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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Raven Makes an Ocean Voyage"

Raven Makes an Ocean Voyage

One day Raven was sitting on a cliff near the sea when he saw a large whale passing close along the shore.

"I have an idea!" said he. "I'm going to try something new." Then he called out to the whale, "When you come up again, shut your eyes and open your mouth wide, and I'll put something in it."

Then he drew down his mask, put his drill for making fire under his wing, and flew out over the water. Very soon the whale came up again and did as he had been told. Raven, seeing the wide open mouth, flew straight down the whale's throat. The whale closed his mouth, gave a great gulp, and down he went to the bottom of the sea.

Raven stood up, pushed up his beak, and looking about, found himself at the entrance to a fine room, at one end of which burned a lamp. He went in and was surprised to see a beautiful young woman sitting there. The place was clean and dry, the roof being supported by the whale's spine, while its ribs formed the walls. The lamp was supplied from a tube that extended along the whale's backbone, from which oil constantly but slowly dripped into the lamp.

When Raven stepped in, the woman started up in alarm and cried out, "How came you here? You are the first man who ever came into my house."

"I came in through the whale's throat," said Raven as politely as he knew how, for the woman was young and fair to look upon. Moreover, he had already guessed that she was the inua or spirit of the whale. "I should like to stay a while."

"As you cannot get out at present, it seems that you will have to stay. Whether you like it, or whether I like it, you appear to be my guest, so I must prepare food for you."

She brought food which she served with berries and oil. "These are berries which I gathered last summer," she said.

For four days he remained there as the guest of the whale's spirit, and found it a very pleasant experience; but he continually wondered what the tube was that ran along the roof of the house. Whenever the spirit woman left the room she said, "You must on no account touch that tube," and that only served to make him the more curious.

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