The Algonquin Legends of New England, by Charles G. Leland, , at sacred-texts.com
(Micmac and Passamaquoddy)
Wee-zig-yik-keseyook. "Of old times." Far back in the forest, by a brook, dwelt two young men, Abistanooch, the Marten, and Team, the Moose. Of these each had a wigwam, and therewith a grandmother who kept house. And Team hunted and worked industriously, but Master Marten was greatly moalet (M.), which signifies one who liveth upon his neighbors, depending on their good nature, even as he that planteth corn and beans depends upon the pleasant smiles of the sun; whence it came to pass that wherever victuals were in store there too his presence did greatly abound.
Now it happened that one day Team, the Moose, had killed a bear, and brought home a single load of the meat, leaving the rest to be looked after anon. And being thrifty, and not caring to feed those who fed
him not, neither did they thank, he said unto himself, and also to his grandmother, "Truly, the eyes of Marten shall not see this thing, his nose shall not smell thereof, neither shall his tongue taste it; so let not the tidings of our good luck go forth from the wigwam." "Yes," replied the old woman, "and well and wisely thou speakest, my son. But we have this day broken our kettle, while Marten has brought in a new one. Behold, I will go and borrow it, and having cooked in it I will wash and wipe it, so that there shall be no sign of what we did therewith, and so return it."
Now, this was done, but he who is moalet and a haunter of feasts is like a hunter of beasts: he knows well from a small sign where there is a large load, and the borrowing of kettles means the boiling of victuals therein. So having in him somewhat of sorcery, he did but step to his friend's wigwam, and, peeping through a crevice, saw a great store of bear's meat. And when the grandmother of Moose came unto him to return the kettle, just as she entered the lodge there arose from it a savory steam, and looking in it was full of well-cooked food. And Marten thanked her greatly, yet she, being put to shame, fled to her own home. But Moose said it was no matter, so the next day they went to the woods together, and all was well.
Now it befell Marten, as it might have befallen any other man, that one day he came to a distant and lonely lake in the mountains. Yet there, stepping softly as a cat behind the rocks bung with grapevines,
he heard laughing and splashing, and a pleasant sound as of girls' voices. So, peeping carefully, he saw many maids merrily bathing in the lake: and these were of the fairy race, who dwell in deep waters and dark caves, and keep away from mankind. And seeing their garments lying on the shore, and beholding among the damsels one whom he desired to obtain, 1 Marten quietly slipped along unseen, as all of his species can do, till he had the clothes in his hands. For being tinctured with magic and learned in the lore of all kind of goblins, elves, and witches, Master Marten knew that when Naiads are naked and a man has their garments he holds them at his mercy. For in the apparel lies their fairy power; and if you doubt it, do but give it a trial and see for yourself!
And having done this, the merry fellow ran inland with a brave whoop, which the fairies hearing, they in a great rage ran after the ravisher of their robes. But she whom he desired outstripped the rest, and when she approached him he did but tap her lightly on the head with a small stick, according to a certain ancient prescription followed in Fairy-land, which makes of a woman a wife; whereupon she, according
to the antique rite, being astonished to find herself so suddenly married, fainted dead away, and was carried off in peace. And as for the clothes of the others, the Marten gave them back without taking fee or rewards.
Then Team, the Moose, who was a good soul, but not wise above all the world, coming home and finding Marten married, wished also for a wife. And having heard all the tale, he said, "Well, if it is no harder than that, 't is as easy as sucking a honeysuckle, and I am as good as married." And going to the pond in the mountains, among the rocks and behind the grapevines, he too beheld the virgins jumping, flapping, splashing, and mischieving merrily, like mad minxes, in the water; whereat he, being all of a rage, as it were, caught up the clothes of these poor maids and ran; she whom he most admired catching up with him. And being, resolved to do the thing thoroughly, he grappled up a great club and gave her a bang on her small head, which stunned her indeed, and that forever, inasmuch as she was slain outright. So the Moose remained unmarried.
Now Team was one of the kind not uncommon in this world, who hold that if any other man has or gets more than they have, then they are deeply wronged. And it had come to pass that Master Marten, finding that his wife yearned greatly for the society of her sisters, offered to take yet another of them in marriage, merely to oblige his wife; for in such a kind of benevolence he was one of the best souls that ever
lived, and rather than have trouble in the family he would have wedded all the pretty girls in the country. So going as before to the pond in the mountains, among the rocks and behind the grapevines, he, by the same device, captured yet another fairy, whom, taking home, he wedded.
