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





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.





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