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Wa-wa-be-zo-win Or The Swing On The Pictured Rocks Of Lake Superior






Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha

A TRADITION OF THE ODJIBWAS.


There was an old hag of a woman living with her daughter-in-law, and
son, and a little orphan boy, whom she was bringing up. When her
son-in-law came home from hunting, it was his custom to bring his wife
the moose's lip, the kidney of the bear, or some other choice bits of
different animals. These she would cook crisp, so as to make a sound
with her teeth in eating them. This kind attention of the hunter to his
wife at last excited the envy of the old woman. She wished to have the
same luxuries, and in order to get them she finally resolved to make
way with her son's wife. One day, she asked her to leave her infant son
to the care of the orphan boy, and come out and swing with her. She
took her to the shore of a lake, where there was a high range of rocks
overhanging the water. Upon the top of this rock, she erected a swing.
She then undressed, and fastened a piece of leather around her body,
and commenced swinging, going over the precipice at every swing. She
continued it but a short time, when she told her daughter to do the
same. The daughter obeyed. She undressed, and tying the leather string
as she was directed, began swinging. When the swing had got in full
motion and well a-going, so that it went clear beyond the precipice at
every sweep, the old woman slyly cut the cords and let her daughter
drop into the lake. She then put on her daughter's clothing, and thus
disguised went home in the dusk of the evening and counterfeited her
appearance and duties. She found the child crying, and gave it the
breast, but it would not draw. The orphan boy asked her where its
mother was. She answered, "She is still swinging." He said, "I shall go
and look for her." "No!" said she, "you must not--what should you go
for?" When the husband came in, in the evening, he gave the coveted
morsel to his supposed wife. He missed his mother-in-law, but said
nothing. She eagerly ate the dainty, and tried to keep the child still.
The husband looked rather astonished to see his wife studiously
averting her face, and asked her why the child cried so. She said, she
did not know--that it would not draw.

In the mean time, the orphan boy went to the lake shores, and found no
one. He mentioned his suspicions, and while the old woman was out
getting wood, he told him all he had heard or seen. The man then
painted his face black, and placed his spear upside down in the earth,
and requested the Great Spirit to send lightning, thunder, and rain, in
the hope that the body of his wife might arise from the water. He then
began to fast, and told the boy to take the child and play on the lake
shore.

We must now go back to the swing. After the wife had plunged into the
lake, she found herself taken hold of by a water-tiger, whose tail
twisted itself round her body, and drew her to the bottom. There she
found a fine lodge, and all things ready for her reception, and she
became the wife of the water-tiger. Whilst the children were playing
along the shore, and the boy was casting pebbles into the lake, he saw
a gull coming from its centre, and flying towards the shore, and when
on shore, the bird immediately assumed the human shape. When he looked
again, he recognized the lost mother. She had a leather belt around her
loins, and another belt of white metal, which was, in reality, the tail
of the water-tiger, her husband. She suckled the babe, and said to the
boy--"Come here with him, whenever he cries, and I will nurse him."

The boy carried the child home, and told these things to the father.
When the child again cried, the father went also with the boy to the
lake shore, and hid himself in a clump of trees. Soon the appearance of
a gull was seen, with a long shining belt, or chain, and as soon as it
came to the shore, it assumed the mother's shape, and she began to
suckle the child. The husband had brought along his spear, and seeing
the shining chain, he boldly struck it and broke the links apart. He
then took his wife and child home, with the orphan boy. When they
entered the lodge, the old woman looked up, but it was a look of
despair; she instantly dropped her head. A rustling was heard in the
lodge, and the next moment she leaped up and flew out of the lodge, and
was never heard of more.





Next: Mukakee Mindemoea Or The Toad-woman

Previous: The Sun-catcher Or Boy Who Set A Snare For The Sun



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