Bear and the Fawns
A Miwok Legend
"Sister-in-law, let us get clover. I like clover," Bear said to Deer. Then Deer replied, "Yes, we will eat clover." Bear said, "We will leave these girls (Fawns) at home. They always follow you." She told the Fawns, "We go to eat clover. Clover is high enough to eat now, I think. You girls stay at home until we return."
Bear said to her sister-in-law, "Let's go. We will be back tonight." Then they went below to eat clover.
After they had gone below, Bear said, "Let's sit down and rest." Then she continued, "Examine my head, examine my head. I must have lice on my head." Deer replied, "Yes, yes, come here and I will look for lice." Then she found lice on Bear's head. She found large frogs on Bear's head. When she found the frogs, she picked them off and threw them away. Bear asked her, "What is it that you throw away? Are you throwing away my lice?" Deer replied, "No, you hear the leaves dropping." Bear said, "Take them all out. I have many lice."
Then Deer removed them all, Bear asked, "What are you throwing away?" Deer replied, "I throw away nothing. You hear pine cones dropping from the tree." Bear said, "I think that you throw away my lice." Deer retorted, "No, those are pine cones dropping from the trees."
"Remove them all, then," said Bear; "remove them all. My head feels light, since you have finished picking the lice from it." Deer threw away the frogs, threw away large frogs.
Bear said to Deer, "Let me examine your head." Deer said, "All right.'' Bear examined Deer's head and said, "There are many." Deer's lice were wood-ticks and Bear proceeded to take them from Deer's head.
Then Bear said, "There are many. I do not think I can get them all by picking. You have many. Let me chew these lice and your many lice. That is the only way I can remove them. You have many lice. I do not think that I have removed them all. There are many. Stoop and I will chew your hair. Do not be afraid. Stoop and let me try."
Then Deer stooped. She thought Bear's intentions were good. Bear examined her hair for awhile, and then chewed. Instead of chewing Deer's hair, Bear bit her neck, killing her.
Bear ate all of Deer, except the liver, which she took home. She placed the liver in a basket and put clover on top of it. Then she went home. She proceeded homeward after sundown, carrying the clover in the basket with the liver in the bottom of the basket.
Arriving at home, she told the Fawns to eat the clover. She said to them, "Your mother has not come yet; you know She is always slow. She always takes her time in coming home." Thus spoke Bear to the Fawns, when she arrived at home.
The Fawns ate the clover. After they had eaten it, they saw the liver in the bottom of the basket. The younger one found it. She told the older one, "Our aunt killed our mother. That is her liver." The older Fawn said to her younger sister, "Our aunt took her down there and killed her. We had better watch, or she will kill us, too."
They continued to eat the clover after finding the liver. Then the younger one said, ''What shall we do? I fear she will kill us, if we stay here. We had better go to our grandfather. Get ready all of our mother's awls. Get all of the baskets. Get ready and then we will go. We will go before our aunt kills us. She killed our mother. I think it is best for us to go.
"Do not forget to take the awls," said the older Fawn, for she was afraid of being overtaken by Bear. The Fawns started with the baskets and awls, leaving one basket behind. Their aunt, Bear, was not at home when they left. When she returned, she looked about, but saw no Fawns. Then Bear discovered their tracks and set out to follow them. After she had tracked them a short distance, the basket, left at home, whistled. Bear ran back to see if the Fawns had returned. In the meantime the Fawns proceeded on their journey, throwing awls and baskets in different directions. Again, Bear started from the house. As she proceeded the awls whistled. Bear, thinking that the Fawns were whistling, left the trail in search of them.
The Fawns said, "We go to our grandfather."
As Bear followed them along the trail, the baskets and awls whistled and delayed her. Whenever Bear heard the whistles, she became angry and ran in the direction from which the sound proceeded. She of course saw nothing and returned to the trail. She heard a whistle in the direction of the stream. She ran toward it, but when she arrived there, saw nothing.
When she did not find the girls she became angry. She said, "Those girls are making fun of me." Then she shouted, "Where are you, girls? Why don't you meet me?" The awls only whistled in response and Bear ran toward the sound. Then she became, still angrier and said to herself, "If I capture you girls, I will eat you. If I find you girls, I will eat you."
Bear continued to track the Fawns. She found the trail easily and saw their tracks upon it. She said, "I have found the marks that will lead me to them." She followed the marks upon the trail. "If I catch them, I shall eat them." She heard more whistling and that enraged her. Then she jumped on to a tree and bit a limb in two. It made her furious to hear the whistling. She said to herself, "If I ever catch those girls, I shall eat them." The baskets continued to whistle on both sides of the trail; making her very angry, and retarding her progress. The Fawns had many baskets.
They followed the long trail until they arrived at a river. Bear was far behind. On the opposite side of the river they saw their grandfather, Daddy Long-legs. They told him that Bear had eaten their mother and that they wanted to cross the river in order to escape from her. Their grandfather extended his leg across the river so that they might walk across on it. Then they crossed on their grandfather's leg. In the meantime Bear continued to track them. She still followed false leads because of the whistling of the baskets and awls. The following of false leads delayed her.
The Fawns said to their grandfather, Daddy Long-legs, "Let her cross the river. She follows us." Bear was still coming along the trail. The baskets, the soap-root brushes, and the awls continued to whistle, causing her delay. The Fawns had many baskets, soap-root brushes, and awls.
