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March: The Month Of The Rabbit And Spring [ The Red Indian Fairy Book ]   How Maple-Sugar Came (Salteaux)   A FTER Nanahboozhoo had...

March: The Month Of The Rabbit And Spring

March: the Month of the Rabbit and Spring [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

March: The Month Of The Rabbit And Spring [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

 

How Maple-Sugar Came

(Salteaux)  

AFTER Nanahboozhoo had given the Wild Roses their thorns, he wandered about the world playing pranks on the Little People of Darkness, so that they determined to be revenged on him and kill his old Grandmother Nokomis. Nanahboozhoo loved his grandmother dearly, and when he knew that the Little People wished to hurt her, he took Nokomis upon his strong back, and flew away with her to a forest.

Wonderful was the forest, for it was in the Autumn of the year, and the Maple Trees were all yellow, green, and crimson. From a distance they looked like a great fire. It happened that the Little People followed after Nanahboozhoo, and when they saw the bright colours of the Maples, through the haze of Indian Summer, they thought the whole world was in flames, and turned back and hid in their holes.

Nanahboozhoo was so pleased with the beautiful Maples for having saved his grandmother from the Little People that he decided to live among the trees, and he made old Nokomis a wigwam of their brightest branches.

One day, some Indians came seeking Nanahboozhoo to ask for help. They found him in his grandmother's wigwam among the yellow, green, and crimson Maples, where he received them kindly.

"O Nanahboozhoo," said they, "the Indians of the Far South have a delicious sweet thing they call Sugar, and we have nothing of the kind. We sent runners with gifts to the South to get an abundance of Sugar for our people; but some of the runners were killed and others wounded. Tell us, therefore, O Nanahboozhoo, how we may make Sugar for ourselves."

At first Nanahboozhoo was greatly puzzled, for he had been in the Southland and knew how hard it was to make Sugar. But old Nokomis, when she heard what the Indians asked, added her pleadings to theirs, for she too had tasted Sugar and longed for more. Of course Nanahboozhoo could not refuse to help, so he thought a while, and said:—

"Since the beautiful Maples were so good to Nokomis, henceforth in the Spring of the year they shall give the Indians sweet sap. And when the sap is boiled down thick and delicious, it will cool and harden into Sugar."

Then Nanahboozhoo gave the Indians a bucket made of Birchbark, and a stone tapping-gouge with which to make holes in the tree-trunks; and he shaped for them some Cedar spiles or little spouts, to put in the holes, and through which the sap might run from the trees into buckets. He told them, too, that they must build great fireplaces in the woods near the Maple groves, and when the buckets were full of sap, they must pour it into their kettles, and boil it down. And the amount of Sugar they might boil each Spring would depend on the number of Cedar spiles and Birchbark buckets they made during the Winter.

And every Springtime since, when the Frost is going out of the ground and the Arbutus blossoms under the snow, the sweet sap mounts through the trunks of the Maple Trees, and the Northern Indians gather the sap, and say, "This is the way Nanahboozhoo taught us to make Maple-Sugar!"

 

Mishosha or the Enchanted Sugar-Maple

(Chippewa)  

VERY, very long ago, before there were so many people as now, two brothers were lost in a wide forest. They wandered on and on, not knowing where to go, and the elder often carried his little brother, when the child grew too tired to walk. Sometimes they gathered wild fruit, and sometimes they shot birds and roasted them. Day after day they plunged deeper into the forest, and night after night they slept in the branches.

At last they saw an opening through the trees, and soon they were delighted to find themselves on the shore of a beautiful lake. The elder brother wandered about picking the hips from the Wild-Rose bushes, while the little brother sat on the beach, and amused himself by shooting arrows into the sand.

One of the arrows happened to fall into the lake, and when the elder brother saw it floating away, he sprang into the water to get it, for he had only a few arrows left.

The waves carried the arrow far from land, and the youth swam after it. But, just as he was about to grasp it, a canoe approached him, as swift as lightning. In it was an old man, who leaned over the side and seized the swimming youth. He dragged him into the canoe, which darted away across the lake.

The little brother, on the beach, fell on his knees, and wept, and stretched out his hands; while the youth besought the old man with tears: "O my Grandfather, pray take my little brother, too! Do not leave him alone to die of grief and hunger!"

