Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Spirit Bride

An Algonquin Legend
There was once a young warrior whose bride died on the eve of their wedding. Although he had distinguished himself by his bravery and goodness, the death left the young man inconsolable.

He was unable to eat or sleep. Instead of hunting with the others, he just spent time at the grave of his bride, staring into the air.

However, one day he happened to overhear some elders speaking about the path to the spirit world. He listened intently and memorized the directions to the most minute detail. He had heard that the spirit world was far to the south. He immediately set out on his journey. After two weeks, he still saw no change in the landscape to indicate that the spirit world was near.

Then he emerged from the forest and saw the most beautiful plain he had ever seen. In the distance was a small hut where an ancient wise man lived. He asked the wise man for directions.

The old man knew exactly who the warrior was and whom he sought. He told the lad that the bride had passed by only a day before. In order to follow her, the warrior would have to leave his body behind and press on in his spirit. The spirit world itself is an island in a large lake that can be reached only by canoes waiting on this shore. However, the old man warned him not to speak to his bride until they were both safely on the island of the spirits.

Soon the old man recited some magic chants and the warrior felt his spirit leave his body. Now a spirit, he walked along the shore and saw a birch bark canoe. Not a stone's throw away was his bride, entering her own canoe. As he made his way across the water and looked at her, he saw that she duplicated his every stroke. Why didn't they travel together? One can only enter the spirit world alone and be judged only on one's individual merits.

Midway through the journey, a tempest arose. It was more terrible than any he had ever seen. Some of the spirits in canoes were swept away by the storm-these were those who had been evil in life. Since both the warrior and his bride were good, they made it through the tempest without incident and soon the water was as smooth as glass beneath a cloudless sky.

The island of the blessed was a beautiful place where it was always late spring, with blooming flowers and cloudless skies, never too warm or too cold. He met his bride on the shore and took her hand. They had not walked ten steps together when a soft sweet voice spoke to them-it was the Master of Life.

The Master told them that the young warrior must return as he came; it wasn't his time yet. He was to carefully trace his steps back to his body, put it on, and return home. He did this and became a great chief, happy in the assurance that he would see his bride once again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Partridge Spirit

An Algonquin Legend
One red autumn, two brothers went on a hunting expedition for their tribe. They come to the source of the Penobscott river and there they stayed all winter. They had no woman with them to do all the tasks that make a hunter thankful.

So most of the daily tasks fell upon the younger brother who said to his older brother, "I wish there were a woman in our wigwam to mend and cook, to sew and clean for us."

"Well, our mother and sisters are at home, brother. We must do the best we can," replied the older brother. By the time spring came around, their snowshoes were broken and their moccasins were full of holes.

One day, when the snow was still hard and icy, the younger brother came home to find that the wigwam was clean and tidy! A fire was burning and there was hot water already boiling in the pot. He said nothing to his brother, but the next day, he returned home early in order to spy on the wigwam. In the light of the dying sun, he saw a beautiful maiden step through the woods and busy herself about the household tasks. She was smaller and more delicate than any woman he had ever seen. He stepped into the wigwam and greeted her, "Thank you, maiden, for the work you've been doing. It's very hard for hunters to be alone during the harsh winter."

She replied, "Your brother is coming. I am frightened of him. But I will see you tomorrow if you come home early." With that, she slipped away.

The young hunter said nothing to his brother, but the next day he crept home early and there was the maiden again. Together they played in the snow like children. Just before the sun went down, the young hunter begged her, "Please stay with me forever. My heart was never so happy as now."

The maiden frowned. "Speak to your brother tonight. Tell him everything. Maybe I will stay and serve you both, for I can make snowshoes and moccasins, and build canoes." With that, she slipped away.

When the elder brother came home, he listened eagerly to his young brother, then said, "It seems that we have been lucky! I would be very glad to have a woman help us and care for our camp."

The next morning, the maiden came again. Behind her she pulled a toboggan piled high with hand - sewn garments and finely worked weapons. She greeted both the brothers, who exclaimed at the beauty of the clothes and weapons. "I too am a hunter," was all she would say and she set to work.

The rest of the snowbound spring passed quickly. The maiden cared for the hunters, sewing, mending and making herself useful in ways that they both quickly took for granted. They also seemed to be particularly lucky in their hunting. They soon had many furs and were ready to return to their tribe.

When the snow began to thaw, the brothers returned home by canoe down the Penobscott river. When they were halfway down the river the maiden began to look pale and faint. "Stop!" she called out to the hunters. I can go no further." They sculled to the bank and set her down.

Now although they didn't know it, the maiden had sent out her soul back to the wigwam where they had lived all winter. "Leave me here," she begged. "Say nothing about me to your father, for he would have nothing but scorn for me."

The younger brother was heartbroken. "But I want you to stay with me forever!" He did not realize that the maiden could not come with him because she wasn't a human being at all, but one of the forest spirits.

"It cannot be," replied the maiden. "You must leave me here."

The two brothers returned to their village. When they unpacked the canoe and their family saw the heap of fine furs that they had brought back with them, there was great rejoicing. During the celebrations, the elder brother could not keep quiet about how their luck had changed. He boasted about the strange maiden who had helped them in the depths of the winter.

His father trembled and grew very angry. "All my life I have feared this very thing. My sons, that was no ordinary woman! You have been in the presence of a ghost, a forest spirit, a trickster of the snows! She is a Mikumwess, a witch that can do great harm to human beings."

The elder brother thought to himself, "She may have put a spell upon me. What a fool I've been, not to see it!"

However, the younger brother thought, "Maybe there's something in what father says. Maybe she is a forest spirit. But I didn't feel I was in danger at any time. She was my dearest friend, and I wanted her to be my wife." But he was young and was more inclined to listen to his father's fears than to the wisdom of his own heart.

The father made such a fuss about the maiden being a Mikumwess that the elder brother made a decision. "Come, brother!" he said one day. "Let's go hunting."

Taking some special arrows that were said to be good against witches, the elder brother began to track the maiden. The younger brother didn't know what they were hunting. Suddenly, the elder brother caught sight of the maiden bathing in the stream and drew his bow. At the same time, his brother saw her and started to call and wave to her, but too late! The elder brother's arrow had already flown.

Where the maiden had been swimming was now a confusion of water and feathers. Then they both saw her rise in the shape of a partridge into the sky.

The younger brother's heart was very heavy and he walked silently away. As he was sitting sadly in a birch clearing, a partridge landed at his feet and changed into the maiden. He threw himself at her feet and cried, "Forgive me! I didn't know what my brother intended! I never meant to hunt you, my dearest one!"

"Do not blame yourself," said the maiden. "I know everything. It was not your father's fault either, for he spoke from fear and ignorance. The past is forgotten already. I promise you that the best is yet to come."

And together they played in the woods, as once they had played in the snows, forgetting their sorrows. When the crows flew home to their nests, the young hunter said, I must return."

The maiden answered, "When you want to see me, come to the woods and I will be here. But, remember, do not marry anyone! Your father has a girl in mind and will speak of marriage soon." And she told him what his father would say, word for word.

He listened carefully, but was not surprised by her words. He knew for certain that she was, indeed, a forest spirit, but he was not afraid.

They kissed gently under the birch trees. "Remember," she reminded him, "if you marry, You will surely die!"

When the young man went home that night, his father spoke, just as the maiden said he would. "My son, I have found a wife for you and the wedding will be this week."

The young hunter nodded and said, "So be it!"

The young bride was brought from her family's wigwam and the wedding feast began. For four days everyone danced and ate and told stories. But on the last day, the young bridegroom began to feel ill. His family laid him upon a white bearskin, but he grew worse and worse. They tried all kinds of remedies to heal him.

But the young hunter's soul yearned for the partridge maiden and as he lay dying, his soul flew out of his body searching for her. At the moment he found her, his soul finally left his body, and they ran together through the woods, never to be parted again.

When his sorrowful family brought the bride to where the young hunter lay, they found that he was already dead. But his face was calm and happy, for he had found his true bride at last.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The mournful mystery of the Partridge-Witch; Setting forth how a young man died from love

An Algonquin Legend
Of the olden time. Two brothers went hunting in the autumn, and that as far as the head waters of the Penobscot, where they remained all winter. But in March their snow-shoes (agahmook) gave out, as did their moccasins, and they wished that a woman were there to mend them.

When the younger brother returned first to the lodge, the next day,--which he generally did, to get it ready for the elder,--he was astonished to find that some one had been there before him, and that, too, in the housekeeping. For garments had been mended, the place cleaned and swept, a fire built, and the pot was boiling. He said nothing of this to his brother; but returning the next day at the same time, found that all had been attended to, as at first. And again he said nothing; but in the morning, when he went forth to hunt, he did but go a little way, and, returning, watched, from a hidden place, the door. And there came a beautiful and graceful girl, well attired, who entered the wigwam. And he, stepping softly, looking through a hole in the hut, saw her very busy with his housekeeping.

Then he entered, and she seemed to be greatly alarmed and confused; but he calmed her, and they soon became good friends, sporting together very happily all day long like children, for indeed they were both young.

When the sun's height was little and his shadows long, the girl said, "I must go now. I hear your brother coming, and I fear him. But I will return tomorrow. Addio!" So she went, and the elder brother knew nothing of what had happened. The next day she came again, and once more they played in sunshine and shadow until evening; but ere she went he sought to persuade her to remain always. And she, as if in doubt, answered, "Tell thy brother all, and it may be that I will stay and serve ye both. For I can make the snow-shoes and moccasins which ye so much need, and also canoes." Then she departed with the day, and the elder, returning, heard from his brother all that had happened, and said, "Truly I should be glad to have some one here to take care of the wigwam and make snow-shoes."

So she came in the morning, and hearing from the younger that his brother had consented to her coming was very glad, and went away, as in baste. But she returned about noon, drawing a toboggin (sled) piled up with garments and arms, for she was a huntress. Indeed, she could do all things as few women could, whether it were cooking, needle-work, or making all that men need. And the winter passed very pleasantly, until the snow grew soft, and it was time for them to return. Till she came they had little luck in hunting, but since her coming all had gone well with them, and they now had a wonderful quantity of furs.

