Marriage: The True Bride (cont.)

Although the stepmother was thwarted in the first part of the story, in this second episode you will see that she has not given up her scheming against our heroine, She-who-spat-Gold. The folkloric motif you will see here is known as the "animal-birth slander."

[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.)

One day the chief's son was passing, and saw the elder girl busy washing clothes. He liked her looks and her dress. His father, whom he told of his admiration for the girl, encouraged him to visit her and make her acquaintance. He said, "You may change your mind when you see her again."

The young man visited the girl and held some conversation with her, during which she coughed and spat on the ground several times. He returned and told his father that the girl he fancied could spit gold nuggets. His father would not believe it and went to see for himself. During his conversation with her, she spat repeatedly, and picked up the gold nuggets and put them in a sack she carried. He asked her to spit again. He picked up the spittle and satisfied himself that it was really gold. Then he advised his son to marry her, saying, "She is a valuable woman; she is worth many."

Now, it was reported that the chief's son was to marry the girl who could spit gold. All the white people came to the great wedding. At the end of the wedding feast, the bride spat out much gold, so the wedding guests carried away some to their homes. Thus the bride provided them all with presents, and became renowned and well liked by all.

In due time She-who-spat-Gold became pregnant. When she was about to be delivered, her husband was called away to an important meeting in a distant place from which he could not return for a month. The chieftainess asked her husband to request his mother to attend her when her time came, as she had no faith in her stepmother, who might use the opportunity to do her harm. Her husband, however, assuaged her misgivings and insisted that her stepmother, who was an expert midwife, and her half-sister, should assist her.

When she was about to give birth, her stepmother made a hole in the floor, placed the young woman over it and, when the child was born, she cut the navel-string and let the infant fall through the hole. Then she put a cat in its place, and when the mother sat up and asked for her child, the stepmother put the cat in her arms. The woman said, "It is strange that I should give birth to a cat!"

The step-mother said, "Odd people have odd children."

The young woman reared the cat as if it were her own child.

Her husband was disappointed when he returned but said nothing. Again the woman became pregnant, and again her husband was called away about the time of her delivery. She was again attended by her stepmother, who dropped the child through a hole in the floor. This time she gave the woman a snake, telling her that she had given birth to it. She added, "How strange are the children to which you give birth!"

On the return of the husband, the stepmother told him that he ought to kill his wife because she was giving birth to cats and snakes. She told him that he ought to marry her own daughter, who was a good woman, and would give birth to proper children.

The chief and all the people held a meeting and decided that his wife should be killed. They bound her with iron, took her in a canoe to the middle of the lake, and cast her overboard.



(600 words)




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