The Snake Husband

There was a woman who left her village to get some firewood. She heard someone whistling at her from a distance. She looked around and saw that it was a very handsome man who was whistling. He made a sign for her to come. She went to him and they talked, and he persuaded her to go away with him. He said to her, "You will only be gone for three days. At the end of the third day, some of the villagers will find you." So she went off with him. They traveled a long distance until they came to a cave. He told her, "You will stay here for three days, here in my house." She thought he meant three days, but it was really three years. Meanwhile, her people hunted and hunted for her, and at last, after three years, they found her in the cave. Her husband was away trapping. He had always provided her with lots of meat and birds and skins. She told her people all about what she had been doing, and while she was talking, she saw her husband coming. But now he looked different, not like the man she had followed into the cave. He said to her, "Your people have found you at last, and so your time is up. I am not a man at all, but a rattlesnake." At that she gazed at him as he dropped to the ground, and there before her lay a big timber rattler. Her people told her that she shouldn't have paid attention to that whistling she heard when she was in the woods. "When you hear a noise like that in the woods, you don't look around," they told her. (As told by an unidentified Peoria informant to Truman Michelson, 1916; after Knoepfle 1993)