Then they returned in a canoe, going down the river to their village. But as they came near it the girl grew sad, for she had thrown out her soul to their home, though they knew it not, by meelahbi-give. And suddenly she said, as they came to a point of land, "Here I must leave. I can go no further. Say nothing of me to your parents, for your father would have but little love for me." And the young men sought to persuade her, but she only answered sorrowfully, "It cannot be." So they came home with their furs, and the elder was so proud of their luck and their strange adventure that he could not hold his peace, but told all.

Then his father was very angry, and said, "All my life have I feared this. Know that this woman was a devil of the woods, a witch of the Mitche-hant, a sister of the Oonahgamess and of the Ke'tahks." And he spoke so earnestly and so long of this thing that they were afraid, and the elder, being persuaded by the sire, went forth to slay her, and the younger followed him afar. So they sought her by the stream, and found her bathing, and, seeing them, she ran up a little hill. And, as she ran, the elder shot an arrow at her. Then there was a strange flurry about her, a fluttering of scattered feathers, and they saw her fly away as a partridge. Returning, they told all this to their father, who said, "You did well. I know all about these female devils who seek to destroy men. Verily this was a she Mikumwess."

But the younger could not forget her, and longed to see her again; so one day he went into the woods, and there he indeed found her, and she was as kind as before. Then he said, "Truly it was not by my goodwill that my brother shot at you." And she answered, "Well do I know that, and that it was all by your father; yet I blame him not, for this is an affair of N'karnayoo, the days of old; and even yet it is not at an end, and the greatest is to come. But let the day be only a day unto itself; the things of to-morrow are for to-morrow, and those of yesterday are departed." So they forgot their troubles, and played together merrily all day long in the woods and in the open places, and told stories of old times till sunset. And as the Kah-kah-goos, or Crow, went to his tree, the boy said, "I must return;" and she replied, "Whenever you would see me, come to the woods. And remember what I say. Do not marry any one else. For your father wishes you to do so, and he will speak of it to you, and that soon. Yet it is for your sake only that I say this." Then she told him word by word all that his father had said; but he was not astonished, for now he knew that she was not as other women; but he cared not. And he grew brave and bold, and then he was above all things. And when she told him that if he should marry another he would surely die, it was as nothing to him.

Then returning the first thing his father said was, "My son, I have provided a wife for you, and the wedding must be at once." And he said, "It is well. Let it be so." Then the bride came. For four days they held the wedding dance; four days they feasted. But on the last day he said, "This is the end of it all," and he laid him down on a white bear-skin, and a great sickness came upon him, and when they brought the bride to him he was dead.

Truly the father knew what ailed him, and more withal, of which he said nothing. But he liked the place no longer, and he and his went away therefrom, and scattered far and wide.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Flood

An Algonquin Legend
One very remarkable character reported in our legends, dimly seen through the mist of untold centuries, is Kwi-wi-sens Nenaw-bo-zhoo, meaning, in Algonquin dialect, "The greatest clown-boy in the world." When he became a man, he was not only a great prophet among his people, but a giant of such marvelous strength, that he could wield his war-club with force enough to shatter in pieces the largest pine-tree.

His hunting-dog was a monstrous black wolf, as large as a full-grown buffalo, with long, soft hair, and eyes that shone in the night like the moon. The deity of the sea saw the charming beauty of this wolf-dog, and was so extremely jealous of him, that he was determined to take his life. So he appeared before him in the form of a deer; and as the dog rushed to seize him, he was grasped by the deity and drowned in the depths of the sea. He then made a great barbecue and invited as his guests whales, serpents, and all the monsters of the deep, that they might exult and rejoice with him that he had slain the dog of the prophet.

When the seer-clown learned of the fate of his noble dog, through cunning Waw-goosh (the fox), whose keen eyes saw the deception that cost the wolf- dog his life, he sought to take revenge upon the sea-god. So he went at once to the place where the latter was accustomed to come on land with his monster servants to bathe in the sunshine, and there concealed himself among the tall rushes until the "caravan of the deep" came ashore. When they had fallen fast asleep, he drew his giant bow, twice as long as he was tall, and shot a poisoned arrow that pierced Neben Manito, the water-god, through the heart. Neben Manito rolled into the sea, and cried, "Revenge! Revenge!" Then all the assembled monsters of the deep rushed headlong after the slayer of their king. The prophet fled in consternation before the outraged creatures that hurled after him mountains of water, which swept down the forests like grass before the whirlwind. He continued to flee before the raging flood, but could find no dry land. In sore despair he then called upon the God of Heaven to save him, when there appeared before him a great canoe, in which were pairs of all kinds of land-beasts and birds, being rowed by a most beautiful maiden, who let down a rope and drew him up into the boat.

The flood raged on; but, though mountains of water were continually being hurled after the prophet, he was safe. When he had floated on the water many days, he ordered Aw-milk (the beaver) to dive down and, if he could reach the bottom, to bring up some earth. Down the latter plunged, but in a few minutes came floating to the surface lifeless. The prophet pulled him into the boat, blew into his mouth, and he became alive again. He then said to Waw-jashk (the musk-rat), "You are the best diver among all the animal creation. Go down to the bottom and bring me up some earth, out of which I will create a new world; for we cannot much longer live on the face of the deep."

Down plunged the musk-rat; but, like the beaver, he, too, soon came to the surface lifeless, and was drawn into the boat, whereupon the prophet blew into his mouth, and he became alive again. In his paw, however, was found a small quantity of earth, which the prophet rolled into a small ball, and tied to the neck of Ka-ke-gi (the raven), saying, "Go thou, and fly to and fro over the surface of the deep, that dry land may appear." The raven did so; the waters rolled away; the world resumed its former shape; and, in course of time, the maiden and prophet were united and re-peopled the world.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Giant Magicians

An Algonquin Legend
There was once a man and his wife who lived by the sea, far away from other people. They had many children, and they were very poor. One day this couple were in their canoe, far from land. There came up a dense fog; they were quite lost.

They heard a noise as of paddles and voices. It drew nearer. They saw dimly a monstrous canoe filled with giants, who greeted the little folk like friends. "Uch keen, tahmee wejeaok?" "My little brother," said the leader, "where are you going?" "I am lost in the fog," said the poor Indian, very sadly. "Ah, come with us to our camp," said the giant, who seemed to be a good fellow, if there ever was one. "Truly, ye will be well treated, my small friends, for my father is the chief; so be of good cheer!" And they, being much amazed at this gentleness, sat still in awe, while two of the giants, each putting a tip of his paddle under their bark, lifted it up and put it into their own, as if it had been a chip. And truly the giants seemed to be as much pleased with the little folk as a boy would be who had found a flying squirrel.

And as they drew near the beach, lo! they beheld three wigwams, high as mountains, in size according to that of the giants. And coming to meet them was the chief, who was taller than the rest.

"Ha!" he cried. "Son, what have you there? Where did you pick up that little brother? Noo, my father, I found him lost in the fog." "Well, bring him home to the lodge, my son!" So the giant took the small canoe in the palm of his hand, the man and his wife sitting therein, and carried them home. Then they were taken into the wigwam, and the canoe was laid carefully in the eaves, but within easy reach, about a hundred and fifty yards from the ground.

Then an abundant meal was set before them, but the benevolent host, mindful of their small size, did not give them more to eat than they would have needed for about ten years to come, and informed them in a subdued whisper, which could hardly have been heard a hundred miles off, that his name was Oscoon.

Now it came to pass, a few days after, that a company of these well-grown people went hunting, and when they returned the guests must needs pity them that they had no game in their land which answered to their size; for they came in with strings of such small affairs as two or three dozen caribou hanging in their belts, as a Micmac would carry a string of squirrels, and swinging one or two moose in their hands like rabbits. Yet, what with these and many deer, bears, and beavers, they made up in the weight of their game what it lacked in size, and of what they had they were generous.

Now the giants became very fond of the small folk, and would not for the world that they should in any way come to harm. And it came to pass that one morning the chief told them that they were to have a grand battle, since they expected in three days to be attacked by a Chenoo. Therefore the Micmac saw that in all things it was even with the giants as with his own people at home, they having their troubles with the wicked, and the chiefs their share in being obliged to keep up their magic and know all that was going on in the world. Yea, for he would be a poor powwow and a necromancer worth nothing who could not foretell such a trifle as the day and hour when an enemy would be on them!

But this time the Sakumow, or sagamore, was forewarned, and bade his little guests stop their ears and bind up their heads, and roll themselves in many folds of dressed skins, lest they should hear the deadly war-scream of the Chenoo. And with all their care they hardly survived it; but the second scream hurt them less; and after the third the chief came to them with a cheerful countenance, and bade them arise and unpack themselves, for the monster was slain, and though his four sons, with two other giants, had been sorely tried, yet they had conquered.

But the sorrows of the good are never at an end, and so it was with these honest giants, who were always being pestered with some kind of scurvy knaves or others; who would not leave them in peace. For anon the chief announced that this time a Kookwes--a burly, beastly villain, not two points better than his cousin the Chenoo--was coming to play at rough murder with them. And, verily, by this time the Micmac began to believe, without bating an ace on it, that all of these tall people were like the wolves, who, meeting with nobody else, bite one another. So they were bound and bundled up as before, and put to bed like dolls. And again they heard the horrible shout, the moderate shout, and the smaller shout, until sooel moonoodooahdigool, which, being interpreted, meaneth that they hardly heard him at all.

Then the warriors, returning, gave proof that they had indeed done something more than kick the wind, for they were covered with blood, and their legs were stuck full of large pines, with here and there an oak or hemlock, for the fight had been in a forest; so that they had been as much troubled as men would be with thistles, nettles, and pine splinters, which is truly often a great trouble. But this was their least trial, for, as they told their chief, the enemy had well-nigh made Jack Drum's entertainment for them, and led them the devil's dance, had not one of them, by good luck, opened his eye for him with a rock which drove it into his brain. And as it was, the chief's youngest son had been so mauled that, coming home, he fell dead Just before his father's door. Truly this might have been deemed almost an accident in some families; but lo! what a good thing it is to have an enchanter in the house, especially one who knows his business, as did the old chief, who, going out, asked the young man why he was lying there. To which he replying that it was because he was dead, his father bade him rise and walk, which he did straight to the supper table, and ate none the less for it.

