Be Chaste in Your Thoughts and Your Deeds (Law 7, North American Indian Tradition)

BE CHASTE IN THOUGHT AND DEEDS
BY CALLING HORSE

It was our custom and indeed a very important rule of the Great Spirit that we should honour our bodies and those of other people. This meant that while it was all right to fall in love and commit ourselves to another, one had to be careful. One had to be very cautious about sexual activity because it leads to pregnancy and to all sorts of feelings of the heart. It could lead to jealousy, or even to murder.


I remember a time when a beautiful young woman, the partner of a great brave, had her head turned by another young man. This relationship started quite innocently, but soon the two would be getting together at every opportunity, often alone. It became clear to the husband that his wife’s attention was no solely for him. Others had started to make comments to him. 

One day he followed his wife on her way to the river with her friends to do the washing. He saw her slip away into the forest. He waited quietly and after a few minutes she was followed by the young man in question. Both then disappeared into the bushes.

The two disappeared into the bushes

The two disappeared into the bushes

Our brave could scarcely contain his fury. He decided to wait until they emerged from the undergrowth. Some time later his wife reappeared rather dishevelled and alone. When she saw him she jumped , but managed to smile fairly convincingly at him.

‘Hello my beauty,’ said he. I thought you would be at the river, washing!’


’Well I’
m just going now. I had to answer a call of nature.’


‘Well .
how about answering a call of nature with me then ?’ said he, as he drew her towards him.

’No, no, not now, later, tonight, there is no time now, someone might pass us.’

‘Yes, and I know who. I can smell him on your body. It is true that the river will wash him from your skin, but it will not wash his baby from your womb. Go from me. He can have you now. I don’t want you any more.’

No amount of pleading would change the brave’s mind. The other young man was not really interested in having the girl as his wife and she had to move back with her own family, a great disgrace. No one wanted to know her as a wife except for an older man whose wife had died. She resisted his invitations for several years, but eventually became his wife and looked after him in his old age. She never bore any children.

Her husband left the tribe to wander the plains alone. Finally he joined up with another tribe and found himself another partner, not as beautiful as the first but more faithful. She adored him and bore him two sons and a daughter. They named the daughter after his first wife, unbeknown to his second wife, because although he could not bear to live with her, he loved her still and separating from her had left a great hole in his heart. His wife could never understand his moods of great sadness, but he never burdened her with these memories. She and the children were happy to have a strong, kind and dutiful husband and father.

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