The story of the Old Woman

A man is fed up with his wife. He does not love her.  

He decides to abandon her on an island where they have been spending the summer. He expects her to die of starvation and exposure during the ensuing winter. By trickery he gets his way and sneaks off the island with his canoe. After weeping in despair, when she discovers the betrayal, the woman pulls herself together and prepares to try to survive.

Old Woman

She traps rabbits using snares made of spruce roots. She roasts the rabbits to eat and makes warm clothing out of their skins. She makes a shelter.

She finds a seal lying on the shore, kills it and butchers it for meat using a crude stone knife. She manages to live until the spring when she successfully attracts the attention of paddlers in two canoes who are travelling by the island.

They rescue her and take her to the mainland where she encounters her husband, the supposed widower, who has told everyone that his wife has died before he left the island. He nearly goes insane when he sees her. She dismisses him and proclaims their divorce. Shamed, he puts himself into exile. The woman later re-marries.

The narrator, Stevens, ends this story with the words which can be translated into English as follows: “This is a true story. It is not a legend. It is a story about the old Indians.”