could catch it. At last the ball went very far in front of him and the wind blew it along so that it did not stop rolling. He followed it a long distance and he saw in front of him four giant men lying on the ice spearing fish. When he came close to them, they looked at him and laughed, and one said, "See what a tiny mite is here," but they did not speak to him. The boy was very cross because they had laughed at his small size, and he thought, "I shall teach them that I am powerful although I am small."
As the boy passed them on his way back, he saw four large fish lying on the ice beside them. He took the one nearest to him and ran away as fast as he could. When the giant who owned the fish looked up, he saw the boy running away, and he said to his companions, "The small boy has stolen my fish." When the boy reached home, his sister asked him where he had got the fish, and he answered that he had found it on the ice. "How could you get it there?" she asked, but he would not answer; he merely said, "Go and cook it." So they cooked it and ate it for their evening meal.
The next day the boy played again on the ice of the river. The giant men were again fishing. When he came up to where they were, his ball rolled into a hole through which they fished. He asked one of the men to hand him his ball, but the man laughed at him and pushed the ball under the ice with his spear. Then the boy caught the man's arm and twisted it until he broke it, for he had great strength; he picked his ball from under the ice and went home. The man with the broken arm called his comrades and showed them what had happened, and they all swore that they would kill the boy.
The next day the four giant brother fishermen set out to find the boy. Soon they reached his home among the rocks on the bank of the river. The boy's sister heard the noise of their snow shoes on the crusted snow as they came near, and she ran into the house in great fear. But the boy said, "Have no fear; give me something to eat." She gave him food on a dish which was made from a magic shell, and he began to eat. Just then the men came to the door and were about to push it open when the boy turned his dish up-side-down and at once the door was closed with a large stone. Then the men tried to crack the stone, and at last they made a small hole in it. One of them put his eye to the hole and peeped in, but the boy shot an arrow into his eye and killed him. Then the others, not knowing what had caused their brother to fall, peeped through the hole, and each one was killed in his turn by an arrow shot through his eye.
Then the boy went out and cut them into small pieces, and as he did so he said, "Henceforth let no man be bigger than your pieces are now." So men became of their present size, and they have never since grown to giant stature.
When the springtime came, the boy's sister made him new bows and arrows. He took one of the arrows and shot it far out into the lake. Then he swam out after it, while his sister in fear watched him from the shore and called to him to come back. But he cried loudly, "Fish of the red fins, come and swallow me." And at once a great fish came and swallowed him. Then his sister tied an old moccasin to a strong cord and fastened it to a tree that grew out over the lake. And the fish said to the boy, "What is that floating in the water?" And the boy said, "Take hold of it and swallow it." The fish swallowed it and was held fast to the tree by the cord. Then the boy took hold of the line and pulled himself and the fish to the shore. His sister cut the fish open and let the boy out. Then they cut up the fish and dried it, and the boy told his sister never again to doubt his strength, for although he was small he was very powerful. And since that time, men have never grown larger than he, but although small they have had power over all other creatures.
Cyrus. Canadian Wonder Tales. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head,