Yet Team took this sadly to heart, and willed that Marten should give him this last spouse, to which Marten would in nowise agree. Truly, Team argued earnestly that as he had no wife, and no wisdom wherewith to win one, of course he must have one of Marten's, or that Marten should go and get him one. To which Marten replied that Moose might skin his own skunks, and fish for his own minnows, and also paddle his own canoe to the devil, if it so pleased him,--all of these being approved Indian sayings of high and racy antiquity. Whereupon Team sought to persuade Marten with a club, who gave a soft answer by shooting a flint-headed arrow through Team's scalp-lock; and this friendship they continued for many days, passing their evenings in manufacturing missiles, and the mornings in sending them one at the other.
Now the fairy water-wives, not being accustomed to this kind of intimacy, sought to subtract themselves from it. So one morning, when Marten and Team were most industriously endeavoring to effect mutual murder, the two wives of the former fled afar to seek fortune, and succeeded therein to perfection. And it came to pass when the sun had set and the voice of
[paragraph continues] Bumole, the Spirit of Night, was heard afar on high, and Nibauchset (P.), the Night-Walker, shone over all, that the two brides lay in an oak opening of the forest, and looked at P'ses'muk, the Stars, and talked about them even as children might do. And one said to the other, "If those Stars be men, which would you have for a husband?" "By my faith," replied the other, "it should be that little red, twinkling fellow, for I like the little stars best." "And I." said the other, "will wed the Wisawaioo P'ses'm (P.), the Great Yellow Star, for I love the large stars." And, saying this in jest, they fell asleep.
But many a word spoken in jest is recalled in earnest, as these brides learned when they awoke, and found themselves married again in the Indian manner, at only a word. For she who had wished for the Great Yellow Shining Star, as she opened her eyes, heard a man's voice say, "Take care, or you will upset my war-paint!" 1 And lo, there lay by her side a great and handsome man, very noble, with large and lustrous eyes. 2 Then the other, as she awoke and stirred, heard a little feeble, cracked voice crying,
[paragraph continues] "Take care, or you will spill my eye-water!" 1 And by her was the smaller star, whom she had chosen; but he was a weak-looking old fellow, with little red, twinkling eyes. And as they had chosen so it came unto them.
But yellow or red, young or old, in a few days they both grew a-weary of the star country to which they were taken, and wished to return to the earth. And then that came to pass which made them yearn with tenfold longing; for their husbands, who were absent all day hunting, had pointed out to them a large flat stone, which they were on no account to lift; which they obeyed in this wise, that they did not both lift the stone, but only the younger, who, as soon as the Stars had gone to the greenwood, rushed to the slab, and, lifting it up, gazed greedily down into the hole beneath. And what she saw was wonderful, for it was the sky itself, and directly under them was the world in which they had lived, and specially in sight was the home of their childhood, with all its woods and rivers. And then the elder having looked, both almost broke their hearts with weeping.
Now the Stars were by no means such evil-minded men as you may have deemed; for having perceived by magic that their wives had looked through the hole in the sky, and knowing that they were lying when they denied it, they gave them leave to go back to earth. Yet there were conditions, and those not easy to such fidgety damsels as these; for they said,
[paragraph continues] "Ye shall lie together all this night, and in the morning when ye awake ye shall be in no haste to open your eyes or to uncover your faces. Wait until ye shall have heard the song of the Ktsee-gee-gil-lassis (P.), or chick-a-dee-dee. And even then ye shall not arise, but be quiet until the song of the red squirrel shall be heard. And even then ye must wait and keep your faces covered and your eyes closed until ye hear the striped squirrel sing. And then ye may leave your bed and look around."
Now the younger wife was ever impatient, and when the chick-a-dee-dee sang she would have leaped up at once, but the elder restrained her. "Wait," she said, "my sister, until we hear the Abalkakmooech." 1 And she lay still till the Adoo-doo-deech 2 began his early chatter and his morning's work. Then, without waiting, she jumped up, as did the elder, when they found themselves indeed on earth, but in the summit of a tall, spreading. hemlock-tree, and that in such a manner that they could not descend without assistance. And it had come to pass in this wise: for as each song was sung by the bird and the squirrels, they had come nearer and nearer to the earth, even as the light of day drew near, but as they could not delay they had been deserted. 3
And as they sat there and day dawned, men of the different Indian families went by, and unto all of these they cried for help. It is true that their star husbands had made for them in the tree a bed of moss, but they cared not to rest in the hemlock, for all that. 1 And of all the beasts of the forest or men of the clearing, who should be the first to appear but Team, or Master Moose, himself. And to him they cried, "N'sesenen-apkwahlin, n'sesenen!" "Oh, our elder brother, let us free; take us down, and we will be your two dear little wives, and go home with you." But he, looking up scornfully, said, "I was married this autumn." And so he went his way.
