Tales from Temagami - Land of Deep Water

The Origin of Bats

The Ayas'e family was a large family. they lived in a camp. Very often they used to go picking berries, for their country was a rocky country where berries abounded. Very often some of the berry-pickers would get lost and never be found again. It was thought that some creature made a prey of them and ate them.

One time one of the Ayas'e men was travelling. On his way he came across a kind of cabin of rock, from the top of which smoke was rising and in front of which a number of human skulls hung in the opening. Now this Ayas'e managed to enter. By being very careful and not touching the skulls, he gained the inside of the rock house without making any noise. These skulls were put there to rattle when anybody tried to pass. When Ayas'e got inside, he he beheld two old blind women. As soon as they became aware of his presence, one of them said, "We had better begin to cook something and we will find out if Ayas'e is passing here." Now these old women had some grease in a bark dish and one of them put some of the grease in a cooking pail. When she did this, Ayas'e pulled it out with his hand and ate it. Then she took the spoon to taste her grease, but found it gone. So she put another lump in the dish. Ayas'e took this, and when she started to dip it in ,it too, was gone. This happened three or four times. At last the old woman said, "Ayas'e must have passed; somebody told us that Ayas'e was going to pass. He must have passed now"..Then she took a stick which she used to poke the fire with and began feeling all around , poking in the corners of the wigwam to find if Ayas'e were there. Every time she came near poking him, he moved to another part of the wigwam, so she could not reach him. Pretty soon she touched him with the poker annd then he took off his coat of fisher-skin which he was wearing and threw it into a door-way. The old women jumped up and when they felt the fur coat they thought it was Ayas'e trying to escape through the door. Now these old women had a sharp pointed bone at each elbow. With this pointed bone they began stabbing the fur coat in their haste to kill Ayas'e, and pretty soon in their blind fury they fell stabbing each other, each one thinking she was stabbing Ayas'e. they killed each other. One of the old women said before she died, "I believe you hit me by mistake." It was too late: they both died.

Now Ayas'e in the wigwam sat down and looked at them a long time. Then he dragged them outside and looked at them a long time. All around the wigwam he saw the men's and women's bones, the bones of the victims ofthese two old blind women. Then he knew that all of his lost people had been killed by the old women and eaten. They were cannibals in the shape of monster bats, large enoughto kill and eat people. Then Ayas'e took their bodies and cut them up into small pieces. Then he threw into the air and they sailed off, transformed into small bats as we see them to-day. I did not see any more.

the End
recorded by Dr. F.G. Speck in 01913