Au Pays de L’Ours Noir: Part 29

Excerpt from Au Pays de l’Ours Noir,

Dispatches of a Missionary 1897, by Father

Adrien Gabriel Morice




Translated by Neil Wylie and Garry Girvan

Mankind Acquires Water

They still however had no water and they were thirsty. As they could not obtain any from the noble old man who alone possessed it. Oestas, who was very cunning said to himself that he would indeed succeed in getting some for them.

This same old man had a daughter who was a virgin. Now one day as she was leaning over to drink from a barrel of water that was constantly guarded at the corner of the lodge, she saw a leaf from a fir tree which was floating on the surface. So as not to swallow it, she pushed it gently aside with her hand and wished to begin drinking again but the leaf would always return to the same place with the result that after many an effort to avoid it, abandoning the effort she swallowed it with the water.

A short time later she perceived that she had conceived and when the time for it came, she brought into the world a by who was none other than the cunning Oestas, who by design had transformed himself into a fir leaf.

He was hardly born when he began to grow prodigiously quickly. His favourite pastime was to have fun rolling the barrel which contained the water towards the door. His mother never failed to to put it into its usual place inside the lodge. when the child was at the walking stage, he even happened to roll it a fairly great distance.

Finally when he had become a man he escaped one day with it to distribute its contents to mankind. The water which he spilled by sprinkling the ground with his index fingers formed the rivers; the lakes and the sea resulted from complete handfuls of water that he threw here and there while walking. When he had finished his distribution he threw what remained in the barrel to the earth, thus forming  what we now call François Lake, which explains the length of this lake.

It is in this way that Oestas gave us water.

Oestas is the legendary character of the Carriers and the Babines and under another name, of all the tribes of British Columbia. His numerous adventures would provide the material for a small volume.


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