[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 True Bride (cont. again)
The chief's son did not like his new wife because she was disgusting and smelled nasty.
Now, She-who-spat-Gold had a favorite dog called "Spióola," which she had not seen since the time of the birth of her first child. He lived or slept underneath the house, and when the step-mother dropped the baby through the hole, he had taken charge of it. He licked off the blood, and got some white cloth to make a bed for it and to cover it. He had gone to town and got milk to feed it. Later he gathered other kinds of food and fed it, thus rearing the boy successfully. He had done the same with the younger boy.
When the boys were large enough to run about, they came out of their house and often played near the lake, watching the goose, which frequently approached them, crying. Spióola had to go on trips to gather food, and always warned them not to go too far away during his absence, or let any one see them.
One day, however, the old stepmother noticed them, and tried to capture them, but they disappeared in a small hole under the house and blocked it with a stone from the inside. She made up her mind to poison them. She scattered some fine food which the children ate and then they died. When Spióola came home, he missed the boys. After a while he took their scent, found them, and carried their bodies into his house.
As he could not resuscitate them, he started off to the Sun to seek help. He ran continually day and night, for Sun lived a long way off. On the way he passed an old horse, who asked him where he was going. He answered, "To the Sun," but did not stop or look around.
The horse shouted, "Ask the Sun why I am growing old!"
At another place he passed an apple-tree, which in like manner addressed him, and called on him to ask Sun what made it dry up and its wood turn dead.
Again he passed a spring of water, which also called on him to ask the Sun why it was drying up.
After running many days and nights, he came to the edge of the earth. There he saw a stretch of water and, on the other side, the house of the Sun. He jumped into the water and swam across. He was almost exhausted before he reached the opposite shore, and his body was reduced to almost nothing but bones, owing to his arduous journey.
When he arrived at the Sun's house, an old woman, the mother of the Sun, met him, and asked him why he had come there. She said, "No one comes to see us unless he is in great trouble and requires help and wisdom."
Spióola told her that his two foster-children were dead, and he had come to ask help, so that they might be restored. He told her all that had happened. She fed him, and he immediately began to gain strength on the good food used by the Sun people.
The old woman advised him what to do. He must watch the Sun when he spat. He would spit twice — the first time for the elder boy, and the second time for the younger one. Spióola must carefully gather up the spittle and keep the one apart from the other. The questions he wished to ask in behalf of the people he had passed on the road she would ask the Sun herself, and Spióola would hear the answers.
The Sun spoke of the dead children, and spat twice on the ground. Spióola gathered up the spittle carefully, and wrapped each separately in thin bark. Sun said the children would become quite well if treated within four days, but after that it would be too late, for their bodies would begin to decompose.
Now, the old woman asked Sun the questions.
She said, "A horse wants to know why he is growing old." Sun answered, "Because he is lazy. He feeds too much in one place. He is too lazy to search for good nutritious grass, and he is too lazy to go to water regularly. He will stand for days in one place rather than go any distance to get water."
She said, "The apple-tree wants to know why it is drying up." Sun answered, "Because it is too lazy, and because it has a nail in its trunk. If it removes the nail and loosens the ground around its roots and spreads them out to gather moisture and prunes off the dead and useless wood, then it will retain its youth, but it is too lazy to do this."
She said, "The little spring wants to know why it is drying up." Sun answered, "Because it is too lazy. If it removes all the dead twigs and leaves which choke it up, if it makes a clean channel for itself to run in and drains the neighboring moist places into itself, it will always run and be healthy."
Spióola was in despair when he learned that he had to be back in four days to save the lives of the two children. It had taken him more than double that time to reach the abode of the Sun.
The old woman consoled him, and told him he could reach home in time by taking another route. She said, "You will start early to-morrow morning, and follow the Sun on his journey. You must travel as fast as you can. The way he takes is a very straight and short course, and you may reach home in one day."
Next: The True Bride (end)