Tale of The Girl Who Married A Turtle

A girl lived alone with her two brothers. They were famous hunters and were away all day hunting. While they were gone the girl often played down by the water, and there she came to know Turtle. One day he came up to her and asked her if she would have him for her husband. She said that she would, and after that she met him whenever she went to the lake. Often her brothers wanted to carry the water for her, but she would never let them, but would always go herself and stay a long time with Turtle. One time her brothers went away to be gone many days. She told Turtle that they were gone and that she was going to take him to her house and keep him there. He was glad, for then he could be with her all of the time. She went home and built a high bed, and when she had finished it she carried Turtle home and put him in the bed. She asked him what he liked best to eat, and he said that he liked potatoes better than anything else. Every day she went out to hunt potatoes and prepared a big bowl full and put it up in the bed for him to eat. After several days her brothers came home, and so she thought she would take Turtle back to the river, but he begged so hard to stay that she yielded to him, though she knew that she took a risk. She told Turtle that he must always stay up in the bed where her brothers could not see him and must not move when they were about, for they would hear him and look for him and would surely kill him if they found him. The boys noticed the high bed when they returned, but their sister told them that she had made it because she felt safer in it while they were gone. Then they thought nothing more about it until they noticed that their sister regularly filled a large bowl with potatoes and put it in the bed and then took it out empty. They began to suspect something, but said nothing. One day they said that they were going to hunt. The girl watched them until they were out of sight; then she took her digging stick and started after more potatoes for Turtle. The boys only pretended to go hunting and soon came back. They slipped up to the house and peeped in. When they found that their sister was gone they went in and climbed up to the bed to see what was there. They found Turtle and killed him, then ran away. When the girl came home and found her husband dead, she knew at once that her brothers had killed him and she started after them.

The boys ran until they came to a river. There they met many white ducks playing on the water. In those days all birds were white. The boys offered to paint the ducks all different colors if they would carry them and their little bob-tailed dog that was with them across the river and not tell any one that they had seen them or helped them across. The ducks agreed, and so the boys painted their feathers. Then the ducks took them on their backs and flew across the stream with them. Soon the girl came along and asked the ducks if they had seen anything of two young men and a white bob-tailed dog. They said that they had not seen them, and the girl was about to turn back when one white duck, whom the boys had forgotten to paint, flew up and told her that her brothers and their dog had just passed, and that the other ducks had lied to her, because the boys had painted their feathers if they would not tell her the truth. The white duck carried the girl across the river and she began again to pursue her brothers. They saw her coming and were afraid that she would overtake them, when they met three white doves. They asked the doves to take them and their dog on their backs and carry them to the sky. The doves agreed and flew to the sky with them and left them there. As the doves were flying down they flew through so much smoke that their white feathers became gray. The girl met the doves and asked them where her brothers and the little bob-tailed dog were. The doves pointed to three bright stars in the southern part of the sky. The girl looked, and when she saw that her brothers and their dog had become stars she fell dead.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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