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Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesEya The Devourer (twelfth Evening)
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Eya The Devourer (twelfth Evening) Post by :Driven Category :Short Stories Author :Charles Alexander Eastman Date :November 2011 Read :2143

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Eya The Devourer (twelfth Evening)


"We shall hear to-night of one good deed done by Unktomee," begins the old teacher, when all are in their places. "In the old days, longer ago than any one can remember, no one was more feared and dreaded than Eya, the Glutton, the devouring spirit that went to and fro upon the earth, able to draw all living creatures into his hideous, open mouth! His form was monstrous and terrifying. No one seemed to know what he feared, or how he might be overcome. Whole tribes of people were swallowed up by him, and there was no help!

"At last came Unktomee, and by his quick wit and genial ways got the better of this enemy of our race. He is very hard to kill, for he often comes to life again after he has been left for dead. Perhaps by Eya is meant the terrible hunger, or the sickness that runs like fire from lodge to lodge and sweeps away whole villages."


Once upon a time, an old woman who was gathering wood found a lost babe deep in the forest, and bringing him to the camp, gave him to the chief's pretty daughter. The girl, who was very tender-hearted, took the child and cared for him as her own.

She fed him often, but he was never satisfied and continually cried for more. When he screamed, his mouth stretched from ear to ear, and far down his red throat she seemed to see a great company of people struggling in confusion. However, she told no one, but patiently tended the strange child and carried him about with her everywhere.

At dead of night, when all in the lodge were asleep, the tender-hearted maiden was aroused by the crying of her babe. As she bent over him, there seemed to come from his wide-open mouth, as if from the depths of the earth, the far-off voices of many people in distress.

Then at last she went and awoke the chief, her father, and said to him:

"Father, come and listen to the voice of my babe!"

He listened for a moment and exclaimed in horror:

"My child, this is Eya, he who devours all things, even whole villages! This that we hear is the crying of the people whom he has swallowed. Now he has taken the form of an innocent babe and is come to destroy us!

"We must steal away quietly while he sleeps, and travel fast and far before morning."

In whispers they aroused the sleeping people, and all broke camp without disturbing the child, who once more slept in the chief's teepee, which they left still standing.

All night they travelled at their best pace, and when morning came, they had come to a wide and deep river. Here Unktomee, the crafty one, came to meet them, smiling and rubbing his hands.

When he had learned what caused the people of a whole village to flee in the night, he kindly offered to help them against their powerful enemy. Terrified though they were, they were even then unwilling, for they feared lest he might play some trick upon them; but Unktomee persisted, and went back upon their trail to meet the Devourer.

He had not gone far before he saw Eya hastening after the fleeing ones, his ugly mouth gaping widely and his great, unwieldy body supported by a pair of feeble legs that tottered under its weight.

"Where are you going, younger brother?" asked Unktomee, pleasantly.

"How dare you call me younger brother?" angrily returned the other. "Do you not know that I was the first one created upon the solid earth?"

"If that is so, I must be older than you," replied Unktomee, in his good-natured way, "for I was created upon the face of the water, before the dry land itself! I know whom you seek, younger brother, and am come out to help you.

"Those foolish ones whom you are following are encamped on the river close at hand, and I will lead you to them presently. They cannot escape you. Why not rest a little now, and refresh yourself with the delicacy that I have prepared for you? See, these are human ears, nicely dried for your meal!"

So saying, Unktomee pointed to a great heap of mussel shells that lay upon the hill-top. The greedy monster was deceived, and hastily swallowed the shells, which caused him such distress that he was helpless, and was easily dispatched by the men of the village, who now came out to kill him. No sooner had they cut open his enormous body with their knives, than a large company of people issued forth upon the plain, and began dancing and singing songs of praise for their deliverance.

(The end)
Charles Alexander Eastman's short story: Eya The Devourer (Twelfth Evening)

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