Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes
Page: 69“Now go home,” said the medicine man. “I shall be there tomorrow.”
So the messengers returned. They found the people standing around the burning hole.
The next day, as the people stood again at the burning hole, watching the fire, a light wind came from the north. They were afraid because they knew the medicine man had sent it. The wind made the flames sweep higher. Then a light rain began to fall. It but made the fire hotter. Then came sleet with a heavy rain, and hail. The flames died down but clouds of smoke and steam arose.
Then the people fled to their wigwams for shelter. A great wind arose which blew the hail into the depths of the fire and piled up a great heap of hailstones. Then the fire died out and the smoke ceased.
Now when the people went to look again—a lake stood where flames had been. Yet from below the water came the sound of embers still crackling.
THE Nunnehi are The People Who Live Anywhere. They were spirit people who lived in the highlands of the Cherokee country, and they liked the bald mountain peaks where no timber ever grows.
No one could see the Nunnehi except when the spirit-people let themselves be seen, and then they looked and acted just like other Indians. But they like music and dancing, and hunters in the mountains often could hear the dance songs and the drum; yet when they went towards the sound, it would suddenly shift behind them or in some other direction. They were a friendly people, too. Some Indians have thought they were the same as the Little People; but those are no larger than little children.
Once a boy was with the Nunnehi. When he was about ten or twelve years old, he was playing one day near the river, shooting at a mark with his bow and arrow. Then he started to build a fish trap in the [Pg 208] water. While he was piling up the stones in two long walls, a man came and stood on the bank.
The man said, “What are you doing?” The boy told him. The man said, “That’s pretty hard work. You ought to rest awhile. Come and take a walk up the river.”
The boy said, “No. I am going to the lodge to get something to eat.”
“Come to my lodge,” said the man. “I’ll give you good food and bring you home again in the morning.”
So the boy went to the man’s lodge with him. They went up the river. The man’s wife and all the other people were glad to see him. They gave him plenty to eat. While he was eating, a man that the boy knew very well indeed came in and spoke to him. So he did not feel strange.