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Tsimshian Texts by Franz Boas, 1902
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TxmsEn & *Lgbola

Told By Moses

There was a town in which a chief and cheftainess were living. The chieftainess had done something bad. She had a lover, but the chef did not know it. The young man loved the chieftainess very much. He often went to the place where she lived with the chief. Then the chieftainess resolved, "I will pretend to die." She pretended to be very sick, because she wanted to marry that man. After a short time she pretended to die. Then all the people cried. Before she died the chieftainess said, "Make a large box in which to bury me when I am dead." The people made a box and put her into it. They put it on the branches of a tree in the woods. The chieftaness had a spoon and a fish knife in her box. She pretended to be dead. For two nights the chief went into the woods, and sat right under the box in which the chieftainess was lying. Then he ceased to cry. Behold, there were maggots falling down from the bottom of the box. Then the chief thought, "She is full of maggots." But actually the chieftainess was scraping the spoon with her fish knife, and the scrapings looked just like maggots. In the evening her lover went into the woods. He climbed the tree and knocked on the box, saying, "Let me in, ghost!" He said so twice. Then the chieftainess replied, "Ha-ha! I pretend to make maggots out of myself in your behalf." Then she opened the cover of the box, and the man lay down with her. He did so every night. Then she came to be pregnant. The man always went up to her. The chief did not know it, but one man found it out. He told the chief. Then the chief's nephews kept watch and killed the man, and also killed the woman. Now she was really dead, and he body was putrefying. Then her child came out alive. It sucked the intestines of its mother, and therefore its name was Sucking-intestines. The child grew up in the box.

One day all the children went into the woods, shooting with bows and arrows at a target. They were not far from this tree when they were shooting. The Sucking-intestines saw them. He went down and took their arrows. Thus the children lost them again and again. Now, the children saw that the boy came from out of the grave, and they told the chief. He said, "Keep watch and try to catch him." The chief's nephews went, and behold, he came down again. While he was walking about, they caught him and took him home. They took him to the chief's house. Now he grew up, and his name was Sucking-intestines.

Now he heard that there was a chief's daughter on the other side of the hole where the heavens meet. Sucking-intestines caught a bird and skinned it. He put its skin on and flew. Then he said, "G·tgtgtgnsaaaaa!" He came to a town, and there he met a person. Then he shot a woodpecker. He skinned it, and the other person put it on. They flew on. The one bird cried, "Gtgtgtgnsaaaaa!" The wood-pecker accompanied him, crying, "How-how!" They flew upward. Now they came to a town. There a person said, "Son of the ghosts, you must go on farther if you want to find the place where the heavens meet." Then Sucking-intestines, who had the bird skin on, said "Gtgtgtgnsaaaaa!" and the woodpecker said, "How-how!" after Sucking-intestines had spoken. They came to many towns, and the people all said the same to them. They went on for a long time, and finally came to the hole in the sky. At the time it was always dark. There was no daylight. They found the hole, and the bird and the woodpecker flew through it. When they reached the inside of the sky, Sucking-intestines took off the skin of the bird, and the woodpecker also took off his skin. He sat down near the hole of the sky, while Sucking-intestines wen ton. He came to a spring near the chief's house. Then the chief's daughter wen out, carrying a small basket in which she was about to fetch water. She walked down to the spring in front of her father's house. Then Sucking-intestines transformed himself into the leaf of a cedar, and floated on the water. The chief's daughter dipped it up into her basket and drank it. Then she returned. She entered her father's house. After a short time she was with child. Then she gave birth to a boy. Then the chief and chieftainess were very glad. They washed him regularly, and he began to grow up. Now he was beginning to creep about, and the chief smoothed and cleaned the floor of his house. Now the child was strong. He began to cry all the time, "Hamax! hamax!" Then the chief called the people. He did not know what the boy wanted, nor why he cried; but he wanted the box that was hanging in the chief's house. This was a box in which daylight was kept hanging in one corner of his house. Its name was max. The child cried for it. The chief was annoyed. He called the people, and they entered. Then they heard the child crying aloud. They did not know what the child was saying. He cried all the time, "Hamax! hamax! hamax!"" Now one wise man who understood him said to the chief, "He is crying for the max." The chief ordered it to be taken down, and a man took it down. They laid it down, and the boy sat down near it. He was now quite large. He stopped crying, for he was glad. Then he rolled it about inside the house. He did so for four days. Sometimes he carried it to the door. Now the chief did not think of it. He quite forgot it. Then the boy really took the max. He put it on his shoulders and ran out with it. While he was running one man said, "The giant is running away with the max, ha!" Thus he received the sky, and, behold, his companion was sitting there. Then he took the skin of the bird. He put it on. His companion was sitting there. Then he took the skin of the bird. He put it on. His companion took the skin of the woodpecker, and they flew through the hole in the sky, the Giant carrying the max. At that time the world was always dark.

The Giant went on. It remained daylight. The darkness did not return. He wore something tied over his head. He arrived farther up the river. Then he put what he was wearing on his head under a stone in a steep cliff. It is there yet.

The Giant did not know where his companion had gone. It was at the mouth of the Nass river where the Giant had come down, while Lgbola had come down in the darkness at the mouth of Skeena river. The Giant went to the mouth of Nass river. It was always dark, and he carried the max about with him. Then he was afraid. He returned, and therefore the waters of the river also turned back.

