Tales of the North American Indians
The Girl Who Married Her Brother
A mother and her ten children were living together. The oldest was a girl. She was mean; and her mother had to hide from her the youngest child, a boy. The girl was wont to ask her mother, “Where is that child you bore some time ago?” to which her mother would reply, “Oh, I lost him long ago.” Every morning the daughter saw her mother go down to the spring. She followed her, and noticed that the water was disturbed, as if some one had been swimming there.
One day she found a long hair in the water. She measured it with the hair of her other brothers, and found it to be too long. So she decided to learn whose hair it was. Every night she camped at the spring, until one morning she saw a strange man come down to bathe. Then she knew who had been disturbing the water, and to whom the hair belonged. It was her youngest brother. She fell in love with him, and decided to marry him. She went home and asked her mother to prepare some food for her, as she was going away. Her mother gave her food, and the girl asked, “Who wants to accompany me?” The oldest brother said, “I.”–“No,” replied the girl, “not you.” In a similar manner she refused to go with any of her other brothers. Finally she ran to the side of the house, put her hand there, and said, “This is the one I want to take along.” Then the young brother came out from where he had been hidden all these years, and said, “All right! I’ll go with you.”
They travelled all day. When night came, she said, “Let us stop here!” So they stopped there, and the girl began to prepare the bed. The boy suspected what she wanted of him, but he said nothing. He only wished she might fall sound asleep, so as to be able to run away from her. When she was sound asleep, he put a log in his place and left her, returning to the house. He ran home, and shouted, “Let all get ready to come with me!” They did so, and before departing cautioned everything in the house not to tell his sister where they had gone. But they omitted to tell Ashes.
Early in the morning she woke up and began to speak to the log, thinking it to be her husband; but soon she found out the deception, jumped up in anger, and cried, “I’ll kill you!”
In the meantime the brother and his family had entered a basket and were drawn up to the sky. The sister came home, and inquired of everything in the house as to the whereabouts of her mother and brothers. No one would tell. Finally she asked Ashes, and was told that they had gone up to the sky. She looked up, and saw her family half-way up the sky. She began to weep, and called for them repeatedly to come down. But the boy had told them not to look back, no matter how often she might call. Soon, however, the mother looked back, and the basket began to fall. The daughter was glad when she saw the basket coming down. She made a big fire, intending to kill her family as soon as the basket should fall into it. The basket came down; but, when the youth hit the ground, he flew right up and floated away. The girl thought she had killed them all, and was very glad.
After a while the brother came down on the ocean beach, where two Sea-Gull girls found him. At first the girls were afraid of him; but he assured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid of me! Touch me, wash me, and you will find that I am all right!” The girls did as directed, and he married them. After a while his wives became pregnant and gave birth to a boy and girl. As soon as the children grew up, the father gave them a bow and arrow, and taught them how to shoot, saying, “When you grow up, I want you to go to my sister over yonder, and watch her secretly.” The children grew up and went to their aunt’s house, who scared them so, that they ran back in a hurry. Then he said to his children, “Let us all go and kill my sister! She is mean. She killed my family.” The children promised to help him.
So they all went, and the young man began to fight with his sister; but he could not kill her, because the only vulnerable spot, her heart, was in the sole of her foot. In vain he shot arrow after arrow at her. He could not kill her. His arrows were all gone, and he was almost exhausted, when Meadow Lark came to his help. She told him to look at her heel. He did so, and saw something bright and shining. On Meadow Lark’s advice he directed an arrow at that spot, and thus succeeded in killing the terrible sister.