Naughty Fish And The Tail Of The Beaver
Long, long ago, when the world was still new, Naughty Fish, a Lenape child, lived with his Great Aunt Beaver.
Naughty Fish liked to amuse himself by jumping of a high rock into the river below.
Great Aunt Beaver saw that this was dangerous. "Naughty Fish," she called, "please stop that. It is very dangerous and I do not want you to become hurt."
"I do not want to stop," Naughty Fish shouted back angrily, "I will jump off this rock if it pleases me to do so!"
"Naughty Fish," Great Aunt Beaver tried again, " if you stop, I will make you a bracelet of deer ribs. I will stick it into boiling water so that I can bend it to fit your wrist. You will be happy with it if you stop."
"Why should I listen to you?" scoffed Naughty Fish "You are nothing but an old beaver!"
"Naughty Fish," cried Great Aunt Beaver in surprise, "stop this. You are acting like a Haudenosaunee, one of the rattlesnake people!"
Naughty Fish turned his back on her.
Sad and disappointed, Great Aunt Beaver trudged back to her wikwam.
The next morning Great Aunt Beaver got up early before the sun had dried the dew off of the ground. She had to stop Naughty Fish from jumping off the rock again. She lugged a large rock from the hillside down into the water where Naughty Fish always jumped. She hoped that Naughty Fish would see the rock and not jump off for fear of being hurt. Then Great Aunt Beaver went and sat by the side of the river.
Soon Naughty Fish came running down the road. In his hand were his moccasins. He planned to jump off the rock again.
As soon as he came near, Great Aunt Beaver called to him,"Naughty Fish, do not jump! You would land on the rock and hurt yourself. I would not want you to have to see a nuwak, a doctor."
Naughty Fish narrowed his eyes at Great Aunt Beaver. "I will jump off this rock and you will not stop me!"/p>
Great Aunt Beaver ran into the water in front of Naughty Fish. "Stop," she cried.
It was too late. Naughty Fish leapt off the rock. He landed on Great Aunt Beaver's tail, making it flat. Then he climbed up onto the rock. This time Great Aunt Beaver moved out of the way. Naughty Fish jumped off the rock. He hit the rock that Great Aunt Beaver had put into the water. He hit it so hard that his arms were pushed flat against his sides and his legs were pushed together to become one. Great Aunt Beaver was very sad. She had not wanted to hurt her nephew, she had wanted to keep him from getting hurt. Now he was mad at her. Once more Great Aunt Beaver trudged slowly back to her wikwam.
That night, soon after the sun disappeared from the sky, Great Aunt Beaver prayed to Kishelemukong, the Creator.
The next morning when Great Aunt Beaver awoke, Kishelemukong was waiting by her bed. "I have come to help you." Kishelemukong said, "You said that you could not control Naughty Fish. Come, let us go down to the river."
As Great Aunt Beaver approached she could see Naughty Fish jumping into the water.
"Naughty Fish," cried Kishelemukong, "Your Great Aunt Beaver has asked you to stop jumping of that rock into the river. Why haven't you obeyed?"
"I have seen no reason to," replied Naughty Fish.
"Then I will give you a reason!" shouted Kishelemukong, "I am telling you to stop right now. If you don't you will be sorry!"
Naughty Fish jumped off the rock into the water. Great Aunt Beaver looked at Kishelemukong's face. It was as hard and as cold as stone on the side of a mountain.
As soon as Naughty Fish surfaced, Kishelemukong began to speak. "I am disappointed in you, Naughty Fish," he said, "and I am sorry to do this. I am going to teach you to respect others, not to disobey, to be silent when spoken to, and to not talk back. "
Kishelemukong would not let Naughty Fish out of the water so that he would learn some respect. He took away his voice so that he could not talk back. Most importantly, he made him forever a fish, so that the Lenni Lenape people could learn from him, and not act as badly as he had, so many years ago.
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