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                        Raven Steals the Sun

Very, very long ago, it was always dark. The people lived in a dim twilight so that if they wanted to see what was going on they had to light torches, but generally they stumbled about in the dreary darkness.

It was not really necessary for them to endure this discomfort. The fact was that Seagull had made off with precious Daylight and had shut it tightly up in a chest, which he had hidden secretly in his house. And he roughly said "No, no" to everyone who came and asked him to release Daylight from his prison and to allow the world again to be flooded with lovely light

Now Raven was much concerned at the discomfort of the people always stumbling about in dim darkness, so he made up his mind that some way must be found to make Seagull share precious Daylight with the world. He thought often on the matter, and one day he made a plan, which he believed would restore Daylight to all his friends.

So he made a large torch and went down to the seashore to hunt for sea urchins. These he ate greedily, and the spiney shells he carried up to Seagull's house, where he spread them thickly over the doorstep. Very soon Seagull woke up and said to himself, "if is time to get up and get some fish for breakfast." So out of his door he stepped. But alas! As he put down his feet the sharp spines of the sea-urchin shells, which he could not see in the darkness, wounded his webbed toes, so that quickly he drew back indoors, unable to put one foot to the ground so great was the pain.

Crafty Raven had been on the watch close by. Now he knocked at Seagull's door and asked if he might come in for a friendly chat. He expressed much sympathy with poor Seagull in his pain, and as Seagull told him what had happened, Raven pretended great surprise at the cruel trick, which had been played. At once he offered to remove the sharp spines if Seagull would lend him a knife, but he proceeded to use it so roughly that Seagull screamed with pain. "I cannot see what I am doing," said Raven, "I must have more light, then I shall not hurt you”. So Seagull, in his misery, pulled out from its hiding-place the precious chest in which he had imprisoned Daylight, and opened it just a crack to allow Daylight to shine through.

Then Raven set to work again with his knife, but again he purposely hurt poor Seagull so severely that Seagull screamed even more loudly than before. Raven pretended to be sorry. "Give me just a little more light," he said, "then I shall see so clearly you will have no more pain." Seagull, mad with pain, lost all caution. "Be sure you raise the lid very cautiously," he said, as he pushed the chest close to Raven. "On no account open it at all wide." But crafty Raven, having gained his object, threw the lid of the chest wide open, seized Daylight and flew right off up through the smoke-hole. And Daylight, happy to be set free from his prison, rushed forth in his full strength and flooded the whole world.

But Seagull's heart was broken. In his sore distress he cried "gwuni, gwuni, gwuni", and to this day his children never cease to make this same sad cry.

This version of the Coast Salish story is from the collection of Cowichan artist Joe Jack.

http://www.joejack.com

 

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