How a Wicked Woman Burned
Men tell a tale of two rich chiefs, River Chief and Hill Chief. River Chief lived by a river and had a handsome son who was a clever fisherman, and an ugly daughter whose name was Ti. Hill Chief had no children. River Chief sent Ti to him as a wife, and Hill Chief took her; she was a good and gentle woman and Hill Chief did not mind her ugliness.
After a time new life began to grow inside Ti, and Hill Chief prayed the child might be a boy. But his head wife, who was a wicked woman and had borne no children, became jealous of Young Ti and resolved to kill the baby as soon as it was born. She took ugly Ti to midwives and she gave birth to a son. The head wife put the baby in a box and threw it in the river, and took a kitten to Hill Chief.
“Chief, see what the ugly girl called Ti bore you.”
Hill Chief gazed in surprise and shame at the kitten.
“I have never heard of such a thing before,” he said. “It is against nature.” He grieved that the blessing of a son was denied him. Being filled with shame he forbade any mention of this thing inside his house; and the head wife abused and misused Ti like a common slave, causing her much unhappiness.
The box with the baby floated down the river and was snared in a fishing net cast by the son of River Chief. He took the box to his father; they opened it, found the baby boy, and cared for it.
Again new life grew in Ti, and she bore second child, also a son. The head wife bound a cloth about Ti’s eyes, as she had done before, and Ti could not see. The head wife put this second baby in a box and threw it in the river; and she said to Ti:
“You have borne a baby dog. How is this?”
Ti wept and shook her head in grief.
“No,” she cried, “it was a child, my child. What have you done with it?”
But the head wife took a puppy to Hill Chief , saying:
“Your ugly wife Ti has borne the child of a dog, as ugly as herself.”
Hill Chief was amazed: first a kitten, and then a puppy. A curious affair. For shame he ordered that no one in his house should speak of this.
The second boy was also discovered in the river by the son of the River Chief, and saved; and the two baby boys grew up to handsome youths. River Chief began to suspect the two children belonged to Hill Chief, and one day he called his daughter to his side and asked:
“Ti, how is it that you have borne no children for your husband.?”
“I did! I have borne two children. But each time I bore a child the head wife bound a cloth about my head so that I could not see, and took the babies from me. I saw neither of them, and what she did with them I do not know. On the first occasion she gave a kitten to my husband, saying I had borne a kitten; on the second occasion she gave a pup to my husband, saying I had borne a puppy! But no one would believe it was not true. Each time I heard my baby cry; it was not the cry of an animal!”
River Chief realized that the two young men he and his son had raised belonged to Ti and Hill chief; and on the following day he said to the two boys:
“Today I send you to your father, your real father, who is Hill Chief and an honorable man. Go but do not tell him who you are, and return.”
He also warned them not to reveal their secret to their mother until the time was ripe. The two youths went to Hill Chief:
and when he saw his own two sons, not knowing them he wept with sorrow that he had no sons of his own. He accepted them into his house and honored them, and sent them to the head wife’s house to eat the best of food. the two lads saw the head wife scolding and beating their gentle mother, and watched her drive her from the house saying such an ugly creature was not fit company for two handsome young men.
The two boy’s bowels burned with anger, but they said nothing. On the next day they went back to their ‘father’ by the river.
At the proper time River Chief returned with them to Hill Chief, and there he asked Hill Chief to assemble all the people of the town to hear important words. to the gathering he said:
“You see before you two young men, both noble men of royal birth; it is thought they are my sons, but now their story can be told. Some years ago I gave my daughter Ti to Hill Chief as his wife. Ti bore two sons, but Hill Chief’s head wife, being evil, threw them in the river; my own son fund and saved them, and they have lived in my family until now. I now give them back to Hill Chief with my blessing.”
The two youths went to their father and embraced him, and Hill Chief wept tears of joy, for his greatest wish had been suddenly fulfilled. He called Ti to his side, and honored her.
All the town rejoiced, and shouted for the head wife’s blood. The head wife cowered in the corner, sick with fear. Men brought her before the Chief, and she groveled in the dirt and begged for mercy.
“Mercy?” he cried. “Men, tie her to a post in the market place. Put sticks about her feet and light them, so that she may slowly burn.”
Thus the wicked head wife burned alive, Ti gained honor and the love of her husband and two sons, and the two great Chiefs united in rejoicing with their sons and wives.