Now the old chief, thinking that perhaps his dear little people found life dull and devoid of incident with him, asked them if they were aweary of him. They, with golden truth indeed, answered that they had never been so merry, but that they were anxious as to their children at home. He answered that they were indeed right, and that the next morning they might depart. So their canoe was reached down for them, and packed full of the finest furs and best meat, when they were told to tebah'-dikw', or get in. Then a small dog was put in, and this dog was solemnly charged that he should take the people home, while the people were told to paddle in the direction in which the dog should point. And to the Micmac he said, "Seven years hence you will be reminded of me." And then tokooboosijik (off they went).

The man sat in the stern, his wife in the prow, and the dog in the middle of the canoe. The dog pointed, the Indian paddled, the water was smooth. They soon reached home; the children with joy ran to meet them; the dog as joyfully ran to see the children, wagging his tail with great glee, just as if he had been like any other dog, and not a fairy. For, having made acquaintance, he without delay turned tail and trotted off for home again, running over the ocean surface as if it had been hard ice; which might, indeed, have once astonished the good man and his wife, but they had of late days seen so many wonders that they were past marveling.

Now this Indian, who had in the past been always poor, seemed to have quite recovered from that complaint. When he let down his lines the biggest fish bit; all his sprats were salmon; he prayed for goslings, and got geese; moose were as mice to him now; yea, he had the best in the land, with all the fatness thereof. So seven years passed away, and then, as he slept, there came unto him divers dreams, and in them he went back to the Land of the Giants, and saw all those who had been so kind to him. And yet again he dreamed one night that he was standing by his wigwam near the sea,--and that a great whale swam up to him and began to sing, and that the singing was the sweetest he had ever heard.

Then he remembered that the giant had told him he would think of him in seven years; and it came clearly before him what it all meant, and that he was erelong to have magical power given to him, and that he should become a Megumoowessoo. This he told his wife, who, not being learned in darksome lore, would fain know more nearly what kind of a being he expected to be, and whether a spirit or a man, good or bad; which was, indeed, not easy to explain, nor is it clearly set down in the chronicles beyond this,--that, whatever it might be, it was all for the best, and that there was a great deal of magic in it.

That day they saw a great shark cruising about in their bay, chasing fish, and this they held for an evil omen. But, soon after, there came trotting towards them over the sea the same small dog who had been their pilot from the Land of the Giants. So he, full of joy, as before, at seeing them and the children, wagged his tail and danced for glee, and then looked earnestly at the man as if for some message. And to him the man said, "It is well. In three years' time I will make you a visit. I will look to the southwest." Then the dog licked the hands and the ears and the eyes of the man, and went home as before over the sea, running on the water.

And when the three years had passed the Indian entered his canoe, and, paddling without fear, found his way to the Land of the Giants. He saw the wigwams standing on the beach; the immense canoes were drawn up on the water's edge; from afar he beheld the old giant coming down to welcome him. But he was alone. And when he had been welcomed, and was in the wigwam, he learned that all the sons were dead.

They had died three years before, when the shark, the great sorcerer, had been seen.

They had gone, and the old man had but lingered a little longer. They had made the magic change, they had departed, and he would soon join them in his own kingdom. But ere he went he would leave their great inheritance, their magic, to the man.

Therewith the giant brought out his son's clothes, and bade the Indian put them on. Truly this was as if he had been asked to clothe himself with a great house, since the smallest fold in them would have been to him as a cavern. But he stepped in, and as he did this he rose to great size; he filled out the garments till they fitted; he was a giant, of Giant-Land. With the clothes came the wisdom, the m'téoulin, the manitou power of the greatest and wisest of the olden time. He was indeed Megumoowessoo, and had attained to the Mystery.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Relating how The Rabbit became wise by being original, and of the terrible tricks which he by magic played Loup-Cervier, The Wicked Wild Cat

An Algonquin Legend
There are men who are bad at copying, yet are good originals, and of this kind was Master Rabbit, who, when he gave up trying to do as others did, succeeded very well. And, having found out his foible, he applied himself to become able in good earnest, and studied m'téoulin, or magic, so severely that in time he grew to be an awful conjurer, so that he could raise ghosts, crops, storms, or devils whenever he wanted them. For he had perseverance, and out of this may come anything, if it be only brought into the right road.

Now it came to pass that Master Rabbit got into great trouble. The records of the Micmacs say that it was from his stealing a string of fish from the Otter, who pursued him; but the Passamaquoddies declare that he was innocent of this evil deed, probably because they make great account of him as their ancestor and as the father of the Wabanaki. Howbeit, this is the way in which they tell the tale.

Now the Rabbit is the natural prey of the Loup-Cervier, or Lusifee, who is a kind of wild cat, none being more obstinate. And this Wild Cat once went hunting with a gang of wolves, and they got nothing. Then Wild Cat, who had made them great promises and acted as chief, became angry, and, thinking of the Rabbit, promised them that this time they should indeed get their dinner. So he took them to Rabbit's wigwam; but he was out, and the Wolves, being vexed and starved, reviled Wild Cat, and then rushed off howling through the woods.

Now I think that the Rabbit is m'téoulin. Yes, he must be, for when Wild Cat started to hunt him alone, he determined with all his soul not to be caught, and made himself as magical as he could. So he picked up a handful of chips, and threw one as far as possible, then jumped to it,--for he had a charm for a long jump; and then threw another, and so on, for a great distance. This was to make no tracks, and when he thought he had got out of scent and sight and sound he scampered away like the wind.

Now, as I said, when the wolves got to Master Rabbit's house and found nothing, they smelt about and left Wild Cat, who swore by his tail that he would catch Rabbit, if he had to hunt forever and run himself to death. So, taking the house for a centre, he kept going round and round it, all the time a little further, and so more around and still further. Then at last having found the track, he went in hot haste after Mr. Rabbit. And both ran hard, till, night coming on, Rabbit, to protect himself, had only just time to trample down the snow a little, and stick up a spruce twig on end and sit on it. But when Wild Cat came up he found there a fine wigwam, and put his head in. All that he saw was an old man of very grave and dignified appearance, whose hair was gray, and whose majestic (sogmoye) appearance was heightened by a pair of long and venerable ears. And of him Wild Cat asked in a gasping hurry if he had seen a Rabbit running that way.

"Rabbits!" replied the old man. "Why, of course I have seen many. They abound in the woods about here. I see dozens of them every day." With this he said kindly to Wild Cat that he had better tarry with him for a time. "I am an old man," he remarked with solemnity,--"an old man, living alone, and a respectable guest, like you, sir, comes to me like a blessing." And the Cat, greatly impressed, remained. After a good supper he lay down by the fire, and, having run all day, was at once asleep, and made but one nap of it till morning. But how astonished, and oh, how miserable he was, when he awoke, to find himself on the open heath in the snow and almost starved! The wind blew as if it had a keen will to kill him; it seemed to go all through his body. Then he saw that he had been a fool and cheated by magic, and in a rage swore again by his teeth, as well as his tail, that the Rabbit should die. There was no hut now, only the trampled snow and a spruce twig, and yet out of this little, Rabbit had conjured up so great a delusion.

Then he ran again all day. And when night came, Master Rabbit, having a little more time than before, again trampled down the snow, but for a greater space, and strewed many branches all about, for now a huge effort was to be made. And when Wild Cat got there he found a great Indian village, with crowds of people going to and fro. The first building he saw was a church, in which service was being held. And he, entering, said hastily to the first person he saw, "Ha! ho have you seen a Rabbit running by here?"

"Hush--sh, sh!" replied the man. "You must wait till meeting is over before asking such questions." Then a young man beckoned to him to come in, and he listened till the end to a long sermon on the wickedness of being vindictive and rapacious; and the preacher was a gray ancient, and his ears stood up over his little cap like the two handles of a pitcher, yet for all that the Wild Cat's heart was not moved one whit. And when it was all at an end he said to the obliging young man, But have you seen a Rabbit running by?"

"Rabbits! Rab-bits!" replied the young man. "Why, there are hundreds racing about in the cedar swamps near this place, and you can have as many as you want." "Ah!" replied Wild Cat, "but they are not what I seek. Mine is an entirely different kind." The other said that he knew of no sort save the wild wood--rabbits, but that perhaps their Governor, or Chief, who was very wise, could tell him all about them. Then the Governor, or Sagamore, came up. Like the preacher, he was very remarkable and gray, with the long locks standing up one on either side of his head. And he invited the stranger to his house, where his two very beautiful daughters cooked him a fine supper. And when he wished to retire they brought out blankets and a beautiful white bear's skin, and made up a bed for him by the fire. Truly, his eyes were closed as soon as he lay down, but when he awoke there had been a great change. For now he was in a wet cedar swamp, the wind blowing ten times worse than ever, and his supper and sleep had done him little good, for they were all a delusion. All around him were rabbits' tracks and broken twigs, but nothing more.

Yet he sprang up, more enraged than ever, and swearing more terribly by his tail, teeth, and claws that he would be revenged. So he ran on all day, and at night, when he came to another large village, he was so weary that he could just gasp, "Have-----you----seen a Rab----bit run this way?" With much concern and kindness they all asked him what was the matter. So he told them all this story, and they pitied him very much; yea, one gray old man,--and this was the Chief,--with two beautiful daughters, shed tears and comforted him, and advised him to stay with them. So they took him to a large ball, where there was a great fire burning in the middle thereof. And over it hung two pots with soup and meat, and two Indians stood by and gave food to all the people. And he had his share with the rest, and all feasted gayly.

Now, when they had done eating, the old Governor, who was very gray, and from either side of whose head rose two very venerable, long white feathers, rose to welcome the stranger, and in a long speech said it was, indeed, the custom of their village to entertain guests, but that they expected from them a song. Then Wild Cat, who was vain of his voice, uplifted it in vengeance against the Rabbits:--

"Oh, how I hate them!
How I despise them!
How I laugh at them!
May I scalp them all!"

