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Raven And The Salmon Woman






Category: TSIMSHIAN TALES

Source: Indian Legends Retold

Now Raven had been unfortunate for a long time and was poorer than
ever, but he had at last contrived to build a small hut and make a
boat and a spear. Just as he was ready to go fishing, a heavy fog came
down and covered the face of the water, hiding his boat entirely. When
the fog lifted, there sat a beautiful woman in the bow of the canoe.

"You have come to my boat; will you be my wife?" asked Raven.

And the woman consented, saying, "Yes, if you will be always kind to
me, my husband. Remember, I am the Salmon Woman."

"Then we shall have plenty of fish in our lodge," exclaimed the
pleased bridegroom.

And he was right, for next morning his new wife rose early and stepped
barefoot into the little brook that ran close by their hut. Instantly
salmon by hundreds came leaping up the stream, and she called to him,
saying:

"Husband, come! the creek is full of silver salmon!"

After he had speared many, he went after wood with which to smoke
their abundant catch, and as he feared the birds might come down and
steal some of his fish while he was gathering the wood, he left one of
his eyes to watch the boat, telling it to be sure and call him in case
the birds came near the salmon.

Soon the eye cried out, "Master, come quickly! the birds are here."
But as he was very busy he merely replied, "Hide the fish under the
seat until I come," and went on with his work.

When he came back to the boat with a load of wood, he found to his
sorrow that the greedy creatures had not only eaten up all the fish
but his eye also.

Crying bitterly, Raven went back to his wife, who asked him what the
matter was. When he told her, she had only to touch the empty socket,
and immediately he had a new eye quite as good as the other. As for
the stolen fish, he did not miss them at all, for the tiny stream was
now so full of salmon that there was scarcely any water to be seen.

Although their poor hut was well supplied with food, and his meals
well cooked, and his wife was as loving and kind as she was
beautiful, nevertheless Raven would leave her in the morning and be
gone all day without saying where he went. By and by he began to come
home in a bad temper and to speak to her harshly. One evening he
exclaimed:

"Well, who has been to see you to-day?"

"No one has been to see me, my husband," she replied. "No one ever
comes to this lonely place."

"Don't try to deceive me," said he roughly. "A man has been here in my
absence. I know it, because I have been gambling this long time, and
at first I had good luck, but to-day my luck was bad; therefore I know
you have had a man here."

Then the Salmon Woman felt insulted, and without speaking to him she
turned to the dried fish that hung from the ceiling.

"Come, O my tribe!" she cried, and all the fish came to life and
followed her. She sprang into the water and swam away, and they all
swam after her, leaving the unkind husband alone and hungry once more.





Next: The Animals In Council

Previous: Raven And His Mother-in-law



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