A certain fisherman fished for salmon and nothing else. One day, after he had fished for a long time, he was walking upon the beach and came upon a salmon left by the tide. He was very glad for he had not been getting any fish for some time and saw that this was nice and fresh. He said to himself, "Oh! what a nice meal I shall have." He had been very hungry for salmon. But, as he reached down to pick it up, it spoke to him saying, "No, no, don't eat me. I am chief of all the
salmon. Put me into the water and let me go out again. You will get lots of salmon if you let me go." The man felt very badly to lose it, but he thought that since it talked to him in this way he would let it go, and he did so.
Before this happened it had been very stormy, so that the fisherman had been unable to get anything, but now it became calm, and he went out fishing and caught many salmon. Next day he went for more, but, it was so stormy at sea that he could not catch any. Then he thought that he would walk along shore again. He did so, and when he came to the place where he had found the first salmon he saw another large, fine salmon. He thought, "Oh! what a fine-looking salmon, and I have to let it go again." But the salmon spoke up at once saying, "No, don't let me go. Take me home, and you shall have me for your supper. After you have cooked me do not break any of my bones. Take care of all of them. Take the bones out of my head and place them in a dish. Then put them under your pillow and sleep on them to-night."
This man lived alone with his wife, and they had no children but were very anxious for them. About midnight the man awoke and, looking under his pillow, saw two fine-looking boy babies.
The children grew up quite fast, and one of them was very brave, but the other was a coward and always stayed at home. One day the former asked his father, "Are you two the only ones who live here?" "That is all; that is all," said his father, for he did not want his son to leave them. After that the boy begged hard to go away, and asked his father to put up some food for him to take, but at first his father refused. He begged so hard, however, that after a while his parents consented and prepared it.
So the boy finally went away, and presently he came to where an old woman lived. This woman said to him, "My grandson." "Oh! my grandmother," said he. Then she gave him something to eat. She put something into a very small kettle, and, after it was cooked, she gave it to him and it tasted very good. Then she looked up at him and said, "I suppose you thought 'That old woman who lives back there is starving.' I don't suppose you thought I had anything to eat." Afterward the boy said, "Grandmother, why is it that this village looks so black?" She answered, "There is a monster there which is a human being and yet not a human being. It has seven heads. It is to be fed with the chief's daughter. Otherwise he will murder every one in the village." Finally they heard a drum and saw people going along dancing. They were taking the chief's daughter to this monster. Then the boy saw them return without her. a
At once the boy started on a run toward the place whither they had taken this girl and presently came upon her walking toward the monster very slowly. When she heard some one walking up to her she turned round and saw the boy. She said, "Where are you going?" Said he, "Where are you going?" "Oh! my father has given me to this seven-headed monster, and that is where I am going." Then the boy said, "Don't go there. You better go back with me." She kept going along closer and closer to the monster's place and seemed to go slower and slower.
By and by they saw the man with his seven heads sticking out of the den. He began to laugh when he saw them and said, "I thought I was going to have only one girl to eat, but I am also going to have a fat, plump boy." The boy answered, "You are going to have me to eat, are you? You and I will fight first." Then the monster laughed again and said to him, "Do you see all of those bones around there." Human bones lay all around. "And you think you can fight me."
After that they began fighting. The boy had a knife made of obsidian (în). He was very quick and could walk all over his opponent because the latter was slow and clumsy, so he finally cut off three of the monster's heads. Then the boy said, "Let us sit down for a minute and rest." They did so, and, after a while the monster said, "I am strong now, stronger than I have ever been." But the boy answered, "You had seven heads and I cut off three, leaving you but four, yet you say that you are stronger than before. You may be stronger, but you are too slow." The girl stood near by looking on. Then they started fighting once more, and the boy cut off the monster's four remaining heads for he was slower than ever.
Now they went home to the boy's father, and, when he told him what had happened, his father felt very proud of him. The boy wanted to marry the chief's daughter, and, although his people were poor, the chief consented willingly.
197:a This portion of the story and that which follows look like a garbled European myth, such as the story of Perseus and Andromeda, or that of Hercules and the Hydra.