Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache
The Loaf, the Cloth, and the Hide
Long ago they say an old woman was living with her daughter’s son. He went away to work. He made a chair and was given a loaf of bread for his work. He was taking it home to his grandmother when he came to the house of another old woman. She invited him to eat and he did so. After supper she invited him to spend the night there. During the night the old woman stole the boy’s loaf and substituted another which he took to his grandmother. They ate the bread together.
When it was gone and they were about to die of starvation his grandmother told him to go and work again since they were about to starve. The boy went there again and made two chairs. He was given a table cloth for his wages. He was told to spread the cloth and call for any food or sweets he wanted and then stand with his back to the cloth. He took the cloth and started home with it. He went to another old woman’s house where he was invited to eat. When he had eaten he was asked to stay all night. During the night the woman stole the table cloth and put another in its place. He went to his grandmother the next morning. When he came to the camp he spread down the cloth and standing back to it called the names of the dishes he wanted. When he turned to the cloth there was nothing on it. No food was there.
Then his grandmother told him to go and work once more. He went again and made two chairs. For wages he was given a hide and told that it would do quickly whatever he told it to do. On his way home he came to the house of the woman again and was invited to eat. He refused to eat, but demanded his loaf of bread. The woman said she had not seen his bread. The boy told her she was not telling the truth and again asked that his loaf be given him. The woman again said she had not seen it. He told her to hurry and took the hide he had been given from his pocket. “My hide,” he said, “that person stole my loaf from me. Get it back for me.” He dropped the skin and a black man jumped up from it. He drew a sword and said to the woman, “Give him back his bread and table cloth quickly.” The woman cried and ran around. She gave them back to the boy who went home to his grandmother with whom he lived. “Good,” she said. They lived well.
A rich man had a good many people working for him. “Where does the boy get so much?” they said. Another chief told his men to go over there and get that man. They went after him. When the boy came there they put him in jail. The chief told him that after two nights he would be hung. Then the priest asked the boy what good thing he had left at his house. He replied that his wife was there and beside he had a hide. They told him that he was to be hung in one hour. His wife came bringing the hide. One hour of the time he was to be hung his wife came in the jail bringing the hide. He told his wife good-bye. He took the hide with him when he went to stand on the gallows. He told the hide to strike the chief who wanted to kill him with lightning and to kill all the people. It struck them with lightning.