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The Grouses


[Told by Chief Mountain]

A chief had a beautiful daughter. Many young men came to marry her, but he refused her to all of them. Then the chief of the Grouses flew down and alighted on the roof of the old chief's house. He assumed the shape of a man who wore a blanket made of fox skins.

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[paragraph continues] When it was dark, he entered the house without the knowledge of the chief, and lay down with the girl, who accepted him. The Grouse persuaded her to elope with him. At midnight they rose and left the house. They crossed the river and came to a large town which was inhabited by the Grouses. The young Grouse's father gave a feast when he arrived with his wife. They stayed there all winter, and in summer she gave birth to four children.

The old chief searched all over the country for his daughter, but he was unable to find her. When the children began to grow up, their mother said to them, "Don't you want to see your grandfather? He is a chief, and lives on the other side of the river. He has a large house with many steps, and a pole in front of it." The young Grouses wished to see him, and crossed the river on the ice. While going across they said, "Ps, ps, ps, ps!" The children in the chief's village heard the noise, and saw four young Grouses coming. They threw stones at them. Then the Grouses flew back. On the following day the young Grouses tried again, but were driven back by the children. They tried every day. Then the people said to one another, "Next time when the Grouses come, we will not disturb them." On the following day they came again, and went right to the old chief's house. The chief opened the door, and they entered. He spread a mat for them and they sat down. All the people came to see the birds. Finally an old man spoke to the chief, "Don't you remember that you lost your daughter some years ago? The birds must be her children, because they know your house." Then the old chief said to the birds, "Tell your father that I invite him and all his people to a feast to-morrow, and ask your mother also to come." Then the birds rose and left the house. They returned over the ice.

On the following morning innumerable Grouses came across. The ice was black with birds, and among them was the chief's daughter. Then they entered the chief's house. They sat down on the floor; and many had to sit on the posts and beams because there was not enough room on the floor. When the boys saw this, they shook the posts, and the birds flew from one side of the house to the other. The chief made a feast and gave them dry salmon and berries. Then he spoke, "I am old, and unable to split wood. Will not my son-in-law please stay here and help me?" His daughter repeated his speech to her husband, who replied, "Ps, ps, ps, ps!" and the other birds spoke to him in the same manner. Then the chief's daughter said that the birds would go and split wood on the following morning.

On the following morning the chief opened the smoke-hole of his house. Then his son-in-law delivered a speech, and flew out, followed by all the birds. When they had gone, the chief's daughter swept the house. About noon the noise of the birds was heard again.

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[paragraph continues] The chief had a fire in his house, and the birds reentered through the smoke-hole. Each threw some fat into the fire, so that it blazed up high. They brought a long pole as high as a mountain, which was covered with fat. The chief of the birds gave this pole to his father-in-law, who divided it among his tribe. Then the chief and his people in return gave presents to the chief of the Grouses. They gave him a feast, after which the birds left. The chief's daughter and her children went back with them to the town of the Grouses.

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