And he who next came was the shaggy Bear, or mooin, to whom they made the same request, offering themselves for no higher price than to be taken down safely out of their nest. But he growled out that he had been married in the spring, and that one wife was enough for any man. So he went his way. 2
And then who should come along but Marten himself, even the Abistanooch, whom they had deserted! And they cried out for joy, begging him to take them back. But he, behaving as if they were utter strangers, replied that he had been married in the early spring to one of his own tribe, and unto a damsel whose name was Marten, and that it was not seemly for animals to wed out of their own kind. So he scampered off, leaving the little Weasels all alone.
And last of all came Lox, whom hunters call the Indian Devil, 1 and others the Wolverine, who is exceeding subtle above the beasts of the forest, and who is gifted with more evil mischief than all of them in one. And when the Weasels called to him for help he tarried, for it came into his heart that he might in some way torment and tease them. But verily he had to deal with those who were not much more virtuous than himself, and quite as cunning, for what with traveling
from the earth to the heavens and changing husbands, these fair minevers were learning wisdom rapidly. So the elder sister, who had not the least idea of keeping her promise unless it suited her fancy, played a trick, and that quickly anon. For she at once took off her hair-string 1 and tied it into a few less than a hundred knots among the twigs of the trees, tangling it so that you would have deemed it a week's work before a man could loosen it again without injury.
Now Master Lox, having taken down the younger sister with all the politeness in the world, came for the other, and aided her also to descend. And when on the ground she indeed said, "Willee-oon," "I thank you" (P.), but begged him to go up the tree again and bring down a great treasure which she had left there, her hair-string; beseeching him for all their lives not to break or injure it in any way, but to most carefully untie every knot, for thus doing it would bring untold felicity on them all; and that they, the Weasels, would meantime build a beautiful bridal bower, or a wigwam, and that so furnished as he had never seen the like before,--in which verily they kept their word.
For they speedily built the wigwam, but the furniture thereof was of this rare kind. The Weasels had, it seems, certain sworn friends,--for birds of a feather
flock together,--and these were not far to seek, as they were the Thorns, Burrs, and Briers of all kinds, Hornets and other winged and stinged insects,--besides the Ants. And they wore, moreover, intimate with all the sharp-edged Flints in the land, which was a goodly company. So when the bower was built it had therein a hornet's nest for a bridal bed, thorns for a carpet, flints for a floor, and an ant's nest for a seat, which for a bare-footed and bare-breeched Indian is indeed a sore essay. Now it had taken Master Lox the entire day to untie the hair-string, so when he came down it was dark, and he was glad when he saw the hut and thought of resting therein.
But, as he entered, he ran among the Thorns, which pierced his nose, and Flints, which cut his feet, so that he roared aloud. Then he heard a voice, which seemed to be that of the younger Miss Weasel, crying "Namescole" (M.), "Go to my sister, yonder!" So he went, and trod in an ant-hill, and this was worse than the Briers. And then he heard another voice on that side which cried, laughing, "N'kwech-kale!" (M.), "Go to my sister, who is younger than I." And plunging furiously through the darkness, he fell on the hornet's nest; and verily the last state of that Indian was worst of all. Thus, seeing himself mocked, he became furious; so that he who has by nature the very worst temper of all beasts or men was never so angry before, and, seeking the tracks of the Weasels, he pursued them as they fled in the night and through the thick forest.
Now it came to pass that by daybreak the two girls,
even the Misses Weasel, had come to a broad river which they could not cross. But in the edge of the water stood a large Crane, motionless, or the Tum-gwo-lig-unach, who was the ferryman. Now truly this is esteemed to be the least beautiful of all the birds, for which cause he is greedy of good words and fondest of flattery. And of all beings there were none who had more bear's oil ready to anoint every one's hair with--that is to say, more compliments ready for everybody -than the Weasels. So, seeing the Crane, they sang:—
"Wa wela quis kip pat kasqu',
Wa wela quis kip pat kasqu'." (P.)
The Crane has a very beautiful long neck,
The Crane has a very beautiful long neck.
This charmed the old ferryman very much, and when they said, "Please, grandfather, hurry along," he came quickly. Seeing this, they began to chant in chorus, sweetly as the Seven Stars themselves:—
"Wa wela quig nat kasqu',
Wa wela quig nat kasqu'." (P.)
The Crane has very beautiful long legs,
The Crane has very beautiful long legs.
Hearing this, the good Crane wanted more; so when they asked him to give them a lift across, he answered slowly that to do so he must be well paid, but that good praise would answer as well. Now they who had abundance of this and to spare for
everybody were these very girls. "Have I not a beautiful form?" he inquired; and they both cried aloud, "Oh, uncle, it is indeed beautiful!" "And my feathers?" "Ah, pegeakopchu" (M.), "Beautiful and straight feathers indeed!" "And have I not a charming long, straight neck?" "Truly our uncle has it straight and long." "And will ye not acknowledge, oh, maidens, that my legs are fine?" "Fine! oh, uncle, they are perfection. Never in this life did we see such legs!" So being well pleased, the Crane put them across, and then the two little Weasels scampered like mice into the bush.
