One day, an Indian boy was playing beside a stream, when one of the little elf men came along in his canoe. The boy had his bow and arrow with him;…
The little man stopped and offered to trade bows and arrows. The Indian boy looked first at his bow, and then at that of the little man. His bow was large. The little man’s bow was very small. The boy thought his own bow was better, so he said he would not trade.
The little elf man laughed and drew his bow.
“You think only big things are great,” he said. “Some day you will learn better. Some day you will want this little bow[Pg 202] and these little arrows. Some day you will wish you had traded.”
Then he shot an arrow into the clouds, sprang into his canoe, and paddled off up the stream. As he disappeared, he called back to the boy, “You will see me again, sometime!”
The Indian boy ran to his wigwam home. He told his father about the little man he had seen, and how the man wanted to trade bow and arrows.
“And you did not trade?” exclaimed the father.
“No,” said the boy, “his bow was small; mine is large.”
“Foolish boy!” said the father. “That little man was a Jo gah oh, one of the Little People. They do wonderful things. Their arrows are winged with power. Had you traded bows, you would have become a great hunter, and been able to get near the animals.[Pg 203]
“Those little arrows of the Jo gah oh fly swift and far, and always bring back game. The boy who has a Jo gah oh bow and arrow always has good luck. One arrow of theirs is worth a flight of yours. Had you traded bow and arrows, you would have been called ‘He shoots the sky.’ Now you shall be called ‘Little Shooter.'”
Little Shooter grew to be a man. He went often on the chase, but his arrows did not bring much game.
Many times, he wished he could meet the little elf man again, and trade bow and arrows, for sometimes he ran for days and found no track of deer or rabbit. But the little elf man never came.
One day, when Little Shooter had grown to be quite an old man, he was walking in the woods. He stopped under a tree to rest. Several times he felt something fall on his head.[Pg 204]
At last he looked up to see what it was.
There sat the little elf man, swinging on the tip of a branch, and throwing nuts and twigs at him. He looked just as he did when Little Shooter met him by the stream long before. He had not grown old or changed at all.
“How long have you been here?” asked Little Shooter.
“I have always been here,” said the little man. “I have been in the world ever since the stones were soft.”
Then he laughed, and asked, “Does Little Shooter now like big bow and arrows best, or has he learned that sometimes small things are great? Next time, he had better trade with the little man,” and aiming another nut at Little Shooter’s head, he disappeared in the tree trunk.
Original text from the book:
Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children
(YEH SEN NOH WEHS)
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY
NEW YORK CINCINNATI CHICAGO, 1917