The Faithful Lovers





There once lived a chief's daughter who had many relations. All the

young men in the village wanted to have her for wife, and were all eager

to fill her skin bucket when she went to the brook for water.



There was a young man in the village who was industrious and a good

hunter; but he was poor and of a mean family. He loved the maiden

and when she went for water, he threw his robe over her head while he

whispered in her ear:



"Be my wife. I have little but I am young and strong. I will treat you

well, for I love you."



For a long time the maiden did not answer, but one day she whispered

back.



"Yes, you may ask my father's leave to marry me. But first you must do

something noble. I belong to a great family and have many relations. You

must go on a war party and bring back the scalp of an enemy."



The young man answered modestly, "I will try to do as you bid me. I am

only a hunter, not a warrior. Whether I shall be brave or not I do not

know. But I will try to take a scalp for your sake."



So he made a war party of seven, himself and six other young men. They

wandered through the enemy's country, hoping to get a chance to strike a

blow. But none came, for they found no one of the enemy.



"Our medicine is unfavorable," said their leader at last. "We shall have

to return home."



Before they started they sat down to smoke and rest beside a beautiful

lake at the foot of a green knoll that rose from its shore. The knoll

was covered with green grass and somehow as they looked at it they had

a feeling that there was something about it that was mysterious or

uncanny.



But there was a young man in the party named the jester, for he was

venturesome and full of fun. Gazing at the knoll he said: "Let's run and

jump on its top."



"No," said the young lover, "it looks mysterious. Sit still and finish

your smoke."



"Oh, come on, who's afraid," said the jester, laughing. "Come on

you--come on!" and springing to his feet he ran up the side of the

knoll.



Four of the young men followed. Having reached the top of the knoll all

five began to jump and stamp about in sport, calling, "Come on, come

on," to the others. Suddenly they stopped--the knoll had begun to move

toward the water. It was a gigantic turtle. The five men cried out in

alarm and tried to run--too late! Their feet by some power were held

fast to the monster's back.



"Help us--drag us away," they cried; but the others could do nothing. In

a few moments the waves had closed over them.



The other two men, the lover and his friend, went on, but with heavy

hearts, for they had forebodings of evil. After some days, they came to

a river. Worn with fatigue the lover threw himself down on the bank.



"I will sleep awhile," he said, "for I am wearied and worn out."



"And I will go down to the water and see if I can chance upon a dead

fish. At this time of the year the high water may have left one stranded

on the seashore," said his friend.



And as he had said, he found a fish which he cleaned, and then called to

the lover.



"Come and eat the fish with me. I have cleaned it and made a fire and it

is now cooking."



"No, you eat it; let me rest," said the lover.



"Oh, come on."



"No, let me rest."



"But you are my friend. I will not eat unless you share it with me."



"Very well," said the lover, "I will eat the fish with you, but you must

first make me a promise. If I eat the fish, you must promise, pledge

yourself, to fetch me all the water that I can drink."



"I promise," said the other, and the two ate the fish out of their

war-kettle. For there had been but one kettle for the party.



When they had eaten, the kettle was rinsed out and the lover's friend

brought it back full of water. This the lover drank at a draught.



"Bring me more," he said.



Again his friend filled the kettle at the river and again the lover

drank it dry.



"More!" he cried.



"Oh, I am tired. Cannot you go to the river and drink your fill from the

stream?" asked his friend.



"Remember your promise."



"Yes, but I am weary. Go now and drink."



"Ek-hey, I feared it would be so. Now trouble is coming upon us," said

the lover sadly. He walked to the river, sprang in, and lying down in

the water with his head toward land, drank greedily. By and by he called

to his friend.



"Come hither, you who have been my sworn friend. See what comes of your

broken promise."



The friend came and was amazed to see that the lover was now a fish from

his feet to his middle.



Sick at heart he ran off a little way and threw himself upon the ground

in grief. By and by he returned. The lover was now a fish to his neck.



"Cannot I cut off the part and restore you by a sweat bath?" the friend

asked.



"No, it is too late. But tell the chief's daughter that I loved her to

the last and that I die for her sake. Take this belt and give it to her.

She gave it to me as a pledge of her love for me," and he being then

turned to a great fish, swam to the middle of the river and there

remained, only his great fin remaining above the water.



The friend went home and told his story. There was great mourning over

the death of the five young men, and for the lost lover. In the river

the great fish remained, its fin just above the surface, and was called

by the Indians "Fish that Bars," because it bar'd navigation. Canoes had

to be portaged at great labor around the obstruction.



The chief's daughter mourned for her lover as for a husband, nor would

she be comforted. "He was lost for love of me, and I shall remain as his

widow," she wailed.



In her mother's tepee she sat, with her head covered with her robe,

silent, working, working. "What is my daughter doing," her mother asked.

But the maiden did not reply.



The days lengthened into moons until a year had passed. And then the

maiden arose. In her hands were beautiful articles of clothing, enough

for three men. There were three pairs of moccasins, three pairs of

leggings, three belts, three shirts, three head dresses with beautiful

feathers, and sweet smelling tobacco.



"Make a new canoe of bark," she said, which was made for her.



Into the canoe she stepped and floated slowly down the river toward the

great fish.



"Come back my daughter," her mother cried in agony. "Come back. The

great fish will eat you."



She answered nothing. Her canoe came to the place where the great fin

arose and stopped, its prow grating on the monster's back. The maiden

stepped out boldly. One by one she laid her presents on the fish's back,

scattering the feathers and tobacco over his broad spine.



"Oh, fish," she cried, "Oh, fish, you who were my lover, I shall not

forget you. Because you were lost for love of me, I shall never marry.

All my life I shall remain a widow. Take these presents. And now leave

the river, and let the waters run free, so my people may once more

descend in their canoes."



She stepped into her canoe and waited. Slowly the great fish sank, his

broad fin disappeared, and the waters of the St. Croix (Stillwater) were

free.





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