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By the River She Made Baskets

Categories : Hupa , Hupa Stories

A young woman, a virgin, who lived at Kintcuwhwikut used to make baskets by the riverside. After a time she became pregnant. She wondered about her condition for she had not even seen a man. She gave birth to a girl and took proper care of it. When the child was quite large the mother made baskets by the river again. She became pregnant a second time. This time she gave birth to a boy. She hated it and never took care of it. The girl tended her little brother. After a time the mother was to be married and started to her husband's house taking the little girl with her. She dropped the boy, baby-basket and all, down a steep bank by the trail.

"Come along," she said to the girl. "No," she said. She cried for her brother but the mother went off and left them both. The sister, seizing the baby-basket by the bail, dragged it up the hill and back into the house. When at night they lay down to sleep the girl said, "I wish when we wake up in the morning we would be lying in a blanket and something to eat would be by our heads." When they woke in the morning they found themselves covered with a blanket and food was lying by their heads. They always did that way. When the boy became large his sister said, "I wish, my brother, when we wake up tomorrow morning a string of dentalia would lie at our heads." In the morning it was there.

They always made wishes that way and they afterwards came to pass. After a time he began to run about. One night the sister said, "I wish when we wake up in the morning we would find a bow and arrows at our heads." In the morning there they were. Then they went hunting and he killed birds. Finally he became a man and killed deer. The girl was now a woman. They filled their house with dried meat. Then the boy fished and they dried the fish and stored them away. When their house would hold no more they made cribs of hazel.

They filled ten of these with provisions. All this time they saw nothing of their mother. One night the girl had a dream. The next morning, the young man, who now slept in a sweat-house, came in and said, "I dreamed there will be a famine." "I, too, dreamed that," said the sister. For several years there was a famine. The people about began to starve.

One morning the sister thought she heard someone moving outside. She looked out and saw a woman who said, "Here take your brother." She took it and carried it in. Then she took in another and another until she had taken in ten children which had been born to her mother. Last of all the husband came in. "I have come back," said the mother, "these your brothers were about to starve." "Poor things," thought the girl, "I had better hurry and feed them." She fed the smallest one and told the others to eat as fast as they could. She was afraid of the young man, her brother.

When he came back at night he brought in a deer. "I am glad my boy," said the woman, "for I am going to eat." He did not even look at her, but turned around and went out. All the next day he stayed in the sweat-house without food. The following evening the girl went to the sweat-house entrance and said, "Come and eat." "No," he said, "gather up your things. I have found our father; he has come for us. Soon he will push a stick under our house." The girl went back to the house and made a quantity of soup that they might all have plenty to eat. When the rest were asleep she emptied down some acorns and buried some salmon under the earthen floor. At midnight the father pushed a stick under both the house and sweat-house and they went of their own accord under the water. There their father, a water sprite, lived.

The next morning when the others woke up they saw they were lying without a house to cover them. The woman looked about but saw nothing left. Then she began to dig in the wood-room where she found acorns and salmon buried. She knew her daughter had done that for her.

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