Then he said that he thought the Governor should sing. And to this the Chief consented, but declared that all who were present should bow their heads while seated, and shut their eyes, which they did. Then Chief Rabbit, at one bound, cleared the heads of his guests, and drawing his timheyen, or tomahawk, as he jumped, gave Wild Cat a wound which cut deeply into his head, and only fell short of killing him by entirely stunning him. When he recovered, he was again in snow, slush, and filth, more starved than ever, his head bleeding from a dreadful blow, and he himself almost dead. Yet, with all that, the Indian devil was stronger in him than ever, for every new disgrace did but bring more resolve to be revenged, and he swore it by his tail, claws, teeth, and eyes.

So he tottered along, though he could hardly walk; nor could he, indeed, go very far that day. And when almost broken down with pain and weariness, he came about noon to two good wigwams. Looking into one, he saw a gray-haired old man, and in the other a young girl, apparently his daughter. And they received him kindly, and listened to his story, saying it was very sad, the old man declaring that he must really remain there, and that he would get him a doctor, since, unless he were well cared for at once, he would die. Then he went forth as if in great concern, leaving his daughter to nurse the weary, wounded stranger.

Now, when the Doctor came, he, too, was an old gray man, with a scalp-lock strangely divided like two horns. But the Wild Cat had become a little suspicious, having been so often deceived, for much abuse will cease to amuse even the most innocent. And, looking grimly at the Doctor, he said: "I was asking if any Rabbits are here, and truly you look very much like one yourself. How did you get that split nose?" Oh, that is very simple," replied the old man. Once I was hammering wampum beads, and the stone on which I beat them broke in halves, and one piece flew up, and, as you see, split my nose."

"But," persisted the Wild Cat, "why are the soles of your feet so yellow, even like a Rabbit's?"

"Ah, that is because I have been preparing some tobacco, and I had to hold it down with my feet, for, truly, I needed both my hands to work with. So the tobacco stained them yellow."

Then the Wild Cat suspected no more, and the Doctor put salve on his wound, so that he felt much better, and, ere he departed, put by him a platter of very delicate little round biscuits, or rolls, and a beautiful pitcher full of nice wine, and bade him refresh himself from these during the night, and so, stealing away softly, he departed.

But oh, the wretchedness of the awaking in the morning! For then Wild Cat found himself indeed in the extreme of misery. His head was swollen and aching to an incredible degree, and the horrible wound, which was gaping wide, had been stuffed with hemlock needles and pine splinters, and this was the cool salve which the Doctor had applied. And as a last touch to his rage and shame, thinking in his deadly thirst of the wine, he beheld on the ground, still left in the snow, a last summer's pitcher-plant, half full of what might indeed pass for wine by the mere sight thereof, though hardly to the taste. While seeking for the biscuits on a platter, he found only certain small pellets, such as abound about a rabbit warren. And then he swore by all his body and soul that he would slay the next being he met, Rabbit or Indian. Verily this time he would be utterly revenged.

Now Mahtigwess, the Rabbit, had almost come to an end of his m'téoulin, or wizard power, for that time, yet he had still enough left for one more great effort. And, coming to a lake, he picked up a very large chip, and having seamed it with sorcery and magnified it by magic threw it into the water, where it at once seemed to be a great ship, such as white men build. And when the Wild Cat came up he saw it, with sails spread and flags flying, and the captain stood so stately on the deck, with folded arms, and he was a fine, gray-haired, dignified man, with a cocked hat, the two points of which were like grand and stately horns. But the Wild Cat had sworn, and he was mindful of his great oath; so he cried, "You cannot escape me this time, Rabbit! I have you now!" Saying this he plunged in, and tried to swim to the ship. And the captain, seeing a Wild Cat in the water, being engaged in musket drill, ordered his men to fire at it, which they did with a bang! Now this was caused by a party of night-hawks overhead, who swooped down with a sudden cry like a shot; at least it seemed so to Wild Cat, who, deceived and appalled by this volley, deeming that he had verily made a mistake this time, turned tail and swam ashore into the dark old forest, where, if he is not dead, he is running still.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Of the adventure with Mooin, The Bear; It being the third and last time that Master Rabbit made a fool of himself

An Algonquin Legend
Now, truly, one would think that after all that had befallen Master Mahtigwess, the Rabbit, that he would have had enough of trying other people's trades; but his nature was such that, having once set his mighty mind to a thing, little short of sudden death would cure him. And being one day with the Bear in his cave, he beheld with great wonder how Mooin fed his folk. For, having put a great pot on the fire, he did but cut a little slice from his own foot and drop it into the boiling water, when it spread and grew into a mess of meat which served for all. Nay, there was a great piece given to Rabbit to take home to feed his family.

"Now, truly," he said, "this is a thing which I can indeed do. Is it not recorded in the family wampum that whatever a Bear can do well a Rabbit can do better?" So, in fine, he invited his friend to come and dine with him, Ketkewopk', the day after tomorrow.

And the Bear being there, Rabbit did but say, "Noogume' kuesawal' wohu!" "Grandmother, set your pot to boiling!" And, whetting his knife on a stone, he tried to do as the Bear had done; but little did he get from his small, thin soles, though he cut himself madly and sadly.

"What can he be trying to do?" growled the guest.

"Ah!" sighed the grandmother, "something which he has seen some one else do."

"Ho! I say there! Give me the knife," quoth Bruin. And, getting it, he took a slice from his sole, which did him no harm, and then, what with magic and fire, gave them a good dinner. But Master Rabbit was in sad case, and it was many a day ere he got well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How the Partridge built good canoes for all the Birds,

An Algonquin Legend
When a partridge beats upon a hollow log he makes a noise like an Indian at work upon a canoe, and when an Indian taps at a canoe it sounds afar off like the drumming of a partridge, even of Mitchihess. And this comes because that N'karnayoo, of ancient days, the Partridge, was the canoe-builder for all the other birds. Yes, for all at once.

And on a certain day they every one assembled, and each got into his bark, and truly it was a brave sight to see. First of all Kicheeplagon, the Eagle, entered his great shell and paddled off, using the ends of his wings; and then came Ko-ko-kas, the Owl, doing the same; and Kosqu', the Crane, Wee-sow-wee-hessis, the Bluebird, Tjidge-is-skwess, the Snipe, and Meg-sweit-tchip-sis, the Blackbird, all came sailing proudly after. Even the tiny A-la-Mussit, the Humming-Bird, had a dear little boat, and for him the good Partridge had made a pretty little paddle, only that some thought it rather large, for it was almost an inch long. And Ishmegwess, the Fish-Hawk, who lived on the wing, cried in amazement, "Akweden skouje!" "A canoe is coming!" when he beheld this beautiful squadron standing out to sea.

But when Mitchihess, the great builder, was asked why he had not built a canoe for himself, he merely looked mysterious and drummed. And being further questioned by the birds, he shook his head, and at last hinted that when he built a canoe unto himself it would be indeed a marvel; yea, a wonder such as even birds' eyes had never beheld,--an entire novelty, and something to dream of. And this went on for many days.

But in due time it was noised abroad that the wonderful canoe had at last been really built, and would soon be shown. And at an appointed time all the birds assembled on the banks to behold this new thing. Now the Partridge had reasoned that if a boat having two ends could be rowed in two ways, one which was all ends, all round, could be rowed in every way. So he had made a canoe which was exactly like a nest, or perfectly round. And this idea had greatly amazed the honest feathered folk, who were astonished that so simple a thing had not occurred to all of them.

But what was their wonder when Partridge, having entered his canoe and proceeded to paddle, made no headway at all; for it simply turned round and round, and ever and again the same way, let him work it as he would. And after wearying himself and all in vain, he went ashore, and, flying far inland, hid himself for very shame under the low bushes, on the earth, where he yet remains. This is the reason why he never seeks the sea or rivers, and has ever since remained an inland bird.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Mahtigwess, the Rabbit dined with the Woodpecker Girls, and was again humbled by trying to rival them

An Algonquin Legend
Now Master Rabbit, though disappointed, was not discouraged, for this one virtue he had, that he never gave up. And wandering one day in the wilderness, he found a wigwam well filled with young women, all wearing red head-dresses; and no wonder, for they were Woodpeckers.

Now, Master Rabbit was a well-bred Indian, who made himself as a melody to all voices, and so he was cheerfully bidden to bide to dinner, which he did. Then one of the red-polled pretty girls, taking a woltes, or wooden dish, lightly climbed a tree, so that she seemed to run; and while ascending, stopping here and there and tapping now and then, took from this place and that many of those insects called by the Indians apchel-moal-timpkawal, or rice, because they so much resemble it. And note that this rice is a dainty dish for those who like it. And when it was boiled, and they had dined, Master Rabbit again reflected, "La! how easily some folks live! What is to hinder me from doing the same? Ho, you girls! come over and dine with me the day after tomorrow!"

And having accepted this invitation, all the guests came on the day set, when Master Rabbit undertook to play woodpecker. So having taken the head of an eel-spear and fastened it to his nose to make a bill, he climbed as well as he could--and bad was the best--up a tree, and tried to get his harvest of rice. Truly he got none; only in this did he succeed in resembling a Woodpecker, that he had a red poll; for his pate was all torn and bleeding, bruised by the fishing-point. And the pretty birds all looked and laughed, and wondered what the Rabbit was about.

"Ah!" said his grandmother, "I suppose he is trying again to do something which he has seen some one do. 'T is just like him."

"Oh, come down there!" cried Miss Woodpecker, as well as she could for laughing. "Give me your dish!" And having got it she scampered up the trunk, and soon brought down a dinner. But it was long ere Master Rabbit heard the last of it from these gay tree-tappers.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How Glooscap found the Summer

An Algonquin Legend - Version 2
In the long ago time when people lived always in the early red morning, before sunrise, before the Squid to neck was peopled as today, Glooskap went very far north, where all was ice.

He came to a wigwam. Therein he found a giant, a great giant, for he was Winter. Glooskap, entered; he sat down. Then Winter gave him a pipe; he smoked, and the giant told tales of the old times.

