A high-caste man had a beautiful wife of whom he was very jealous. He had also four sisters well married in different villages, all with sons. One morning the eldest of these sisters said to her husband, "I want to go to see my brother. I believe he would like to see our son." Her husband was willing, because he wanted to see the man himself. When they arrived there, the woman's brother pretended that he thought a great deal of his nephew, but really he did not want to see him for fear his wife would take a liking to him because he was handsome. He told the young man, however, that he was going to take him everywhere with him. His mother felt very happy to think
that her brother thought so much of him and left him there with his uncle.
Immediately after his mother had gone, however, the uncle determined to make away with him, because his wife seemed to like him. So next morning he said, "We are going down right away to get some devilfish to eat. The tide will soon be low enough." Then the boy prepared. himself, for be was very anxious to go, and they set out. His uncle said, "Walk right along there," pointing to a high ridge parallel with the beach. "Walk ahead, and I will follow you."
The boy did as he was directed and soon saw something large on the beach, that kept opening and closing. It was a very large clam. His uncle told him to get right on top of the ridge to watch it, for it was the first time he had seen anything of the kind. As the boy was very anxious to examine it, he got up there and leaned far over. When he did so, however, the clam opened and remained open, and his uncle pushed him right down into it. Then the clam closed upon him and killed him. The boy's parents soon found out what had happened to their son, and, although his uncle declared that it was an accident, they knew that he was jealous and did not believe him.
Some time after this the uncle turned his thoughts to his second sister's son who was still handsomer. His wife had seen this youth, and had told her husband how fine he was. This made him very jealous, and he sent to this sister, saying that it was about time she sent one of her sons to help him, for he had no children and needed help. He knew that the oldest child would be sent, because the next was a girl. So the boy came, and he threw him down into the big clam like the other. The uncle was very jealous of his wife because he knew that everyone fell in love with her on account of her beauty.
After this the uncle sent for the third sister's child who was older than the last he had killed, but he would not go for a long time, and his parents did not ask him to. He was a flighty youth, however, and, after his uncle had sent for him several times, he thought of his uncle's handsome wife and made up his mind to visit them.
All of the time this boy was with him the uncle watched him and his wife very closely and would not leave the house for a minute. His wife was very anxious to give him warning, but her husband feared it and watched her too closely. She made signs to the boy, but he did not understand them. When his uncle took him down to the beach, he said, "I must go back to the house after a drink of water." He thought that his uncle would wait for him, but instead he followed him right back to the house. Then the boy said to his uncle's wife, "Where is the water?" She pointed it out, but as her husband stood close by, she could not say anything more. So they went down to the beach, but, when the youth saw this clam moving in the distance, he ran by it very quickly, and his uncle was disappointed. Then they
went on farther, and the uncle said to him, "Do you see that hole down there?" He could see plainly a very large hole. Then his uncle said, "The devilfish that we want to get for our supper is in that." He handed him the stick for getting devilfish and said, "Hook it. You can get it very easily." The boy put the end of his stick into the hole, felt that the fish was there, and hooked it. Immediately he tried to run off, but his uncle was right behind him, and pushed him forward so that the devilfish seized him and dragged him under the rock.
All the time this man was killing his nephews, the youngest, who looked very much like the first one killed, had been practising. His father showed him how to make himself look like a very small ball of feathers. He had the shaman of that village make a bracelet of eagle down for him inclosing a piece of devil's club carved by the shaman. Then the shaman said, "Just as soon as you find that you are in danger turn this bracelet around on your wrist four times as quickly as you can." Then the shaman told him to climb a very high tree, and climbed right after him, while his father stood watching. The shaman said, "Now turn that around on your wrist four times as quickly as you can." He did so, and just as he finished the shaman pushed him down. Then his father saw nothing but a ball of eagle down rolling down the tree. As soon as it reached the ground there stood the boy, and the shaman knew that everything was all right. He also gave the boy a knife having a handle carved like devil's clubs, which he kept in the bosom of his shift, tied around his neck.
After this the boy's friends took him to his uncle and remained with him for three days. On the fourth day they returned. Then the uncle's wife cried continually to think that a boy not fully grown should be left there to be killed, and his uncle said to her angrily, "What is it you are always crying about? You are in love again aren't you?" Then the boy said aloud so that his uncle could hear, "You are in love with the right one this time." At that his uncle became angry and told him he talked too much. Right away he said, "Come on with me. We will get a devilfish for our supper." So the boy prepared himself, and they started off, while his uncle's wife came out and watched them, thinking that he was the last.
As they went along the boy saw the clam, and, before his uncle told him it was there, he stood still just above it. For a moment he forgot about his bracelet, but, just as he saw his uncle raise his hands, he remembered and turned his bracelet about once. When he reached the clam he turned it for the fourth time and fell into the clam as a ball of feathers, while his uncle went home, thinking he had disposed of him. The ball of feathers inside, however, turned back into a boy, and he cut both sides of the clam and came out.
Then he saw the devilfish-stick his uncle had given him lying there and thought he would go on and see the devilfish they were to have
had for their supper. When he reached the place and saw the devilfish sitting outside of its hole he became frightened, yet he thought that he would try to kill it. Now he went up to the creature and turned his bracelet around twelve times, wishing that it become small. It did grow small, and he killed it easily and dragged it home on his stick. Reaching the house, he pushed the door open and threw it right in front of his uncle, where it reassumed enormous proportions. Then his uncle was astonished to see him and began screaming loudly, begging the boy to take the devilfish out at once. So he took it out and threw it down upon the beach. Afterward he looked back at it, and it had become the same big devilfish again.
