FROM the tall grass came the voice of a crying babe. The

huntsmen who were passing nigh heard and halted.

The tallest one among them hastened toward the high grass with

long, cautious strides. He waded through the growth of green with

just a head above it all. Suddenly exclaiming "Hunhe!" he dropped

out of sight. In another instant he held up in both his hands a

tiny little baby, wrapped in soft brown buckskins.

"Oh ho, a wood-child!" cried the men, for they were hunting

along the wooded river bottom where this babe was found.

While the hunters were questioning whether or no they should

carry it home, the wee Indian baby kept up his little howl.

"His voice is strong!" said one.

"At times it sounds like an old man's voice!" whispered a

superstitious fellow, who feared some bad spirit hid in the small

child to cheat them by and by.

"Let us take it to our wise chieftain," at length they said;

and the moment they started toward the camp ground the strange

wood-child ceased to cry.

Beside the chieftain's teepee waited the hunters while the

tall man entered with the child.

"How! how!" nodded the kind-faced chieftain, listening to the

queer story. Then rising, he took the infant in his strong arms;

gently he laid the black-eyed babe in his daughter's lap. "This is

to be your little son!" said he, smiling.

"Yes, father," she replied. Pleased with the child, she

smoothed the long black hair fringing his round brown face.

"Tell the people that I give a feast and dance this day for

the naming of my daughter's little son," bade the chieftain.

In the meanwhile among the men waiting by the entrance way,

one said in a low voice: "I have heard that bad spirits come as

little children into a camp which they mean to destroy."

"No! no! Let us not be overcautious. It would be cowardly to

leave a baby in the wild wood where prowl the hungry wolves!"

answered an elderly man.

The tall man now came out of the chieftain's teepee. With a

word he sent them to their dwellings half running with joy.

"A feast! a dance for the naming of the chieftain's

grandchild!" cried he in a loud voice to the village people.

"What? what?" asked they in great surprise, holding a hand to

the ear to catch the words of the crier.

There was a momentary silence among the people while they

listened to the ringing voice of the man walking in the center

ground. Then broke forth a rippling, laughing babble among the

cone-shaped teepees. All were glad to hear of the chieftain's

grandson. They were happy to attend the feast and dance for its

naming. With excited fingers they twisted their hair into glossy

braids and painted their cheeks with bright red paint. To and fro

hurried the women, handsome in their gala-day dress. Men in loose

deerskins, with long tinkling metal fringes, strode in small

numbers toward the center of the round camp ground.

Here underneath a temporary shade-house of green leaves they

were to dance and feast. The children in deerskins and paints,

just like their elders, were jolly little men and women. Beside

their eager parents they skipped along toward the green dance


Here seated in a large circle, the people were assembled, the

proud chieftain rose with the little baby in his arms. The noisy

hum of voices was hushed. Not a tinkling of a metal fringe broke

the silence. The crier came forward to greet the chieftain, then

bent attentively over the small babe, listening to the words of the

chieftain. When he paused the crier spoke aloud to the people:

"This woodland child is adopted by the chieftain's eldest

daughter. His name is Chaske. He wears the title of the eldest

son. In honor of Chaske the chieftain gives this feast and dance!

These are the words of him you see holding a baby in his arms."

"Yes! Yes! Hinnu! How!" came from the circle. At once the

drummers beat softly and slowly their drum while the chosen singers

hummed together to find the common pitch. The beat of the drum

grew louder and faster. The singers burst forth in a lively tune.

Then the drumbeats subsided and faintly marked the rhythm of the

singing. Here and there bounced up men and women, both young

and old. They danced and sang with merry light hearts. Then came

the hour of feasting.

Late into the night the air of the camp ground was alive with

the laughing voices of women and the singing in unison of young

men. Within her father's teepee sat the chieftain's daughter.

Proud of her little one, she watched over him asleep in her lap.

Gradually a deep quiet stole over the camp ground, as one by

one the people fell into pleasant dreams. Now all the village was

still. Alone sat the beautiful young mother watching the babe in

her lap, asleep with a gaping little mouth. Amid the quiet of the

night, her ear heard the far-off hum of many voices. The faint

sound of murmuring people was in the air. Upward she glanced at

the smoke hole of the wigwam and saw a bright star peeping down

upon her. "Spirits in the air above?" she wondered. Yet there was

no sign to tell her of their nearness. The fine small sound of

voices grew larger and nearer.

"Father! rise! I hear the coming of some tribe. Hostile or

friendly--I cannot tell. Rise and see!" whispered the young woman.

"Yes, my daughter!" answered the chieftain, springing to his


Though asleep, his ear was ever alert. Thus rushing out into

the open, he listened for strange sounds. With an eagle eye he

scanned the camp ground for some sign.

Returning he said: "My daughter, I hear nothing and see no

sign of evil nigh."

"Oh! the sound of many voices comes up from the earth about

me!" exclaimed the young mother.

Bending low over her babe she gave ear to the ground.

Horrified was she to find the mysterious sound came out of the open

mouth of her sleeping child!

"Why so unlike other babes!" she cried within her heart as she

slipped him gently from her lap to the ground. "Mother, listen and

tell me if this child is an evil spirit come to destroy our camp!"

she whispered loud.

Placing an ear close to the open baby mouth, the chieftain and

his wife, each in turn heard the voices of a great camp. The

singing of men and women, the beating of the drum, the rattling of

deer-hoofs strung like bells on a string, these were the sounds

they heard.

"We must go away," said the chieftain, leading them into the

night. Out in the open he whispered to the frightened young woman:

"Iya, the camp-eater, has come in the guise of a babe. Had you

gone to sleep, he would have jumped out into his own shape and

would have devoured our camp. He is a giant with spindling legs.

He cannot fight, for he cannot run. He is powerful only in the

night with his tricks. We are safe as soon as day breaks." Then

moving closer to the woman, he whispered: "If he wakes now, he will

swallow the whole tribe with one hideous gulp! Come, we must flee

with our people."

Thus creeping from teepee to teepee a secret alarm signal was

given. At midnight the teepees were gone and there was left no

sign of the village save heaps of dead ashes. So quietly had the

people folded their wigwams and bundled their tent poles that they

slipped away unheard by the sleeping Iya babe.

When the morning sun arose, the babe awoke. Seeing himself

deserted, he threw off his baby form in a hot rage.

Wearing his own ugly shape, his huge body toppled to and fro,

from side to side, on a pair of thin legs far too small for their

burden. Though with every move he came dangerously nigh to

falling, he followed in the trail of the fleeing people.

"I shall eat you in the sight of a noon-day sun!" cried Iya in

his vain rage, when he spied them encamped beyond a river.

By some unknown cunning he swam the river and sought his way

toward the teepees.

"Hin! hin!" he grunted and growled. With perspiration beading

his brow he strove to wiggle his slender legs beneath his giant


"Ha! ha!" laughed all the village people to see Iya made

foolish with anger. "Such spindle legs cannot stand to fight by

daylight!" shouted the brave ones who were terror-struck the night

before by the name "Iya."

Warriors with long knives rushed forth and slew the


Lo! there rose out of the giant a whole Indian tribe: their

camp ground, their teepees in a large circle, and the people

laughing and dancing.

"We are glad to be free!" said these strange people.

Thus Iya was killed; and no more are the camp grounds in

danger of being swallowed up in a single night time.