The charm was on him; it was the Frost. The giant talked on and froze, and Glooskap, fell asleep. He slept for six months, like a toad. Then the charm fled, and he awoke. He went his way home; he went to the south, and at every step it grew warmer, and the flowers began to come up and talk to him.

He came to where there were many little ones dancing in the forest; their queen was Summer. I am singing the truth: it was Summer, the most beautiful one ever born. He caught her up; he kept her by a crafty trick. The Master cut a moose-hide into a long cord; as he ran away with Summer he let the end trail behind him.

They, the fairies of Light, pulled at the cord, but as Glooskap ran, the cord ran out, and though they pulled he left them far away. So he came to the lodge of Winter, but now he had Summer in his bosom; and Winter welcomed him, for he hoped to freeze him again to sleep. I am singing the song of Summer.

But this time the Master did the talking. This time his m'téoulin was the strongest. And ere long the sweat ran down Winter's face, and then he melted more and quite away, as did the wigwam. Then every thing awoke; the grass grew, the fairies came out, and the snow ran down the rivers, carrying away the dead leaves. Then Glooskap left Summer with them, and went home.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Glooscap found the Summer

An Algonquin Legend - Version 1
Long ago a mighty race of Indians lived near the sunrise, and they called themselves Wawaniki, the Children of Light. Glooscap was their master. He was kind to his people and did many great deeds for them.

Once in Glooscap's day it grew extremely cold. Snow and ice covered everything. Fires would not give enough warmth. The corn would not grow. His people were perishing from cold and famine.

Glooscap set forth for the far north where all was ice. Here in a wigwam he found the great giant Winter. It was Winter's icy breath that had frozen the land.

Glooscap entered the wigwam and sat down. Winter gave him a pipe, and as they smoked, the giant told tales of olden times when he reigned everywhere and all the land was silent, white, and beautiful. His frost charm fell upon Glooscap and as the giant talked on, Glooscap fell asleep. For six months he slept like a bear, then the charm left him because he was too strong for it and awoke.

Soon now Glooscap's talebearer, the Loon, a wild bird who lived on the lake shores, brought him strange news. He described a country far to the south where it was always warm. There lived the all-powerful Summer who could easily overcome the giant Winter. To save his people from cold and famine and death, Glooscap decided to find her.

Far off to the southern seashores he went. He sang the magic song which whales obey and up came an old friend; a whale who served as his carrier when he wished to go out to sea.

This whale had a law for travelers. She always said: "You must shut your eyes while I carry you. If you do not, I am sure to go aground on a reef or sand-bar and be unable to get off. You could be drowned."

Glooscap got on the whale's back and for many days they traveled together. Each day the water grew warmer and the air softer and sweeter, for it came from spicy shores. The odors were no longer those of salt, but of fruits and flowers.

Soon they found themselves in shallow water. Down in the sand clams were singing a song of warning: "Keep out to sea, for the water here is shallow."

The whale asked Glooscap, who understood the language of all creatures: "What do they say?"

Glooscap, wishing to land at once, only replied: "They tell you to hurry, for a storm is coming."

The whale hurried on accordingly until she was close to land. Now Glooscap did the forbidden; he opened his left eye, to peep. At once the whale stuck hard on to the beach so that Glooscap, leaping from her head, was able to walk ashore on dry land.

Thinking she could never get away, the whale became angry. But Glooscap put one end of his bow against the whale's jaw and, taking the other end in his hands, placed his feet against the high bank. With a mighty push, he sent her out into the deep water.

Far inland strode Glooscap and found it warmer at every step. In the forest he came upon a beautiful woman dancing in the center of a group of young girls. Her long brown hair was crowned with flowers and her arms filled with blossoms. She was Summer.

Glooscap knew that here at last was the one who by her charms could melt old Winter's heart. He leaped to catch her and would not let her go. Together they journeyed the long way back to the lodge of old Winter.

Winter welcomed Glooscap but he planned to freeze him to sleep again. This time, however, Glooscap did the talking. His charm proved the stronger one and soon sweat began to run down Winter's face. He knew that his power was gone and the charm of Frost broken. His icy tent melted away.

Summer now used her own special power and everything awoke. The grass grew green and the snow ran down the rivers, carrying away the dead leaves. Old Winter wept to see his power taken away.

But Summer said, "Now that I have proved I am more powerful than you, I give you all the country to the far north for your own, and there I shall never disturb you. Six months of every year you may return to Glooscap's country and reign as before, but you are to be less severe with your power. During the other six months, I will come back from the South and rule the land."

Old Winter could do nothing but accept this. So it is that he appears in Glooscap's country each year to reign for six months, but with a softer rule. When he comes, Summer runs home to her warm south land. When at the end of six months she returns to drive old Winter away, she awakens the north and gives it the joys that only she can bestow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Honeyed words can't sweeten Evil

An Algonquin Legend
Big Blue Heron was standing in the marsh looking at his reflection in the water. He raised his black-crested head to listen.

Two little White Weasels had come along to the river. They were mother and son. When they saw Blue Heron, they stopped to look.

'What a beautiful big bird-person!' said the son.

'He is called Blue Heron. He carries his head high!'

'Yes, Mother, he is tall as a tree. Were I so tall, I could carry you across this swift river.'

Blue Heron was pleased to hear himself so praised. He liked to hear other say that he was big.

He bent down low and spoke to the two. 'I will help you go across. Come down to where you see that old tree lying in the stream. I will lie down in the water at the end and put my bill deep into the bank on the other side. You two run across the tree. Then use my body as a bridge and you will get to the other side.'

They all went to the old tree lying in the water. Blue Heron lay down in the water at the end and stuck his bill deep into the bank on the other side. Mother and son White Weasel ran lightly and quickly across the log, over Blue Heron, and were safe and dry on the other side. They thanked Blue Heron and said they would tell all the persons in the woods how fine Blue Heron was. Then they went on their way.

Old Wolf had been standing on the riverbank watching how the weasels had gotten across.

'What a fine way it would be for me to cross the river. I am old and my bones ache.'

When Blue Heron came back to the marsh, Wolf said to him, 'Now I know why you Blue Herons are in the marsh - so you can be a bridge for persons to cross the rive. I want to go across, but I am old and my bones hurt. Lie down in the water for me so I can cross.'

Blue Heron was angry. He didn't like being called a bridge. Old Wolf saw he had spoken foolish words and decided to use honeyed words.

'You are big and strong, Blue Heron, and that is why you body is such a fine bridge. You could carry me across like a feather.'

Blue Heron smiled at Wolf and said, 'Old Wolf, get on my back and I'll carry you across.

Wolf grinned from ear to ear thinking how easily he had tricked Blue Heron.

He jumped on the bird's back and Heron went into the rushing river. When he got to the middle, he stopped.

'Friend Wolf,' said Blue Heron, 'you made a mistake. I am not strong enough to carry you across. For that you need two herons. I can carry you only halfway. Now you must get another heron to carry you the rest of the way.'

He gave his body a strong twist and Wolf fell into the water.

'You wait here, Wolf, for another heron to come and carry you to the other side.' Then he flew into the marsh.

The water ran swiftly. No heron came, so where did Wolf go ? To the bottom of the river...

Since that day, no wolf has ever trusted a heron.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Glooscap snd the Baby

An Algonquin Legend
Glooscap, having conquered the Kewawkqu', a race of giants and magicians, and the Medecolin, who were cunning sorcerers, and Pamola, a wicked spirit of the night, besides hosts of fiends, goblins, cannibals, and witches, felt himself great indeed, and boasted to a woman that there was nothing left for him to subdue.

But the woman laughed and said: "Are you quite sure, Master? There is still one who remains unconquered, and nothing can overcome him." In some surprise Glooscap inquired the name of this mighty one.

"He is called Wasis," replied the woman, "but I strongly advise you to have no dealings with him."

Wasis was only a baby, who sat on the floor sucking a piece of maple sugar and crooning a little song to himself. Now Glooscap had never married and was ignorant of how children are managed, but with perfect confidence he smiled at the baby and asked it to come to him. The baby smiled back but never moved, whereupon Glooscap imitated a beautiful bird song. Wasis, however, paid no attention and went on sucking his maple sugar.

Unaccustomed to such treatment, Glooscap lashed himself into a rage and in terrible and threatening accents ordered Wasis to come to him at once. But Wasis burst into dire howls, which quite drowned the god's thundering, and would not budge for any threats. Glooscap, thoroughly aroused, summoned all his magical resources. He recited the most terrible spells, the most dreadful incantations. He sang the songs which raise the dead, and those which send the devil scurrying to the nethermost depths. But Wasis merely smiled and looked a trifle bored. At last Glooscap rushed from the hut in despair, while Wasis, sitting on the floor, cried: "Goo, goo!"

And to this day the Indians say that when a baby says "Goo," he remembers the time when he conquered the mighty Glooscap.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Glooscap and his People

In the beginning, there were just the forest and the sea; no people and no animals.

Then Glooscap came.

Where this wondrous giant was born and when, none can tell, but he and his brother Malsum came from somewhere in the Sky to the part of North America nearest the rising sun. There, anchoring his canoe, he turned it into a granite island covered with spruce and pine. He called the island Uktamkoo. (the land we know today as Newfoundland) This, in the beginning, was Glooscap's lodge.

The Great Chief Glooscap looked and lived like an ordinary man except that he was twice as tall, twice as strong, and possessed great magic. He was never sick, never married, never grew old, and never died. He had a magic belt which gave him great power, and he used this power only for good. Malsum, his twin brother, also great of stature, had the head of a wolf and the body of an Indian. Malsum knew magic too, but he used his power for evil.

As Glooscap set about his work, the air was fragrant with balsam and the tang of the sea.

First, out of the rocks, he made the Little People; the fairies, or Megumoowesoos. These were small hairy creatures who dwelt among the rocks and made such wonderful music on the flute that all who heard it were bewitched.

From amongst the Megumoowesoos, Glooscap chose a servant, Marten, who was like a younger brother to him.