And scarcely were they concealed, or the Crane well again in his place, ere Master Lox appeared. And being in no good temper he called to Uncle Crane to set him across, and that speedily. Now the Crane had been made mightily pleased and proud by the winsome words of the Weasels, and was but little inclined to be rudely addressed. So he said to Lox, "I will bear thee over the river if thou wilt bear witness to my beauty. Are not my legs straight?" "Yea" replied the Lox, "and beautifully painted, too." Now the color thereof was little pleasing to poor Uncle Crane. "Are not my feathers very smooth and fine?" "Yea, smooth and fine; what a pity, though, that they are mildewed and dusty!" "And my straight neck?" "Yes, wonderfully straight,--straight as this," said Lox to himself, taking up a crooked stick. And then he sang:—
"Mecha guiskipat kasqu',
Meecha quig nat kasqu'." p. 154
"The Crane has a very ugly neck,
The Crane has dirty, ugly legs."
"Come, mooso me (grandfather), hurry up!
Oh, the Crane has a very ugly neck,
The Crane has dirty, ugly legs.
I wish you to be quick, mooso me. Hurry up, I say!" 1
And all of this ill-temper and insincerity was deeply and inwardly detected by Uncle Crane, but he said not a word, and only meekly bent him down to take the traveler on his back. But when in the stream, and where it was deepest and most dangerous, he gave himself a shake, and in another instant Lox was whirling round and round like a chip in the rapids. And yet a little time he was dashed against the rocks, and then anon was thrown high and dry on the shore, but dead as a seven-year-old cedar cone.
Now the Lox is a great magician at certain times and seasons, albeit his power fails him at others. 2
[paragraph continues] And he is one of those who rise from the dead. Now it came to pass that some days after two boys of the Kwedech or Mohawk race found the Lox lying dead on a rock in the sunshine, and the worms were crawling from him. But when they touched him he arose as if from sleep, and stood before them as a proud and fierce warrior. But he was scarce alive ere he sought to do them who had roused him to life a mischief; for having noted that they had fine bows, he got them into his hands, and broke them, yet all as if he meant it not. 1 And then by magic making a sound as of many children at play, afar off across the next point of land by the river, he bade them run and join the pleasant games. And when he had got them a space onward, lo, the sound seemed ever farther on, mingled with the murmur of the stream; and so they went without him, seeking it, and yet it wandered ever far away.
Now he had learned from the boys that they were of a Cullo family; and the Culloos are certain monstrous birds, exceeding fierce. But Master Lox, having seen in the cabin plenty of fine meat, desired greatly to become one of the family, and having been much about in life knew something of the ways of every one. So putting on the Culloo style, he, seeing a
babe, began to sing with the most natural air in the world a Culloo nursery-song:—
"Agoo ge abeol,
A seal-skin strap,
Now it costs very little to fall into the humor of a man; but this the woman would not do, and told him plainly that he could not deceive her. On hearing which Master Lox, in a great rage, seized his tomahawk and slew her. Then seeing a kettle boiling on the fire, he cut off her head and put it into the pot, hiding the body. And this was a merry jest after his own heart, so that it greatly solaced him. But after a time, the two boys, returning, missed their mother, and looking into the kettle, found her head. Then they knew well who had done this. And, being fearless, they pursued him, but having no bows they could do him no harm; however, they took from him his gloves, and with these they returned.
And anon there came also an uncle of the boys, or Kah-kah-goos (P.), the Crow. So he gave chase to Lox, yet all that he could do was to snatch away his cap as he ran. Yet without shame he cried aloud, "Well, my head was getting warm, and now I am cooler. Thank you!"
Then came another relative, Kitpoo, the Eagle (M.). And he, pursuing Lox, took from him his coat. Yet
LOX CARRIED OFF BY CULLO.
all unabashed he replied, "Thanks unto you also; for I was just wishing that my younger brother were here to carry my coat for me." But he who now arrived, hearing of the deadly deed, was the great Culloo himself, the most terrible of all created creatures, and he, pursuing Lox, caught him up, and carrying him in his claws, even to the summit of the sky itself, let him drop, and he was a whole day in falling; even from the first dawn unto sunset he went down ere he touched the earth. But before he was let drop, and when on high, he burst into a mocking song on what he saw, and the words were as follows
Telap tumun ek,
Yog wa egen'
Yog wa egeno
Telap tumen ek
Kumut ken ooik'
Stuga 'mkudomoos koon."
Our country all lost
Seems clearly to us
As though it were all spread with boughs.
Heigh he, hay hum!
