Myths and Legends of the Great Plains
Page: 37“If that be so, arise and extend your hands to me in entreaty,” said the young man.
The old man arose and did so, saying continually, “Oh! My grandchild! Oh! My grandchild!”
It was as much as the young man could do to keep from laughing. At length he said, “Well! Begone! Beware lest you come again and go around my resting place very often! Do not visit it again!” Then he let the old man go.
On returning to the burial lodge, he found the two old men still lying where they had fallen. When he approached them, they slipped off, with their heads covered, as they were terrified, and he let them go undisturbed. When they had gone, the young man hurried home. He reached there first and after washing himself, reclined at full length.
He said to his wife, “When they return, be sure not to laugh. Make an effort to control yourself. I came very near making them die of fright.”
When the old men returned, the young people seemed to be asleep. The old men did not lie down; all sat in silence, smoking together until daylight. When the young man arose in the morning, the old men appeared very sorrowful.
[Pg 115] Then he said, “Give me one of the robes that you and your friends cut off and brought back. I, too, have no robe at all.”
His father said, “Why! We went there, but we did not get anything at all. We were attacked. We came very near being killed.”
To this the son replied, “Why! I was unwilling for this to happen, so I said, ‘Do not go,’ but you paid no attention to me, and went. But now you think differently and you weep.”
When it was night, the young man said, “Go again and make another attempt. Bring back a piece for me, as I have no robe at all.”
The old men were unwilling to go again, and they lost their patience, as he teased them so often.
THE FORKED ROADS
Long ago, in the days of the grandfathers, a man died and was buried by his village. For four nights his ghost had to walk a very dark trail. Then he reached the Milky Way and there was plenty of light. For this reason, people ought to keep the funeral fires lighted for four nights, so the spirit will not walk in the dark trail.
The spirit walked along the Milky Way. At last he came to a point where the trail forked. There sat an old man. He was dressed in a buffalo robe, with the hair on the outside. He pointed to each ghost the road he was to take. One was short and led to the land of good ghosts. The other was very long; along it the ghosts went wailing.
The spirits of suicides cannot travel either road. They must hover over their graves. For them there is no future life.