The Four Winds
Category: TSIMSHIAN TALES
Source: Indian Legends Retold
Once there were four great chiefs who lived in the four corners of the
earth, and their names were North Wind, South Wind, East Wind, and
West Wind. The other three all hated North Wind, for he was very rude
and boisterous, and insisted upon blowing his bitter blast into their
faces at all times of the year, so that the tender fruit buds and
fragile blossoms were never safe from his withering breath.
Finally they united to make war upon him, and after a long struggle
they succeeded in gaining his promise that he would only blow for half
the year, which helped matters a little.
Now the South Wind had four sturdy sons and a beautiful daughter,
while North Wind's family consisted of twin boys, one of whom was
called Frosted, and the other Frozen. No sooner were the children
grown up than Frosted wished to marry the daughter of South Wind, who
was as fair and gentle as a summer's day, but she would have nothing
to say to him.
The next year Frozen came courting. He was a handsome fellow, very
determined, and proved more fortunate than his brother. The wedding
feast was the finest ever known in that part of the country. It lasted
for seven days, at the end of which Frozen carried home his bride in a
tempest of wind and rain.
When South Wind's daughter reached the land of perpetual snow and ice,
she very soon regretted her rash choice. There was not so much as a
spark of fire in the house, which was built of ice blocks, and day
and night she was chilled to the very marrow of her bones. Meanwhile
the rest of the family were saying, "What a pleasant season we are
having!" and "The weather seems unusually mild for this time of the
At last she could bear it no longer, and one day as she sat sadly on
the beach she picked up a bit of yellow driftwood and carved it into
the shape of a duck. When she had finished, she tossed the duck into
the air, saying:
"Fly south, little duck, and tell my father that I am very unhappy
here in the cruel northland!" And the duck flew away southward.
Far in the southland the South Wind's wife stood in the door of their
wigwam and called to her husband, "Look, husband! Spring is coming,
for I see the ducks returning!"
The little yellow duck came on, and as soon as he was near enough he
gave the daughter's message:
"Your child is very unhappy there in the cruel northland!"
When South Wind understood it, he was angry and called his four strong
sons to his side. "Boys," said he, "go at once to North Wind's house
and bring home your sister!"
The eldest son started first in the shape of a great gray cloud, and
when the little bride saw the cloud in the distance she was glad, for
she felt sure that it was her brother. But immediately North Wind went
out with his two sons to meet him and drove him back, so that she
wrung her hands in sorrow.
The second brother went as a very black cloud, and he got a little
farther than the first when he too was fiercely attacked and beaten
back. Then the bride of Frozen cried bitterly, for she began to be
afraid she must stay there forever.
The third brother went as a great storm of rain, and he had nearly
reached the spot where his sister was eagerly waiting, when the icy
wind turned the rain to hail and drove it back, and the poor girl was
However, there was still the youngest brother. He went as a
sharp-edged and thin cloud which slipped right by North Wind and
reached his palace, where he turned all the ice to water. The whole
country was flooded, and North Wind and his family were helpless.
"Not only does your son lose his bride," cried the victorious son of
South Wind, as he retreated with his sister, "but I shall take away
three of your months also. From this time forth you are allowed to
blow but three months in the year."
Thereupon the four Winds divided the year among them in this fashion:
to North Wind the three winter months, to East Wind the spring, to
West Wind the summer, and the autumn to South Wind.
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