Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Oseedah, the Rabbit Gambler

A Seneca Indian Tale


Continued from last week

“Come home with me,” he said. “I have plenty of live mice in my house and I have two fine wives to prepare them for you.”

So Sayno went to Oseedah’s house and sat down to eat. He looked over Oseedah’s store of treasure and then looked over Oseedah’s wives. His eyes rolled, and after he finished his dinner he began to entertain the young women with tales of his bravery.

“I travel far,” he said, “and many a fight do I have. I have often met Fox in my dooryard, but I scare away Fox by just looking at him. As for that conceited fellow, Dog, why, he runs away weeping when I shake my head at him. I can whip Moose without half trying. As for the treasures I have, why, I have more than I can tell about in a week. Of course I am a bachelor and never talk with young ladies unless they are interesting. Ho ho!”

Sayno was so entertaining that Oseedah’s wives both fell in love with him, but Oseedah didn’t know it. When Sayno left that night, he bade Oseedah good-bye very tenderly. “Come over to my house and see me,” he said.

As soon as he could, Oseedah went over to Sayno’s house. After a fine supper, Sayno said, “Come, let us gamble a bit with deer-bone dice. Let us see who will win.”

So they gambled far into the night, and Oseedah won more treasure than he ever had before. After awhile, he left Sayno’s house with a promise to return.

His wives were delighted with the treasures Oseedah brought home. They decked themselves out in strings of beads and beautiful feathers, for Oseedah had won many fine plumes.

“Go again, brave Oseedah,” they said. “Win and win and win, and how we will love you!”

So Oseedah went back and won again and came home with treasure. Again he went and was lucky. “Oh, oh,” said his wives, “you are just the nicest man!”

Again Oseedah went to his friend’s house and gambled. But this time the more he gambled, the more he lost. Desperately he gambled and tried all the tricks known to him. He wriggled his nose and wriggled his ears and did a couple of handsprings, but without avail.

All his former winnings were lost, all he owned and much more. Finally when all was gone, Sayno proposed that they gamble for the privilege of eating one another when they felt like it. Oseedah agreed, and when the dice were thrown he lost again.

“Now, isn’t that too bad?” exclaimed Sayno. “I can eat you any time I find you and am hungry. Oh, dear, that is simply awful!”

Oseedah felt very sad and bade Sayno good night.

He did not go directly home, however, for he was too ashamed. He huddled in a pile of dead branches and went to sleep.

Sayno took a stroll, for he loved the night air. His feet naturally took him to Oseedah’s home. He peered down the tunnel, which was Oseedah’s front hall, and called out, “It is a fine night. Ho ho, I have gambled all night with Oseedah. I have won all his treasure. Poor fellow, if his wives ever need protection or riches, they will find shelter, food, and riches at my quarters. My house is so full of treasure the backyard is piled high.”

So saying, Sayno stalked away, as skunks do, very slowly and with defiance in every step.

“What is this news?” exclaimed the wives, awakening and looking at each other. “Is Oseedah poor? Has he lost all? Has he gambled? Oh, wicked man, to gamble and lose. Oh, stupid man, not to have won!”

They went to sleep again, and in the morning decided to leave that poor place and seek a better man. They set out a breakfast of bitter herbs and burrs for Oseedah and then left home forever.

“Live with a gambler? Well, we guess not!” they both said. Out into the beautiful morning they strolled, meeting their friends and gossiping by the wayside.

Those friends counted for much with them. As Oseedah’s wives, they were the envy of the whole woods because Oseedah came from an old family. And his reputed riches added to his fame.

After awhile their feet just naturally took them to Sayno’s underground castle. Outside they stood for awhile, eyeing one another. Then they both began to cry, feeling very sorry for themselves. “Oh, how we need protection,” they wailed.

“We have been tricked by a very wicked husband and abused until we can hardly stand it. Boo hoo, boo-oo hoo!”

Out came Sayno with tears in his eyes. “You poor dear young ladies,” he sniffled, with a choking voice. “You just step in and tell me all about it.”

And so the weeping wives entered Sayno’s house and sat down. They told how all their goods were gone and how Oseedah had gambled away his fortune, leaving them destitute.

“Yes,” answered Sayno, “I thought I had better tell you last night so you could leave that loafer. Of course, I have won all those things to which you were accustomed. They are all here safe and sound for you just the same. You stay here and enjoy yourselves. You can’t imagine how I despise Oseedah for being a gambler. It’s a terrible sin to lose.”

“Ah, yes,” said the wives, “he had no right to lose.”

“If I catch him, I will bite his head off,” snapped Sayno. “He gave me the privilege of eating all rabbits whenever I found them.”

At this, the wives looked at one another and wriggled their noses.

“Serves them right,” they said, forgetting that they were Oseedah’s wives.

That night Sayno got hungry. He grabbed one of the wives—the most tender—and said, “You wicked woman, to leave your good husband!”

So poor, tender, little Oseedah woman went down Sayno’s throat, and her feet and ears were added to Sayno’s treasure chest. The other woman just trembled and shook and quivered with fright.

“I’d eat you, too,” said Sayno, “but you are too tough. Be gone!”

So Oseedah woman went out and sought the comfort of friends, but not one would speak to her. She had sought the sympathy of a skunk and forever after was shunned.

Oseedah never gambled again. He just grew rich and got another wife who could wriggle her ears and twist her nose just like he did.

That’s all my grandfather told me, and he fought in seven wars and had one eye, but he saw a lot with that. Story done.


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