But the old man only laughed a wicked laugh, "Ha! Ha! Ha!" and struck the canoe a blow, and it sped even more quickly over the water.

Soon they approached an island in the centre of the lake. It was an Enchanted Island, the abode of the old man, who was Mishosha, the evil Magician. There he lived with his two daughters. And though he was the terror of all men, his daughters were lovely and gentle.

He led the youth to his lodge, where his daughters were seated. "Rise up, my child," said he to the elder, "I have brought you a handsome husband."

But the maiden drooped her lovely head, and said never a word. She and her sister rose up, and cooked the supper. And after they had all eaten, the youth lay down in a corner of the lodge to sleep. But soon he heard the two maidens whispering together, while their father slept.

"Alas!" said the elder daughter, "our father has brought this young stranger, not to be my husband, but to kill him most cruelly! How long must we see such wickedness and do nothing!"

And when the youth heard the elder maiden speak thus, he crept to her side. He told her how Mishosha had seized him, and left his little brother to die of grief and hunger.

The maiden wept to hear this, and bade him rise up. "Go quickly," said she, "and take our father's magic canoe. Put food in it, and step in, and give it a blow. It will carry you to your little brother. Only return here before the Sun rises, and our father wakes."

So the youth rose up, and hastened and loaded the canoe with food. Then he stepped in, and gave it a blow. Straightway it sped swiftly over the waves. In a short time he drew near the beach, and there lay the little brother, who had cried himself to sleep.

The youth gave the child food, and told him to wait in patience, for soon he hoped to overcome the evil Magician. Then he would return to his little brother never to leave him again. So the child was comforted, and the youth, stepping into the canoe, gave it a blow, and it sped like lightning back to the Enchanted Island.

When the Sun rose, Mishosha awoke, and said to the youth: "Come, my Son, I want you to go with me to gather Gulls' eggs. I know an island where there are many."

So the youth, not knowing how to refuse, stepped into the canoe with the old man, who gave it a blow, and in an instant they were at the island. They found the shore covered with Gulls' eggs, while a flock of Gulls hung like a cloud over the island.

"Go, my Son," said Mishosha, "and gather the eggs for me."

The youth obeyed, but no sooner had he stepped ashore than Mishosha pushed the canoe far from land. "Listen, ye Gulls!" cried the evil one, "you have long expected a gift from me! I now give you this youth. Fly down, and devour him!" Then, striking his canoe, Mishosha darted away, laughing his wicked laugh, "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Immediately the Gulls, like a cloud, descended, shrieking, and enveloped the youth with their wings. But he seized his knife, and severed the neck of the first bird he could grasp. He hung its skin and feathers on his breast, and cried out:—

"Thus will I treat every bird that injures me! It is not for you, O Gulls, to eat human flesh! Nor is it in the power of that wicked Magician to give me to you. Take me at once on your backs, and carry me to his lodge."

The Gulls obeyed. They drew close together so that the youth rested on their outstretched wings. And even before Mishosha could reach his home, they bore the youth quickly to the lodge on the enchanted Island. There they set him down, and flew away.

The daughters were surprised and delighted to see him; but when Mishosha entered, he looked at him, and said never a word.

When morning came, Mishosha said: "Come, my Son, I will take you to an island covered with beautiful pebbles shining like silver. I wish you to gather some for me."

So once more the two entered the canoe, and the old man gave it a blow, and they were instantly at the island. He bade the youth go ashore, but no sooner had he done so than Mishosha pushed the canoe far from land.

"Arise, King of Fishes!" the evil one cried, "you have long expected a gift from me! I give you this youth. Arise and eat him!" Then, striking his canoe, Mishosha darted away, laughing his wicked laugh, "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Immediately a monstrous Fish put forth his snout from the water. It was so long that it reached across the island. He opened wide his oozing jaws to seize his prey. But the youth drew his knife, and cried out:—

"Thus will I kill you! It is not for you, O Fish, to eat human flesh! Listen not to the words of the wicked one; he cannot give me to you. Take me on your back, and carry me at once to his lodge."

