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The Crane That Crossed The River
by [?]

A famous hunter who lived in a remote part of the North had a fair wife and two sons, who were left in the lodge every day while he went out in quest of the animals whose flesh was their principal support.

Game was very abundant in those days, and his labors in the chase were well rewarded. They lived a long distance from any other lodge, and it was seldom that they saw any other faces than those of their own household.

The two sons were still too young to follow their father in the hunt, and they were in the habit of diverting themselves within reach of the lodge.

While thus engaged, they began to take note that a young man visited the lodge during their father’s absence, and that these visits were constantly renewed.

At length the elder of the two said to his mother:

“My mother, who is this tall young man that comes here so often during our father’s absence? Does he wish to see him? Shall I tell him when he comes back this evening?”

“Naubesah, you little fool,” said the mother, “mind your bow and arrows, and do not be afraid to enter the forest in search of birds and squirrels, with your little brother. It is not manly to be ever about the lodge. Nor will you become a warrior if you tell all the little things that you see and hear to your father. Say not a word to him.”

The boys obeyed, but as they grew older and still noticed the visits of the stranger, they resolved to speak again to their mother.

They now told her that they meant to make known to their father all that they had witnessed, for they frequently saw this young man passing through the woods, and he did not walk in the path, nor did he carry any thing to eat. If he had any message to deliver at their lodge, why did he not give it to their father? for they had observed that messages were always addressed to men, and not to women.

When her sons spoke thus to her, the mother was greatly vexed.

“I will kill you,” she said, “if you speak of it.”

In fear they for a time held their peace, but still taking note that the stranger came so often and by stealth to the lodge, they resolved at last to speak with their father.

Accordingly one day, when they were out in the woods, learning to follow the chase, they told him all that they had seen.

The face of the father grew dark. He was still for a while, and when at length he looked up–

“It is done!” he said. “Do you, my children, tarry here until the hour of the falling of the sun, then come to the lodge and you will find me.”

The father left them at a slow pace, and they remained sporting away their time till the hour for their return had come.

When they reached the lodge the mother was not there. They dared not to ask their father whither she had gone, and from that day forth her name was never spoken again in the lodge.

In course of time the two boys had grown to be men, and although the mother was never more seen in the lodge, in charge of her household tasks, nor on the path in the forest, nor by the river side, she still lingered, ever and ever, near the lodge.

Changed, but the same, with ghastly looks and arms that were withered, she appeared to her sons as they returned from the hunt, in the twilight, in the close of the day.

At night she darkly unlatched the lodge-door and glided in, and bent over them as they sought to sleep. Oftenest it was her bare brow, white, and bony, and bodyless, that they saw floating in the air, and making a mock of them in the wild paths of the forest, or in the midnight darkness of the lodge.