Heigh ho, hay hum!
Our country now lost
Seems now unto us
To be blue like the clear blue sky.
Hum, hum--tol de rol!
And when let fall, this graceless jackanapes in nowise ceased his ribaldry; for while pretending to flap
with his arms as if they were wings, he imitated with his mouth, mockingly, the wish! wish! of the wide wings of the Culloo. Yet just ere he touched the earth he uttered one little magic spell, "Oh, spare my poor backbone!" And with that all the trouble of all the birds went for nothing. Truly he was mashed to a batter, and his blood and brains flew in every direction, like raspberry pudding; but among the remains his backbone lay whole, and this was his life.
And in a few days after his younger brother came by, who, seeing the dire mess, exclaimed, "Hey, what is all this?" 1 Whereupon a Voice came from the bone, crying, "Nuloogoon, ba ho!" "Ho, my leg, come hither!" and a leg came unto the spine. Then the Voice cried, "N'petunagum, ha ho!" "Ho, my arm, come hither!" And when the last fragment had come he arose, the same indomitable Lox as ever, even the Indian Devil, or Wolverine, who never says Die, and whom nothing can kill, and who is hard to put away.
Now the two brothers went on till they came to the top of a high mountain, where there lay a very great round rock, or a mighty boulder. And, being full of fun, they turned it over with great sticks, saying to it,
[paragraph continues] "Now let us run a race!" Then it rolled downhill till it stopped at the foot, they rushing along by it all the time. And when it rested they jeered it, and bade it race with them again, when it so listed.
And truly they had not long to wait, for soon after, as they sat cooking their food, they heard a mighty commotion as of something coming with dreadful speed through the forest. And lo! it was the stone in dire wrath, which, having rested a little while, came rushing through the forest, crashing the mighty trees like grass, with a roar like thunder, leaving a smooth road behind it in the roughest wilderness. Up and after the sorcerers flew the stone, and the younger slipped aside like a snake, but the elder had scarcely time to utter his magic charm, "Noo-goon ooskudeskuch!" "Let my backbone remain uninjured!" ere the awful rock rolled down upon him, crushing his bones and mashing his flesh. Yet the spine was unhurt; it remained sound as ever.
And the stone went on and ever on, till the sound of its roar died away in the breeze and afar in the wilderness.
Then the younger brother turned to the Backbone and said, "Cagooee wejismook' tumun?" (M.) "Why are you lying there?" And bearing this charm the Bone called aloud, "Ntenin ba ho!" "My body, ho!" and "Nuloogoon ba ho!" "My leg, ho!" and so with the rest of the members as before, until he that was decomposed was now recomposed; yes, and composed perfectly. And then he that was dead, but was now
alive, arose, and said as one awaking, "What have I been doing?" So his brother told him all.
Then he was greatly angered, and when the Wolverine is angry it is not a little. And he said in his wrath, "Shall I that am the devil of the woods himself be slain by birds and stones, and not be revenged?" So they went onwards through the woods till they found the Great Rock: they followed in the path of the broken trees; even by the trees did they track it. Which having found, they built a fire around it; with great stones for hammers they broke it, and ever more and still smaller, till it was all mere dust, for their souls were sore for revenge.
When lo, a great wonder! For the Spirit of the Old Rock, even that which was itself, turned all the dust to black flies, into the stinging and evil things which drive men and beasts mad, so that its hatred and spite might be carried out on all living creatures unto the end of time.
And having had their ill-will of the Rock and seen it become Flies, the two went through the forest, and so on till they came to a village of good, honest folk; and knowing what manner of men they were, Lox resolved to forthwith play them an evil trick, for in all life there was nothing half so dear to him as to make mischief, the worse the better.
And this time it came into his head that it would be a fine piece of wit to go into the town as a gay girl and get married, and see what would come of it, trusting to luck to fashion a sad fool out of somebody. So
having made himself into a delicate young beauty, richly attired, he entered the place; and truly the town was soon agog over the new guests. And the young chief of the tribe, wanting her, won her without waste of time. Truly there lieth herein some mystery. I know not what, only this I know: that there are in all towns certain folk who, by means of magic or meddling, always find out everything about everybody, and then tittle-tattle thereof. Now, albeit Lox had utterly abjured all the sinfulness of manhood, and had made a new departure in an utterly mew direction, saying not a word thereof to any one, yet in a brief measure of time, one here, another there, Jack in a corner and Jane by the bush, began to whisper of a strange thing, and hint that all was not as it should be, and, whatever the chief might think, that in their minds matters were going wrong in his wigwam.