The King of Fishes obeyed. He lifted his back from the water, and the youth seated himself, and held on by the fins. Quickly they sped through the waves. And even before Mishosha could reach his home, the Fish placed the youth on the shore of the Enchanted Island, and swam away.

The daughters were surprised and delighted to see the youth; and when Mishosha entered, he looked at him, and said to himself: "What kind of a man is this whose power is so great! I must destroy him to-morrow!"

When the morning was come, Mishosha said: "Come, my Son, I wish you to get some young Eagles for me. I know an island where they dwell."

So again the two entered the canoe, and the old man gave it a blow, and instantly they were at the island. This time he stepped out of the canoe, and led the youth to a tall Pine Tree. And in the topmost boughs were the Eagles' nests.

"Now, my Son," said Mishosha, "climb up the tree, and bring down the young birds to me."

The youth obeyed, climbing slowly, until he reached the nests.

"Tree! Tree!" cried the evil one, "stretch yourself toward the clouds, and grow taller and taller!"

And immediately the top of the Pine Tree stretched itself, and shot upward into the air, carrying the youth with it.

"Listen, O Eagles!" then cried the old man, "you have long expected a gift from me! I give you this youth. Tear out his eyes!" Then, entering his canoe, Mishosha gave it a blow, and, as he darted away, he laughed his wicked laugh, "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

The Eagles, uttering savage screams, circled around the youth, trying to tear out his eyes with their beaks and claws. But with his knife he cut off the head of the first bird that attacked him.

"Thus will I do," cried he, "to every bird that injures me! It is not for you, O ravenous Eagles, to eat human flesh! Nor can Mishosha give me to you. Carry me back at once to his lodge."

The Eagles obeyed. They clustered around him, forming a seat with their backs. Then they flew with him toward the Enchanted Island. And as they crossed the lake, they passed over Mishosha lying asleep in the bottom of his swiftly moving canoe. So they reached the Enchanted Island first, and, placing the youth on the shore, flew away.

The daughters received him with joy, and when Mishosha entered, he looked at him, and thought: "Alas! Who is this, whose power is greater than mine! I cannot destroy him!"

Now, when the morning was come, the youth said to Mishosha: "My Grandfather, I have gone on perilous errands with you. To-day I must ask you to go with me. I wish to try my skill in hunting. I know an island where there is plenty of game."

The old man consented, for he thought in his heart, "I will destroy him while hunting."

So together they entered the canoe, and the youth gave it a blow, and they were instantly at the island.

They spent the day hunting, and when night came on, they set up a lodge of branches in the woods. Soon Mishosha was in deep slumber, and the youth arose. Now, the feet and legs were the only parts of Mishosha's body that were not guarded by evil spirits. So the youth took one of the Magician's leggings, and one of his moccasins, and threw them into the fire. Soon they were consumed. Then the youth lay down and slept. And while he dreamed, a great storm arose over the island. A piercing, icy wind began to blow, and sleet and snow covered the ground and bushes. And when they both woke in the morning, the deep snow was everywhere, and the cold wind was blowing.

Then the youth got up, and called Mishosha to go hunting. But the old man could not find his legging and moccasin. With despair in his heart, he was forced to follow the youth, and he stumbled and crept through the snow that clutched his bare leg like an icy hand.

Often the youth turned his head to see if Mishosha was following. He saw him falter, almost benumbed with the cold, but still he followed. Onward they went, hour after hour, through drifts and across ice-bound pools. At length they stepped from the woods, out upon the sandy shore. The youth then saw Mishosha stand still on the shore, for he could go no farther.

The old man's legs grew stiff and fixed to the ground. But still he kept stretching out his arms, and swinging his body to and fro. Every moment a numbness crept through his limbs. His feet became roots in the earth, his legs grew together, and were covered with bark. The feathers on his head turned to leaves, and his arms to branches. And he was no longer Mishosha the Magician, but a tall and stiff Sugar-Maple tree, leaning toward the water.

Then the youth rejoiced, and sprang into the magic canoe. He gave it a blow, and soon it was at the Enchanted Island. He told the daughters what had happened, and they were happy to be rid of their wicked father. They all entered the canoe, and swiftly it darted to the beach where the little brother was waiting. And then the elder daughter married the youth; and the four lived happily together in the forest.

