On the edge of the Everglades lived two men from the Village of Many Indians. These two men were hunters who went into the Glades for months at a time. Sometimes, when the hunting was good, they came back to the village within two weeks or less with lots of meat which they would smoke and dry. They hunted deer and burds and picked up as many water turtles as they could fit into their two canoies. They only hunted when they had to, when the meat supply had run out.
Early one spring, the two hunters talked about the Big Lake and how there would surely be ltots of game around there at this time of year. “We will return in two weeks or less,” they assured their families. “Now is a good time to hunt near the Big Lake.”
They left in the morning and, on the second day, made camp near the Big Lake. On the way, the two hunters talked about how the hunting would be good, for they saw many animals around earing the green grass. After making camp, they settled down to sleep.
As the sun rose the next morning, they hurried out and immediately killed a deer. It took most of the day to clean the large deer. They dried and smoked the meat so it would keep until they returned home. Both men were filled with happiness and good feelings for they were sure that there was plenty of game around and this trip away from the village would be short. They would return soon with lots of meat for their families.
They went to sleep early. When they awoke the next morning, they were surprised to see that it was raining very hard. The rain fell most of the day, so they stayed at the camp. In the late afternoon, the rain finally stopped and the sun came out. “It’s too late now to hunt,” said one hunter. “I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I think I’ll take a little walk around the lake.”
The other hunter was feeling hungry, so he cooked some deer meat. Soon the hunter returned carrying two big fish. “Look what I found,” he said. “Beautiful bass, big and fat.”
“Where did you get those fish?” asked the other hunter. “I didn’t see you take anything to fish with when you left.”
“No,” the other hunter explained, “I found them jumping on the ground near the lake, so I picked them up.” I guess they must have come down with the rain!”
“Go put them into the lake,” said the other hunter, “and let us eat the meat I am cooking.”
“Oh no,” his friend replied. “These fish are too good to throw away. I’m going to clean and cook them right away.” And he did.
After the meal they sat around the fire and talked. They agreed to start early the next day and maybe kill two deer and fix them before nightfall. Soon it was time to go to sleep. All the night birds were singing away. Somewhere near, in a tree, an old owl was laughing and crying throughout the night.
In the middle of the night, the hunter who ate the fish called and called, “Come here! Come here!” His partner awakened and yelled out: “What’s wrong?” He stood up and walked over to his friend’s mosquito net. He stared in fright as his friend spoke: “I think I’m turning into a snake. You told me not to eat the fish but I didn’t listen to you. Now look at me!”
The hunter started a fire to get a better look at his troubled friend. His legs had already turned into a snake’s tail!
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