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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

The Loyal Sweetheart

Long ago, in a village beside a river, there lived a beautiful girl whom many a young man wished to marry. But she smiled on all alike and encouraged no one. Her name was Blue Flower.

Among her admirers was a young man who was especially skilled in hunting. For many moons he looked upon the girl with longing, but without any hope that he could win her favour.

At last, one autumn, she gave him reason to hope. And so he dared to consult the old woman of the village who carried proposals of marriage. He wanted to know his chances before he departed on the winter's hunt.

To the young man's great joy, the marriage-maker brought back a favourable reply from both the girl and her father. The message made him determined to win even greater fame as a hunter. He wanted to prove to the girl's father that he was indeed worthy of so beautiful a daughter.

"Will you wait for me until we return from he winter's hunt?" he asked her.

The girl gave her consent to his plan and her promise to remain true to him, whatever happened. She added the promise, "If you do not return, I will remain a maiden all my life. I will never marry any other man."

So the young man completed his plans to join the others of the village on the long winter's hunt. On the evening before their departure, he and the girl had a final canoe ride on the river. Then he sang his farewell in this love song of his people:

Often on a lonely day, my love,
You look on the beautiful river
And down the shining stream.

When last I looked upon you,
How beautiful was the stream,
How beautiful was the moon
And how happy were we!
Since that night, my fair one,
I have thought of you always.

Often on a lonely day, my love,
You look on the beautiful river
And down the shining stream.

When we paddled the canoe together
On that beautiful water,
How fair the mountains looked
How beautiful the red leaves
As the gentle wind whirled them!

After the winter snows,
When spring has come once more
We will paddle again together.
Then the leaves will be green,
The mountains fresh and fair.

Often on a lonely day, my love,
Look on the beautiful river,
Down the shining stream,
And know that spring will come.

Next day, the hunters departed. The old men, the women, and the children settled down to finish the autumn's work of preparing for the winter.

Not many days afterward, a war party attacked the village and destroyed it. They carried away as prisoners all the young girls. Among them was the promised bride of the hunter. When the warriors reached their home territory, they persuaded, or forced, many of the young women to become their wives. But Blue Flower refused to submit. The warriors threatened to burn her alive. Still she refused. She preferred death to breaking her promise to her sweetheart.

The warriors complained to their chief and asked that she be burned at the stake. But he would not listen to the cruel counsel of his men. Instead, he gave the girl a longer time in which to make up her mind. Her bravery greatly impressed him. He would save her life now, he thought, and marry her later to one of his best warriors, in order that their children might become a race of heroes.

Weeks passed, and the hunters returned. When they found their village in ashes, they knew which war party had struck. The young hunter, singing his vengeance song, gathered a host of warriors and started northward. They surprised the largest village of their enemy, killed many people, and took others as prisoners.

When the fighting was over, the victors and their friends who had been held captive by the enemy were reunited. There was great rejoicing. Perhaps happiest of all were the young hunter-warrior and Blue Flower, who had remained true to him in spite of threats and promises.

The young man, still thirsting for revenge, wanted to torture and burn the enemy that had been taken prisoners. But his sweetheart stopped him. She reminded him that they had not treated her cruelly.

She was a gentle and peace-loving girl, as well as a loyal sweetheart. In a short time, she became a loyal wife.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.