 

How Master Rabbit Went Fishing

(Micmac)  

IN old times, Master Rabbit lived with his grandmother in a comfortable little wigwam. In Summer it was easy for him to get food, but when Winter came and the ice was thick on the river, and the snow was deep on the plain, he and his grandmother often went hungry.

One cold day Master Rabbit was running through the forest looking for something to eat, and by and by he came to a lonely wigwam on the bank of a river. A smooth path of ice slanted from the door down to the water. And inside the wigwam sat the Otter.

Master Rabbit went in, and the Otter welcomed him, and told his daughter to get the fire ready to cook the dinner. Then the Otter took from the wall his hooks on which he strung Fish, and went to fetch a mess. He sat on the top of the icy slide and, coasting down it, plunged under the water. Soon he came back with a great bunch of Eels strung on his hooks. His daughter dressed the Eels, and cooked them, and they all sat down to eat.

March: the Month of the Rabbit and Spring [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

"Hi! Ho!" thought Master Rabbit, "but that is an easy way to get a living! I am clever, so why can't I do the same thing as well as this Otter? Of course I can! I'll try!" So he invited the Otter to dine with him in three days, and went home.

The next morning, Master Rabbit said to his grandmother, "Come, let us move our wigwam down to the lake." So they moved it, and he chose a spot close to the edge of the shore. Then he made a nice slide of ice, like the Otter's, from the door of the wigwam down to the water.

On the third day the Otter came, and entered the wigwam. Master Rabbit welcomed him, and told his grandmother to get the fire ready to cook the dinner.

"What am I to cook, Grandson?" asked she.

"I'll see to that," said he. And he took from the wall a stick on which to string Eels.

Then he sat on the slide and tried to coast down it, but he did not know how. First he went to the right, then he went to the left, then he spun around. After that he shot down the slide, and went head over heels into the water. There he lost his breath; and the water was cold, and he was almost drowned.

"What strange thing is he trying to do?" asked the Otter.

"He must have seen some one do that," said the grandmother, with surprise, "and is trying to do the same thing."

"Is that all!" said the Otter. Then he called out to Master Rabbit, "Hi! Ho! Come out of there, and give me your Eel stick!"

So poor Master Rabbit came creeping out of the water, sputtering, shivering, and almost frozen. He limped into the wigwam, and his grandmother dried his fur, and warmed him by the fire.

As for the Otter, he plunged into the lake, and soon returned with a load of Fish. He threw them down on the floor, and went off in disgust, without waiting for dinner.

 

The Woodpecker Girls

(Micmac)  

NOW, Master Rabbit, after he had been so foolish, was not discouraged at all. And one day, when he was wandering about the wilderness, he came to a wigwam filled with pretty girls. They wore red feathers on their heads, and had long bills; and no wonder, for they were Woodpecker Girls!

As Master Rabbit was hungry and tired, he hoped that he would be asked to dinner, so he walked into the wigwam and spoke nicely to the girls. They asked him to sit down and eat with them. And so he sat down and waited.

By and by one of the girls took a little wooden dish, and ran lightly up the trunk of a tree. She stopped here and there, and tapped with her bill and pulled from the bark a lot of little insects, white like grains of rice. She filled her dish with them, and then ran down the tree, and cooked the insects for dinner.

When they had all dined, Master Rabbit said to himself, "Hi! Ho! how easily some people get their living! What is to hinder me from doing the same?" So he asked the Woodpecker Girls to dine with him in two days, and went home.

The day came, and the girls arrived, and, entering the wigwam, sat down. Then Master Rabbit said, "Wait while I go and get the dinner."

So he took a dish, and tied an Eel spear to his nose. He climbed up a tree as best he could, and tapped with the spear; but could not find a single insect. Instead, he tore his fur and cut his nose so that the blood ran out, and stained his head. And the only part of him that looked like a Woodpecker, was his red head!

Then all the pretty girls watched him, and laughed, and said, "What strange thing is he trying to do?"

"Ah," said his grandmother, "I suppose he has seen some one do that, and is trying to do the same thing."

"Is that all!" cried the prettiest Woodpecker Girl, and she called out to Master Rabbit, "Hi! Ho! Come down from there, and give me your dish!"

