A MAN and a woman lived by themselves in a clearing in the forest. The man hunted; the woman raised beans and corn.
One day, when the woman sat in front of the fire baking an ash cake, a large spark flew out and burned her. She rubbed the spot with her finger, and when it began to blister she wet her finger in her mouth and rubbed the blister; in this way she got the taste of her own flesh, and she liked it.
She took a flint knife, cut out the burnt piece of flesh and ate it. The taste was so agreeable that she took a coal of fire, burned another place on her arm, cut out the flesh and ate it. The desire grew upon her and she kept burning and eating herself till she had eaten all the flesh she could reach on her arms and legs.
The man had a dog that was wise and was his friend. The dog sat by the fire and watched the woman. When she was about half through eating herself, she said to him, "You had better go and tell your friend to run away and to take you with him. If he doesn't hurry off, I shall eat both of you."
The dog ran as fast as he could and when he came to
where the man was hunting, he told him what had happened, that his wife had become a ONGWEIAS (Man-eater) and was going to eat herself and then eat them.
The man and the dog started off. The dog's legs were short, he couldn't run fast, so the man put him in a hollow tree and commanded him to become punk. The dog was willing, for he wanted his master to save himself.
The man went on as fast as he could till he came to a river with high banks. By the river sat an old man.
"Grandfather," said the man, "I am in great trouble. Put me across the river; save me, my wife is following me I she wants to kill and eat me."
"I know she is following you," said the old man, "but she is still a long way off. I will put you across but first you must bring me a basketful of fish from my fish pond."
The man went for the fish. The pond was enclosed. On the bank was a basket with a handle. The man caught a large number of fish, filled the basket and carried it to the old man, who cooked the fish and then said, "Sit down and eat with me."
They ate together, then the old man said, "Now you must bring me a basketful of groundnuts."
The man ran to the old man's garden, dug up the groundnuts as quickly as possible and carried them to him. After he had cooked and eaten the nuts, he said, "Now I will put you across the river."
He lay down at the edge of the water and, leaning on his elbows, stretched his neck to the opposite bank, and called out, "Walk across on my neck, but be careful, I am not as strong as I used to be."
The man walked over carefully, then the old man bade him, good-bye, saying, "Far off in the West you will come to a large bark house; that house belongs to your three aunts; they will help you."
After the women sent the dog away, she took a stick, and pushing the marrow out of her bones, ate it. She filled her bones with pebbles and the pebbles rattled as she moved. Every little while she stopped eating and danced and when she heard the stones rattle in her legs and arms, she said, "Oh, that sounds good!"
The woman devoured everything in the cabin, meat,
bread, skins, everything that could be eaten, and when there was nothing left she started off to find her husband.
She came upon his tracks and followed them. Once in a while she stopped and danced and listened with delight to the rattle of the pebbles in her bones; then she went on again.
When she came to the bank of the river and saw the old ferryman she screamed to him, "Old man, come and put me across the river; I am following my husband. Be quick!"
The fisherman turned slowly toward her, and said, "I can't put you across. There is no crossing for a woman who is chasing her husband to catch and eat him."
But the woman urged and begged till at last the old man said, "I'll put you across, but first you must bring me a basketful of fish, and dig me a basketful of groundnuts."
She brought the fish and the nuts, but when they were cooked she wouldn't eat with the old man. She would eat nothing now but human flesh.
After the old man had eaten the fish and the nuts he stretched his neck across the river but in the form of a horse's neck, very narrow and arching. The woman was angry, and asked, "How do you think I am going to walk on that?"
"You can do as you like," answered he, "I am old. I can't make my neck flat; it would break. As it is you must walk carefully."
No matter how the woman raged, she had to stay where she was or cross on the arched neck. At last she started, picking her steps and scolding as she went.
The water was deep and full of terrible creatures. When the woman reached the middle of the river the old man, angry because she scolded, jerked his neck. She fell into the water and that minute was seized and devoured all except her stomach; that floated down the river and past the house of the three aunts.
The woman's life was in her stomach.
The aunts were watching, for their nephew had been at the house and they had promised to help him; they caught the stomach, chopped it up and killed it.
(Pages 79 and 80 were missing in the source book)
eat her, she screamed out to the Morning Star, "When I was young, you promised to help me if ever I were in distress. Help me now."
The Morning Star heard the voice and called to his boy, "Is that man on the island yet?"
"Oh, no!" answered the boy. "He got off yesterday; that is the little old woman herself. She says that, when she was young, you promised in a dream that if ever she were in trouble you would help her."
"Oh, no!" said the Morning Star. "I never had any conversation with that old woman, I never made her any promise."
The Morning Star went to sleep and let day come at its own time. The water rose till it reached the top of the pine tree, then the creatures of the lake seized the little old woman and ate her up.
The man went home to his wife and they lived happily ever after.