Native American Legends
A Micmac Legend
Of the old time. Far up the Saguenay River a branch turns off to
the north, running back into the land of ice and snow. Ten families
went up this stream one autumn in their canoes, to be gone all winter
on a hunt. Among them was a beautiful girl, twenty years of age.
A young man in the band wished her to become his wife, but she flatly
refused him. Perhaps she did it in such a way as to wound his pride;
certainly she roused all that was savage in him, and he gave up
all his mind to revenge.
He was skilled in medicine, or in magic, so he went into the woods
and gathered an herb which makes people insensible. Then stealing
into the lodge when all were asleep, he held it to the girl's face,
until she had inhaled the odor and could not be easily awakened.
Going out he made a ball of snow, and returning placed it in the
hollow of her neck, in front, just below the throat. Then he retired
without being discovered. So she could not awake, while the chill
went to her heart.
When she awoke she was chilly, shivering, and sick. She refused
to eat. This lasted long, and her parents became alarmed. They inquired
what ailed her. She was ill-tempered; she said that nothing was
the matter. One day, having been sent to the spring for water, she
remained absent so long that her mother went to seek her. Approaching
unseen, she observed her greedily eating snow. And asking her what
it meant, the daughter explained that she felt within a burning
sensation, which the snow relieved. More than that, she craved the
snow; the taste of it was pleasant to her.
After a few days she began to grow fierce, as thong she wished
to kill some one. At last she begged her parents to kill her. Hitherto
she had loved them very much. Now she told them that unless they
killed her she would certainly be their death. Her whole nature
was being changed.
"How can we kill you?" her mother asked.
"You must shoot at me," she replied, "with seven arrows. And if
you can kill me with seven shots all will be well. But if you cannot,
I shall kill you."
Seven men shot at her, as she sat in the wigwam. She was not bound.
Every arrow struck her in the breast, but she sat firm and unmoved.
Forty-nine times they pierced her; from time to time she looked
up with an encouraging smile. When the last arrow struck she fell
Then they burned the body, as she had directed. It was soon reduced
to ashes, with the exception of the heart, which was of the hardest
ice. This required much time to melt and break. At last all was
She had been brought under the power of an evil spirit; she was
rapidly being changed into a Chenoo, a wild, fierce, unconquerable
being. But she knew it all the while, and it was against her will.
So she begged that she might be killed.
The Indians left the place; since that day none have ever returned
to it. They feared lest some small part of the body might have remained
unconsumed, and that from it another Chenoo would rise, capable
of killing all whom she met.
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