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

red plums.