Next Glooscap made men. Taking up his great bow, he shot arrows into the trunks of ash trees. Out of the trees stepped men and women. They were a strong and graceful people with light brown skins and shining black hair. Glooscap called them the Wabanaki, which means "those who live where the day breaks."

In time, the Wabanaki left Uktamkoo and divided into separate tribes and are today a part of the great Algonquin nation, but in the old days, only the Micmacs, Malicetes, Penobscots and Passamaquoddies, living in the eastern woodlands of Canada and the United States, were Glooscap's People.

Gazing upon his handiwork, Glooscap was pleased and his shout of triumph made the tall pines bend like grass.

He told the people he was their Great Chief and would rule them with love and justice. He taught them how to build birch bark wigwams and canoes, how to make weirs for catching fish, and how to identify plants useful in medicine. He taught them the names of all the Stars, who were his brothers.

Then, from among them, he chose an elderly woman whom he called Noogumee, or grandmother, (a term of respect amongst Indians for any elderly female.) Noogumee was the Great Chief's housekeeper all her days.

Now, finally, out of rocks and clay, Glooscap made the animals: Miko the squirrel, Team the moose, Mooin the bear, and many, many others. Malsum looked on enviously, thinking he too should have had a hand in creation. But he had not been given that power. He whispered an evil charm, and the remainder of the clay in Glooscap's hands twisted and fell to the ground in the form of a strange animal. This animal was not beaver, not badger, not wolverine, but something of all three, and capable of taking any of these forms he chose.

"His name is Lox!" said Malsum triumphantly.

"So be it," said Glooscap. "Let Lox live amongst us in peace, so long as he remains a friend." Yet he resolved to watch Lox closely, for he could read the heart and knew that Lox had Malsum's evil in him.

Now Glooscap had made the animals all very large, most of them larger and stronger than man. Lox, the trouble maker, at once saw his chance to make mischief.

He went in his wolverine body to Team the moose and admired his fine antlers, which reached up to the top of the tallest pine tree. "If you should ever meet a man," said Lox, "you could toss him on your horns up to the top of the world."

Now Team, who was just a little bit stupid, went at once to Glooscap and said, "Please, Master, give me a man, so I can toss him on my horns up to the top of the world!"

"I should say not!" cried Glooscap, and touched Team with his hand. The moose was suddenly the size he is today.

Then Lox went in his badger form to the squirrel and said, "With that magnificent tail of yours, Miko, you could smash down every lodge in the village."

"So I could," said Miko proudly, and with his great tail he swept the nearest wigwam right off the ground. But the Great Chief was near. He caught Miko up in his hand and stroked the squirrel's back until he was as small as he is today.

"From now on," said his Master, "you will live in trees and keep your tail where it belongs." And since that time Miko the squirrel has carried his bushy tail on his back.

Next, Lox put on his beaver shape and went to Mooin the bear, who was hardly any bigger than he is today, but had a much larger throat.

"Mooin," said Lox slyly, "supposing you met a man, what would you do to him?" The bear scratched his head thoughtfully. "Eat him," he said at last, with a grin. " I'd swallow him whole!" And having said this, Mooin felt his throat begin to shrink.

"From now on," said Glooscap sternly, "you may swallow only very small creatures." And today the bear, big as he is, eats only small animals, fish and wild berries.

Now the Great Chief was greatly annoyed at the way his animals were behaving, and wondered if he should have made them. He summoned them all and gave them a solemn warning:

"I have made you man's equal, but you wish to be his master. Take care, or he may become yours!"

This did not worry the troublemaker Lox, who only resolved to be more cunning in the future. He knew very well that Malsum was jealous of Glooscap and wished to be lord of the Indians himself. He also knew that both brothers had magic powers and that neither could be killed except in one certain way.

What that way was, each kept secret from all but the Stars, whom they trusted. Each sometimes talked in the starlight to the people of the Sky.

"Little does Malsum know," said Glooscap to the Stars, "that I can never be killed except by the blow of a flowering rush." And not far off, Malsum boasted to those same Stars, "I am quite safe from Glooscap's power. I can do any thing I like, for nothing can harm me but the roots of a flowering fern."

Now, alas, Lox was hidden close by and overheard both secrets. Seeing how he might turn this to his own advantage, he went to Malsum and said with a knowing smile, "What will you give me, Malsum, if I tell you Glooscap's secret?"

"Anything you like," cried Malsum. "Quick, tell me!"

"Nothing can hurt Glooscap save a flowering rush," said the traitor. "Now give me a pair of wings, like the pigeon, so I can fly."

But Malsum laughed instead.

"What need has a beaver of wings?" And kicking the troublemaker aside, he sped off to find a flowering rush. Lox picked himself up furiously and hurried to Glooscap.

"Master!" he cried, "Malsum knows your secret and is about to kill you. If you would save yourself, know that only a fern root can destroy him!"

Glooscap snatched up the nearest fern, root and all, and just in time: his evil brother was upon him, shouting his war cry. All of the animals (who were angry at Glooscap for reducing their size and power) cheered Malsum, but the Indians were afraid for their Master.

Glooscap braced his feet against a cliff, and Malsum paused. For a moment, the two crouched face to face, waiting for the moment to strike. Then the wolf-like Malsum lunged at Glooscap's head. Twisting his body aside, the Great Chief flung his weapon. It went swift to its target, and Malsum leapt back, but too late. The fern root pierced his envious heart, and he died.

Now the Indians rejoiced, and the animals crept sullenly away. Only Lox came to Glooscap, impudently.

"I'll have my reward now, Master," he said, "a pair of wings, like the pigeon's."

"Faithless creature!" Glooscap thundered, knowing full well who had betrayed him, "I made no such bargain. Be gone!" And he hurled stone after stone at the fleeing Lox. Where the stones fell (in Minas Basin) they turned into islands and are there still. And the banished Lox roams the world to this day, appealing to the evil in men's hearts and making trouble wherever he goes.

Now Glooscap called his people around him and said, "I made the animals to be man's friends, but they have acted with selfishness and treachery. Hereafter, they shall be your servants and provide you with food and clothing."

Then he showed the men how to make bows and arrows and stone tipped spears, and how to use them. He also showed the women how to scrape hides and turn them into clothing.

"Now you have power over even the largest wild creatures," he said. "Yet I charge you to use this power gently. If you take more game than you need for food and clothing, or kill for the pleasure of killing, then you will be visited by a pitiless giant named Famine, and when he comes among men, they suffer hunger and die."

The people readily promised to obey Glooscap in this, as in all things. But now, to their dismay, they saw Marten launch the Master's canoe and Noogumee entering it with Glooscap's household goods. Glooscap was leaving them!

"I must dwell now in a separate place," said the Great Chief, "so that you, my people, will learn to stand alone, and become brave and resourceful. Nevertheless, I shall never be far from you, and whoever seeks me diligently in time of trouble will find me."

Then, waving farewell to his sorrowful Wabanaki, Glooscap set off for the mainland. Rounding the southern tip of what is now Nova Scotia, the Great Chief paddled up the Bay of Fundy.

In the distance, where the Bay narrows and the great tides of Fundy rush into Minas Basin, Glooscap saw a long purple headland .It looked like a moose swimming, with clouds for antlers, and he headed his canoe in that direction.

Landing, he gazed at the slope of red sandstone, with its groves of green trees at the summit, and admired the amethysts encircling its base like a string of purple beads.

"Here I shall build my lodge," said Glooscap, and he named the place Blomidon.

Glooscap dwelt on Blomidon a very long time, and during that time did many wonderful things for his People.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Algonquin Flood Myth

The god Michabo was hunting with his pack of trained wolves one day when he saw the strangest sight, the wolves entered a lake and disappeared. He followed them into the water to fetch them and as he did so, the entire world flooded.

Michabo then sent forth a raven to find some soil with which to make a new earth, but the bird returned unsuccessful in its quest.

Then Michabo sent an otter to do the same thing, but again to no avail.

Finally he sent the muskrat and she brought him back enough earth to begin the reconstruction of the world. The trees had lost their branches in the flood, so Michabo shot magic arrows at them that immediately became new branches covered with leaves.

Then Michabo married the muskrat and they became the parents of the human race.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Algonquin Creation Myth

The Great Earth Mother had two sons, Glooskap and Malsum. Glooskap was good, wise, and creative; Malsum was evil, selfish, and destructive.

When their mother died, Glooskap went to work creating plants, animals, and humans from her body. Malsum, in contrast, made poisonous plants and snakes.

As Glooskap continued to create wonderful things, Malsum grew tired of his good brother and plotted to kill him.

In jest, Malsum bragged that he was invincible, although there was one thing that could kill him: the roots of the fern plant.

He badgered Glooskap for days to find the good brother's vulnerability. Finally, as Glooskap could tell no lies, he confided that he could be killed only by an owl feather. Knowing this, Malsum made a dart from an owl feather and killed Glooskap.

The power of good is so strong, however; that Glooskap rose from the dead, ready to avenge himself. Alive again, Glooskap also knew that Malsum would continue to plot against him.

Glooskap realized that he had no choice but to destroy Malsum in order that good would survive and his creatures would continue to live. So he went to a stream and attracted his evil brother by loudly saying that a certain flowering reed could also kill him.

Glooskap then pulled a fern plant out by the roots and flung it at Malsum, who fell to the ground dead. Malsum's spirit went underground and be-came a wicked wolf-spirit that still occasionally torments humans and animals, but fears the light of day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Algon and the Sky Girl

Algon was a great hunter who found a strange circle cut in the prairie grass. Hiding in the bushes nearby, he watched to see what might have caused it. Finally, a great willow basket descended from the sky bearing twelve beautiful maidens.

The maidens got out of the basket and began singing celestial songs and doing circle dances. All of the girls were beautiful, but the most beautiful of all was the youngest, with whom Algon was immediately smitten.

He ran toward the circle in the hope of stealing her away, but just as he arrived, the girls were alarmed and left in the basket, which flew high into the sky. This happened again three more times, but Algon's resolve only grew. Then he devised a strategy.

