A young chief on the Queen Charlotte islands married, and soon afterwards his wife fell ill. Then he sent around everywhere for the very best shamans. If there were a very fine shaman at a certain village he would send a canoe there to bring him. None of them could help her, however, and after she had been sick for a very long time she died.
Now the young chief felt very badly over the loss of his wife. He went from place to place after the best carvers in order to have them carve an image of his wife, but no one could make anything to look like her. All this time there was a carver in his own village who could carve much better than all the others. This man met him one day and said, "You are going from village to village to have wood carved like your wife's face, and you can not find anyone to do it, can you? I have seen your wife a great deal walking along with you. I have never studied her face with the idea that you might want some one to carve it, but I am going to try if you will allow me."
Then the carver went after a piece of red cedar and began working upon it. When he was through, he went to the young chief and said, "Now you can come along and look at it." He had dressed it just as he used to see the young woman dressed. So the chief went with him, and, when he got inside, he saw his dead wife sitting there just as she used to look. This made him very happy, and he took it home. Then he asked the carver, "What do I owe you for making this?" and he replied, "Do as you please about it." The carver had felt sorry to see how this chief was mourning for his wife, so he said, "It is because I felt badly for you that I made that. So don't pay me too much for it." He paid the carver very well, however, both in slaves and in goods.
Now the chief dressed this image in his wife's clothes and her marten-skin robe. He felt that his wife had come back to him and treated the image just like her. One day, while he sat mourning very close to the image, he felt it move. His wife had also been very fond of him. At first he thought that the movement was only
his imagination, yet he examined it every day, for lie thought that at some time it would come to life. When lie ate he always had the image close to him.
After a while the whole village learned that he had this image and all came in to see it. Many could not believe that it was not the woman herself until they had examined it closely.
One day, after the chief had had it for a long, long time, he examined the body and found it just like that of a human being. Still, although it was alive, it could not move or speak. Some time later, however, the image gave forth a sound from its chest like that of crackling wood, and the man knew that it was ill. When he had some one move it away from the place where it had been sitting they found a small red-cedar tree growing there on top of the flooring. They left it until it grew to be very large, and it is because of this that cedars on the Queen Charlotte islands are so good. When people up this way look for red cedars and find a good one they say, "This looks like the baby of the chief's wife."
Every day the image of the young woman grew more like a human being, and, when they heard the story, people from villages far and near came in to look at it and at the young cedar tree growing there, at which they were very much astonished. The woman moved around very little and never got to talk, but her husband dreamed what she wanted to tell him. It was through his dreams that he knew she was talking to him.