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Whirlwind and her Husband

A Seneca Legend

An old man and his nephew lived together in a bark house in the woods. The old man made the boy live on fungus and told him always to go South to find it, he must never go toward the North.

Each day the uncle went off hunting, but he never brought home any game. He lived on chestnut pudding and bear's oil.

For a long time the nephew couldn't find out how his uncle made the pudding, but one day he discovered that the old man had a little kettle, that he put a speck of chestnut in the kettle and then said, "Swell kettle! Swell kettle!" And soon he had a good sized kettle and it was full of pudding.

The next day, after his uncle had gone hunting, the young man found the kettle and had a good meal of pudding and each day after that, as soon as his uncle was out of sight, he made pudding.

The young man began to wonder why his uncle always cautioned him not to go North, and after thinking over it a while he made up his mind to find out. He started and traveled till he came to a house. In the house he found a supply of deer and bear meat hanging up around the walls, and many skins full of bear's oil. A woman sat in the middle of the room, with her head bent down.

Little boy was crawling around. When the boy saw the young man, he clapped his hands and laughed.

The woman took no notice of what was going on. The young man played a while with the child, then started for home taking along a piece of meat that he had hidden under his blanket.

Things went on in this way for a number of years. The uncle started off to hunt. The young man went to the long house and played with the boy. The woman never moved or spoke.

The boy was perhaps fifteen years old when one day he said to the young man, "You and I are cousins. Your uncle is my father and this woman sitting here is my mother."

The young man asked, "Why does she never speak?"

The boy didn't know. The young man asked the woman different questions but she wouldn't answer. Then he took his bow and shot an arrow at a skin of bear's oil which hung above her head. The arrow cut the skin and the oil ran out and fell on to the woman's head and face. She was very angry, but she didn't speak.

The meat in the house was game that the uncle brought. He came late in the day, after his nephew had gone home. So in all those years they never met at the long house. That evening when the uncle came and found the skin broken and the oil spilt over the woman's head, he suspected that his nephew had been there.

When he reached home, he asked, "Have you been at the, long house?"

"I have," said the nephew. "I have been there every day for many years. I have eaten meat there. I haven't eaten fungus for a long time."

"Did you break the skin and let the oil out?"

"I did," said the nephew.

"You have done great harm," said the uncle, "That woman is full of witchcraft. She will destroy us."

The next morning, the old man started off as usual. The Young man stayed at home, he was angry. He raised the cover of the couch, took out the little kettle, put water into it and a large piece of chestnut. When the water boiled, he began to strike the kettle, and say, "Swell kettle! Swell kettle!" The kettle came up as high as the couch. The young man stood on the couch, when the kettle rose higher he got on to the shelf, when it was as high as the shelf, he went out of the smoke-hole on to the roof.

He enjoyed the increase of the pudding, thinking how angry his uncle would be when he came home.

When the old man came, he asked, "What have you been doing; making chestnut pudding?"

"That is an old habit with me. I have been eating chestnut pudding for years."

"You have destroyed us both," said the uncle, who was very angry. "You have enraged the woman and now she will never stop till she kills us."

The next morning, just at daybreak, they heard a terrible noise off in the direction of the long house. Trees began to moan. The sound grew louder and louder, then came the cracking of limbs and the falling of trees. An awful storm was coming, and the woman was in the middle of the storm. She swept over the house, tore it from the ground, caught up the uncle and carried him away. The nephew had hidden, she didn't find him.

That day the young man went to the long house, as usual. The woman was sitting there silent and motionless, as if nothing had happened. He asked the boy what his mother had done with his father.

"I don't know what she has done with him," said the boy. "She went off with him and came back without him. Tomorrow she will come for you."

The young man went home to make ready for the woman's coming. He had a mole for his medicine; he crept into the mole and the mole went deep into the ground under the torn-down house.

In the morning the woman came with terrible fury, uprooting all the trees in her path, but she couldn't find the young man. After she had gone, he came from his hiding place and went to the long house. The woman sat there as silent and motionless as before.

"Where were you this morning?" asked the boy. mother couldn't find you."

"I was right there under the house."

When he went home, he prepared for the storm and at daylight the next morning it came. He was in the mole and the mole was in the ground and the woman didn't find him. At last she made herself into a whirlwind, whirled around and around. Then swooping down, she dug a deep hole in the earth, lifted the ground and went to the sky, carrying the mole along in the dirt. The mole fell and the young man was killed. The woman went home satisfied.

The mole breathed into the young man's mouth and by putting breath in and drawing it out brought him to life, and right away he set out to find his uncle. He went beyond the long house, traveled as fast as he could all day and all night, carrying the mole with him.

The next morning at daybreak the woman came with a terrible storm. The young man went into the mole and under the ground and when the woman couldn't find him she went back to the long house.

The young man traveled a second day and night. The next morning the woman came again with a terrible storm. She found where her nephew was and scooping up the earth she carried him far into the sky. The mole fell to the ground, the young man was killed and the woman went home, satisfied.

The mole brought the young man to life, and, putting the mole in his belt, he ran on as fast as he could. That night he slept deep in the ground between two great rocks on a mountain. At daybreak the woman came, but she couldn't find him. That day the young man traveled till he came to a house in an opening, and near the house, under the roots of a great elm, he found his uncle. The tree was standing on his breast. The old man was only skin and bones, but as soon as he saw his nephew he begged for a smoke.

"Poor uncle," said the young man, "I'll give you a smoke." He pushed the tree over, got the old man out and gave him a pipe and tobacco. As soon as he had smoked, he was well and strong

The next morning the woman came again. By watching the nephew had discovered that she came in a narrow path and that it was possible to get away from her. He told his uncle to run toward the West and keep out of the path, then he went into the mole and the mole went under the ground. The woman became a whirlwind, scooped up the ground and carried the mole to the sky. The mole fell and the young man was killed, but, as before, the mole brought him to life. He followed the woman to the long house and found her sitting there silent and motionless. He shot an arrow at her and killed her. Then he gathered a pile of dry bark and wood, poured bear's oil over it, put the body on the pile and burned it up and throwing the charred bones in every direction, he said to the boy, "We will go to my uncle."

They found the old man in the second long house and they stayed there for a time. But the woman came to life, and suspecting they were at the long house she went there in a terrible rage.

The young man sent his uncle and the boy away. He had found out the woman's habits and strength. He knew that, after a certain force was spent, she became weak and couldn't travel fast. While she was a whirlwind, he stayed out of her path. When she hadn't found him and her strength was used up, she turned to go home, but she had to travel slowly. She could no longer go through the air. The young man followed her and killed her with an arrow, then he called his uncle and the boy. The three piled up wood, built a great fire and burned the body to ashes, then picking up the bones they carried them to the long house and pounded them to powder. This powder the young man divided into three parts and put into three skin bags and tied each bag up tight. One bag he gave to his uncle, one he gave to his cousin, and the third he put into his own pouch, saying, "I will keep it here. She shall never come to life again. When we are out in a storm we must always stand apart so that the force in these powders cannot unite.

They went to their first home and soon there was a house and a supply of every kind of dried meat, and the three lived together and were happy.

Peter White said that the Indians used to think that all trees came from the pine tree. That once the pine trees got to disputing, quarreling over which was the tallest and which was the strongest and which had the most power. One tree declared that he had; another said he had. At last one lofty pine got so angry that he struck his nephew on the head and pressed him down with such strength that he crowded his branches together and spread them out. After that the nephew was a hemlock. All hemlocks came from this pine which the wrath of the great pine had maimed and spread out.

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