The Faithful Lovers

The following story will be special for each of you who want to know the real meaning of love.
Hmm, there once lived a chief's daughter who had many admirers. All the young men in the village wanted to have her for a 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. He was a good hunter; but he was poor and had a mean family. He loved the maiden and wished he could marry her. So, one day when she went for water, he threw his robe over her head while he whispered in her ear: “Will you marry me?”
For a long time the maiden acted as if she hadn’t heard anything, but one day she whispered back saying that she would be willing to marry him if he took a scalp.
So he made a war party of seven, himself and six other young men. 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.
One of  the lover’s friends was so curious about it that he ventured into the knoll. Four of the young men followed. Having reached to the top of the knoll, all five began to jump and stamp about in sport.
But, 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, but it was too late! They cried; but the others could do nothing. In just a few moments, the waves had closed over them.
The other two men: the lover and his friend, went on, but with heavy hearts. After some days, they came to a river. Worn out with fatigue, the lover threw himself down on the bank. Fortunately, the lover’s friend came up to help him.
The following day, his friend told him that he found a fish which he had cleaned and asked him to eat the fish together. The lover said that if he ate the fish, his friend had to promise to fetch him all the water that he could drink. When they had eaten, the kettle was rinsed out and the lover’s friend brought it back with full of water. The lover drank the water at a draught. Again his friend filled the kettle at the river and again the lover drank it dry but still asked for more water. The lover’s friend then took the lover to the river. When the lover saw the river, he walked to the river, sprang in, and lying down in the water with his head toward land, drank greedily.
Then, he called out his friend. 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 away and threw himself upon the ground in grief. After a while, he returned to find that the lover was now a fish up to his neck.
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 lover had become a great fish and its fin was just above the surface. Canoes had to be portaged at great labor around the obstruction.
Meanwhile, the chief’s daughter mourned for her lover as for a husband and nobody could comfort her. Day by day, she sat inside her mother’s tepee with her head covered with her robe, silent, working, and working. Whenever her mother asked, the maiden did not reply.
The days lengthened into moons until a year had passed. And then the maiden arose. She left her mother’s tepee with holding lots of things in her hands. There were three pairs of moccasins, three pairs of leggings, three belts, three shirts, three head dresses with beautiful feathers, and sweet smelling tobacco.
One day she had a new canoe made. Then, the next morning she stepped into the canoe and floated slowly down the river toward the great fish. Her canoe came and stopped to the place where the great fin arose. 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.” Slowly the great fish sank, his broad fin disappeared, and the waters of the St. Croix (Stillwater) were free.



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