Now the boy remained with his uncle for a very long time, and his uncle's wife thought a great deal of him, while his uncle seemed to do so too. One day, however, he saw his wife talking to the boy and again determined to kill him. Then he put something sharp pointed on the ground, took the nephew up to the top of a very high tree and crawled up after him. The boy, who knew what was going to happen, began singing and turning his bracelet round slowly at the same time. Just as he had turned it for the fourth time his uncle reached him and pushed him over. When he landed upon the ground, however, there was nothing to be seen but a ball of eagle down.
His uncle saw this, and, feeling that he could not kill his nephew, treated him well for a very long time, but watched him closely. His wife said to the boy, "Your uncle is thinking a great deal because he can't kill you." But all that the boy would answer every time she said this was, "Only a ball of eagle down." She did not know what he meant.
One day the uncle thought that he would deceive his wife and nephew, so he told the latter that he was going back into the woods and started off. Instead of going away, however, he went back of the house, looked through a hole at them and listened. Then the boy came to his wife and sat down close to her, and she said, "Let us run away. I am afraid of your uncle." He answered that he would if he could get a canoe, and she told him of a place where there was a canoe, some distance from the town. Then the uncle came right in and wanted to kill his wife on the spot but was so fond of her that he could not. The boy sat perfectly still, moving his bracelet.
That night the uncle treated his nephew very kindly and began telling him all kinds of stories, until at last the boy fell asleep. This was just what he wanted. Then he tied the boy to a board, thinking, "I am going to get rid of him this time. The feathers will get wet, and he will be drowned." So he took him quite a distance out to sea and set him adrift there. It was very stormy.
The boy, however, floated along for some time and finally came ashore in safety on a nice sandy beach. The tide was very low. Then he heard the laughter of some girls who were out digging clams. There were three of them, and they were sisters. Now the eldest of the girls saw something moving on the beach and went thither, thinking it was some dying animal. Instead she saw a handsome youth, who looked right up at her but said nothing. Said she, "What has happened to you?" But he would not speak. She called to her sisters, and they ran up. Then the second sister immediately fell in love with him, but the youngest had nothing to say. The eldest had formerly been in love with the Youth that was first destroyed, so she said to her second sister, "How much like my dead lover he looks." She saw him smile because he knew her, but he did not know the others, and immediately the eldest began to cry, saying that that was her lover's smile only that he was a larger man. Then, the second sister laughed, saying that she was going to untie him and have him for her husband. The youngest, however, said, "Well! you two can have him, for I am not going to have a man that cannot talk." "If he comes out all right after we have untied him," said the eldest, "we will both be his wives." So, the two older girls untied him and started to raise his head while the youngest ran off to dig clams. They asked him if he could talk, and he said, "Yes." As he walked between the girls, one of them said, "You shall go to my father's house with me." At the time they untied him the eagles were gathering around to devour him.
Then they took him into their father's house and their father said, "Who is that fellow?" "We found him," said the second, "and we are going to marry him." This one was very quick to speak, while the eldest was slow and quiet. Their father consented, and he married both of the girls. Then the eldest spoke to her father of how much he resembled her dead lover, although the boy had not told anything about himself.
Those girls used to go off to hunt and spear salmon just like boys, so the younger said next morning, "I am going out to spear salmon." She brought a salmon home. The day following both girls asked him to go with them, and he did so. They tried to teach him how to hunt, for he belonged to such a very high family that he had never learned.
On the way the younger wife acted sulkily toward her elder sister because she would never leave their husband's side. So she started off alone, and her husband was afraid she would go away for good, for he liked her very much on account of her liveliness. In the evening, however, she came back with a salmon and said to her sister, "You can live on love. You stick by your husband and do not go to get anything to eat." Then their husband carried the
salmon back, and his elder wife came home slowly. The younger sister cooked the salmon and put it between herself and her husband. He pulled it along toward his elder wife, but the other said, "She shall not have any. She is going to live on love." Then her husband said that if she would let her sister have some salmon he would go out and try to get another himself. It was early in the spring and the salmon were scarce. The younger wife now felt jealous of her sister because she thought that their husband thought more of her than of herself, though really the reverse was the case. He pitied the elder, however, because she had done so much for him.
When the young man saw that his younger wife was angry toward the elder, however, he determined to leave them for a time. The younger did not want to let him go, and begged him hard to remain, but the elder said nothing, for he had told her his reasons. Finally he told his younger wife that she must let him go but that he would come back. He said that she must treat her elder sister well because his cousin (lit. "elder brother") had been in love with her. When she asked him what cousin he meant, he explained that his elder brother had died quite a while ago and that this girl had been in love with him. After that she let him set out.
At this time he thought that he would kill his uncle, so he paddled thither. His uncle saw him, knew what he had come for, and was frightened. Then the young man went to his uncle's house, spent the evening and started away again. About midnight, however, he returned and told his uncle that he had come to kill him because he had murdered his brothers and made him himself suffer. Although his uncle begged hard to be spared, he killed him, and, after telling his uncle's wife that he had killed her husband and why he had done so, he returned to his wives.
198:a This is expressed in a rather unusual manner, and may have been modified perhaps by white influences, but the main plot is entirely native.