A Cherokee Legend

There was a boy who used to go bird hunting every day, and all the birds he brought home he gave to his grandmother, who was very fond of him.

This made the rest of the family jealous, and they treated him in such fashion that at last one day he told his grandmother he would leave them all, but that she must not grieve for him. Next morning he refused to eat any breakfast, but went off hungry to the woods and was gone all day. In the evening he returned, bringing with him a pair of deer horns, and went directly to the hothouse (Ôs´), where his grandmother was waiting for him. He told the old woman he must be alone that night, so she got up and went into the house where the others were.

At early daybreak she came again to the hothouse and looked in, and there she saw an immense uktena that filled the Ôs´, with horns on its head, but still with two human legs instead of a snake tail. It was all that was left of her boy. He spoke to her and told her to leave him, and she went away again from the door.

When the sun was well up, the uktena began slowly to crawl out, but it was full noon before it was all out of the Ôs´. It made a terrible hissing noise as it came out, and all the people ran from it. It crawled on through the settlement, leaving a broad trail in the ground behind it, until it came to a deep bend in the river, where it plunged in and went under the water.

The grandmother grieved much for her boy, until the others of the family got angry and told her that as she thought so much of him she ought to go and stay with him. So she left them and went along the trail made by the uktena to the river and walked directly into the water and disappeared.

Once after that a man fishing near the place saw her sitting on a large rock in the river, looking just as she had always looked, but as soon as she caught sight of him she jumped into the water and was gone.

Here is the same story but told slightly differently.

Long ago, lived a boy and his family. But this boy was no ordinary boy for he loved to go bird hunting every day. Each day, when he returned, he would take all of the birds he had taken that day to his grandmother. Now, this made her very fond of him and she loved him greatly. She enjoyed his visit at the end of the day, and she never wanted for a fresh meal.

Now the rest of the boys family did not feel very good about this and where jealous of the relationship between the boy and his grandmother. They hardened their hearts and treated the boy in such manner that he determined that he would leave them all and make a life of his own. He went to his grandmother and told her that he was going to leave, and that she must not worry about him, for all would be well.

The boy was up early and made his preparations for the day in private. He refused to eat his breakfast and was soon off into the woods on his days adventures. All day was he gone and not a sign was heard from him. The sun had come down and at last he did return home with a pair of deer horns, which he took straight to the hothouse. His grandmother was there when he entered and greeted him kindly. He spoke a greeting and gave her a hug and then told her that he must remain alone in the hothouse tonight. With that, she took her leave of him and went into the house, and spent the night with the rest of the family.

Long was the night and the grandmother was up at the break of the dawn. Out she went to the hothouse. In the door she looked and found the entire house was filled with a giant Uktena with horns on its head and two human legs instead of a tail. It spoke to her and told her that it was what was left of her grandson and that she should not worry as he would be fine. He then bid her to leave so that he could leave the hothouse.

Long did it take for him to unwind his coils through the door and by the time he was through the sun had reached the top of the sky. People began to flee and shouted at him. He crawled through the village leaving a serpentine trail behind him and found a deep place in the river and disappeared under the water. Never again was he seen.

Much grief was felt by the grandmother for him. Long was the time which she did bemoan the loss of her grandson. Again the family hardened their hearts and became very angry with her and told her to go and join her beloved grandson. So, she took her leave of them and followed the serpentine trail that he had left to the river and disappeared into the river.

Long after that day a fisherman was fishing near the spot and saw her sitting on a rock in the middle of the river. She looked just as she had the day she had left and had not changed a bit. As he stood looking at her, she noticed him and was quick into the water and was never seen again.