Tales of the North American Indians
The False Bridegroom
There were two girls, sisters. The older sister said, “We will go to look for Shell-Spitter.” There was a man who was poor and who lived alone with his old mother. He was the Loon and his mother was Badger-Woman. He heard that two girls were looking for Shell-Spitter. He went to the children of the camp, and took their shells away from them. The girls arrived, and asked for Shell-Spitter’s tent. It was shown them, and they went to it. There stood the Loon. “What are you girls looking for?” he said. “We are looking for Shell-Spitter.” “I am he.” “Let us see you spit shells.”
He had filled his mouth with shells, and now spit them out. The two girls stooped, and hastily picked them up, each trying to snatch them before the other. Then he took them to his tent. His tent was old and poor. His mother was gray-headed. He said to them, “I have another tent. It is fine and large. I have brought you here because there is more room to sleep.” The girls went inside.
Soon some one called to the Loon, “Come over! they are making the sun-dance!” “Oh!” he said. “Now I have to sit in the middle again, and give away presents. I am tired of it. For once they ought to get some one else. I am to sit on the chief’s bed in the middle of the lodge.”
He told his mother, “Do not let these women go out.” Then he went out, and the old woman guarded the door. When she was asleep, one of the girls said, “I will go out to look.” She stepped over the old woman, and went to the dance-lodge. Looking in, she saw the people dancing on the Loon’s rump. On the bed in the middle sat a fine man. Whenever he spit, he spit shells. The ground all around him was covered with them.
Then the girl went back, and called to her sister, “Come out! They are dancing on this man; but the one who spits shells sits in the middle of the lodge.” Then they both went to the lodge. They went inside and sat down behind Shell-Spitter.
Then the man on the ground, on whom the people were dancing, saw them. He jumped up. He killed Shell-Spitter, and ran out. He said to his mother, “I told you to watch, and not to let those women out.” Then he told her, “Dig a hole quickly!” She quickly dug a hole inside the tent. He entered it, and then she followed him. The people came, but could do nothing. When they stopped trying to shoot, Badger-Woman came out of the hole, singing in ridicule of Shell-Spitter’s death. Before the people could reach her she dropped into the hole again. She did this repeatedly.