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Mrs. Wilson's Tales

By Harris, John, Dennis

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Book Id: WPLBN0003760738
Format Type: PDF eBook:
File Size: 3.35 MB
Reproduction Date: 7/26/2015

Title: Mrs. Wilson's Tales  
Author: Harris, John, Dennis
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Native American myths, Kathlemet myths; Wisconsin pioneer folklore
Collections: Literature, Authors Community, Anthropology, Religion, Language
Publication Date:
Publisher: Self-published
Member Page: John Harris


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Dennis Harris, B. J. (2015). Mrs. Wilson's Tales. Retrieved from

A collection of short stories inspired by Kathlamet myths, along with the original myths (sometimes explicated. The tales, as retold myths, are akin to legend and fairy tales, if perhaps rendered from the subconscious of our Wisconsin pioneer legacy.

A contemporary retelling of Kathlamet myths of now extinct language. Retold in terms of Wisconsin life in the 19th century, from early settlement to the late 1890's.

From: "The Bird-Headed Woman" On an isolated farm near the Black River lived a farmer and his wife who had recently given birth to a child. She quarreled with him because he raged at her in his religion, accusing her of wrongs she had not done to him, and so she left him and took her child to live in the woods where she had found a shack abandoned by loggers. Her husband, alienated by her, began to preach a profound and compelling gospel of sin and the everlasting hell due to sinners, and people from many farms and towns came around to listen to him. She could hear their clamor from the woods where she lived. Like the sound of a train flagged to a sudden halt in the wilderness. Crashing its clashing cars. Seething with hissing steam. At night through the trees she could see the glaring lights of kerosene lamps moving like aural globules upon the lawn and on the porch of the house where men and women gathered to listen to her husband. She went out in the night to listen, leaving her child in the shack, but feared that her child might cry and so went back. The next night she thought: “I will bathe my child in warm water and swaddle him well and put him in his cradle and when he is asleep I will go.” The child fell asleep. She left a kerosene lamp beside him and went to the farmhouse where the pilgrims had gathered. She joined them at the back of the crowd. She could not see her husband but heard him preaching and everyone was enthralled. They did not see her and when the Holy Spirit overtook them – first one woman swayed, then a man jabbered and jigged, then many shouted and danced – she too began to dance and jabber. When the daylight began to filter the night and the trees began to reappear beyond the stubble fields, a wind arose and chilled her and she recalled: “My child. He is crying.” She ran through the woods and found her shack. She heard her child crying as she came to the shack and she reproached herself for leaving it, and flung wide the door. The door was slammed shut by the wind. The kerosene lamp still lit the cradle and she took her swaddled babe into her arms, but it was not her child. It was a bundle of sticks. It was not crying. It was the wind that shrilled at the mouth of the unfit door. The Bird-Headed Woman had taken her child. She took it to her home where she lived with her brother who was also her son, who looked like a crane because of his long skinny bony legs and his long skinny bony arms and long skinny bony fingers and long nose and long skinny neck, and so she called him “Crane,” and he spoke with a voice that had several reeds in it and sounded like a harsh harmonica. The boy grew up with them. The Bird-Headed Woman was large and carried the boy on her back who clutched her feathered neck as he rode, who sometimes nuzzled it; and her neck smelt of a warm bed and woods at the same time. Crane did not like the boy and the boy did not know why. Sometimes he heard the two of them talk about his inexplicable animosity at night when they thought he was asleep. He did not understand what Crane was saying to her or what she replied. The boy grew each day as days also grow to seasons and seasons grow to years. The boy grew like the trees in their seasons, year upon year, to be larger and larger, taller and taller. He obtained the body of a young man by his turning of the seasons and the years, though he did not know it and none told him. But eventually the boy was too large and heavy for the Bird-Headed Woman to carry on her back easily and one summer she stopped doing so....

Table of Contents
Foreword Introduction to Kathlamet Texts (Franz Boas) Esther: Her Story Myth of Nikciamtca’c (told 1890) The Myth of Perpetual Motion Sun Myth (told 1891) The Story of the Bride Myth of the Swan (told 1894) Catching Sky The Copper is Speared (told 1894) The Fabulous Masked Man and his Faithful Companion: a Tale also Told as “Richard and Beau” or “Dick and Dumb” The Raccoon (told 1891) How to Make a Buck (1) Myth of the Coyote (told 1891) How to Make a Buck (2) Myth of the Salmon (told 1891) Myth of the Salmon (Variant B) (told 1894) Monsters Today (or All the World is Paper) Myth of the Elk (told 1894) The Southwest Wind: Being the True Account & Compilation of the Actual Events of October 8, 1871 Myth of the Southwest Wind (told 1894) The Bird-Headed Woman Myth of Aq!asXe’nasXena (told 1890) Jack and Beulah Rabbit and Deer (told 1894) Topping the Bill Coyote and Badger (told 1891) Blind Granny Goody’s Hairy Lips Panther and Lynx (told 1891) Cecelia and Crab Seal and Crab (told 1891) Adventures in a Wobbling World Myth of the Mink (told 1891) The Berry Girls and their Cookie Kids Robin and Salmonberry (told 1891) Panther and Owl (told 1891) Boss Boil and the Importance of Work


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