There was once
a man who was very fond of his wife. After they had been
married for some time they had a child, a boy. After
that, the woman got sick, and did not get well. The
young man did not wish to take a second woman. He loved
his wife so much. The woman grew worse and worse.
Doctoring did not seem to do her any good. At last she
died. The man used to take his baby on his back and
travel out, walking over the hills crying. He kept away
from the camp. After some time, he said to the little
child: "My little boy, you will have to go and live with
your grandmother. I am going to try and find your
mother, and bring her back." He took the baby to his
mother's lodge, and asked her to take care of it, and
left it with her. Then he started off, not knowing where
he was going nor what he was going to do.
He traveled toward the Sand Hills.
The fourth night out he had a dream. He dreamed that he
went into a little lodge, in which lived an old woman.
This old woman said to him, "Why are you here, my son?"
He said: "I am mourning day and night, crying all the
while. My little son, who is the only one left me, also
mourns." "Well," said the old woman, "for whom are you
mourning?" He said: "I am mourning for my wife. She died
some time ago. I am looking for her." "Oh!" said the old
woman, "I saw her. She passed this way. I myself am not
powerful medicine, but over by that far butte lives
another old woman. Go to her, and she will give you
power to enable you to continue your journey. You could
not go there by yourself without help. Beyond the next
butte from her lodge, you will find the camp of the
The next morning he awoke and went
on to the next butte. It took him a long day to get
there, but he found no lodge there, so he lay down and
went to sleep. Again he dreamed. In his dream, he saw a
little lodge, and an old woman came to the door-way and
called him. He went in, and she said to him: "My son,
you are very poor. I know why you have come this way.
You are seeking your wife, who is now in the ghost
country. It is a very hard thing for you to get there.
You may not be able to get your wife back, but I have
great power, and I will do all I can for you. If you do
exactly as I tell you, you may succeed." She then spoke
to him with wise words, telling him what he should do.
Also she gave him a bundle of medicine, which would help
him on his journey.
Then she said: "You stay here for a
while, and I will go over there [to the ghosts' camp],
and try to bring some of your relations; and if I am
able to bring them back, you may return with them, but
on the way you must shut your eyes. If you should open
them and look about you, you would die. Then you would
never come back. When you get to the camp, you will pass
by a big lodge, and they will say to you, 'Where are you
going, and who told you to come here?' You will reply,
'My grandmother, who is standing out here with me, told
me to come.' They will try to scare you. They will make
fearful noises, and you will see strange and terrible
things; but do not be afraid."
Then the old woman went away, and
after a time came back with one of the man's relations.
He went with this relation to the ghosts' camp.
When they came to the big lodge, some one called out and
asked the man what he was doing, and he answered as the
old woman had told him to do. As he passed on through
the camp, the ghosts tried to scare him with all kinds
of fearful sights and sounds, but he kept up a brave
He came to another lodge, and the
man who owned it came out, and asked him where he was
going. He said: "I am looking for my dead wife, I mourn
for her so much that I cannot rest. My little boy, too,
keeps crying for his mother. They have offered to give
me other wives, but I do not want them. I want the one
for whom I am searching."
The ghost said to him: "It is a
fearful thing that you have come here. It is very likely
that you will never go away. There never was a person
here before." The ghost asked him to come into the
lodge, and he went.
Now this chief ghost said to him:
"You will stay here four nights, and you will see your
wife; but you must be very careful or you will never go
back. You will die right here."
Then the chief went outside and
called out for a feast, inviting this man's
father-in-law and other relations, who were in the camp,
saying, "Your son-in-law invites you to a feast," as if
to say that their son-in-law was dead, and had become a
ghost, and had arrived at the ghost camp.
Now when these invited people, the
relations and some of the principal men of the camp, had
reached the lodge, they did not like to go in. They
called out, "There is a person here." It seems as if
there was something about him that they could not bear
the smell of. The ghost chief burned sweet pine in the
fire, which took away this smell, and the people came in
and sat down. Then the host said to them: "Now pity this
son-in-law of yours. He is seeking his wife. Neither the
great distance nor the fearful sights that he has seen
here have weakened his heart. You can see for yourselves
he is tender-hearted. He not only mourns for his wife,
but mourns because his little boy is now alone with no
mother; so pity him and give him back his wife." The
ghosts consulted among themselves, and one said to the
person, "Yes, you will stay here four nights; then we
will give you a medicine pipe, the Worm Pipe, and we
will give you back your wife, and you may return to your
Now, after the third night, the
chief ghost called together all the people, and they
came, the man's wife with them. One of them came beating
a drum; and following him was another ghost, who carried
the Worm Pipe, which they gave to him. Then said the
chief ghost: "Now, be very careful. Tomorrow you and
your wife will start on your homeward journey. Your wife
will carry the medicine pipe, and some of your relations
are going along with you for four days. During this
time, you must not open your eyes, or you will return
here and be a ghost forever. You see that your wife is
not now a person; but in the middle of the fourth day
you will be told to look, and when you have opened your
eyes, you will see that your wife has become a person,
and that your ghost relations have disappeared."
His father-in-law spoke to him
before he went away, and said: "When you get near home,
you must not go at once into the camp. Let some of your
relations know that you have arrived, and ask them to
build a sweat house for you. Go into this sweat house
and wash your body thoroughly, leaving no part of it,
however small, uncleansed; for if you do you will be
nothing [will die]. There is something about us ghosts
difficult to remove. It is only by a thorough sweat that
you can remove it. Take care, now, that you do as I tell
you. Do not whip your wife, nor strike her with a knife,
nor hit her with fire; for if you do, she will vanish
before your eyes and return to the Sand Hills."
Now they left the ghost country to
go home, and on the fourth day, the wife said to her
husband, "Open your eyes." He looked about him and saw
that those who had been with them had vanished, but he
found that they were standing in front of the old
woman's lodge by the butte. She came out and said:
"Here, give me back those mysterious medicines of mine,
which enabled you to accomplish your purpose." He
returned them to her, and became then fully a person
Now, when they drew near to the
camp, the woman went on ahead, and sat down on a butte.
Then some curious persons came out to see who it might
be. As they approached, the woman called out to them:
"Do not come any nearer. Go tell my mother and my
relations to put up a lodge for us, a little way from
camp, and to build a sweat house near by it." When this
had been done, the man and his wife went in and took a
thorough sweat, and then they went into the lodge, and
burned sweet grass and purified their clothing and the
Worm Pipe; and then their relations and friends came in
to see them. The man told them where he had been, and
how he had managed to get back his wife, and that the
pipe hanging over the door-way was a medicine pipe, the
Worm Pipe, presented to him by his ghost father-in-law.
That is how the people came to possess the Worm Pipe.
This pipe belongs to that band of the Piegans known as
Esk'-sin-i-tup'piks, the Worm People.
Not long after this, in the night,
this man told his wife to do something; and when she did
not begin at once, he picked up a brand from the fire,
not that he intended to strike her with it, but he made
as if he would hit her, when all at once she vanished,
and was never seen again.