THE SNAKE BOY
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 (âsĭ), 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 âsĭ, 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 fullWhen the sun was well up, the uktena began slowly to crawl out, but it was full
noon before it was all out of the âsĭ. 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 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.
Myths of the Cherokee, James Mooney