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Sad tale of Woodpecker and Bluejay.
Start of Story
A sister and brother lived alone in a house in the
forest. Their father and mother were dead. The
boy had a strange magic power which had been
given to him by his parents. The two children loved each
other very deeply. The brother cared well for his sister and
protected her from all danger. He knew that the forest had
many evil creatures who would be glad to carry off his sister
if they could. The brother often went far away to hunt. He
was often gone for many days. When he went away, he
always said to his sister, " Keep the door barred while I am
gone, and do not speak to anyone."
One day the brother went far away into the forest. He
would not be home till evening. He said to his sister, " Keep
the door barred ; do not eat until I come back, and do not
speak to anyone." Then he went his way into the woods.
The sister forgot her brother s warning. It was a hot day,
and she opened the door for air. Soon Otter appeared at the
door. The girl spoke to him and he came in. Otter spoke
to her, but she remembered the warning of her brother and
she would speak no more.
Otter talked and asked her questions, but she would not answer. Then Otter became very
angry. He determined to make her speak. He caught her
roughly and pulled down her hair. Her hair was very long
and beautiful and as black as the raven s wing. He dragged
her by the hair to the fire, as if he would burn her, and said,
" You will speak, you will speak or I will kill you." But she
would not speak. Then he cut off her hair, hoping that she
would cry out. But still she refused to utter a sound. Then
he ate her food. He ate everything in the house, for he was
a great eater. But still she said not a word of protest. Then
Otter went away in disgust and rage, babbling loudly as he
But just as Otter left the house, the girl s brother was
coming home. He saw Otter through the trees, and he knew
that harm had been done. He came to the house, and through
the door he saw his sister with her hair cut short. When he
came in, he asked her what was the matter. She told him
what had happened. He was very cross, and he scolded her
for leaving the door open and for speaking to Otter. He said,
" You did not heed my warning. Why did you not run out
when Otter came in?" But the girl said, "It would have
done no good ; he would have followed me and caught me."
And the man said, "Why did you not wish for me ?" for each
had power to bring the other home at once by a wish. But
his sister said, " I was so frightened I did not think of it."
"Why do you cry?" the brother asked. "Because he hurt
1 86 TALES
me," she answered, "and because he cut off my beautiful
Then the brother took pity on her. He comforted her and
said, " Do not cry for that ; I will make your hair grow
beautiful again. But your good name is lost ; you can never
get that back; you have disobeyed my orders; you have talked
to a wicked man."
Then he dressed his sister in good clothes, and washed
and combed her hair. And as he combed it, it grew longer
and longer and more beautiful than before, and the girl was
comforted. Then he made paint from roots. He made red
paint and blue paint. And he painted her face and head red,
and painted his own face and head blue. Then he watched
for Otter that he might take vengeance. Soon he saw Otter
going to the lake to fish. Otter went down under the water.
The brother went to the shore of the lake and sang his magic
song. And at once the lake froze over. Otter felt the cold
underneath the water, and he came up in great haste. He
bumped his head on the ice and broke the ice ; then he stuck
his head through the hole to see what had happened.
But as he looked, the water froze around his neck, and he could get
neither under the ice nor upon it. He was held fast, and the
brother killed him by breaking his head with a stout stick.
Then the brother went home and told his sister that he
had taken vengeance and had killed Otter. And he said,
" Now, you and I must part." His sister cried and pleaded
THEN HE DRESSED HIS SISTER IN GOOD CLOTHES, AND WASHED AND COMBED HER HAIR.
to be forgiven, but he said, "We must part ; we cannot dwell
longer among our people ; they know you have disobeyed me
and have done evil."
Then they said good-bye. And the brother said, "You
go south-west ; I will go north-east ; and soon we shall be
changed from what we are." Then they parted and went in
different ways as he had said. And at once by his magic
power they were changed, and she became a Woodpecker and
he became a Bluejay. And her head is still red because of
the paint he put on her ; and he is still blue because of the
paint he put on himself. But although they parted, they are
still mindful of each other. She always taps on the trees to
let her brother know that she is still alive, and he calls, " I
am here ; I am here," to let her know that he still lives. But
he keeps more to the north country, and often in the autumn
when the other birds fly south, he remains behind to spend
the winter in the north.