The Elk, by George Bird Grinnell
Old Man was very hungry. He had been a long time without food, and was
thinking how he could get something to eat, when he saw a band of elk on a
ridge. So he went up to them and said, "Oh, my brothers, I am lonesome
because I have no one to follow me."
"Go on, Old Man," said the elk, "we will follow you." Old Man led them
about a long time, and when it was dark, he came near a high-cut bank. He
ran around to one side where there was a slope, and he went down and then
stood right under the steep bluff, and called out, "Come on, that is a nice
jump, you will laugh."
So the elk jumped off, all but one cow, and were killed.
"Come on," said Old Man, "they have all jumped but you, it is nice."
"Take pity on me," replied the cow. "My child is about to be born, and I am
very heavy. I am afraid to jump."
"Go on, then," answered Old Man; "go and live; then there will be plenty of
elk again some day."
Now Old Man built a fire and cooked some ribs, and then he skinned all the
elk, cut up the meat to dry, and hung the tongues up on a pole.
Next day he went off, and did not come back until night, when he was very
hungry again. "I'll roast some ribs," he said, "and a tongue, and I'll
stuff a marrow gut and cook that. I guess that will be enough for
to-night." But when he got to the place, the meat was all gone. The wolves
had eaten it. "I was smart to hang up those tongues," he said, "or I would
not have had anything to eat." But the tongues were all hollow. The mice
had eaten the meat out, leaving only the skin. So Old Man starved again.