The Boy and the Beast

by Katharine Berry Judson

Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest

 

Pima (Arizona)

Once an old woman lived with her daughter and son-in-law and their little boy. They were following the trail of the Apache Indians. Now whenever a Pima Indian sees the trail of an Apache he draws a ring around it; then he can catch him sooner. And these Pimas drew circles around the trail of the Apaches they were following, but one night when they were asleep, the Apaches came down upon them. They took the man and younger woman by the hair and shook them out of their skins, just as one would shake corn out of a sack. So the boy and the old woman were left alone.

Now these two had to live on berries and anything they could find, and they wandered from place to place. In one place a strange beast, big enough to swallow people, camped in the bushes near them. The grand-mother told the boy not to go near these bushes. But the boy took some sharp stones in his hands, and went toward them. As he came near, the great monster began to breathe. He began to suck in his breath and he sucked the boy right into his stomach. But with his sharp stones the boy began to cut the beast, so that he died. Then the boy made a hole large enough to climb out of.

When his grandmother came to look for him, the boy met her and said, "I have killed that monster."

The grandmother said, "Oh, no. Such a little boy as you are to kill such a great monster!"

The boy said, "But I was inside of him, just look at the stones I cut him with."

Then the grandmother went softly up to the bushes, and looked at the monster. It was full of holes, just as the little boy had said.

Then they moved down among the berry bushes and had all they wanted to eat.