Little Big Toe
His name was Little Big Toe. His father gave him that name when he was born because he was not any bigger than his big toe. His tribe lived in a secluded valley that could only be reached by following a small stream and then climbing to the top of a large waterfall.
It was a peaceful valley with tall pine trees and plenty of game animals to feed the small tribe. With an abundance of fruits and berries, the tribe never went hungry.
Little Big Toe grew up in this valley, never going any further than the waterfall. His brothers and friends, often went swimming in the clear pool at the base of the waterfall. His oldest brother first took him there when he was five summers old. Now he was twelve summers old and often went there by himself.
He had always been smaller than the other children in the tribe, about half as big as the others his own age, and as a result, they often made fun of him. They often made him mad, but he never stayed mad at them for very long.
His older brothers never took him on hunting trips into the mountains, they said he was to small, so he spent most of his time in the village doing things for the others in the tribe when he could. When Gray Cloud became sick and couldn't tend to her chores, Little Big Toe pitched in with the females of the tribe and helped.
In the mornings he would wake up and get the big water jug by the tepee entrance and go down to the stream to fill it. It was not his chore to do but would do it anyway. He liked doing things for the others.
On special occasions, the children would gather around Little Wolf, the oldest member of the tribe, and he would tell them stories. Some of the stories were true, but many of them were made up in the old mans head.
Little Big Toe loved to hear the stories and would always sit as close to Little Wolf as possible.
There was the story of the Ghost Bear that haunted the mountains north of the village. On nights when the moon had a strange orange glow, he would attack the village and carry off the prettiest girl. Then the bravest warrior of the tribe would go into the mountains and rescue her.
The story of the Golden Rabbit was for the little ones of the tribe. If you were to catch him, you were given a life without any worries and all your dreams came true.
Little Big Toe would listen to Little Wolf's stories until his eyes fell shut. Often he was the last one there. The old Indian was very fond of Little Big Toe and would carry him home to bed when he fell asleep. Little Wolf was also the tribes seer and as he would lay Little Big Toe in his bed of animal furs he would say, "You are destined for great things little one."
One day Little Big Toe was bored. All his chores were done and his brothers and friends were off on a hunting trip. He looked for something to do in the village, but there was nothing to do. Running Deer had the tribes meat supply hung up to dry. His mother and the other females of the tribe had already gathered the fruits and berries for the next few days. All the water jugs had been filled. There was just nothing for him to do.
He was sitting beside his tepee when he looked up to see Little Wolf coming in his direction. He was carrying a big walking stick that Little Big Toe had often seen in his tepee. When he would ask about it, he was told not to worry about it that some day he would understand.
"Come boy it is time," said Little Wolf.
"Time for what?" asked Little Big Toe.
Little Wolf said nothing, he just kept walking in the direction of the waterfall.
Little Big Toe asked again, "Time for what?"
Again Little Wolf said nothing and just kept walking.
Little Wolf had a long stride and could walk very fast. So fast that Little Big Toe was having to run to keep up with him.
When they got to the waterfall, Little Wolf climbed to the top of a rather large rock and tapped it three times with the stick. He climbed down from the rock and motioned for Little Big Toe to follow him. They climbed down to the bottom of the waterfall and Little Big Toe noticed something was different about it. There was a path leading behind it that had never been there before.
"From here you must go on your own," said Little Wolf.
"To where? What is this place?" asked Little Big Toe.
"You go now to your destiny," said Little Wolf and he motioned for Little Big Toe to go behind the waterfall.
Little Big Toe walked slowly down the path until he as behind the waterfall. There he found a cave.
"There has never been a cave there before," he said to himself.
Slowly he walked into the cave. Although it was dark, he had no trouble seeing where he was going. Deeper and deeper he went into the cave until he could see that the cave opened up into a large room. Light seemed to flood the room from no where.
In the middle of this room he saw a large rock, and sitting on this rock was an old Indian.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"I am.....was, Little Fox when I came here," said the old Indian.
"How long have you been here?" asked Little Big Toe.
"I know not of time," answered the old Indian. "You must be the one who is to replace me."
"Replace you doing what?" asked Little Big Toe.
"Holding this rock in place," answered Little Fox.
Little Big Toe looked at the rock. It was way to big for him, or anyone he knew, to move.
"How is a rock that big going to move?" he asked.
"Under this rock is a tunnel that leads to the depths of the underworld where demons of all kinds live," answered Little Fox. "All that keeps this rock in place is a person who is pure in heart and willing to give anything of themselves to help others. Now it is your time to sit and keep this rock in place. Little Wolf knows this, that is why he has brought you here."
"And what if I refuse?" asked Little Big Toe.
"I am at my days end," said Little Fox. "Each day I grow weaker. The demons know this and are even now trying to move the rock and get out. If this happens, the peacefulness of you valley will be lost forever. The stream will dry up, the hunters will not find meat for the tribe, and the fruits and berries will dry on the vines and trees."
"But why me?" asked Little Big Toe.
"All your life you have been made fun of because you are smaller than the rest. But yet you kept your spirits high and helped even those that made fun of you," said Little Fox.
"How did you know that?" asked Little Big Toe.
"Because as a child, I was treated the same as you," answered Little Fox. "I was half the size of the others and spent my time doing things for the others of the tribe. Now I grow tired. When I leave this place, I will take time and regain my strength and take Little Wolf's place as tribal seer and guardian of the staff. Then when the time comes, you will replace me."
"But what will become of Little Wolf?" asked Little Big Toe.
"He is dying," said Little Fox. "When it is my time to die, I will bring a replacement for you. It has been done this way for all of time."
"Why have I not heard of this before?" asked Little Big Toe.
"There are those out there who would have the rock moved for their own gain," said Little Fox. "For this reason it is not talked about, even by those who know about it."
"What of my mother and father?" asked Little Big Toe.
"They have known of this day even before you were born," said Little Fox. "My first task after Little Wolf dies will be to select a young girl to bring your replacement to life. And some day, it will be your job to do the same."
"How long have you been here?" asked Little Big Toe.
"Twenty days or twenty years, in here time has no meaning," answered Little Fox. "When I walk out of this cave, it will seem to me as if I came in here yesterday. I will only be much older."
"What of food and water?" asked Little Big Toe.
"All of your requirements will be seen to by the Great Spirit," answered Little Fox. "It is for him that we guard this rock and keep it in place. Now, come and take my place upon the rock. I grow tired and Little Wolf grows weaker as we speak."
Little Fox then stood and climbed down from the rock. Little Big Toe hesitated for a moment but soon heard a rumble come from under the rock and it started to move. All thoughts and doubts rushed from his mind as he quickly climbed to the top of the rock and it began to settle back down to where it had laid for all of time.
"This fur robe has been worn by all who have sat upon the rock," said Little Fox. "I give it to you now. When the time comes for you to leave this place, you will give it to the young brave who replaces you."
Little Big Toe took the robe and placed it over his shoulders. It was warm and gave him great comfort when he put it on and he then truly understood the task that he had been chosen for.
Little Fox waved good-bye and turned to leave. Little Big Toe watched as he went out of the entrance to the cave. The cave entrance then rumbled shut.
Little Big Toe soon felt sleepy. He was awaken by the mouth of the cave rumbling open. He looked at his hands, they were much older. He felt tired and weary as the knowledge of many years came rushing to him.
In the entrance of the cave appeared a small boy. "What is your name boy?" he asked.
"Little Buffalo," he answered.
'So the circle continues,' thought Little Big Toe as he began to tell the boy of the task that lay before him.