Illustration: "Only Stories" by Lance Foster
Hand-signed notecard with quality graphic reproduction
is available for purchase at Lance Foster's website.
The Bee King and the Snake's Daughters
An old Ioway story.
There was once an old witch who had a snake for a husband, and even he
was too good for her. She lived in a lodge
by a stream, and he under a rock hard by, and nobody but the moon and
the owl knew that they were married.
time they had two daughters beautiful in the face as the most
beautiful of maidens, but with cold and scaly bodies.
The daughters played on the land and in the water, happily and
without knowing that they were not as other girls;
but their mother knew, and if strangers appeared, covered them
closely with fine garments curiously embroidered.
When they were grown no man could see them and not love them, no man
could touch them and not hate them, so
their lovers all became enemies, and they raged furiously and came to
hate all human kind.
No man took them to his
lodge, therefore, in accordance with their father's advice, they
married snakes. After that they laid all day in the sun
and smiled, that they might entrap the unwary, for each had a poisoned
arrow given her by her father on her wedding
night -- an arrow endowed with such deadly cunning and power that it
never failed to kill whosoever it was aimed at,
and always flew back to its owner's hand after it had done its
Each had also a bow strung with her
mother s hair. This bow told her who was coming, and, if he was a
charmed man, the one spot where he could be
Now, this was very terrible, so after awhile all
knew of the witch's daughters, and hated them
exceedingly because of their hapless victims. Everything in the land
went on very badly, for when one place was
shunned the snake's daughters secretly removed to a new one.
the king of the bees went by. He was ruler of
the trees as well as the bees, so those bows of wood dared give no
warning of his approach, nor tell his name and
title, for he held up his hand before them in token of silence.
strings of the bows hissed like serpents, but that told
nothing but that an enemy was by.
When the sisters saw him they smiled and
He approached, smiling in turn. Instantly they fitted the venomed
arrows to the strings, but the bows bent like grass
and the arrows fell. Hissing louder than the bowstrings' the sisters
picked up the arrows and flung them like darts.
The strange, ugly man before them laughed till the sky and the earth
rang with the sound, and caught the arrows in
When the sisters saw their weapons were powerless they tried to fly,
but were given no time to get away, for the
king had a stone nose, and the breath from it worked enchantment. He
breathed on the arrows, and flung them at the
sisters. They were pierced to the heart, but did not die as women
do. From their wounded bodies came no blood,
only water, stagnant and dark. As it poured out they fell. Their fall
was heavy, the ground shook under them, the trees
near by staggered as if their roots were loosened from the soil.
Where the sisters fell they laid. No one buried them,
but no matter, they did not harm the air. Their father and mother did
not bury them because they did not know where
they were, and did not find them for a long time; neither did their
husbands; but the birds did, and the wolves and the
worms; nevertheless, none of these creatures molested them. The reason
was, the sisters were changed into stone by
their own arrows.
Many have seen them, and know
this to be true.
Return to top
Return to Myths and Legends page
Return to Culture main page