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 grandmother. "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 the 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
"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 grandmother 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 this 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
"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.
|Ableegumooch, The Lazy Rabbit
An Algonquin Legend
Music: Spirits of the Past by AH-NEE-MAH
|Adventures of Great Rabbit
An Algonquin Legend
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
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 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 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 again.
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
"Sir, have you seen a very scared, 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
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 a 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." wildcat 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, ans 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.
|Algon and the Sky Girl
An Algonquin Legend
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 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
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.
|Algonquin Creation Myth
An Algonquin Legend
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 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
became a wicked wolf-spirit that still occasionally torments humans and animals, but fears the light of day.
|Algonquin Flood Myth
An Algonquin Legend
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.
|Glooscap and his People
An Algonquin Legend
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
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 lives
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
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
"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 had 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, as 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 was was, each kept secret from all but the Stars, whom they trusted. Each sometimes talked in the starlight to the people pf 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 anything I like, for nothing can harm me but the roots of a flowering
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 a 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 swiftly 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 so 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 the 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.
|Glooscap and 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
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.
|Glooskap the Divinity, of Glooskap's Birth,
of His Brother Malsum the Wolf
An Algonquin Legend
Now the great lord Glooskap, who was worshipped in after-days by all the Wabanaki, or children of light, was a twin with a brother. As he was
good, this brother, whose name was Malsumsis, or Wolf the younger, was bad. Before they were born, the babies consulted to consider how they had
best enter the world. And Glooskap said, "I will be born as others are." But the evil Malsumsis thought himself too great to be brought forth in such a
manner, and declared that he would burst through his mother's side. And as they planned it so it came to pass. Glooskap as first came quickly to
light, while Malsumsis kept his word, killing his mother.
The two grew up together, and one day the younger, who knew that both had charmed lives, asked the elder what would kill him, Glooskap. Now
each had his own secret as to this, and Glooskap, remembering how wantonly Malsumsis had slain their mother, thought it would be misplaced
confidence to trust his life to one so fond of death, while it might prove to be well to know the bane of the other. So they agreed to exchange secrets,
and Glooskap, to test his brother, told him that the only way in which he himself could be slain was by the stroke of an owl's feather, though this was
not true. And Malsumsis said, "I can only die by a blow from a fern-root."
It came to pass in after-days that Kwah-beet-a-sis, the son of the Great Beaver, or, as others say, Miko the Squirrel, or else the evil which was in
himself, tempted Malsumsis to kill Glooskap; for in those days all men were wicked. So taking his bow he shot Ko-ko-khas the Owl, and with one of
his feathers he struck Glooskap while sleeping. Then he awoke in anger, yet craftily said that it was not by an owl's feather, but by a blow from a
pine-root, that his life would end.
Then the false man led his brother another day far into the forest to hunt, and, while he again slept, smote him on the head with a pine-root. But
Glooskap arose unharmed, drove Malsumsis away into the woods, sat down by the brook-side, and thinking over all that had happened, said,
"Nothing but flowering rush can kill me." But the Beaver, who was hidden among the reeds, heard this, and hastening to Malsumsis told him the
secret of his brother's life. For this Malsumsis promised to bestow on Beaver whatever he should ask; but when the latter wished for wings like a
pigeon, the warrior laughed, and scornfully said, "Get thee hence; thou with a tail like a file, what need hast thou of wings?"
Then the Beaver was angry, and went forth to the camp of Glooskap, to whom he told what he had done. Therefore Glooskap arose in sorrow and in
anger, took a fern-root, sought Malsumsis in the deep, dark forest, and smote him so that he fell down dead. And Glooskap sang a song over him and
The Beaver and the Owl and the Squirrel, for what they did and as they did it, all come again into these stories; but Malsumsis, being dead, was turned
into the Shick-shoe mountains in the Gaspe peninsula.
|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 others 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.l 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 river. 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 your 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.
|How Glooscap Found the Summer
An Algonquin Legend
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
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
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.
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 way 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 hope to freeze him again to sleep. I am singing the song of
But this time the Master did the talking. This time his m'teoulin 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.
|How Mahtigwess, The Rabbit Dined With The Woodpecker Girls
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. Tis 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.
|How One Of The Partridge's Wives Became A Sheldrake-Duck,
Why Her Feet and Feathers Are Red
An Algonquin Legend
N'karnayoo, of the old time, there was a hunter who lived in the woods. He had a brother, who was so small that he kept him in a box, and when he
went forth he closed this very carefully, for fear lest an evil spirit (Mitche-hant) should get him.
One day this hunter, returning, saw a very beautiful girl sitting on a rock by a river, making a moccasin. And being in a canoe he paddled up softly and
silently to capture her, but she, seeing him coming, jumped into the water and disappeared. On returning to her mother, who lived at the bottom of the
river, she was told to go back to the hunter and be his wife; "for now," said the mother, "you belong to the man."