After the Fawns had crossed the river, Bear arrived at the bank. She asked Daddy Long-legs, "Did the girls come by this place?" He replied, "Yes." Then Bear told Daddy Long-legs, "The, girls ran away from me." Daddy Long-legs asked, "Where is their mother?" Bear replied, "Their mother is sick. That is why she did not come, and that is why I seek the girls. She told me to bring them back."
Bear then asked Daddy Long-legs to put his leg across the river, so that she might cross. He said, "All right," and stretched his leg across the river. Then Bear walked on Daddy Long-legs leg. When she reached the middle, Daddy Long-legs gave a sudden spring and throw her into the air. She fell into the river, and had to swim to the opposite shore.
She found again the track of the Fawns. Wherever the track was plain she ran rapidly to make up for the time lost. The numerous awls, which the Fawns had thrown to each side of the trail, whistled as before.
"Hurry, sister, we near our grandfather's (Lizard's) house," said the older Fawn to the younger. Bear became exceedingly angry and shouted in her rage.
"Hurry, she comes; hurry, sister, she comes. We would not like to have her catch us before we reached our grandfather's," said the older Fawn. Then the Fawns threw awls and baskets to each side of the trail anew. As they approached their grandfather's house, Bear gained upon them. As Bear saw them nearing their grandfather's she, shouted again in her anger.
The Fawns at last arrived at their grandfather's assembly house grandfather told the Fawns, and asked him to open the door. The "My door is on the north side of the house." The Fawns ran to the north side, but found no door. Then they called again, ''Hurry, grandfather, open the door." He said, "My door is on the east side of the house." Then they ran to the east side, but found no door, Then they ran around the house. They found no door. They called again to their grandfather. He said, "My door is at the top of the house. Come in through the top."
The Fawns climbed to the top of the house and entered through the smoke hole. Their grandfather asked why they had come to see him. The Fawns told him, "Bear killed our mother." The grandfather asked, "Where is Bear?"
The Fawns said, "Bear took our mother down to the clover. She ate mother there. Then she returned to the house and told us to eat the clover which she brought. While we were eating the clover from the basket, we found the liver of our mother in the bottom under the clover, found our mother's liver at the bottom of the basket. The clover was on top of it.'' Thus spoke the Fawns to their grandfather. He asked them again, "Where is Bear?"
The Fawns replied, "She follows us. She comes. Yes, she comes."
Then Lizard, their grandfather, threw two large white stones into the fire. The Fawns sat by and watched him while he heated the two white stones. While he heated the stones, Bear came. She had followed the tracks of the Fawns to their grandfather's assembly house. Bear said to herself, "I think they went to their grandfather's." Meanwhile Lizard heated the white stones.
After looking around the assembly house, Bear called to Lizard, "Did the Fawns come here?" Lizard said, "Yes. Why?" "Well, I wish to take them home," said Bear. Lizard asked. "Why do you wish to take them home?" Then Bear replied, "I wish to take them home to their mother. Where is your door?"
Lizard told her that the door was on the north side of the assembly house. She ran to the north side, but found no door. She called again, "Where is the door?" "It is on the west side of my assembly house," said Lizard. Bear was very angry, but she ran to the west side of the house. She found no door there, so she asked again. Lizard said, "It is on the east side of my assembly house." Again she found no door, and she became exceedingly angry and asked him crossly, "Where is the door?" Lizard replied, "Run around the assembly house and you will find it." She ran around the house four times, but to no avail. In more of a rage than ever, she asked Lizard, "Where is your door?" Then Lizard told her that it was at the top of the assembly house. Bear climbed to the top and found the opening.
Upon finding the opening, she shouted and said, "I shall eat those girls." Lizard only laughed. Bear asked how she should enter. Lizard said, "Shut your eyes fight and open your mouth wide, then you enter the quicker."
Bear shut her eyes tight and shoved her head through the smoke hole with her mouth wide open. Lizard called to her, "Wider." Then Lizard threw those two white stones, which he had heated, and threw one of them into her mouth. It rolled into her stomach. He threw the second one. It remained in her month. Bear rolled from the top of the assembly house dead.
Lizard told his granddaughters, "She is dead." Then Lizard went outside and skinned Bear. After skinning, her, he dressed the hide well. He cut it into two pieces, making one small piece and one large piece.
He gave the large hide to the older Fawn and the small hide to the younger. He said to them, "Take care of those hides." Then he told the older Fawn to run and discover what sort of a sound the hide made when she ran. The older Fawn ran and the sound was very loud. Then Lizard told the younger Fawn to run. Her hide made a fairly loud sound, but not so loud as that of the older Fawn.
Old Lizard laughed, saying, "The younger one is stronger than the older." Then he told them to run together. He pointed to a large tree and told them to try their strength against the tree. The older one tried first. She ran against it, splintering it a little. Then the younger girl ran against the tree at its thickest part. She smashed it to pieces.
Lizard laughed again and said, "You are stronger than your sister." Then he told both to run together. They ran about and kicked the tree all day long. Lizard returned home and, upon arriving there, said, "The girls are all right. I think I had better send them above."
The Fawns said to Lizard, "We are going home." Lizard asked them not to go. He said, ''I shall get you both a good place. I am going to send you girls above." Then the girls went up. They ran around above and Lizard heard them running. He called them Thunders. He said, "I think it is better for them to stay there. They will be better off there." Lizard closed the door of his assembly house. Rain began to fall. The girls ran around on the top, and rain and hail fell.
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