The Legend of Camosund (1000 Words)
By Norma M. Freeman ©April, 2015
With her long, shiny braid, her dark eyes, and her elegance and grace, Camosund was as beautiful as she was kind. She was beloved in her village for these things, and because where she spent her time or touch, living things prospered. The fields and forests surrounding her favorite walks burst forth with diverse, robust plants and game. Where she swam, the waters became prolific with fish. If she sat holding the hands of the ill they would rally; the dying would be freed from pain and fear.
All this goodness also elicited jealousy. Other maidens resented her, especially when their Maman’s would carp, “Och, why can’t you be more like Camosund?” But hard feelings evaporated when Camosund later praised their Maman for raising an excellent daughter, extolling their accomplishments.
Transformer’s jealousy, however, only grew in depth and bitterness. He had powers, too, and before Camosund came of age, the villagers appealed to him for assistance. If soil was depleted, he would slide his hands through and crops would improve. If the fishing nets were sparse, he would stroke the water and the yield would increase.
The villagers were thankful for Transformer’s gifts, but they could not like him. He was arrogant and greedy, and exacted excessive payments for his services. He showed no deference to the Chief or the Shaman, which incensed some and frightened others. In contrast, Camosund was reserved and modest, and shared her talent freely and reverently. When she accepted gifts, she divided them with those in need. The villagers naturally turned to her.
Transformer sullenly gnawed on the problem and came up with the perfect solution. If he married Camosund, he would own her and her talent. Whoever wanted her, would have to go through him. He contrived to meet Camosund alone when she was on a solitary walk.
“My dear, Camosund,” he greeted her. “How beautiful you are.”
Camosund bowed her head appropriately, but with no warmth in her eyes.
“I have been thinking of you, My Dear. I have decided to bestow on you the honour of being my wife.” A confident smile stretched his face, and he held his hand out to her, sure that she would take it with humility. Camosund ignored the hand and regarded him silently. “We shall see,” she said; then she stepped around him and continued her walk.
Transformer was aghast! He was handsome, gifted, and wealthy–a desired catch. Maidens were forever giving him the eye and married women stole into his tent at night. Yet that chit, who had just come of age, treated him with indifference! His jealousy ramped up sharply to hatred.
Transformer approached the Chief.
“I have chosen a wife,” he stated, when most village lads would ask.
“It is long past time,” the Chief replied, “Who have you picked?”
“I see. Well, we will have to visit the Shaman.”
“Why? You can decree it without the Shaman’s opinion.”
“Not in this case, which you should know!” The Chief spoke with annoyance.
The Shaman listened to Transformer, then stated, “It is not to be.”
“Why not? Why should you stand in our way?” Transformer yelled.
“You speak as though Camosund has agreed and accepted you. Is that so?” Shaman asked.
“She will,” Transformer said, through clenched teeth.
“It is not to be,” repeated Shaman. Transformer fisted his hands
and stalked away.
Transformer again waylaid Camosund when she was alone and isolated.
“You!” He growled and grabbed her arm. “You turned the Chief and Shaman against me!”
“No. I have not even spoken with them.” Camosund spoke in a straightforward manner, and did not bother to struggle against Transformer’s hold.
“You don’t have to speak; you bewitch them with a look.”
“I do nothing with intent. Things happen, and others ascribe them to me.” Her eyes were large and ingenuous. Transformer was taken aback… he believed her. Yet, it was inconceivable: he worked so assiduously to hone his talent. It made his anger flare even hotter.
“Liar!” he yelled and shook her, and shook her, and shook her harder.
At first she struggled, and denied, then her head snapped back and she quieted and collapsed like a rag doll. When Transformer came to himself, he realized Camosund was dead. Appalled and thrilled at the same time, he dropped her, and quickly, quietly sped away.
When Camosund’s body was found, the villagers entered a prolonged period of grieving. The women dressed her in the finest clothing and jewels. She was so beautiful, they could not consent to bury her, so the men placed her body in a hollowed boat and set her adrift at that place where fresh water from the river met the salt water from the sea.
The boat eddied with the tide, until a storm blew up and swept it out to sea. Even after it was gone, villagers would kneel before the water, grieving their loss, and praising and entreating Camosund’s spirit. At that place, the plants grew prolifically and fish and game were found in abundance.
Transformer scoffed at the villager’s homage, but then his talents disappeared, his hair fell from his head, and his joints began to ache. Later his skin erupted in boils, and he came down with a raging fever. The villagers watched him with suspicion and disgust, until they drove him away, fearing that whatever ailed him would spread through their ranks. He died somewhere alone in the forest, unmarked and unremarked.
Years later a pilgrim artist stumbled on the village. He watched them praying at the estuary and sprinkling themselves with the brackish water. They shared the story of Camosund; he was so moved he carved her likeness in stone at the spot where her spirit dwells.
Even today, tourists and residents seek that secluded figurine. They pray, and stroke their fingers on Camosund’s cheek. They say her spirit is palpable, and in her presence living things prosper.