He continued to go up the river in the dark. A little farther up he heard the noise of people who were catching leaves in nets from their canoes. There was a loud noise out on the river, because they were working hard. The Giant, who was sitting on the shore, said: "Throw ashore one of the things that you are catching." And those on the water answered: Where did you come from, you great liar?" They knew that it was the Giant, therefore they made fun of him. The Giant said again: "Throw ashore one of the things that you are catching." Then they scolded him. Then the Giant said, "I shall break the max;" and a person replied, "Ah, where do you come from, great liar, and where did you get what you are talking about?" The Giant repeated his request for times, but those on the water refused what he asked for. Therefore the Giant broke the max. It broke, and it was daylight. Behold, boxes floated on the water. The ghosts had been fishing in the dark. Then the Giant knew it. He did not see where they went.

Continued by Phillip...

Now TxmsEm met his brother Lgbola. They were going to Nass river. They crossed the mouth of the river, and when they reached the middle, a fog arose. Lgbola had taken off his hat and put it upside down in his canoe. Then the fog lay on the surface of the water. TxmsEm lost his way and paddled about; but Lgbola did not paddle, he just drifted. Then TxmsEm became afraid. He called his brother: "Dear Lgbola!" But Lgbola did not answer. He called to him again, and he was nearly crying. He called him: "Oh, my good brother!" Then Lgbola pitied him. He gathered the fog, took it off from the water, and put it in his hat; then he put the hat on, and the fog cleared away. Then they paddled across. They camped at Graveyard point, intending to eat there. TxmsEm went to get fuel and to look for water. After they had eaten, Lgbola said to his brother, "What are you going to drink, Giant? (Are you going to drink from the) roots of little alder trees?" After they had eaten he gave TxmsEm his basket-cup. TxmsEm took it and went toward the water, but there was no water in the brook. It was lost. Then TxmsEm worried. He knew at once that Lgbola had caused the water to be lost. He returned. His voice was almost choked by tears when he spoke: "Oh, dear Lgbola, chief, please don't tease me. I am very thirsty." Then Lgbola pretended to drink. He took the basket and dipped water up himself. Then TxmsEm drank. Then the flood tide set in.

Then they went up Nass river, each in his own canoe. When they gad gone up to the point where the current runs downward, TxmsEm said, "Let us gamble." Lgbola agreed, though he did not care. He asked TxmsEm, "What game shall we play?" TxmsEm replied: "Let us have a shooting match." Lgbola consented. Then TxmsEm prepared a rock. He split it that they might shoot at it, and said: "Whoever hits this crack shall win the game, either I or you. Let us stake Skeena river against Nass river." Lgbola agreed. It is said that Lgbola had a nice box for his quiver, but TxmsEm just made a bow and an arrow. Then he took two stones on which they sat down. They talked to each other, and TxmsEm wished to sit nearest the water. He placed his grandchildren nearby. Lgbola placed the Canada Jays, his grandchildren, nearby. Now Lgbola said, "You shoot first, brother Giant." But the Giant replied, "No; let us shoot at the same time." Then Lgbola agree. TxmsEm said to his grandchildren, the Crows, "Fly ahead! If my arrow should not quite reach the aim, take it up and stick it into the stone, but pull out Lgbola's arrow and put it away." They did so. They shot at the same time. As soon as the brothers shot, the Crows flew ahead. Lgbola saw clearly when his arrow struck the stone, but TxmsEm said, "I hit it." But Lgbola said, "No; I hit it." "No; I hit it," said TxmsEm. He was very happy while he was saying this, therefore he used the Tsimshian language. Then Lgbola said he knew that he had lost. He saw the Crows taking the arrow and putting it away, while they put TxmsEm arrow into the cleft. Lgbola said, "You have won, brother Giant. Now the olachen will come to Nass river twice every summer." And TxmsEm said, "The salmon of Skeena river shall always be fat." Thus they divided what TxmsEm had won at Nass river. TxmsEm was again hungry. What should he eat? Then Lgbola went toward sunrise, while TxmsEm went down to the ocean.

He did still another thing. He heard that the daylight was hidden in a box called max. He went to get it. He transformed himself into a leaf of cedar, and he wished that the chief's daughter should be thirsty. The chief's daughter went to fetch water, and drank the leaf. Then she was pregnant and had a boy. His grandfather was very glad. The child grew up very quickly. He crept about. Then he began to cry very much. His grandfather worried because the boy was crying all the time. He said, "Call an old man. Maybe he will understand what he says." The old man sat down. Now the boy was crying, "Hamaha" all the time. Then the old man said to teh chief, "I thought it was difficult to understand what the prince says. He cries for the max." The box in which the daylight was kept hanging in the corner of the chief's house. The child stopped crying when he heard what the old man said. The chief took the box off and put it down near the child, who was TxmsEn. Then he stretched out his hand and clapped the box in which the daylight was, Then his grandfather was glad. Now TxmsEn was playing with the box and moved it about in the house. He made it run about in his grandfather's house. ON the following morning TxmsEn rose from his mother's bed. He took the box and played with it all day. He went out of the house and made it roll about on the street. He only pretended to play with it. When he was outside, he took it and ran away with it. One man saw him and said, " TxmsEn is running away with the sun-box!" Then TxmsEn ran away. He had assumed his full size which he had when going about murdering. Then he ran.

He came down the river and arrived at its mouth. It was dark there, and he heard the ghosts catching olachen at night. he said, "Give me one of the things you have caught." One man replied, "Who is talking there? That is the great TxmsEn; ha, ha, tss!" After awhile TxmsEn said again, "Give me one of the things you caught, or I will tear the sun-box." Then all the ghosts said, "Ha, great slave; you great Scabby-shin! Where did you obtain what you are talking about, great slave, great thief?" And TxmsEn was angry. He opened the sun-box a little and it became light. Behold, large boxes floated on the water and capsized. They were the canoes of the ghosts. Then he shut the box again, and the ghosts continued to catch olachen.

*Note: There is a bar over the "a" at the end of this word which is the long vowel sound.