The Jeebi Or Two Ghosts From The Odjibwa





There lived a hunter in the north who had a wife and one child. His

lodge stood far off in the forest, several days' journey from any

other. He spent his days in hunting, and his evenings in relating to

his wife the incidents that had befallen him. As game was very

abundant, he found no difficulty in killing as much as they wanted.

Just in all his acts, he lived a peaceful and happy life.



One evening during the winter season, it chanced that he remained out

later than usual, and his wife began to feel uneasy, for fear some

accident had befallen him. It was already dark. She listened

attentively, and at last heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Not

doubting it was her husband, she went to the door and beheld two

strange females. She bade them enter, and invited them to remain.



She observed that they were total strangers in the country. There was

something so peculiar in their looks, air, and manner, that she was

uneasy in their company. They would not come near the fire; they sat in

a remote part of the lodge, were shy and taciturn, and drew their

garments about them in such a manner as nearly to hide their faces. So

far as she could judge, they were pale, hollow-eyed, and long-visaged,

very thin and emaciated. There was but little light in the lodge, as

the fire was low, and served by its fitful flashes, rather to increase

than dispel their fears. "Merciful spirit!" cried a voice from the

opposite part of the lodge, "there are two corpses clothed with

garments." The hunter's wife turned around, but seeing nobody, she

concluded the sounds were but gusts of wind. She trembled, and was

ready to sink to the earth.



Her husband at this moment entered and dispelled her fears. He threw

down the carcass of a large fat deer. "Behold what a fine and fat

animal," cried the mysterious females, and they immediately ran and

pulled off pieces of the whitest fat,[43] which they ate with

greediness. The hunter and his wife looked on with astonishment, but

remained silent. They supposed their guests might have been famished.

Next day, however, the same unusual conduct was repeated. The strange

females tore off the fat and devoured it with eagerness. The third day

the hunter thought he would anticipate their wants by tying up a

portion of the fattest pieces for them, which he placed on the top of

his load. They accepted it, but still appeared dissatisfied, and went

to the wife's portion and tore off more. The man and his wife felt

surprised at such rude and unaccountable conduct, but they remained

silent, for they respected their guests, and had observed that they had

been attended with marked good luck during the residence of these

mysterious visitors.



In other respects, the deportment of the females was strictly

unexceptionable. They were modest, distant, and silent. They never

uttered a word during the day. At night they would occupy themselves in

procuring wood, which they carried to the lodge, and then returning the

implements exactly to the places in which they had found them, resume

their places without speaking. They were never known to stay out until

daylight. They never laughed or jested.



The winter had nearly passed away, without anything uncommon happening,

when, one evening, the hunter stayed out very late. The moment he

entered and laid down his day's hunt as usual before his wife, the two

females began to tear off the fat, in so unceremonious a way, that her

anger was excited. She constrained herself, however, in a measure, but

did not conceal her feelings, although she said but little. The guests

observed the excited state of her mind, and became unusually reserved

and uneasy. The good hunter saw the change, and carefully inquired into

the cause, but his wife denied having used any hard words. They retired

to their couches, and he tried to compose himself to sleep, but could

not, for the sobs and sighs of the two females were incessant. He arose

on his couch and addressed them as follows:--



"Tell me," said he, "what is it that gives you pain of mind, and causes

you to utter those sighs. Has my wife given you offence, or trespassed

on the rights of hospitality?"



They replied in the negative. "We have been treated by you with

kindness and affection. It is not for any slight we have received that

we weep. Our mission is not to you only. We come from the land of the

dead to test mankind, and to try the sincerity of the living. Often we

have heard the bereaved by death say that if the dead could be

restored, they would devote their lives to make them happy. We have

been moved by the bitter lamentations which have reached the place of

the dead, and have come to make proof of the sincerity of those who

have lost friends. Three moons were allotted us by the Master of Life

to make the trial. More than half the time had been successfully past,

when the angry feelings of your wife indicated the irksomeness you felt

at our presence, and has made us resolve on our departure."



They continued to talk to the hunter and his wife, gave them

instructions as to a future life, and pronounced a blessing upon them.



"There is one point," they added, "of which we wish to speak. You have

thought our conduct very strange in rudely possessing ourselves of the

choicest parts of your hunt. That was the point of trial selected to

put you to. It is the wife's peculiar privilege. For another to usurp

it, we knew to be the severest trial of her, and consequently of your

temper and feelings. We know your manners and customs, but we came to

prove you, not by a compliance with them, but a violation of them.

Pardon us. We are the agents of him who sent us. Peace to your

dwelling, adieu!"



When they ceased, total darkness filled the lodge. No object could be

seen. The inmates heard the door open and shut, but they never saw more

of the two Jeebi-ug.



The hunter found the success which they had promised. He became

celebrated in the chase, and never wanted for anything. He had many

children, all of whom grew up to manhood, and health; peace, and long

life were the rewards of his hospitality.



[43] The fat of animals is esteemed by the N.A. Indians among

the choicest parts.





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