Now Lox, knowing all this thread as soon as it was spun, began to think it high time to show his hand in the game. And what was the amazement of all the town to hear, one fine evening, that the chief's wife would soon be a mother. And when the time came Dame Lox informed her husband that, according to the custom of her people, she must be left utterly alone till he was a father and the babe born. And when in due time the cry of a small child was heard in the lodge the women waiting ran in, and received from the mother the little one, abundantly rolled in many wrappers, which they took to the chief. But what was his amazement, when having unrolled
the package, he found under one skin after another, tied up hard, yet another sewed up, and yet again, as the inmost kernel of this nut, the little withered, wizened, dead, and dried shrivelment of an unborn moose calf. Which pleased the chief so much that, dashing Master Moose into the fire, he seized his tomahawk and ran to his lodge to make his first morning call on the mother.
But Master Lox was now a man again, and expecting this call, and not wishing to see visitors, had with his brother fled to the woods, and that rapidly. And in the rush he came to a river, and, seeing a very high waterfall, thought of a rare device whereby he might elude pursuit. For he with his brother soon built a dam across the top with trees and earth, so that but little water went below. And lying in a eave, concealed with care, he imitated the boo-oo-oo of a falling stream with quaint and wondrous skill. And there he lay, and no man wist thereof.
But verily the wicked one is caught in his own snare, and even so it befell Master Lox. For as he bid, the water above, having gathered to a great lake, burst the dam, so that it all came down upon him at once and drowned him; nor was there any great weeping for him that ever I heard of. So here he passes out of this story, and does not come into it again. But whether he went for good and all out of this life is doubtful, since I find him living again in so many rare, strange histories that it has become a proverb that Lox never dies.
Now the tale returns to the two little Weasels, or Ermines, or Water-Maids, poor souls, who had such a hard life! And it happened that, fleeing from Master Lox, they came at evening to a deserted village, and entered a wigwam to pass the night. But the elder, being the wiser, and somewhat of a witch in the bud, mistrusted the place, deeming it not so empty as it seemed. And beholding by the door, lying on the ground, the Neckbone of a man or some other animal, she warned her sister that she should in nowise offend it or treat it lightly, to which the younger replied by giving it a kick which sent it flying, and by otherwise treating it with scorn and disdain.
Then they laid them down to sleep; but before their slumber came they heard a doleful, bitter voice chanting aloud and shouting, and it was Chamach keg wech, or the Neckbone, bewailing the scorn that had been put upon him, and reviling them with all manner of curses. Then the elder said, "There, truly, I said it. I knew you would be our death if you did not mind me:" it being in all cases an esteemed solace for every woman and most men to say, "I told you so!" But the younger, being well-nigh frightened to a corpse, in a soft whisper implored the elder to let her hide herself in her roll of hair, 1 which the Voice, mocking her, repeated; adding thereto all the reviling and railing that Mitche-hant, the devil, himself ever yet invented, and abusing her so for her past life, and
exhorting her so for all the sins, slips, and slops therein (of which there were many), that even the impenitent little Weasel repented and wept bitterly. Howbeit no further harm came to them beyond this, so that the next morning they went their way in peace; and I warrant you Master Neckbone got no kicks that day from them, departing. 1
Then, coming to a river, they saw on the other side a handsome young man holding a bow, and to him they called, making their usual offer to become his wives, and all for no greater thing than to carry them over the ferry. And this man's name was See-witch, 2 and to please them he did indeed pass them over in his canoe; but as for taking them home, he said that he had housekeepers in store, and as many as he needed just then, and that of a kind who kept him very busy. So they went their way onwards.
And coming anon to the great sea, they beheld yet another canoe with two men therein, and these were Kwe-moo, the Loon, and Mahgwis, the Scapegrace. And embarking with them, Loon soon began to admire the girls greatly. And saying many sweet things, he told them that he dwelt in the Wigem territory, or in the land of the Owealkesk, 3 of which he himself
was one. But the Mahgwis whispered to them aside that they should put little trust in what he told them, for Loon was a great liar. Now when they came to the land of the Owealkesk, they were amazed at the beauty of the people, and saw that all in that land was lovely, nor did they themselves seem less marvelously fair to the men therein. Indeed, the poor little Weasels began to see the end of their sorrows, for, being water-fairies, these sea-birds were nigh akin to them. And there was a great feast, a great dance, and great games held in honor of their arrival, and the two finest young Sea-Duck men, utterly unheeding the old Loon, who believed indeed that they were his own wives, carried them off, and nothing loath wedded them.
