This is one of my favorite stories. I don’t know it’s origin, but a Cherokee sister sent it to me. Maybe we need to rehear our stories from time to time.
The Arguing Boy
Once there was a boy who loved to show people how very smart he was. The way he would do this was by talking. With his talking he tried to make other people wrong,
Which he thought, made him right.
So if his Mother said: ”the berries are ready to pick.”
He would say: ”No, they are not ready, I am going to wait another day.”
If his Mother said: ”your moccasins are too small, I will make you new ones.”
He would say: ”No, they are not too small, my feet are just getting too big for them.”
Sometimes he would ask a question: ”Mother, what does the sky look like today?”
”Why, it is very gray, and looks like it might storm.” His Mother might say.
”No, Mother, it is blue, it only has gray clouds over it.”
Well it was not long before everyone tired of arguing with the boy, and no one said much to him, because they knew he would only disagree with whatever they said.
One day, all the people went to pick up butternuts. While they all worked, the boy went from person to person, trying to talk to someone. He would pick up one or two nuts, but mostly he talked. He would tell people how hard he had worked picking berries, or ask them a question and then change their answer in some way.
The people just gathered the nuts, and thought that he should talk less about working and do more of it.
While they gathered, a Great Hungry Bear had quietly sat watching the people. He was deciding which one of the people he wanted to eat. The talking and arguing boy bothered the bear greatly. Such noise and chatter! The bear thought. I would do the people a favor by eating him.
And so, Bear crept silently out of the forest, to pounce on the boy.
”Bear!!! Bear!!!” shouted the people
”Look out boy…RUN!!!!!”
But the boy just shrugged his shoulders and said: ”NO, there is no bear” and he went into a long explanation about how smart he was about bears.
Now the boys Mother said seriously ”you must run, there is a bear right behind you”
The boy saw all the people running and yelling. His mother was taking a great chance herself to stand and try to tell the boy instead of running herself.
”No, it is just a shadow” said the boy.
His Mother picked up a nice hand sized round rock, and she aimed, and threw it with all her might. She hit the bear right between the eyes and knocked him out cold. The bear’s great body fell to the forest floor and landed right in front of the boy.
His eyes opened wide…and his mouth could not speak.
Now his mother told him this was good meat for the people, and for the boy to kill the bear and skin it, and all the people together could carry it back to the village to use for food and clothing.
After this, for days, the boy went about the village telling the story of how he killed the great bear. Now this was no lie really…technically HE had killed it, after his mother knocked it out. But the people had tired of the boy, and so they answered him by saying: ”NO, there was no bear.”
When the boy grew hungry, and wanted some of the meat to eat, the people told him:
”There is no meat, there was no bear.”
Winter was coming, and the boy’s feet grew cold, he wanted some of the skin for new moccasins. But his mother told him: ”there is no skin, there was no bear.”
The boy felt the people were all very mean. He went off to a new village where people would listen to how very smart he was.
His Mother was very sad, but she knew the boy must learn that all people know things, and he must listen to what other people know too.
When he learned to let other people be smart too, the boy would come home.
While he was gone, she sat by the fire each night making him beautiful new moccasins from the skin of the bear that was not there.