So Master Rabbit, ashamed and bleeding, came falling out of the tree, and crept into the wigwam, where his grandmother healed his head with herbs.

As for the prettiest Woodpecker Girl, she ran up the tree, and soon came back with her dish full of insects. Then all the girls, laughing hard at Master Rabbit, went off without waiting for dinner.

 

Bad Wild Cat

(Passamaquoddy)  

AFTER this Master Rabbit gave up imitating other people, and studied magic instead, so that he became a great Magician. Now, his enemy Bad Wild Cat started one day to hunt him down, and Master Rabbit determined with all his might not to be caught. So he picked up a handful of magic chips, and threw one as far as he could, and jumped on it; and then he threw another, and jumped on that; so he made no tracks. And when he had got out of scent, sight, and sound, he scampered away like the wind.

As for Bad Wild Cat, he rushed through the woods to Master Rabbit's wigwam, and found him gone. Then he swore by his tail that he would catch Master Rabbit, if he had to hunt him forever. So he kept going around and around the wigwam, all the time getting a little farther and farther away, until at last he found Rabbit tracks. Then he went in hot haste after Master Rabbit.

They both ran hard until night came on, when Master Rabbit had only time enough to trample down the snow a bit, and stick a Spruce twig in it, and sit on it.

Along came Bad Wild Cat, and when he reached the snow he found a fine wigwam, and put his head in. All that he saw was an old man, whose hair was grey, and who had two long venerable ears.

"Old man, have you seen a Rabbit running this way?" he asked.

"Rabbits! Rabbits!" said the old man. "Why, of course I have seen many. They run about in the woods here. I see dozens of them every day. But I am an old man, an old man living alone, and you are cold and hungry, so you had better stay here to-night."

Bad Wild Cat was greatly impressed, and went in and sat down. After a good supper, he lay before the fire, and having run all day, soon fell asleep.

But, oh! how miserable he was when he woke in the morning, to find himself in the open field, lying in the snow, and almost starved! The wind blew as if to kill him, and seemed to go straight through his body.

Then he saw that he had been fooled, and up he jumped in a rage, and swore by his teeth as well as his tail, that Master Rabbit should die. So he ran on fast, and he howled as he went:—



     "Oh! how I hate him!

      How I despise him!

      How I laugh at him!

      Oh! may I scalp him!"



Well, he ran all that day, and when night came Master Rabbit heard Bad Wild Cat coming near. He had a little more time than before, so he trampled down a heap of snow, and strewed branches of trees about.

And when Bad Wild Cat got there he found a big Indian village, full of people going to and fro. The first person he met was a young man whose ears stood up like two handles of a pitcher.

"Have you seen a Rabbit running this way?" he asked the young man.

"Rabbits! Rabbits!" replied the young man. "Why, there are hundreds of them racing about the Cedar swamp near this place. You can get as many as you want."

Just then the Chief of the village came up, and he was very remarkable and grey, with a long lock standing up on either side of his head. He invited Bad Wild Cat to his wigwam, where his two beautiful daughters cooked a fine supper. And when Bad Wild Cat wished to sleep, they made him a couch of a White Bear's skin, and laid it before the fire. And so he went to sleep.

But, oh! how he raged when he woke in the morning, and found himself in a wet Cedar swamp, and his head cut by a stone! The wind was blowing ten times worse than before; and all around him were Rabbit tracks and broken branches.

Up he jumped, and swore by his tail, teeth, and claws, that he would be revenged. And he snarled as he went:—



     "Oh! how I hate him!

      How I despise him!

      How I laugh at him!

      Oh! may I scalp him!"

Well, Master Rabbit and Bad Wild Cat both ran hard. But Bad Wild Cat was tired and almost broken down with weariness and his head was sore. About noon he came to two good wigwams, and looking into one he saw an old grey-haired man with two long white feathers, one on either side of his head. And in the other wigwam was a young girl, his daughter.

They received Bad Wild Cat kindly, and when the old man saw his sore head, he said that he must get a Doctor at once, or Bad Wild Cat would die. So the old man hurried out, and left his daughter to feed the stranger.

When the Doctor came, he, too, was a grey old man, with a scalp-lock strangely divided like two horns. He looked so queer, and resembled a Rabbit so much, that Bad Wild Cat said, "How did you get that split nose?"

