the hunter’s five sons

There was once a hunter who had four sons. His wife was pregnant and could feel the fifth kicking inside her. ‘This will be another strong son,’ she said.

Now, one day the hunter went into the forest with his spear and his bow and his quiver full of arrows.

But he didn’t come back. That night the four sons and their mother stayed up and waited, but he didn’t come back. For the next week they cried.  After a week they stopped crying. And after a month they forgot about the hunter.

After another month the fifth son was born.

He grew up fast. Soon he was crawling. And after that walking.  And then he began talking. His fist words were, ‘Where’s my daddy?’ Those were his first words, ‘Where’s my daddy?’

The mother said to her other sons, ‘We have forgotten your father. You must go into the forest and search for what you can find.’

So they went into the forest, and it wasn’t long before they found their father’s spear on the ground. A little later they found the quiver full of arrows, and then the bow. And then they found his bones scattered all around.

The first son said, ‘It’s lucky that I have the power to bring bones back together.’

And he did. He made his father’s bones come back together to make the shape of a skeleton.

The second son said, ‘It’s lucky that I have the power to put flesh and skin on top of bones.’

And there was flesh and skin on the bones, their father’s body lying on the ground.

The third son said, ‘It’s lucky that I have the power to put life into a body.’

The heart inside the body began to beat and the lungs to breathe.

The fourth son said, ‘It’s lucky that I have the power to make a body move.’

And their father sat up and looked around, confused. ‘Where am I?’ he said.

‘You were dead,’ they said, ‘but now you are alive.’

And so their father went back home with them, and on the way he found his bow and quiver full of arrows and his spear. The family was together again.

After that the hunter got a piece of hardwood and cut it into shape and began to carve it. He carved the shapes of animals into it, fish, birds and animals that walk on the ground. When he had carved it he polished it, until he was satisfied with his work.

‘I will give this carving,’ he said, ‘to the one who saved me.’

‘That should be me,’ said his wife, ‘for I sent your sons to find you.’

‘That should be me,’ said his fist son, ‘for I brought your scattered bones together.’

‘It should be me,’ said the second son, ‘for I put flesh and skin on your bones.’

‘It should be me,’ said the third son, ‘for I put life into your body.’

‘It should be me,’ said the fourth son, ‘for I put movement into your body.’

‘No,’ said the hunter. ‘It will be my fifth son, for he asked about me when all of you had forgotten. A man is only truly dead when no-one remembers him.’

# – # – # – # – #

I’m telling you this tale that I read to Sam the other night from Freaky Tales From Far and Wide by Hugh Lupton. He had it from storyteller Jan Blake. The carving pictured is hanging in our house; Pam bought it in Zambia.





– added March 2013 –


here it is told by the man himself:



  1. egotoagrimi said

    Christmas coming and times for wild tales, eh? This could be Greek. It has a (hidden) rawness that I like. Where is the immortal soul? The memory is the body of the person? Heresy, heresy! I like that too 🙂

  2. […] none of these folktales speak about our  “immortal soul”? Is it only the body then? When somebody dies we have to remember him or her the way he or she looked in flesh and bones. If this is hard!.. Isn’t it better to pay the church to do […]

  3. simonsterg said

    Yes, it’s getting cold outside (snow floating down outside my window now!) – it’s high time for some sweet and spicey things to eat
    High time to bake some gingerbread
    and for one or two wild, freaky tales.

    Yes, they are beautifully heretical aren’t they, these stories, sneaking out of the sacks of thought-police everywhere!

    (nothing against foxes of couse!)

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