He placed a hollow tree trunk near the circle. Inside the tree trunk lived a family of mice. He took some charms out of his medicine bag and transformed himself into a mouse. When the girls in the basket next arrived, he and the other mice ran among the girls. The girls stomped on the mice killing all of them but Algon, who then resumed his human form and carried off his beloved.

He took her to his village and in time she fell in love with him. They had a son and the three lived very happily for a time. But as the years passed, the sky- girl grew very homesick. She spent the entire day gazing up at the sky, thinking of her sisters and parents. This homesickness continued until she could no longer bear it. So she built a magic willow basket, placed her son and some gifts for her people in it, climbed in, and headed for the sky. She remained there for years.

In her absence, Algon pined for his wife and son. Every day he went to sit in the magic circle, in the hope that they would return. He was now growing old.

Meanwhile, in the far-off sky-country, his son was growing into manhood. The lad asked questions about his father, which made the sky-girl miss Algon. She and her son spoke to her father, the chief of the sky-people. He told them to go back to the Earth, but ordered them to return with Algon and the identifying feature of each of the Earth animals.

Then the sky-girl and the son returned to Earth. Algon was overjoyed to see them and was eager to gather the gifts the sky-chief wanted. From the bear, he took a claw; from the eagle, hawk, and falcon, a feather; from the raccoon, its teeth; and from the deer, its horns and hide. He placed all of these gifts in a special medicine bag, and ascended with his wife and son to the sky- country in their willow basket. His father-in-law divided the tokens among his people, offering tokens to Algon and the sky-girl; and they chose the falcon feather. The chief said that they should always be free to travel between the sky-country and the Earth, and so Algon and his wife became falcons. Their descendants still fly high and swoop down over the forests and prairies.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adventures of Great Rabbit

Among the Micmac and Passamaquoddy of the Northeast coast it is Mahtigwess the Rabbit who is a powerful trickster. Rabbit has m'te'olin, great magical powers.

Wildcat is mean and ferocious. He has a short tail and big, long, sharp fangs, and his favorite food is rabbit.

One day when Wildcat was hungry, he said to himself:

"I'm going to catch and eat Mahtigwess, Great Rabbit, himself. He's plump and smart, and nothing less will do for my dinner."

So he went hunting for Great Rabbit.

Now, Great Rabbit can sense what others are thinking from a long way off, so he already knew that Wildcat was after him. He made up his mind that he would use his magical power against Wildcat's strength.

He picked up a handful of wood-chips, threw them ahead of himself, and jumped after them, and because Great Rabbit is m'te'oulin, every jump was a mile. Jumping that far, of course, he left very few tracks to follow.

Wildcat swore a mighty oath that he would catch Great Rabbit, that he would find him even if Mahtigwess had fled to the end of the world.

At that time Wildcat had a beautiful long tail, and he swore by it:

"Let my tail fall off - may I have just a little stump for a tail - if I fail to catch Great Rabbit!"

After a mile he found Rabbit's tracks. After another mile he found some more tracks. Wildcat was not altogether without magic either, and he was persevering. So mile by mile, he kept on Rabbit's trail.

In fact, Wildcat was drawing closer and closer. It grew dark and Great Rabbit grew tired. He was on a wide, empty plain of snow, and there was nothing to hide behind except a little spruce tree. He stomped on the snow and made himself a seat and bed of spruce boughs.

When Wildcat came to that spot, he found a fine, big wigwam and stuck his head through the door. Sitting inside was an old, gray-haired chief, solemn and mighty. The only strange thing about him was that he had two long ears standing up at each side of his head.

"Great Chief," said Wildcat, "have you by any chance seen a biggish rabbit running like mad?"

"Rabbits? Why of course, there are hundreds, thousands of rabbits hereabouts, but what's the hurry? It's late and you must be tired. If you want to hunt rabbits, start in the morning after a good night's sleep. I'm a lonely man and enjoy the company of a respected personage like you. Stay overnight; I have a fine rabbit stew cooking here."

Wildcat was flattered.

"Big Chief, I am honored," he said.

He ate a whole kettle full of tasty rabbit stew and then fell asleep before the roaring fire. Wildcat awoke early because he was freezing.

He found himself alone in the midst of a huge snowfield. Nothing was there, no wigwam, no fire, no old chief; all he could see were a few little spruce boughs. It had been a dream, an illusion created by Great Rabbit's magic. Even the stew had been an illusion, and Wildcat was ravenous.

Shivering in the icy wind, Wildcat howled:

"Rabbit has tricked me again, but I'll get even with him. By my tail, I swear I'll catch, kill, and eat him!"

Again Great Rabbit traveled with his mile-wide jumps, and again Wildcat followed closely.

At nightfall Rabbit said to himself:

"Time to rest and conjure something up."

This time he trampled down a large area and spread many pine boughs around. When Wildcat arrived, he found a large village full of busy people, though of what tribe he couldn't tell. He also saw a big wooden church painted white, the kind the French Jesuits were putting up among some tribes.

Wildcat went up to a young man who was about to enter the church.

"Friend, have you seen a biggish rabbit hereabouts, running away?"

"Quiet," said the young man, "we're having a prayer meeting. Wait until the sermon is over."

The young man went into the church, and Wildcat followed him. There were lots of people sitting and listening to a gray-haired preacher. The only strange thing was the two long ears sticking up at each side of the priest's cap. He was preaching a very, very long sermon about the wickedness of ferocious wild beasts who tear up victims with their big, sharp fangs and then devour them.

"Such savage fiends will be punished for their sins," said this preacher over and over.

Wildcat didn't like the long sermon, but he had to wait all the same. When the preaching was over at last, he went up to the priest with the long ears and asked:

"Sir, have you seen a very sacred, biggish rabbit hereabouts?"

"Rabbits!" exclaimed the preacher. "We have a wet, foggy cedar swamp nearby with thousands of rabbits."

"I don't mean just any rabbit; I'm speaking of Great Rabbit."

"Of him I know nothing, friend. But over there in that big wigwam lives the wise old chief, the Sagamore. Go and ask him; he knows everything."

Wildcat went to the wigwam and found the Sagamore, an imposing figure, gray-haired like the preacher, with long white locks sticking up on each side of his head.

"Young man," said the Sagamore gravely, "what can I do for you?"

"I'm looking for the biggish Great Rabbit."

"Ah! Him! He's hard to find and hard to catch. Tonight it's too late, but tomorrow I'll help you. Sit down, dear man. My daughters will give you a fine supper."

The Sagamore's daughters were beautiful. They brought Wildcat many large wooden bowls of the choicest food, and he ate it all up, because by now he was very hungry. The warmth of the fire and his full stomach made him drowsy, and the Sagamore's daughters brought him a thick white bearskin to sleep on.

"You people really know how to treat a guest." said Wildcat as he fell asleep.

When he awoke, he found himself in a dismal, wet, foggy cedar swamp. Nothing was there except mud and icy slush and a lot of rabbit tracks.

There was no village, no church, no wigwam, no Sagamore, no beautiful daughters. They had all been a mirage conjured up by Great Rabbit. The fine food had been a mirage too, and Wildcat's stomach was growling. He was ankle-deep in the freezing swamp. The fog was so thick he could hardly see anything.

Enraged, he vowed to find and kill Great Rabbit even if he should die in the attempt. He swore by his tail, his teeth, his claws - by everything dear to him. Then he hastened on.

That night Wildcat came to a big long-house. Inside, it was like a great hall, and it was full of people. On a high seat sat the chief, who wore two long white feathers at each side of his head. This venerable leader also had beautiful daughters who fed all comers, for Wildcat had stumbled into the midst of a great feast. Exhausted and panting, he gasped:

"Has any one seen the bi-big- biggish G-G-Great Ra-Rab-Rabbit?"

"Later, friend," said the chief with the two white feathers. "We are feasting, dancing, singing. You seem exhausted, poor man! Sit down; catch your breath. Rest. Eat."

Wildcat sat down. The people were having a singing contest, and chief on his high seat pointed at Wildcat and said, "Our guest here looks like a fine singer. Perhaps he will honor us with a song." Wild cat was flattered. He arose and sang:

Rabbits! How I hate them!
How I despise them!
How I laugh at them!
How I kill them!
How I scalp them!
How I eat them!

"A truly wonderful song," said the chief. "I must reward you for it. Here's what I give you."

And with that the chief jumped up from his high seat, jumped over Wildcat's head, struck him a blow from his tomahawk, kept on jumping with mile-long leaps - and all was gone.

The long-house, the hall, the people, the daughters: none remained. Once more Wildcat found himself alone in the middle of nowhere, worse off than ever, for he had a gash in his scalp where Great Rabbit had hit him with the tomahawk. His feet were sore, his stomach empty. He could hardly crawl. But he was more infuriated than ever.

"I'll kill him!" he growled, "I'll give my life! And the tricks are over; he won't fool me again!"

That night Wildcat came to two beautiful wigwams. In the first was a young woman, obviously a chief's daughter. In the other was someone whom Wildcat took for her father, an elderly, gray-haired, gentle- looking man with two scalp locks sticking up at the sides of his head.

"Come in, come in, poor man," said the gray-haired host. "You're wounded! My daughter will wash and cure that cut. And we must build up your strength. I have a fine broth here and a pitcher full of wine, the drink the Frenchmen make. It has great restorative powers."

But Wildcat was suspicious.

"If this is Great Rabbit in disguise again, he won't fool me," he promised himself.

"Dear sir," said Wildcat, "I hesitate to mention it, but the two scalp locks sticking up at the sides of your head look very much like rabbit's ears."

"Rabbit's ears? How funny!" said the old man. "Know, friend, that in our tribe we all wear our scalp locks this way."

"Ah," said Wildcat, "but your nose is split exactly like a rabbit's nose."

"Don't remind me, friend. Some weeks ago I was hammering wampum beads, and the stone I was using to pound them on broke in half. A sharp flew up and split my nose - a great misfortune, because it does disfigure me."

"It does indeed. A pity. But why are your soles so yellow, like a rabbit's soles?"

"Oh, that's nothing. I prepared some tobacco yesterday, and the juice stained my palms yellow."

Then Wildcat said to himself: "This man is no rabbit."

