“Strange, how quickly he has arranged his camp and undressed”, the hunter thought.
He was still more astonished when the old man called without even looking round at him, “Make a bed for yourself on the other side of my fire. You are a long way from home, and it is too late now to return or to go on.”
And he added, as he drew the lynx off its stake, “Take half this meat to your side of the fire and eat”.
The hunter ate part of his meat and arranged a bed for himself. Everything had happened so strangely, and his companion seemed so friendly, that he felt nervous and yet he dared not show any suspicion.
Before lying down, however, he placed his spare clothing under his head for a pillow, and his snowshoes below the bundle. Then about midnight he rose, took down his moccasins, which had been drying beside the fire, and placed them also under his head. Even so he felt uneasy and cautiously remained awake.
Not long after he had lain down for the second time the old man rose, took from the line what were really his own moccasins, though he thought they were his guest’s, and pushed them into the hollow of a burning log. Next he placed his own snowshoes on the fire mistaking them for his guest’s. Then he too lay down again.
The hunter rose at daybreak, put on his moccasins, ate some of his lynx meat, adjusted his snowshoes, and prepared to leave. Meanwhile the old man was looking in vain for his own moccasins and snowshoes. Presently he cried, “I can’t find my moccasins or my snowshoes.”
“Of course you can’t”, answered the hunter. “Don’t you know that I never go to sleep in a strange camp. With my own eyes I say you burn them.”
“Alas, it was a unfortunate mistake I made. Now I am in trouble. Let my buy the spare pair of moccasins you are carrying, and the extra filling for your snowshoes.”
“I am willing to sell them to you but what will you pay for them?”
“For your moccasins I’ll give you a round piece of fat, not large, but very wonderful and for your snowshoe filling I’ll give you two marvelous arrows.”
Skeptically the hunter answered, “Show me first how marvelous the arrows are.”
The old man extracted two arrows from his quiver, and said, “One of these is a male arrow, the other a female. Notch the male arrow to your bowstring and I will chant a song.”
The hunter notched the arrow to his bow, while the old man chanted, “I sit on a tree – I sit on a tree”. Immediately a male lynx climbed a tree nearby.
“Shoot,” cried the old man. The hunter shot, and the lynx fell dead.
“I’ll buy this arrow.”
“Notch the female arrow now,” the old man said. And he chanted, “We sit on the tree – we sit on the tree”. A female lynx climbed the tree, carrying a young one. The hunter shot the arrow and killed them also.
“They are wonderful arrows”, he said, greatly pleased with his good fortune. “I’ll buy them both. But tell me, what is the marvelous power that resides in your ball of fat?”
“That is more wonderful than the arrows”, answered the old man. “You must wrap it away out of sight and never show it to anyone. Also you must never eat it, though you are starving. But whenever you are in dire straits for food, take it to a lake beside a mountain, arm your brothers with sharp spears, and station them on either side of a gulch that leads down to the water. Then, if you point your ball of fat at the mountain and chant, ‘Come to us, O mother of fat’, something will roll down from the mountain. Spear it, but do not touch what falls into the lake.”
After the hunter had handed over his snowshoe filling and the spare pair of moccasins, he went home with the two arrows and the ball of fat. Without telling anyone of his adventure, he concealed the magic weapons until he needed them.
Finally, a winter came when famine overtook his family and his kinsmen. Remembering his magic gifts, he led the hunters to a lake, stationed them on either side of a gulch, and pointed his ball of fat at the mountain above, chanting, “Come to us, O mother of fat.”
Down the mountainside rolled a gigantic ball of fat. The hunters struck it with their spears and broke off all except one small portion, which rolled into the lake. That piece they made no effort to recover, remembering the old man’s warning, but with the rest they filled all their packs and returned to camp.
The fat nourished them for many days, but at last they ran short of food again. From time to time the man would bring in two lynxes, shot with his magic arrows, so that they did not starve. But one day his three children, tired of the constant lynx meat, opened his bag and ate his magic ball of fat. Then their bodies swelled prodigiously, and they died.