Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Widow's Son

_Subanun_ (_Mindanao_)

In a little house at the edge of a village lived a widow with her
only son, and they were very happy together. The son was kind to his
mother, and they made their living by growing rice in clearings on
the mountain side and by hunting wild pig in the forest.

One evening when their supply of meat was low, the boy said:

"Mother, I am going to hunt pig in the morning, and I wish you would
prepare rice for me before daylight."

So the widow rose early and cooked the rice, and at dawn the boy
started out with his spear and dog.

Some distance from the village, he entered the thick forest. He walked
on and on, ever on the lookout for game, but none appeared. At last
when he had traveled far and the sun was hot, he sat down on a rock to
rest and took out his brass box [138] to get a piece of betel-nut. He
prepared the nut and leaf for chewing, and as he did so he wondered
why it was that he had been so unsuccessful that day. But even as he
pondered he heard his dog barking sharply, and cramming the betel-nut
into his mouth he leaped up and ran toward the dog.

As he drew near he could see that the game was a fine large pig,
all black save its four legs which were white. He lifted his spear
and took aim, but before he could throw the pig started to run,
and instead of going toward a water course it ran straight up the
mountain. The boy went on in hot pursuit, and when the pig paused he
again took aim, but before he could throw it ran on.

Six times the pig stopped just long enough for the boy to take aim,
and then started on before he could throw. The seventh time, however,
it halted on the top of a large flat rock and the boy succeeded in
killing it.

He tied its legs together with a piece of rattan and was about to
start for home with the pig on his back, when to his surprise a door
in the large stone swung open and a man stepped out.

"Why have you killed my master's pig?" asked the man.

"I did not know that this pig belonged to anyone," replied the widow's
son. "I was hunting, as I often do, and when my dog found the pig I
helped him to catch it"

"Come in and see my master," said the man, and the boy followed him
into the stone where he found himself in a large room. The ceiling and
floor were covered with peculiar cloth that had seven wide stripes
of red alternating with a like number of yellow stripes. When the
master of the place appeared his trousers were of seven colors,
[139] as were also his jacket and the kerchief about his head.

The master ordered betel-nut, and when it was brought they chewed
together. Then he called for wine, and it was brought in a jar so
large that it had to be set on the ground under the house, and even
then the top came so high above the floor that they brought a seat
for the widow's son, and it raised him just high enough to drink
from the reed in the top of the jar. He drank seven cups of wine,
and then they ate rice and fish and talked together.

The master did not blame the boy for killing the pig, and declared that
he wished to make a brother of him. So they became friends, and the
boy remained seven days in the stone. At the end of that time, he said
that he must return to his mother who would be worried about him. In
the early morning he left the strange house and started for home.

At first he walked briskly, but as the morning wore on he went more
slowly, and finally when the sun was high he sat down on a rock to
rest. Suddenly looking up, he saw before him seven men each armed with
a spear, a shield, and a sword. They were dressed in different colors,
and each man had eyes the same color as his clothes. The leader, who
was dressed all in red with red eyes to match, spoke first, asking
the boy where he was going. The boy replied that he was going home
to his mother who would be looking for him, and added:

"Now I ask where you are going, all armed ready for war."

"We are warriors," replied the man in red. "And we go up and down the
world killing whatever we see that has life. Now that we have met you,
we must kill you also."

The boy, startled by this strange speech, was about to answer when he
heard a voice near him say: "Fight, for they will try to kill you,"
and upon looking up he saw his spear, shield, and sword which he had
left at home. Then he knew that the command came from a spirit, so he
took his weapons and began to fight. For three days and nights they
contended, and never before had the seven seen one man so brave. On
the fourth day the leader was wounded and fell dead, and then, one
by one, the other six fell.

When they were all killed, the widow's son was so crazed with fighting
that he thought no longer of returning home, but started out to find
more to slay.

In his wanderings he came to the home of a great giant whose house
was already full of the men he had conquered in battle, and he called
up from outside:

"Is the master of the house at home? If he is, let him come out
and fight."

This threw the giant into a rage, and seizing his shield and his
spear, the shaft of which was the trunk of a tree, he sprang to the
door and leaped to the ground, not waiting to go down the notched
pole which served for steps. He looked around for his antagonist,
and seeing only the widow's son he roared:

"Where is the man that wants to fight? That thing? It is only a fly!"

The boy did not stop to answer, but rushed at the giant with his knife;
and for three days and nights they struggled, till the giant fell,
wounded at the waist.

After that the widow's son stopped only long enough to burn the giant's
house, and then rushed on looking for someone else to slay. Suddenly
he again heard the voice which had bade him fight with the seven men,
and this time it said: "Go home now, for your mother is grieved at
your absence." In a rage he sprang forward with his sword, though he
could see no enemy. Then the spirit which had spoken to him made him
sleep for a short time. When he awoke the rage was spent.

Again the spirit appeared, and it said: "The seven men whom you killed
were sent to kill you by the spirit of the great stone, for he looked
in your hand and saw that you were to marry the orphan girl whom
he himself wished to wed. But you have conquered. Your enemies are
dead. Go home now and prepare a great quantity of wine, for I shall
bring your enemies to life again, and you will all live in peace."

So the widow's son went home, and his mother, who had believed him
dead, was filled with joy at his coming, and all the people in the town
came out to welcome him. When he had told them his story, they hastened
to get wine, and all day they bore jarsful to the widow's house.

That night there was a great feast, and the spirit of the great stone,
his seven warriors, the friendly spirit, and the giant all came. The
widow's son married the orphan girl, while another beautiful woman
became the wife of the spirit of the stone.

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