"That is very simple," said the Doctor. "Once I was hammering wampum beads, and the stone I beat them on broke in halves, and a piece flew up and split my nose."

"But," said Bad Wild Cat, "why are the soles of your feet yellow like a Rabbit's?"

"That is very simple," replied the Doctor. "Once I was preparing tobacco, and had to hold it down with my feet for I needed both my hands to work with."

Then Bad Wild Cat was satisfied and did not suspect any more, and let the Doctor put cooling salve on his wound, and soon he felt better. Before the Doctor left, he placed a little pitcher of wine by Bad Wild Cat's side, so that he might refresh himself in the night. Then he departed, and Bad Wild Cat went to sleep.

But, oh! the wretchedness in the morning! For when Bad Wild Cat woke, he was lying in the deep snow. His head was swollen, and the horrid wound was stuffed with Hemlock needles and Pine splinters. And this was the cooling salve the Doctor had applied! As for the pitcher of wine, it was still left in the snow, just a little Pitcher Plant full of foul water.

Up jumped Bad Wild Cat, and he swore by his tail, teeth, claws, and eyes that he would be revenged. And he groaned as he went:—



     "Oh! how I hate him!

      How I despise him!

      How I laugh at him!

      Oh! may I scalp him!"



Well, by this time Master Rabbit's magic had almost given out, and he had just enough left for one more trick. So coming to a lake, he picked up a chip, and threw it into the water, and it became a great ship such as white men build, and Master Rabbit was the captain.

And when Bad Wild Cat came up, he saw the ship with sails spread and banners flying. The captain stood on the deck with folded arms; while on either side of his cocked hat rose two points like grand and stately horns.

But Bad Wild Cat cried out, "I know you, Master Rabbit! You cannot escape me this time! I have you now!" And he leaped into the water, and swam toward the ship. Then the captain ordered his men to fire all the guns, and they did so with a bang.

And Bad Wild Cat was frightened almost to death! He swam back to the shore, and ran into the forest; and if he is not dead, he is running there still.

 

How the Four Winds Were Named

 (Iroquois)

WHEN the world was first made, says the old Iroquois Grandmother, Gaoh, the mighty Master of the Winds dwelt in his lodge in the Western Sky. So fierce was he and so strong that had he wandered freely through the heavens, he would have torn the world in pieces. So he stayed in the Western Sky, and, blowing a loud blast, summoned the creatures of Earth to ask them for help.

And when his call had ceased, and its thundering echoes had died away, Gaoh opened the north door of his lodge wide across the Sky. Immediately the thick snow fell, and a fierce wind tore around the lodge. And lo! there came lumbering up the Sky, Yaogah, the bulky Bear. Battling with the storm and growling loudly, the Bear took his place at Gaoh's north door.

"O Bear, you are strong," said Gaoh. "You can freeze the waters with your cold breath. In your broad arms you can carry the mad tempest, and clasp the whole Earth when I bid you destroy. Therefore you shall live in the North, and watch my herd of Winter Winds when I let them loose upon the Earth. You shall be the North Wind. Enter your house."

And straightway the Bear bent his head, and Gaoh bound him with a leash, and placed him in the Northern Sky.

Then Gaoh trumpeted a shrill blast, and threw open the west door of his lodge, summoning the creatures. Clouds began to cover the Sky. An ugly darkness filled the world. Strange voices shrieked and snarled around the lodge. And with a noise like great claws tearing the heavens, Dajoji, the Panther, sprang to Gaoh's west door.

"O Panther, you are ugly and fierce," said Gaoh. "You can tear down the forests. You can carry the whirlwind on your strong back. You can toss the waves of the sea high into the air, and snarl at the tempests if they stray from my door. You shall be the West Wind. Enter your house."

And straightway the Panther bent his head, and Gaoh bound him with a leash, and placed him in the Western Sky.

Then Gaoh sent forth a sighing call, and threw open the east door of his lodge, summoning the creatures. There arose a sobbing and a moaning. The Sky shivered in the cold rain. The Earth lay in grey mist. There came a crackling sound like the noise of great horns crashing through forest trees, and Oyandone, the mighty Moose, stood stamping his hoofs at Gaoh's east door.

