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How a woman lost a gun for fear of the Weewillmekq'

An Algonquin Legend

There was a man and his wife who had got together all they had for the fall hunt. They went up the St. John's River; they left the village of Foxerbica; they went twenty-five miles beyond it. They passed the falls on the upper side to get some game. They cooked and ate. They got ready to start again; they launched the canoe. They shoved the canoe twenty-five feet from the shore. The woman turned, and upset it. It went like lightning down the rapids. They had hard work to get ashore, and lost their gun, traps, kettle, and everything. They escaped with great trouble; they had trouble to save their canoe.

The man was in great grief at the loss of his gun. He sat down and sang:--

"Nici sigi psach ke-yin,
Dich m'djel mieol wagh nuch'."

I am sorry,
I am in great trouble.

There came two Indians down to the portage where the man and his wife sat. They asked him why he was so sad. He told them all. One of them was a m'téoulin. He asked of them, "Could you tell your gun if you saw it?" The woman cried quickly, "I could!" He was not pleased at her forwardness, but put the question again; when she as pertly answered, "Yes," for her husband. He looked sternly at her, and said, "Are you sure?" To which she cried, "Yes, Yes!" Then he said, "If you are very bold, and not afraid of anything, you may get it again." And this, too, she took on herself, saying, "Oh, yes, I'm not afraid; I'll get it," making no account of her husband.

Then, by the order of the man, she went to a ledge just below the falls, where they are seventy-five feet high. There was a little projecting rock on which she could just sit,--a horrible place. Below it was a dreadful eddy, in which nothing could live. He helped her down to it, and she was in mortal terror, as such glib-tongued women generally are when there is the least danger. Then the man went away.

And as she sat there, trembling and half dead with fright, she saw Something come up out of the eddy,--even out of the worst of it. It rose; it was an awful sight,--a kind of monstrous head, with great forked horns and terrible eyes. She was stiff as a stone with fear. The lost gun lay crosswise on the prongs of the horns. It moved slowly on through the eddy, glaring at her. It came nearer and nearer; the gun was within her reach, but she was too frightened to touch it. Then the monster passed by and sank into the water, and was seen no more, nor was the gun.

They got her back with trouble from the place where she sat. The m'téoulin was furious with rage at her, that he had taken such pains for nothing. He said, "This serves you right for your impudence and forwardness. Learn your proper place, and never undertake to do what is none of your business." He then condoled with the husband, but said, "If you could give me all you could think of, I could never get your gun again."

By this women may learn not to speak too quickly, or propose to do men's duties. "Hu 'sami n'zama wiuch wee lel n'aga samee n'gamma wiool petin'l." ("Too quick with the tongue, slow with the hands.")

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