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Native American Stories : The Death Of Pitch

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Tales of the North American Indians

The Death Of Pitch

Txämsem went on, not knowing which way to go. He was very weak and hungry, and sore of foot. He went on and on in the woods until he saw a house far off. He went toward it, came near, and entered There were a man and his wife, a very pretty young woman, there. They permitted him to come in for they had pity on the poor man who had come to their house. They asked him if he wanted something to eat, and they gave him to eat. Then the young woman tried to cure his ankle, which was hurt by the stone in the house of the Chief Echo. He was now in the house of Little Pitch. He came in, and the people were very kind to him. The wife of Little Pitch put pitch on his sore ankle. After two days he was quite well, and he was very glad. The young woman gave him to eat every day. The house of Little Pitch was full of dried halibut and of all kinds of provisions. Txämsem made up his mind to kill his friend who had treated him so kindly. On the following evening, after he had eaten his supper, he said to his friend that they would go out the next morning to catch halibut. Little Pitch was willing, and said to Txämsem, “It is not good for me if I go out fishing in the sun, because I am so weak. I must return home while it is still chilly.” Txämsem replied, “I will do whatever you say, sir. I think we shall have plenty of time.” Thus spoke Txämsem. They started for the fishing-ground, and fished all night until daybreak. When the sun rose, Little Pitch wanted to go home; but Txämsem said, “I enjoy fishing. Lie down there in the bow of the canoe, and cover yourself with a mat.” Little Pitch lay down, and Txämsem called him, “Little Pitch!” — “Hey!” he replied. After a while Txämsem called him again, “Little Pitch!” — “Hey!” he answered again with a loud voice. Txämsem called him once more, “Little Pitch!” Then he answered “Hey!” in a low voice. Txämsem called him still again. He answered, “Hey, hey!” with a very weak voice. “Now I will pull up my fishing lines,” said Txämsem; and after he had hauled his lines into the canoe, he paddled away home. Txämsem paddled very hard. He called again, “Little Pitch!” but there was no answer; so he went to see what had happened to Little Pitch. As soon as he touched the mat that covered Little Pitch, behold! pitch was running out all over the halibut. Little Pitch was dead, and melted pitch ran all over the halibut. Therefore the halibut is black on one side. Txämsem was very glad. He paddled along until he reached the shore in front of Little Pitch’s house, expecting to get a good supper from Little Pitch’s wife. He took the line, tied up his canoe, and went up, glad in his heart. He went on and on, but could not find any house. He searched everywhere, but could not find it. Only a little green spruce tree was standing there, with a drop of pitch upon one side. Finally Txämsem remembered that his canoe was full of halibut; so he went down to the beach, being very hungry, but he could not find his canoe. Only a spruce log with roots was there.

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