Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 220

The Four Cousins

There were three brothers and their younger cousin, who was very poor. He was full of lice. He had no mother, only a grandmother. The two eldest brothers knew how to win in the game at disks. When the summer approached the grandmother spun twine out of willow bark. The people hired her to spin bark. Then she kept a little for herself. At last she made a large rope. Now [the cousins] went to Chehalis. The people stayed [at that time] at Mythtown [at the most southern part of Shoalwater bay]. There they are every spring when they are going to Columbia river. Now the cousins went to Chehalis. The grandmother said to her youngest grandson: "Take this rope and exchange it for ground-hog blankets." Now they went to Chehalis. The elder cousins wanted to play at disks. They arrived there.

Now somebody had found a sea-otter. They wished to buy it and wanted to give long dentalia for it; but that man did not want to part with his sea-otter. They wanted to give him a canoe, but he did not want to part with it. Now they heard about the rope. Then that man went to their house [and said]: "I will give you this sea-otter if you will give me this rope." Now he exchanged the rope for the sea-otter. Then they went home. [The eldest one] said: "I shall take the sea-otter away from him. He will certainly gamble and lose it." Then the one who was next to the youngest said: "Let the poor boy alone. Let him lose. If his grandmother gave it to him, let him lose it; if somebody made him happy and gave him something, let him lose it." They went home. They slept at Nema. The elk-skin blanket of the younger cousin had no hair. When he slept the eldest brother awoke his people. They took the sea-otter away from him and left him asleep. Early the next morning he awoke. Now the brothers had disappeared. He thought: "Behold! they deserted me!" The sea-otter had disappeared. "O, they took the sea-otter away from me." Now it was spring time. He went on afoot, going home. When he arrived at Nê'lEqtEn it was ebb tide. He stayed ashore and thought: "At slack water I will swim across." It grew calm. Then he heard something in the water. "I must see what that is." It made tumm under

p. 221

water. Then it became quiet, and again it made tumm. Then next it made dEll. Now a wave came down the river. Five times he heard the same noise, dEll, and five times he heard it, gumm, below the water. Then five black bears came out of the water; their ears were I do not know how long. They stood on the water. Then the youth threw off his elkskin. He throw it ashore. He thought: "I must die," and began to swim across. He passed the first one, the second one, and the third one. When he reached the fourth one it looked at him. It looked that Indian right in the face. He fainted. Now Itc!x*ia'n carried him to his house. Behold! he saw Itc!x*ia'n. On one side of the house of this supernatural being they spoke one language; on the other side they spoke another language. He understood them. In the middle of the house they spoke still another language. "Those women whom you hear now on both sides of the house will be your wives. Thus you will live among the Indians. This will make you a chief." Then they gave him a bird arrowhead made of bone. The supernatural beings finished. He awoke and lay ashore on the other side [of the water]. He arose. It was early now; while it was noon when he began to swim across. His elkskin blanket lay near him. He arose, took his elkskin blanket, and went home.

He arrived at the mouth of I'tskuil. He came ashore. Now he went to the place where the people of Mythtown played at disks. A person looked up [and said]: "A black bear is running about on the mud." The people looked up and one of them said: "Is that a bear? It is a man who is coming. I think it is the one who was left alone." Then the eldest brother said: "What does he want here? We must be ashamed of him." Then the next to the youngest said: "Let him come, the poor one. What did he do to you that you do not like him?" He went up to these people. Now they played at disks. He stood at one end and was looking at them. Then he put down the bird arrow which he held in his hand. One of the bystanders looked at it and said: "How pretty is your arrowhead." "Ah, I found it," he replied. The one man was winning all the time the other was losing. Then one man said to him: "Let us bet, I will stake an arrowhead against yours." He replied: "As you like," and after a little while the poor boy won. He won three times, four times, and now he had ten arrowheads. He had won them. He went to sleep. Then he told his grandmother: "I bought a sea-otter and they took it away from me." His grandmother cried; she pitied him. It got day. [Then a person said:] "Come, friend, let us play at disks." He said: "I have no mat." "We can use one mat." "I have no disks." "I loan you my disks." Now he went out. He won and won and won. He won all his arrows and all his property. He won his disks. When they had finished, another person said: "That one with the lousy head is getting hopeful. To-morrow I will play with him." Early the next morning when he was still in his grandmother's house, that person

p. 222

opened the door. He held a mat in his hand and said: "Come friend, we will play." "Well," said the boy. He bought a mat. Now he won again all the property of that person. He won his canoe. Now he had won over all the common people. Next he won over the chiefs. He won first one slave and then many. Now he became a chief. He had won the property of all those people. Every day the people ate in his house. Now his elder cousin said: "Perhaps he saw a supernatural being. We will play with the accompaniment of batons. Then I shall win all his slaves. He is [too] hopeful." Then he was told: "Your elder cousin wants to play with you." "As he likes." Now the cousins played and the people beat time with batons. They played several nights. He won the eldest brother's slaves and all his canoes. Then he played with the next brother and he won all his slaves; then he won his wives. Now the next brother said: "I want to play with you next." "No, I pity you, as you pitied me formerly." Then the Chehalis came, and he won all their property. The Quenaiult came to play at disks. He won their property and their slaves. That lousy boy made everybody poor. He bought the daughters of chiefs among the Quenaiult, the Tillamook, the tribes up the river, the Cowlitz. The wives of the man who had been the lousy boy were taken from among all these tribes. If his cousins had not taken the sea-otter from him, he should not have seen the supernatural being. He saw Itc!x*ia'n.

Next: The GiLâ'unaLX