And it was in this wise. There was a canoe-race, and Kwe-moo, being bitterly angry that he was held of so little account in the Sea-Duck land, went forth with the rest, and, paddling far outside, upset his canoe, and making as if he were drowning called to the Weasels to come and save him. But the Sea, Ducks laughed, and said, "Let him alone. Truly he will never drown. We know him." And the race ended they went ashore in peace. 1
And that night they danced late, and the Weasels,
being better pleased with the two handsome Sea-Ducks than with Loon, forthwith divorced themselves out of hand, and at once married them, going to where their canoe lay, to pass the bridal night. Now Loon had not gone to the dance, but sat at home nursing his vengeance till he was well-nigh mad. And as the Weasels did not return, he went forth and sought them; and this he did so carefully that at last he found all four by the sea, sound asleep. Whereupon he, with his knife, slew the young men, and being in great fear of their friends took his canoe and went down the river to kill a deer. But not daring to return, and being mad for loss of the Weasels, and fearing to fall into the hands of the enemy, he in despair took his knife and killed himself.
Yet the Weasels, who had seen the deed done, did not betray him, for there was at least so much truth left in them. And they lived with the Sea-Ducks, and I doubt me not went on marrying and mischief-making after their wont even unto the end of their days. And their kind are not dead as yet in any land.
This is a fair specimen of many Indian legends. So much of it as is Micmac was told to Mr. Rand by a highly intelligent Indian, named Benjamin Brooks, who was certain that the story was of great antiquity. As I at first heard it, it was limited to the adventure with the Stars, but I was told that this formed only a part of an extremely long narrative. It consists, in
fact, of different parts of other tales connected, and I doubt not that there is much more of it. It cannot escape the reader versed in fairy-lore that the incident of the water-maiden captured by her clothes is common to all European nations, but that it is especially Norse; while the adventures of the Wolverine, and indeed his whole character, are strangely suggestive of Loki, the Spirit of mere Mischief, who becomes evil. The fact that both Loki and Lox end their earthly career at a waterfall is very curious. The two also become, in wizard fashion, women at will. But it is chiefly in the extreme and wanton devilishness of their tricks that they are alike. Many other resemblances will suggest themselves to those who know the Eddas.
In the Passamaquoddy version of this tale, it is See-witch, and not the Loon, who plays the part of the jealous husband at the end. The career of the Weasels seems to set forth the adventures of a couple of Indian Becky Sharps, very much in the spirit of an Indian Thackeray. The immorality of these damsels, the sponging of Marten, the deviltry of Lox, the senile follies and ferocious vindictiveness of the Loon, all seem to impress the composer of the tale as so many bubbles rising and falling on the sea of life, only remarkable for the sun-gleam of humor which they reflect. Outside these tales I know of nothing which so resembles the inner spirit of Aristophanes, Rabelais, and Shakespeare. I do not say that the genius of these great masters is in them, but their manner of seeing humor and wickedness combined. The cause
of this lies in the cultivated stoicism with which every Indian trains himself to regard life. The inevitable result of such culture is always in some way a kind of humor, either grim or gay.
A re-perusal of the Eddas has impressed me with the remarkable resemblance of Lox, the Wolverine, to Loki. The story begins with the incident of a bird maiden caught by a trick, and married. This is distinctly Scandinavian. It is known in all lands, but the Norse made the most of it. Then the two girls sit and choose the kind of stars they will have. In the Eskimo (Rink, No. 8), two girls sitting on a beach, talking in the same way, seeing eagles' and whales' bones by them, declare that they would like to marry, the one an eagle, the other a whale, and both get their wishes. In the Norse legends stars are like human beings. Lox is pursued by a giant bird; Loki is chased by Thiassi, the giant, in eagle plumage. Again, in the Edda a giant eagle drags and trails Loki over woods and mountains, till he screams for pity. The Wolverine's race with a stone giant also recalls this race, the eagle being really one of the Jötuns, who were also all mountains and rocks. The Wolverine wizard becomes a girl, merely to make mischief. Loki took the form of a woman in Fensal, where he schemed to kill Balder. This is certainly a strange coincidence; for as in the Edda, Loki's becoming a woman led to all the subsequent tragedy and to his own doom, so in the Indian tale the very same thing caused the Wolverine to be chased to the high water-fall,
where, owing to his own tricks, he perished, just as Loki came to grief in Franangursfors, the bright and glistening cataract. But the most remarkable point is that the general immoral character of the Lox, 1 or Wolverine, is so much like that of Loki, consisting of evil or mischief of the worst kind, always tempered by humor, which provokes a laugh. Now to find a similar and very singular character supported by several coincidences of incident is, if nothing more, at least very remarkable.
Loki is fire, and Lox, when killed in another tale, is revived by heat. He is carried off by the Culloo, or cloud, and let fall, typifying fire or lightning coming from a cloud. Again, in another story he dies for want of fire. And he twice dies by drowning; that is, the fire is quenched by water.
In one of the Passamaquoddy versions of this tale, which is, though less detailed, far superior in humor to the Micmac, the Loon is cheated by his two nephews, the Assoops, a species of loon, who steal the Weasels from him. He revenges himself, not by murdering, but by merely frightening them. He fills a bladder with blood, puts it under his shirt, and then stabs himself. They, thinking he is killed, lament, when he grandly comes to life, and is regarded as a great magician.
