WHAT’S PLAYING: Brandi Carlile “Hard Way Home”
Late one afternoon, some children were playing near their house when they saw an old woman approaching. The children ran away, frightened by her stooped posture and white hair, but curiosity soon drove them back.
“Do not be afraid of me, children,” the old woman said. “I am your great-great-great-grandmother. Go to the house and tell your mother that I have come.”
The children did as they were told. They spread a deerskin on the ground for the old woman, and brought her food and drink. The old woman questioned the children while she ate, asking them what time their father would return and where he slept.
The unsuspecting children told her all.
That night, after all had gone to sleep, the old woman entered the house, cut off the man’s head, and put it into a basket. Then she covered the man’s body with his blanket to be discovered by his poor wife the next morning, and quietly left the house.
Soon, she met a couple of wildcats.
“Stop, old woman,” called one of the wildcats. “Show us what you have in the basket.”
“You must not see it,” she said, “for it is very bad poison. If you look upon it, you will lose your eyes.”
“We must see what you carry, even if it costs us our eyes,” they replied, and raised the cover on the basket. When they saw the man’s head, they knew the old woman was Skate’ne, an owl monster who prowled the night, killing men and animals. They decided to kill her. One held onto her, while the other went to find a length of rope.
When he had gone, Skate’ne turned to the wildcat holding her. “I like you, and so I will do you a favor. Do you see that large club over there? Grab it and strike me down, for whoever kills me will always have good fortune.”
Anxious to kill her before his companion could, the wildcat released Skate’ne and ran to get the club. When he turned back to strike the old woman, she had already turned into an owl and flown away.
So, be wary of the dark, my children. For Skate’ne prowls the night.