Marriage: The Girl and the Turkeys (cont.)

As you have probably guessed, Thompson considers this to be a Cinderella story, although it has some important differences from the story you know. In this section of the story, you will see that the maiden's obligation is not to return home by midnight, but instead to continue to love her turkeys and not to forget them even if her fortune changes.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Native American Marriage Tales unit. Story source: Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1929).

The Girl and the Turkeys (cont.)

"Trust in us," said the old Gobbler, "for I speak the speech of my people, and when we begin to call and call and gobble and gobble, and turn toward our home in Mátsaki, do you follow us, and we will show you what we can do for you. Only let me tell you one thing: No one knows how much happiness and good fortune may come to you if you but enjoy temperately the pleasures we enable you to participate in. But if, in the excess of your enjoyment, you should forget us, who are your friends, yet so much depend upon you, then we will think: 'Behold, this our maiden mother, though so humble and poor, deserves, forsooth, her hard life, because, were she more prosperous, she would be unto others as others now are unto her.'"

"Never fear, O my Turkeys," cried the maiden, only half trusting that they could do so much for her, yet longing to try, "never fear. In everything you direct me to do I will be obedient as you always have been to me."

The sun had scarce begun to decline when the Turkeys of their own accord turned homeward, and the maiden followed them, light of heart. They knew their places well and immediately ran to them. When all had entered, even their barelegged children, the old Gobbler called to the maiden, saying: "Enter our house." She therefore went in.

"Now, maiden, sit down," said he, "and give to me and my companions, one by one, your articles of clothing. We will see if we cannot renew them."

The maiden obediently drew off the ragged old mantle that covered her shoulders and cast it on the ground before the speaker. He seized it in his beak and spread it out, and picked and picked at it; then he trod upon it, and lowering his wings, began to strut back and forth over it. Then taking it up in his beak and, continuing to strut, he puffed and puffed, and laid it down at the feet of the maiden, a beautiful white embroidered cotton mantle. Then another Gobbler came forth, and she gave him another article of dress, and then another and another, until each garment the maiden had worn was new and as beautiful as any possessed by her mistresses in Mátsaki.

Before the maiden donned all these garments, the Turkeys circled about her, singing and singing, and clucking and clucking, and brushing her with their wings, until her person was as clean and her skin as smooth and bright as that of the fairest maiden of the wealthiest home in Mátsaki. Her hair was soft and wavy, instead of being an ugly, sun-burnt shock; her cheeks were full and dimpled, and her eyes dancing with smiles, for she now saw how true had been the words of the Turkeys.

Finally, one old Turkey came, forward and said: "Only the rich ornaments worn by those who have many possessions are lacking to thee, O maiden mother. Wait a moment. We have keen eyes, and have gathered many valuable things, as such things, being small, though precious, are apt to be lost from time to time by men and maidens."

Spreading his wings, he trod round and round upon the ground, throwing his head back, and laying his wattled beard on his neck,and, presently beginning to cough, he produced in his beak a beautiful necklace; another Turkey brought forth earrings, and so on, until all the proper ornaments appeared, befitting a well-clad maiden of the olden days, and were laid at the feet of the poor Turkey girl.

With these beautiful things she decorated herself and, thanking the Turkeys over and over, she started to go, and they called out: "O maiden mother, leave open the wicket, for who knows whether you will remember your Turkeys or not when your fortunes are changed, and if you will not grow ashamed that you have been the maiden mother of Turkeys? But we love you, and would bring you to good fortune. Therefore, remember our words of advice, and do not tarry too long."

"I will surely remember, O my Turkeys!" answered the maiden.

Hastily she sped away down the river path toward Zuñi. When she arrived there, she went in at the western side of the town and through one of the long covered ways that lead into the dance court. When she came just inside of the court, behold, every one began to look at her, and many murmurs ran through the crowd, murmurs of astonishment at her beauty and the richness of her dress, and the people were all asking one another, "Whence comes this beautiful maiden?"

Not long did she stand there neglected. The chiefs of the dance, all gorgeous in their holiday attire, hastily came to her and, with apologies for the incompleteness of their arrangements — though these arrangements were as complete as they possibly could be — invited her to join the youths and maidens dancing round the musicians and the altar in the center of the plaza.

With a blush and a smile and a toss of her hair over her eyes, the maiden stepped into the circle, and the finest youths among the dancers vied with one another for her hand. Her heart became light and her feet merry, and the music sped her breath to rapid coming and going, and the warmth swept over her face, and she danced and danced until the sun sank low in the west.

(1000 words)

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