The old man called to his daughter, who washed Wildcat's wound, put a healing salve into it, and bathed his face. Then the old man gave him a wonderfully strengthening broth and a large pitcher of sweet wine.

"This wine is really good," said Wildcat, "the first I ever tasted."

"Yes, these white people, these Frenchmen, are very clever at making good things to drink."

When Wildcat awoke, he found, of course, that he had been tricked again. The food he had eaten was rabbit pellets, the wine was stale water in a half- wilted pitcher plant. Now it was only his great hatred that kept Wildcat going, but go he did, like a streak, on Rabbit's tail.

Mahtigwess, Great Rabbit, had only enough m'te'oulin, enough magic power, left for one more trick. So he said to himself:

"This time I'd better make it good!"

Great Rabbit came to a big lake and threw a chip of wood into the water. Immediately it turned into a towering ship, the kind white men build, with tall sides, three masts, white sails, and colored flags. That ship was pierced on each side with three rows of heavy cannon.

When Wildcat arrived at this lake, he saw the ship with its crew. On deck was the captain, a gray-haired man with a large, gold- trimmed, cocked hat that had fluffy white plumes right and left.

"Rabbit!" cried Wildcat, "I know you! You're no French captain; you're Great Rabbit. I know you, Mahtigwess! I am the mighty Wildcat, and I'm coming to scalp and kill you now!"

And with that, Wildcat jumped into the lake and swam toward the ship.

Then the captain, who indeed was Mahtigwess, the Great Rabbit, ordered his men to fire their muskets and the three rows of heavy cannon. Bullets went whistling by Wildcat; cannonballs flew toward him; the whole world was spitting thunder and fire.

Wildcat had never before faced white men's firearms; they were entirely new to him. It didn't matter that the ship, cannon, muskets, cannon-balls, bullets, fire, noise, and smoke were merely illusions conjured up by Rabbit. To Wildcat they were real, and he was scared to death.

He swam back to shore and ran away. And if he hasn't died, he is running still.

And yes, as Wildcat had sworn by his tail to catch and kill Rabbit, his tail fell off, and ever since then this kind of big wildcat has a short, stumpy tail and is called a bobcat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ableegumooch, The Lazy Rabbit

In the Old Time, Ableegumooch the rabbit was Glooscap's forest guide, and helped wayfarers lost in the woods. However, as time went on, the people and animals learned to find their own way in the forest and didn't need the rabbit's services as much.

Ableegumooch grew fat and lazy. If there was something easy and fun to do, he did it. If a thing were difficult or tiring, he did not. But that is no way to keep a wigwam stocked with food.

Often, poor old Noogumee (a term of respect amongst Indians for any elderly female), his grandmother, with whom he lived, had to hunt for food herself, or they would have gone hungry. And no matter how much she scolded him, Ableegumooch refused to change his ways.

Glooscap, far away in his lodge on Blomidon, saw that the rabbit was becoming a thoroughly useless creature. He must be warned against the dangers of laziness. So, wasting no time, Glooscap descended from his lodge to the beach in three huge strides, launched his canoe, and paddled across the Bay of Fundy to the shore near the rabbit's home.

It was a fine bright morning, the air cool and tasting of salt, as it always does in the Maritime Provinces. And presently along hopped the rabbit, singing with fine spirit:

"It's a lovely day to do nothing, nothing, all the day through!"

He paid no attention to the tasty leaves and berries he might have been gathering for dinner. He was much more interested in watching other people work. There was Miko the squirrel scampering up the big maple tree, his cheeks bulged out with nuts, pausing only long enough to scold Ableegumooch for coming too near his storehouse.

There was Mechipchamooech the bumble bee, busy at the goldenrod, gathering honey for his hive. And there was Teetees the blue jay, flying worms to his family in the big pine. It was all so interesting that Ableegumooch stopped beside a stately fir tree to enjoy the scene. Suddenly behind him, he heard a voice.

"Ableegumooch, be careful!"

The rabbit jumped and whirled about, but there was nobody there. The voice spoke again, from somewhere over his head.

"Take care, Ableegumooch, or your lazy ways will bring you pain and sorrow."

The rabbit looked up and saw the fir tree shake like a leaf in a storm, yet not a breath of wind stirred. Frightened out of his wits, he ran--and he never stopped running until he was safe at home, where he told his grandmother what had happened.

"Glooscap has given you a warning," said his grand mother. "Be sure to obey him, grandson, or you will be sorry."

The rabbit's legs were still trembling from fright and exertion, and he promised at once that he would take care to mend his lazy ways in future. And indeed, for a while, he went busily about his hunting and kept the wigwam well stocked with food. But, when autumn came, he grew lazy again and went back to his old careless ways.

"It's a lovely day to do nothing, nothing, all the day through!"

So sang Ableegumooch as he sauntered through the glory of autumn trees. Noogumee begged and scolded and pleaded, but he continued to spend more time visiting his neighbors than gathering food. One day, when winter had come to the land, he came to the wigwam of Keoonik the otter. Keoonik politely asked him to dine, and the rabbit promptly accepted. Keoonik turned to his elderly house keeper and addressed her in the usual native's fashion:

"Noogumee, prepare the meal."

Then he took some fishhooks and went off, the rabbit hopping along behind, curious to see what he was going to do. Keoonik sat on the snowy bank of the river and slid down an icy path into the water. In a moment, he reappeared with a string of eels which he carried to his grandmother, and she promptly cooked them for dinner.

"Gracious!" thought Ableegumooch. "If that isn't an easy way to get a living. I can do that as well as Keoonik," and he invited the otter to be his guest at dinner on the following day. Then he hurried home.

"Come," he said to his grandmother, "we are going to move our lodge down to the river." And in spite of all she could say, he insisted on moving it. Noogumee reminded him that the wigwam was empty of food, and he ought to be out hunting, but Ableegumooch paid no attention. He was busy making a slide like Keoonik's. The weather was cold, so all he had to do was pour water down the snowy bank, where it soon froze, and there was his fishing slide. Early next day, the guest arrived. When it was time for dinner, Ableegumooch said to his grandmother:

"Noogumee, prepare the meal."

"There is nothing to prepare," said she, sadly.

"Oh, I will see to that," said the rabbit with a confident laugh, and he took his place at the top of the slide to go fishing. When he tried to push off, however, he found it was not so easy. His coat was rough and bulky and dry, not smooth and slippery like the otter's. He had to wriggle and push with his heels until at last he slid down and plunged into the water. The cold took his breath quite away, and he suddenly remembered he was unable to swim. Struggling and squealing, he thought no more of fishing, for he was in great danger of drowning.

"What on earth is the matter with him?" Keoonik asked the grandmother.

"I suppose he has seen someone else do that," sighed Noogumee, "and he thinks he can do it too."

Keoonik helped the freezing, half-drowned rabbit out of the water and, since there was nothing to eat, went home hungry and disgusted.

But do you think that cold bath cured Ableegumooch? Not at all. The very next day, as he ran idly through the forest, he came to the lodge of some female woodpeckers. He was delighted when these woodpeckers invited him to dinner.

He watched eagerly to see how they found food.

One of the woodpeckers took a dish, went up the side of an old beech tree and quickly dug out a plentiful supply of food, which was cooked and placed before the rabbit.

"My, oh my!" thought Ableegumooch. "How easily some people get a living. What is to prevent me from getting mine in that fashion?" And he told the woodpeckers they must come and dine with him.

On the day following, they appeared at the rabbit's lodge and Ableegumooch said to his grandmother importantly:

"Noogumee, prepare the meal."

"You foolish rabbit," said she, "there is nothing to prepare."

"Make the fire," said the rabbit grandly, "and I shall see to the rest."

He took the stone point from an eel spear and fastened it on his head in imitation of a woodpecker's bill, then climbed a tree and began knocking his head against it. Soon his head was bruised and bleeding, and he lost his hold and fell to the earth with a tremendous crash. The woodpeckers could not keep from laughing.

"Pray what was he doing up there?"

"I suppose he has seen someone else do that," said Noogumee, shaking her head, "and thinks he can do it too." And she advised them to go home, as there would be no food for them there that day.

Now, sore as he was, you would certainly think the rabbit had learned his lesson. Yet, a day or two later, he was idling in the woods as usual when he came upon Mooin the Bear, who invited him to dinner. He was greatly impressed at the way in which the bear got his meal. Mooin merely took a sharp knife and cut small pieces off the soles of his feet. These he placed in a kettle on the fire, and in a short while they enjoyed a delicious meal.

"This must be the easiest way of all to get a dinner," marveled Ableegumooch, and he invited Mooin to dine with him next day. Now what the rabbit did not know was that the bears preserve food on their feet. They press ripe blueberries with their paws and, after the cakes have dried upon them, cut bits off to eat. The silly rabbit thought Mooin had actually cut pieces off his paws!

At the appointed time, Ableegumooch ordered his grand mother to prepare the meal, and when she said there was nothing to prepare, he told her to put the kettle on and he would do the rest. Then he took a stone knife and began to cut at his feet as he had seen Mooin do. But oh dear me, it hurt. It hurt dreadfully! With tears streaming down his cheeks, he hacked and hacked, first at one foot and then at the other. Mooin the Bear was greatly astonished.

"What on earth is the fellow trying to do?" he asked.

Noogumee shook her head dismally.

"It is the same old thing. He has seen someone else do this."

"Well!" said Mooin crossly, "It is most insulting to be asked to dinner and get nothing to eat. The trouble with that fellow is-- he's lazy!" and he went home in a huff.

Then at last, Ableegumooch, nursing his sore feet, remembered what Glooscap had said. All at once, he saw how silly he had been.

"Oh dear!" he said. "My own ways of getting food are hard, but others' are harder. I shall stick to my own in the future," and he did.

From then on, the wigwam of Ableegumooch and his grandmother was always well stored with food, winter and summer, and though he still sings, his song has changed:

"It's a wiser thing to be busy, busy, Constantly!

And far away on Blomidon, Glooscap, seeing his foolish rabbit mend his ways at last, set a light to his pipe and smoked contentedly.