142:1 There are many of these stories which indicate passionate and deeply seated attachment, but I never once heard a real Indian say that man or woman loved, though they have words which fully express it. "He wanted her" is the nearest approach to tenderness which I have ever heard from them. This is not the result of a want of feeling, but of the suppression of all manifestation of it, to which every red man is trained from earliest infancy.
145:1 Sekroon (red ochre).
145:2 In the Passamaquoddy version of this tale, given me by Tomah Josephs, the brides awake in Star-Land. The husbands are both elderly men, and he who is the Yellow Star has bright yellow corners to his eyes, while the other has red. In another the Yellow Star is called Wabeyu, the White. While they are all distinctly forms of one tale, the three differ so much that I have had great difficulty in reconstituting what appears to be the original legend.
146:1 Nebijegwode (eye medicine, M.).
147:1 Ground squirrel.
147:2 Red squirrel.
147:3 A want of patience or of dignity, and restlessness, are more scorned by every Indian than any other fault. This is not the only story in which people are represented as being punished for being unable to bide their time. Glooskap was specially severe on all such sinners.
148:1 In another very full version of this legend (M.), the water-wives are called Weasels (Uskoolsk), "from their great whiteness." This, however, indicates supernatural fairness or beauty. In the same story the tree is a pine, not a hemlock. Insignificant as these differences may appear, they are of primary importance in the elucidation of a myth.
148:2 N. B.--There is a joke here. The animals who pass by the tree each mate at the season of the year when they declare that they were married. The White Ladies, weasels or ermines, therefore, came at the wrong time. The fickle, variable nature ascribed to woman, varium et mutabile semper femina, is supposed to be most decidedly expressed by such slender, slippery, active little animals.
149:1 In the Micmac it is the Badger, Keekwajoo, who is the rogue and teaser of the tale. But in the Passamaquoddy versions it is the dreaded and mysterious Lox, who appears to be a species of Lynx or Wolverine. The Lox is said, by trustworthy white travelers as well as Indians, to follow hunting parties for weeks, inspired apparently only by an incredible mania for mischief, much like that of a monkey or a revengeful savage, but guided by remarkable intelligence. He will find his way into a camp and destroy every object made by the hand of man with a thoroughness akin to genius, and what he cannot destroy he will carry to a great distance and carefully conceal. As his ferocity is equal to his craftiness, he is very appropriately termed the Indian Devil.
150:1 The Hair-String, Saggalobee (M.), occurs very often in Indian legends, generally as gifted with magic. The Indian women allowed their hair to grow long, then doubled it upon the back of the head, often making additions of something to enlarge the roll. It was then bound in a bunch with the string.
154:1 This dialogue, including the songs, is from a very curious Passamaquoddy version of the tale, sent to me by Louis Mitchell. As in all such cases, there is far more humor in the Passamaquoddy narratives than in the Micmac or Eskimo.
154:2 From this point of the legend onward there is an inextricable confusion as regards the four different versions. While the hero is decidedly a Badger in the Micmac, I regard the great ferocity, craft, and above all the vitality which he displays as far more characteristic of the Lox or Wolverine of the Passamaquoddy. What is almost decisively in favor of the latter theory is that in all the stories, despite his craft and power, he is always getting himself into trouble through them. This is eminently characteristic of the Lox, much less so of the Badger.
155:1 In the Passamaquoddy version of this tale, when Lox is thus dismembered, the ants, pitying him, bring his scattered members together. As soon as he recovers, the Wolverine, with characteristic ingratitude, amuses himself by trampling his benefactors to death beneath his feet.
158:1 The dead body of a sorcerer must lie until addressed by some human being. Then it revives. This is suggestive of vampirism, which is well known to the Indians. There is something strangely ghastly in the idea of the Voice calling separately to each dead limb to come to it. The Culloo is an emblem of the cloud, and Lox let fall from one probably signified fire, or the lightning.
163:1 That is, the elder should retain the human form, and the younger become a weasel.
164:1 This incident of the Neckbone is very much like the common nursery tale of Teeny Tiny, in which an old woman takes home a human bone and puts it in the cupboard. It torments her all night by its cries.
164:2 A kind of small sea-duck.
164:3 A very beautiful species of sea-duck.
165:1 Here the Micmac narrative ends. The rest is as it was given to me by Noel Josephs, or Chi gatch gok, the Raven, a Passamaquoddy. It would not be a complete Indian tale if a man having received a slight or injury did not take a bloody revenge for it.
169:1 The coincidence of name amounts to something, as Lox is not, I believe, an Indian word.