Long, long ago, when the world was new and the animals could talk, clams were the most talkative of all. And no wonder, for their mouths stretched the full length of their bodies. The clams not only loved to talk, they told stories as well. Some of the stories were true and some were not. 2 “Did you know,” said one clam to Eagle, who was eating a fish on the beach, “that Raven says he is a much better hunter than you? ” 3 Eagle’s feathers ruffed in annoyance. “Perhaps that is true,” scoffed Eagle, “if kicking at carrion can be called ‘hunting. ” 4 Once when Otter came down to the beach to splash in the water, another clam said to him, “l don’t think you make yourself look foolish when you come down to play in the waves. ” 5 “Who said I look foolish? ” demented Otter. 6 “l really shouldn’t say,” said the clam, “but you might go and ask Beaver. Beaver thinks that everyone should work as hard as she does. ” 7 It wasn’t long before all the animals were quarreling with each other, and all because of the stories that the clams were spreading.
Raven finally got so tired of all the gossiping that he called a council meeting and invited all the animals. Bear, Eagle, Mink, Otter, Wolf, and many others came. It was decided at that meeting that, in order to preserve the peace, a way must be found to put a stop to these unkind stories. 8 “Beaver,” said Raven, “we cannot decide how to punish the clams. You are a good worker. We know that you will keep working until you discover a solution, so we have chosen you to rid us of this problem. ” 9 Beaver thought and thought, and at last she thought of a plan.
She gathered up armloads of the clams?every last one of them?and carried them to the edge of the water. 10 “What are you doing? ” they asked in alarm. 1 1 muff shall see soon enough,” replied Beaver. “Never again will you spread your mean-spirited tales. ” 12 Beaver waited there until the tide went out and then, quickly, she buried each and every one of those clams in the sand. The clams were outraged! When Bear came down to walk along the beach, one of the clams opened its mouth to tattle on Beaver. But as soon as it did, sand and water ran in.
The clam sputtered and spit out the water. Again it opened its mouth, but as soon as it did, the sand and water ran into it, and all the poor clam could do was spit out the water and close its mouth. 13 Even today, if you walk along the beach at low tide, you might see a little spurt of water squirting up from beneath the sand here and there. That is Just a clam spitting out the water it swallowed when it opened its mouth to gossip!