Once an old man and a young man and two women lived together. The two women were the young man's wives. Now, the young man needed some
feathers for his arrows.
One day, seeing a hawk's nest in a high tree, he started to climb to it to get the hawk-feathers.
Now, the old man was jealous of the young man, and had followed him. And when he saw him climbing the tree, he used his magic and made the tree
grow higher and higher, and at the same time peeled off all the bark so that the trunk was slippery; and as the young man was naked, he could not
come down, but had to remain in the top of the tree.
When the young man failed to appear that night, the old man said he wished to move the camp, and that the women were to come with him. And the
next morning they started. Now, one of the women liked the old man; but the other one, who had a baby, disliked him, and when they camped for the
night, she would take her baby, and make a fire for herself outside the camp and away from the old man. So they went on for several days.
All this time the young man stayed up in the tree; and as it was cold and he had no clothes, he took his hair, which was very long, and wove feathers
in it, and so made a blanket to protect himself. The little birds who built their nests in the sticks of the hawk's nest tried their best to carry him to the
ground, but could not lift him, and so he stayed on.
Finally one day he saw coming, a long way off, an old woman bent over, and with a stick in each hand. She came to the bottom of the tree where the
young man was, and began to climb and climbed until she reached the young man, and then she turned out to be Spider. Then Spider spun a web for
him, and of the web the young man made a rope and so reached the ground.
When he came back to his camp, he found it deserted, but discovered the trail of the fugitives, and started to follow. He trailed them a long time, and
finally saw them in the distance. Now, the woman who did not like the old man was following behind with her little boy; and the child, looking back
saw his father and cried out, "Why, there is my father!" But the mother replied, "What do you mean? Your father has been dead a long time." But
looking back herself, she saw her husband, and waited for him to come up, and they stopped together.
Then she told her husband all that had happened, how the old man had wished to take both his wives, and how she would not have him, but how the
other one took him. Now, the woman was carrying a large basket, and she put her husband into it and covered him up. When they reached the old
man's camp she put the basket down close to the fire; but the old man took it and placed it some distance away.
The woman brought it back and as she did so the young man sprang out and struck the old man and killed him. Then he killed his faithless wife; and
taking the other woman, who was true, and the little boy, they went back to their old home together.
|The Stretching Tree
A Chilcotin Legend
Music: Spirit Dance by AH-NEE-MAH
Thunder was a great chief who lived in the sky, and he had three daughter, whom all the young men from the earth wished to marry but could not
get; for whenever a suitor came to ask Thunder for one of his daughters, Thunder would kill him.
He would tell the young man to go into the house to get food, and would open the door for him, and the young man would go inside; but the house
was really a bear's den, and the bears would kill him. Finally there came a young man to try for one of the daughters; and as he came near the house,
he saw a small lake in which the three woman were bathing. The man his himself, and stole over to where the women's clothes were lying, and sat
down upon them; and the women were ashamed and would not come out. So they sat down in the water and began to parley. The oldest woman
said he could have the youngest sister if he would give back the clothes; but the young man declined. Then she said he could have both her sisters; but
the young man said he wanted her herself. So at last the woman said, "Well, I am a poor woman, but if you will give back our clothes, you may have
The young man agreed, and turned his back while they dressed. Then they started together for their father's house; and on the way the women told
him of how Thunder killed men, and what he had to do to escape. When they came to the house, Thunder told the young man to go into the house and
get some food. He went in just like the other suitors; but there was a door on the other side of the room, and he ran quickly across, and got out before
the bears could catch him. His wife was waiting for him, and together they went to her house and spent the night. Early in the morning he rose and
went to Thunder's house, and Thunder said to him, "My house is too old. If you will make me a new one, you can have my daughter." The young
man sat down and covered his head and thought hard. Pretty soon he uncovered his head, and there was a fine house all built. But Thunder refused
to give him the girl. Then Thunder said to him, "My garden is in very bad condition; it is full of stones and weeds. If you will clear it out, you can
have my daughter." So the young man sat down and covered his head and thought, and in a little while he uncovered, and there was the garden all
cleared. Still Thunder refused to give him his daughter.
Every night the young man went to the woman's house and slept with her, and she told him all the ways in which her father killed men, but all the
time she feared that her husband would get caught. At last she proposed that they should run away together to his home. So they took all their clothes
and goods and filled several houses; but the young man turned them all into a small roll and put it in his blanket, and they started for home. Next
day Thunder discovered that the young man had stolen his daughter, and started in pursuit; and they heard him coming a long way off and were
They came to a great lake, and turned themselves into ducks and swam across. And when Thunder came to the lake, he saw nothing but two ducks,
and went back home, while the young man and his wife turned back to their proper shapes on the other side and started on. Thunder came home and
told his wife what had happened, and she laughed at him and told him that the ducks were the man and the woman. Then Thunder was angry, and
started in pursuit again. Again the fugitives hears Thunder coming. The young man looked all about for a way of escape, and, seeing an owl, both
he and the woman hid themselves under the owl's wing. When Thunder came up, he saw no trace of them. Then, seeing the owl, he caught it and felt
it all over, and picked over all the feather; but he forgot to look under the wing, and so failed to find them, and went back home, while the young man
and his wife started on again.
Finally they came near home. When they were only a little way off, the woman said, "I will wait here while you go on and tell them we are coming."
As soon as the young man had gone, the woman made four houses, and, pulling the roll from her blanket, she filled them all with clothes and goods.
And one of the houses she made ready for the young man's mother. Not long after that, they heard Thunder hunting for them again; and when he
came up, he was very angry, and wanted to kill all the people in the village. But his daughter made a great crack in the ground, and Thunder fell in up
to his waist, and stuck fast. Then his daughter built a tent over his head, and used to feed him through a hole in the tent. There he stayed for two
years. But at last he grew tired, and told his daughter if she would let him out he would go home and not trouble them any more. So she freed him,
and he went away; and after that the young man and his wife lived in peace.
|The White Cat
A Chilcotin Legend
(adaptation of a European story)