Iroquois Indian Ghost Story
Sayadio in Spirit-land
A legend of the Wyandot tribe of the Iroquois relates how Sayadio, a young Indian, mourned greatly for a beautiful sister who had died young. So deeply did he grieve for her that at length he resolved to seek her in the Land of Spirits. Long he sought the maiden, and many adventures did he meet with. Years passed in the search, which he was about to abandon as wholly tin vain, when he encountered an old man, who gave him some good advice. This venerable person also bestowed upon him a magic calabash in which he might catch and retain the spirit of his sister should he succeed in finding her. He afterward discovered that this old man was the keeper of that part of the Spirit-land which he sought.
Delighted to have achieved so much, Sayadio pursued his way, and in due time reached the Land of Souls. But to his dismay he perceived that the spirits, instead of advancing to meet him as he had expected, fled from him in terror. Greatly dejected, he approached Tarenyawago, the spirit master of ceremonies, who took compassion upon him and informed him that the dead had gathered together for a great dance festival, just such as the Indians themselves celebrate at certain seasons of the year. Soon the dancing commenced, and Sayadio saw the spirits floating round in a mazy measure like wreaths of mist. Among them he perceived his sister, and sprang forward to embrace her, but she eluded his grasp and dissolved into air.
Much cast down, the youth once more appealed to the sympathetic master of ceremonies, who gave him a magic rattle of great power, by the sound of which he might bring her back. Again the spirit-music sounded for the dance, and the dead folk thronged into the circle. Once more Sayadio saw his sister, and observed that she was so wholly entranced with the music that she took no heed of his presence. Quick as thought the young Indian dipped up the ghost with his calabash as one nets a fish, and secured the cover, in spite of all the efforts of the captured soul to regain its liberty.
Retracing his steps earthward, he had no difficulty in making his way back to his native village, where he summoned his friends to come and behold his sister's resuscitation. The girl's corpse was brought from its resting-place to be reanimated with its spirit, and all was prepared for the ceremony, when a witless Indian maiden must needs peep into the calabash in her curiosity to see how a disembodied spirit looked. Instantly, as a bird rises when its cage bars are opened and flies forth to freedom, the spirit of Sayadio's sister flew from the calabash before the startled youth could dash forward and shut down the cover. For a while Sayadio could not realize his loss, but at length his straining eyes revealed to him that the spirit of his sister was not within sight. In a flash he saw the ruin of his hopes, and with a broken heart he sank senseless to the earth.