Native American Legends
Big Eater's Wife
A Pequot Legend
Big Eater ate and ate. He never stopped eating. He had his wigwam
and two canoes on an island close to the mainland shore. Big Eater
was powerful, but sometimes an evil ghost woman can defeat the most
powerful man. One day Big Eater was looking across the water, and
there on the opposite shore he saw a beautiful young woman digging
clams. How could he know that she was a ghost-witch? He hailed her
across the water: "Beautiful girl, come live with me. Be my
wife!" "No," she said. "Yes - No. Yes. No. Yes,
yes, yes! Well, all right." Big Eater got in one of his two
canoes and paddled over. The woman was even more beautiful close
up. "All right, pretty one, step into the canoe." "Yes,
but first I must get my things." Soon the girl came back with
a mortar and pestle and some eggs. She put them in the canoe, and
Big Eater paddled her over. They ate. The beautiful woman said:
"Oh my, what great heaps of food you can eat!" "Yes,
I'm powerful that way." They went to bed. "Oh my, how
often you can do it!" "Yes, I'm powerful that way."
"Indeed this is so!" So they lived happily for a long
time. But after a while this girl got tired of Big Eater. She thought,
"He's fat, he's not young. I want a change; I want to have
a young, slim man loving me. I'll leave."
So when Big Eater went out fishing in one of his canoes, the girl
made a doll, large as a grown woman. She placed the doll in her
bed, took her mortar, pestle, and eggs, put them in Big Eaters'
second canoe, and paddled off. Big Eater came home early from fishing.
Thinking it was his wife he was climbing in with, he got into bed.
He touched the doll, and the doll began to scream and shriek. "Wife,"
he said, "stop this big noise or I'm going to beat you."
Then he saw that it was a doll lying in bed with him. Big Eater
jumped up and looked around. The mortar and pestle and eggs were
gone. He ran down to the shore, got into the remaining canoe, and
paddled furiously after his wife. Soon he saw her, also paddling
hard. But he was stronger than she and pulled closer and closer.
He drew up behind her canoe until both almost touched. "Now
I'll catch her," he thought. Then the woman threw her mortar
out of the canoe over the stern. At once all the water around him
turned into mortars, and Big Eater was stuck. He couldn't paddle
until at last he lifted his canoe and carried it over the mortars.
By the time he gained clear water again, his wife was a long way
Again he paddled furiously. Again he gained on her. Again he almost
caught her. Then she threw her pestle over the stern, and at once
the water turned into pestles. Again Big Eater was stuck, trying
to paddle through this sea of pestles but unable to. He had to carry
his canoe over them, and when he hit open water again, his wife
was far distant. Again Big Eater drove through the water with all
his strength. Again he gained on her; again he almost caught her.
Then from the stern of her canoe the woman threw the eggs out. At
once the water turned into eggs, and once more Big Eater was stuck.
The eggs were worse than the mortar and pestle, because Big Eater
couldn't carry his canoe over them. Then he hit the eggs, smashing
them one by one and cleaving a path through the gooey mess. He hit
clear water, and his wife's canoe was only a dot on the horizon.
Again he paddled mightily.
Slowly he gained on her again. It took a long time, but finally
he was almost even with her. "This time I'll catch you!"
he shouted. You have nothing left to throw out." But his wife
just laughed. She pulled out a long hair from her head, and at once
it was transformed into a lance. She stood up and hurled this magic
lance at Big Eater. It hit him square in the chest, piercing him
through and through. Big Eater screamed loudly and fell down dead.
That's what can happen to a man if he marries a ghost-witch.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends