The Story Of The Pet Crane

There was once upon a time a man who did not care to live with his tribe

in a crowded village, but preferred a secluded spot in the deep forest,

there to live with his wife and family of five children. The oldest of

the children (a boy) was twelve years of age, and being the son of a

distinguished hunter, soon took to roaming through the forest in search

of small game.

One day during his ramblings, he dis
overed a crane's nest, with only

one young crane occupying it. No doubt some fox or traveling weasel

had eaten the rest of the crane's brothers and sisters. The boy said to

himself, "I will take this poor little crane home and will raise him as

a pet for our baby. If I leave him here some hungry fox will be sure to

eat the poor little fellow." He carried the young crane home and it grew

to be nearly as tall as the boy's five-year-old sister.

Being brought up in a human circle, it soon grew to understand all the

family said. Although it could not speak it took part in all the games

played by the children. The father of the family was, as I have before

mentioned, a great hunter. He always had a plentiful supply of deer,

antelope, buffalo and beaver meats on hand, but there came a change.

The game migrated to some other locality, where no deadly shot like

"Kutesan" (Never Miss) would be around to annihilate their fast

decreasing droves. The hunter started out early one morning in hopes of

discovering some of the game which had disappeared as suddenly as though

the earth had swallowed them. The hunter traveled the whole day, all to

no purpose. It was late in the evening when he staggered into camp. He

was nearly dead with fatigue. Hastily swallowing a cup of cherry bark

tea (the only article of food they had in store), he at once retired

and was soon in the sweet land of dreams. The children soon joined their

father and the poor woman sat thinking how they could save their dear

children from starvation. Suddenly out upon the night air rang the cry

of a crane. Instantly the pet crane awoke, stepped outside and answered

the call. The crane which had given the cry was the father of the pet

crane, and learning from Mr. Fox of the starving condition of his son

and his friends, he flew to the hunting grounds of the tribe, and as

there had been a good kill that day, the crane found no trouble in

securing a great quantity of fat. This he carried to the tent of the

hunter and, hovering over the tent he suddenly let the fat drop to

the earth and at once the pet crane picked it up and carried it to the


Wishing to surprise the family on their awakening in the morning she

got a good stick for a light, heaped up sticks on the dying embers, and

started up a rousing fire and proceeded to melt or try out the fat, as

melted fat is considered a favorite dish. Although busily occupied she

kept her ears open for any strange noises coming out of the forest,

there being usually some enemies lurking around. She held her pan in

such a position that after the fat started to melt and quite a lot of

the hot grease accumulated in the pan, she could plainly see the tent

door reflected in the hot grease, as though she used a mirror.

When she had nearly completed her task, she heard a noise as though some

footsteps were approaching. Instantly her heart began to beat a tattoo

on her ribs, but she sat perfectly quiet, calling all her self-control

into play to keep from making an outcry. This smart woman had already

studied out a way in which to best this enemy, in case an enemy it

should be. The footsteps, or noise, continued to advance, until at last

the woman saw reflected in the pan of grease a hand slowly protruding

through the tent door, and the finger pointed, as if counting, to the

sleeping father, then to each one of the sleeping children, then to her

who sat at the fire. Little did Mr. Enemy suppose that the brave woman

who sat so composed at her fire, was watching every motion he was

making. The hand slowly withdrew, and as the footsteps slowly died

away, there rang out on the still night air the deep fierce howl of the

prairie wolf. (This imitation of a prairie wolf is the signal to the war

party that an enemy has been discovered by the scout whom they have sent

out in advance). At once she aroused her husband and children. Annoyed

at being so unceremoniously disturbed from his deep sleep, the husband

crossly asked why she had awakened him so roughly. The wife explained

what she had seen and heard. She at once pinned an old blanket around

the crane's shoulders and an old piece of buffalo hide on his head for a

hat or head covering. Heaping piles of wood onto the fire she instructed

him to run around outside of the hut until the family returned, as they

were going to see if they could find some roots to mix up with the fat.

Hurriedly she tied her blanket around her middle, put her baby inside of

it, and then grabbed her three year old son and packed him on her back.

The father also hurriedly packed the next two and the older boy took

care of himself.

Immediately upon leaving the tent they took three different directions,

to meet again on the high hill west of their home. The reflection from

the fire in the tent disclosed to them the poor pet crane running around

the tent. It looked exactly like a child with its blanket and hat on.

Suddenly there rang out a score of shots and war whoops of the dreaded

Crow Indians. Finding the tent deserted they disgustedly filed off and

were swallowed up in the darkness of the deep forest.

The next morning the family returned to see what had become of their pet

crane. There, riddled to pieces, lay the poor bird who had given up his

life to save his dear friends.