The Unktomi Spider Two Widows And The Red Plums
There once lived, in a remote part of a great forest, two widowed
sisters, with their little babies. One day there came to their tent
a visitor who was called Unktomi (spider). He had found some nice red
plums during his wanderings in the forest, and he said to himself, "I
will keep these plums and fool the two widows with them." After the
widows had bidden him be seated, he presented them with the plums.
On seeing them they exclaimed "hi nu, hi nu (an exclamation of
surprise), where did you get those fine plums?" Unktomi arose and
pointing to a crimson tipped cloud, said: "You see that red cloud?
Directly underneath it is a patch of plums. So large is the patch and so
red and beautiful are the plums that it is the reflection of them on the
cloud that you see."
"Oh, how we wish some one would take care of our babies, while we go
over there and pick some," said the sisters. "Why, I am not in any
particular hurry, so if you want to go I will take care of my little
nephews until you return." (Unktomi always claimed relationship with
everyone he met). "Well brother," said the older widow, "take good care
of them and we will be back as soon as possible."
The two then took a sack in which to gather the plums, and started off
towards the cloud with the crimson lining. Scarcely had they gone from
Unktomi's sight when he took the babies out of their swinging hammocks
and cut off first one head and then the other. He then took some old
blankets and rolled them in the shape of a baby body and laid one in
each hammock. Then he took the heads and put them in place in their
different hammocks. The bodies he cut up and threw into a large kettle.
This he placed over a rousing fire. Then he mixed Indian turnips and
arikara squash with the baby meat and soon had a kettle of soup. Just
about the time the soup was ready to serve the widows returned. They
were tired and hungry and not a plum had they. Unktomi, hearing the
approach of the two, hurriedly dished out the baby soup in two wooden
dishes and then seated himself near the door so that he could get out
easily. Upon the entrance of the widows, Unktomi exclaimed: "Sisters, I
had brought some meat with me and I cooked some turnips and squash with
it and made a pot of fine soup. The babies have just fallen asleep, so
don't waken them until you have finished eating, for I know that you
are nearly starved." The two fell to at once and after they had somewhat
appeased their appetites, one of them arose and went over to see how
her baby was resting. Noting an unnatural color on her baby's face,
she raised him up only to have his head roll off from the bundle of
blankets. "'My son! my son!" she cried out. At once the other hastened
to her baby and grabbed it up, only to have the same thing happen. At
once they surmised who had done this, and caught up sticks from the fire
with which to beat Unktomi to death. He, expecting something like this
to happen, lost very little time in getting outside and down into a hole
at the roots of a large tree. The two widows not being able to follow
Unktomi down into the hole, had to give up trying to get him out, and
passed the rest of the day and night crying for their beloved babies.
In the meantime Unktomi had gotten out by another opening, and fixing
himself up in an entirely different style, and painting his face in a
manner that they would not recognize him, he cautiously approached the
weeping women and inquired the cause of their tears.
Thus they answered him: "Unktomi came here and fooled us about some
plums, and while we were absent killed our babies and made soup out of
their bodies. Then he gave us the soup to eat, which we did, and when
we found out what he had done we tried to kill him, but he crawled down
into that hole and we could not get him out."
"I will get him out," said the mock stranger, and with that he crawled
down into the hole and scratched his own face all over to make the
widows believe he had been fighting with Unktomi. "I have killed him,
and that you may see him I have enlarged the hole so you can crawl in
and see for yourselves, also to take some revenge on his dead body."
The two foolish widows, believing him, crawled into the hole, only to
be blocked up by Unktomi, who at once gathered great piles of wood and
stuffing it into the hole, set it on fire, and thus ended the last of
the family who were foolish enough to let Unktomi tempt them with a few