Published on December 18, 2012 by Casey
A certain man and his wife had a beautiful daughter and three sons who were excellent hunters. The girl was so beautiful that she attracted many suitors all of whom, however, her father dismissed because they could not surpass his sons in hunting.
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One day while his sons were out hunting a stranger entered the camp and said to the father, “I should like to remain with you and work for your daughter’s hand.”
“What is your name?”
“Well, you may stay,” said the father; “but you cannot marry her unless you excel my sons in the chase”.
Flying Wonder lived with them for several months; hunting with the three youths and killing even more game than they did. Having proved his skill, he asked the eldest son for permission to marry his sister. The youth consulted his parents, and the entire family sat in council over the matter.
“He calls himself Flying Wonder,” said one, “but we neither know who he really is nor where he comes from”.
“That does not matter,” replied another. “He has shown himself an excellent hunter.”
They decided to let him marry their sister. Without delay he set up a tent under a large pine tree close by and the girl moved into it.
They were no sooner married, however, than Flying Wonder seemed to change. He treated his wife so cruelly that at last her brothers became indignant and said to their father, “We shall have to get rid of him. The next time he abuses her let us kill him.”
The very next evening they heard their sister sobbing and the voice of her husband mocking her. Inflamed with anger, they rushed over and hewed him to pieces. Then they scattered his body in every direction, abandoned the camp, and erected a new one several miles away.
Being now short of food, the three brothers went hunting again and sighted a large herd of caribou. They approached them cautiously and were almost within bow shot when suddenly a raven flew over their heads and croaked. The caribou then looked up in alarm and fled.
The same thing happened the next day and the day following. At last they understood its meaning. The spirit of their dead brother-in-law had become a raven and was avenging itself on them. They tried several times to shoot the bird, but it always flew beyond the range of their arrows. Soon the family was starving.
The youngest son proposed a device, saying, “Lay out my body as if I were dead, and abandon the camp. The raven will think one of us has already died of starvation, and it will fly down to devour me.”
The others agreed. They covered the youth with brushwood that concealed all but his face, abandoned the camp, and set up a new one some distance away.
The raven appeared again, flew over their heads, crying ‘kak kak’ and sighted the pile of brush. It circled above it, swooped down, settled on the ground a few yards away, and inspected the supposed corpse. The youth made no movement. Still suspicious, the raven hopped around him just beyond his reach. When even then the youth did not move, it drew closer and tried to peck out his eyes. He caught it in his hands, hacked it to pieces, and, kindling a large fire, carefully burned every fragment. He even collected the bones after the fire died down and pounded them into dust. Then, satisfied that he could do no more, he followed his kinsmen’s tracks to their new camp and told them what had happened.
As they sat round their fire that evening, a man entered the camp — Flying Wonder himself. He said to them, “You cannot kill me, for you do not know where I conceal my heart. But I repent now of my misdeeds and promise that I will conduct myself better hereafter. So let me remarry your sister. If I ill-treat her again, I will tell you where my heart lies and you can kill me.”
The family had no choice, for they were starving and could kill no game as long as he was hostile. Flying Wonder kept his word and treated his wife kindly. He joined his brothers-in-law again in their hunting and filled their camp with meat.
One day they sighted a large herd of caribou, and twisting some roots the three brothers constructed a long fence from which they suspended snares of rawhide thongs at regular intervals. Flying Wonder then suggested that they fasten an extra snare to his body and hide him in the bush. They agreed, fixed his snare, and left him in concealment near the fence while they rounded up the herd.
Every snare caught a caribou, but the snare fastened to Flying Wonder caught the biggest animal in the herd. Unable to hold it, he shouted to his companions as it dragged him away, “Have I no relatives to come to my rescue?”
But the three brothers were so busy slaughtering the other trapped caribou that they did not hear him; and when they looked for him afterwards, the thong had already cut him in two.
“Fit me together, and I shall be whole again,” cried his head.
But the eldest youth said to his brothers, “No, let him remain as he is. He brought this fate on himself.”
They left him there and skinned their caribou, still pondering what they should do. Finally the eldest youth suggested that they should dig a deep pit and bury the head, leaving the rest of the body where it lay. So they buried the head and returned with their hides and part of the meat to their camp.
The next day, with fear in their hearts, they carried all the meat to their camp and hung it up to dry. Flying Wonder did not come near them.
Only after all their meat was dry and stored away in a cache did they hear the raven call again, and this time his call came from high up in the sky. The brothers gazed up at the bird contentedly and said to one another, “Let us not trouble ourselves about him anymore. He can no longer harm us.”
And they added, “It is never wise for a man to allow his daughter to marry a stranger.”