Raven And His Mother-in-law
Category: TSIMSHIAN TALES
Source: Indian Legends Retold
Once upon a time Raven came to a small house away from everybody,
where lived two women, a widow and her young daughter. The elder woman
asked him in and gave him a good supper, and as the house appeared to
be well stocked with dried fish and other necessaries, he proposed
that evening to marry the daughter and was accepted.
The next day, after a hearty breakfast, he borrowed the old woman's
stone ax and went out. He told the two women that he was going to cut
down a cedar tree and make a boat for the fishing, and he charged his
wife to see that her mother had a good meal ready for him on his
return. Before night he came back very hungry, saying that he had
felled the tree and would begin next day to hollow out the canoe.
This went on for some time, Raven going forth every morning with the
ax and returning in the afternoon, apparently tired out, and with so
great an appetite that the widow's stores of food were getting low.
They could hear the blows of the ax from time to time in the depths of
the forest, but somehow the boat was never quite finished.
At last one morning the old woman said to her daughter, "Go quietly,
my child; follow your husband without letting him know it, and see for
yourself what progress he is making."
The young wife did as she was told, and there was the trickster
pounding a rotten stump with the stone ax so as to make the sounds
they had heard. When she told her mother what she had seen, the two
women packed up all the goods they had left and went away.
When Raven went home that night, he found only the empty hut, which
was as much as he deserved.
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