The hunter's name was Mitchihess, the Partridge. When she came to his lodge he was absent. So she arranged everything for his return, making a bed
of boughs. At night he came back with one beaver. This he divided; cooked one half for supper and laid by the other half. In the morning when she
awoke he was gone, and the other half of the beaver had also disappeared. That night he returned with another beaver, and the same thing took place
again. Then she resolved to spy and find out what all this meant.
So she laid down and went to sleep, wide awake, with one eye open. Then he quietly rose and cooked the half of the beaver, and taking a key
(Apkwosgehegan) unlocked a box, and took out a little red dwarf and fed him. Replacing the elf, he locked him up again, and lay down to sleep. And
the small creature had eaten the whole half beaver. But ere he put him in his box he washed him and combed his hair, which seemed to delight him.
The next morning, when her husband had gone for the day, the wife sought for the key, and having found it opened the box and called to the little fellow
to come out. This he refused to do for a long time, though she promised to wash and comb him. Being at length persuaded, he peeped out, then she
pulled him forth. But whenever she touched him her hands became red, though of this she took no heed, thinking she could wash it off at will. But lo!
While combing him, there entered a hideous being, an awful devil, who caught the small elf from her and ran away.
Then she was terribly frightened. And trying to wash her hands, the red stain remained. When her husband returned that night he had no game; when
he saw the red stain he knew all that had happened; when he knew what had happened he seized his bow to beat her; when she saw him seize his bow to
beat her she ran down to the river, and jumped in to escape death at his hands, though it should be by drowning. But as she fell into the water she
became a sheldrake duck. And to this day the marks of the red stain are to be seen on her feet and feathers.
|How The Partridge Built Good Canoes For All The Birds,
A Bad One For Himself
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.l 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 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.
|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.
|Relating How The Rabbit Became Wise By Being Original
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'teoulin, 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'teoulin. 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.l 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 hit 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 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! Rabbits!" 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 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
hall, where there was a great fire burning in the middle of 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 to 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 can see, split my
"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 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 picher-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'teoulin, 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 nd 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.
|The Amazing Adventures of Master Rabbit With the Otter, the Woodpecker Girls, and Mooin the Bear.
Also a Full Account of the Famous Chase, In Which He Fooled Lusifee, The Wild Cat
An Algonquin Legend
Of old times, Mahtigwess, the Rabbit, who is called in the Micmac tongue Ableegumooch, lived with his grandmother, waiting for better times; and truly
found it a hard matter in midwinter, when ice was on the river and snow was on the plain, to provide even for his small household. And running through
the forest one day he found a lonely wigwam, and he that dwelt therein was Keeoony, the Otter.
The lodge was on the bank of a river, and a smooth road of ice slanted from the door down to the water. And the Otter made him welcome, and directed
his housekeeper to get ready to cook; saying which, he took the hooks on which he was wont to string fish when he had them, and went to fetch a mess for
dinner. Placing himself on the top of the slide, he coasted in and under the water, and then came out with a great bunch of eels, which were soon cooked,
and on which they dined.
"By my life," thought Master Rabbit, "but that is an easy way of getting a living! Truly these fishing-folk have fine fare, and cheap! Cannot I, who am so
clever, do as well as this mere Otter? Of course I can. Why not?" Thereupon he grew so confident of himself as to invite the Otter to dine with him--
adamadusk ketkewop-- on the third day after that, and so went home.
"Come on!" he said to his grandmother the next morning; "let us remove our wigwam down to the lake." So they removed; and he selected a site such as
the Otter had chosen for his home, and the weather being cold he made a road of ice, or a coast, down from his door to the water, and all was well. Then
the guest came at the time set, and Rabbit, calling his grandmother, bade her get ready to cook a dinner. "But what am I to cook, grandson?" inquired the
"Truly I will see to that," said he, and made him a nabogun, or stick to string eels. Then going to the ice path, he tried to slide like one skilled in the art, but
indeed with little luck, for he went first to the right side, then to the left, and so hitched and jumped till he came to the water, where he went in with a bob
backwards. And this bad beginning had no better ending, since of all swimmers and divers the Rabbit is the very worst, and this one was no better than
his brothers. The water was cold, he lost his breath, he struggled, and was well-nigh drowned.
"But what on earth ails the fellow?" said the Otter to the grandmother, who was looking on in amazement.
"Well, he has seen somebody do something, and is trying to do likewise," replied the old lady.
"Ho! Come out of that now," cried the Otter, "and hand me your nabogun!" And the poor Rabbit, shivering with cold, and almost frozen, came from the
water and limped into the lodge. And there he required much nursing from his grandmother, while the Otter, plunging into the stream, soon returned
with a load of fish. But, disgusted at the Rabbit for attempting what he could not perform, he threw them down as a gift, and went home without tasting
|The Giant Magicians
An Algonquin Legend
There once was 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.
"Vch 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
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 swing 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 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 as 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 to him in 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 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 all 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'teoulin, the manitou power of the greatest and wisest of
the olden time. He was indeed Megumoowessoo, and had attained to the Mystery.