A man at Gonâ'xo in the
Laxayî'k (or Yakutat) country married a brant woman (qên). One day in spring this woman said to her husband, "Let us go outside and watch the flocks of geese passing. My father's canoe will soon be coming along." Then they went out and saw a flock of brant coming. The brant seemed to stop over the woman a little while, and she called to them saying, "Have you anything for me?" Immediately some dried ts!êt fell upon her lap.
Next day she again said to her husband, "I am sure that my father's canoe will come along to-day. Let us go outside and sit there." So they did. Then they saw the largest flock of brant they had yet observed, and the woman jumped up, saying, "There is my father's canoe coming along." When the flock got over the place where they were sitting, one of them made a great noise directly overhead, and her husband thought that must be his wife's father. His wife also began making the brant noise in return, so that her husband became very much frightened. As soon as she had finished she flew up among the brant people.
Now her husband started off under the flock, and ran for a very long time until he was thoroughly tired out. Seeing that he was now so far behind that she could barely see him, his wife said to her father, "Father, let us camp here." So her father had them encamp there on a flat place, and her husband saw it from a high hill. When he came up with them, he stood around on the flats and would not go near. By and by a man came out to him and said, "You better come in. We have a place prepared for you." So he went in, and found his wife sitting on a mat in the house with room enough for him beside her. The brants looked to him just like human beings. Then they cooked for them, and afterward left the place, taking him with them. When they reached the place where they were to stay all summer, he saw that they worked very hard to get food in order to take it back.
Some time afterward the sand-hill cranes (dû
l) and the geese (t!âwA'k) made war on the brants and killed off many of the latter. At first the man stood and watched them without taking part, and at last his wife's father, who was chief of the brants, said to his daughter,
[paragraph continues] "Daughter, why is it that your husband will not help us? Doesn't he see that my people have all been killed? Ask him to help me." Then the man made war aprons, coats, and hats for the brants and for himself, and he made himself a club. He killed great numbers of sand-hill cranes and geese, while none of the brants were destroyed. After he had killed enough of the enemy to make up for the brants that had been destroyed, his father-in-law told his daughter to say to-him that he had killed enough. "If he kills any more," he said, "they will want to kill more of my people." So all stopped fighting, and they recommenced collecting food for the return journey. The girl's father felt very good toward his son-in-law for saving their lives.
When fall came and the brants were ready to start back their chief said, "We will not go back the same way we came. We must go another way." Then they started. It seemed to the man that they were going in canoes instead of flying. Late the first evening the chief said, "Now we will camp out here." The place that he referred to was a large rock far out at sea, and they camped upon it. After they had eaten all went to sleep.
Next morning, however, although the man awoke early, he found himself lying out on the rock alone. Then he was very sad, and did not know what he should do. He thought, "How am I to get home from here without any canoe?" He remained out upon that rock for a long time and thought that he should never see his friends again. He remained there, in fact, all winter, living on food that the brants had left him. When spring came he was more anxious than ever to get home, so much so that he did not care to eat anything and went for several days without nourishment.
One morning he said to himself, "What is the use of getting up?" And he lay down again with his blankets over his head. After some time had passed, he heard something say to him very loudly, "Why are you lying here? What are you doing out here on this rock?" He threw his blanket off and looked around but saw nothing except a bird called gus!yadû'
lî sitting near by. He lay down again, and again he heard the voice. He heard it for the third time. Every time the bird was sitting in the same place. When he again lay down he thought he must be crazy, but on keeping a lookout he saw the gus!yadû' lî run up toward him very fast, so he said to it quietly, "I have seen you." Then the bird replied, "I have come to bring you luck. Get on my back and keep your face buried in the feathers on the back of my neck." When he had done this, the bird started to fly off with him. It said, "Don't look up. I do not want you to look up." The farther it went the more it repeated this warning, so he tried hard to keep his face concealed. Finally the bird stopped, and he wondered where they were. "You can open your eyes now,"
said the bird, and when he did so he saw that they were on a big pile of seaweed drifting around far out at sea. Then the bird told him to close his eyes again, and by the time it stopped with him once more he was very tired. Then the bird said again, "Now open your eyes." He opened his eyes and recognized the place well as being close to his own village.
206:a See story 24.