Wilbur Fiske
Boy the Cave Boy

I Was Born in a Cave

I was born in a cave, high up on a cliff that overlooked the river. There I was left very much alone while Ma-ai, my mother, was busy below with the other women, or until Ja, my father, appeared in the opening with a piece of fresh deermeat hanging from one shoulder. The rest of his deer Ja would leave near the fire at the foot of the cliff, but always he brought to my mother some of the tenderest parts of the meat to be dried or smoked and then hung in the back of our cave.

While I was very small, my mother, after feeding me, would lay me on a pile of soft furs, and there I had to stay until it was time to eat again.

When I began to crawl around on the floor of the cave, Ja, my father, made far back in the cave a wall of stones too large for me to push aside. Behind these he knew it was safe to leave me alone. On the floor he laid soft deerskins to protect my hands and feet from the rough rock, and before my mother left the cave she would put me behind the wall and tell me to stay there until she came back.

These early days I do not remember, but when I was older I used to ask Ma-ai about the time when I was a very little boy. She told me that sometimes, when she returned, she found long scratches on my tender skin. Then she knew that I had tried to climb over the stones but had fallen back.