"O Moose," said Gaoh, "your breath blows the grey mist and sends down the cold rain upon the Earth. Your horns spread wide and can push back the trees of the forests to widen the paths for my storms. With your swift hoofs you can race with the winds. You shall be the East Wind. Enter your house."

And straightway the Moose bent his head, and Gaoh bound him with a leash, and placed him in the Eastern Sky.

Yet Gaoh was not content, for there remained still one door to open. He threw it wide to the south, and in gentle tones like sweetest music summoned the creatures. A caressing breeze stole through the lodge, and with it came the fragrance of a thousand sweet flowers, the soft call of babbling brooks, and the voices of birds telling the secrets of Summer. And daintily lifting her feet, ran Neoga, the brown-eyed Fawn, and stood timidly waiting at Gaoh's south door.

"O gentle Fawn," said Gaoh, "you walk with the Summer Sun, and know its most beautiful paths. You are kind like the Sunbeam, and feed on dew and fragrance. You will rule my flock of Summer breezes in peace and joy. You shall be the South Wind. Enter your house."

And straightway the Fawn bent her head, and Gaoh bound her with a leash, and placed her in the Southern Sky.

And now, when the North Wind blows strong, the old Iroquois Grandmother says, "The Bear is prowling in the Sky." And if the West Wind snarls around the tent door, she says, "The Panther is whining." When the East Wind chills the tent with mist and rain, she says, "The Moose is spreading his breath." But when the South Wind caresses her cheek, and wafts soft voices and sweet odours through the tent, she smilingly says, "The Fawn is going home to her mother, the Doe."

 

Legend of the Trailing Arbutus

(Iroquois)  

MANY, many Moons ago, in the far Northern Land beside the Lakes, there lived an old man alone in his lodge. His locks were long, and white with Age and Frost. The fur of the Bear and the Beaver covered his body, but none too warmly, for the snow and ice were everywhere.

Over all the Earth was Winter. The North Wind rushed down the mountain-side, and shook the branches of trees and bushes as it searched for song-birds to chill to the heart. But all living creatures had crept into their holes, and even the bad Spirits had dug caves for themselves in the ice and snow.

Lonely and halting, the old man went out into the forest seeking wood for his fire. Only a few fagots could he find, and in despair he again sought his lodge. He laid the fagots on the fire, and soon they were burned; and he crouched over the dying embers.

The wind moaned in the tree-tops, and a sudden gust blew aside the skin of the Great Bear hanging before the door. And, lo, a beautiful maiden entered the lodge.

Her cheeks were red like the petals of Wild Roses. Her eyes were large and glowed like the eyes of the Fawn at night. Her hair was black like the wing of the Crow, and so long that it trailed upon the ground. Her hands were filled with Willow buds, and on her head was a crown of flowers. Her mantle was woven with sweet grasses and ferns, and her moccasins were white Lilies laced and embroidered with petals of Honeysuckles. When she breathed, the air of the lodge became fragrant and warmer, and the cold wind rushed back in affright.

The old man gazed on her in wonder. "My daughter," said he, "you are welcome to the poor shelter of my cheerless lodge! It is cold and desolate, for I have not wood enough to keep my fire burning! Come, sit beside me, and tell me who you are, that you wander like a Deer through the forest. Tell me also of your country and your people who gave you such beauty and grace. Then I, who am the mighty Winter, will tell you of my great deeds."

The maiden smiled, and the sunlight streamed forth from the grey clouds and shot its warmth through the roof of the lodge. Then Winter filled his pipe of friendship, and when he had put it to his lips, he said:—

"I blow the breath from my nostrils and the waters of the rivers stand still, and the great waves of the lakes rest, and the murmurings of the streams die away in silence."

"You are great and strong," said the maiden, "and the waters know the touch of your breath. But I am loved by the birds, and when I smile the flowers spring up all over the forest, and the meadows are carpeted with green."

"I shake my locks," said Winter, "and, lo, the Earth is wrapped in a covering of snow!"

"I breathe into the air," said the maiden, "and the warm rains come, and the covering of snow vanishes like the darkness when the sun awakens and rises from its bed in the morning."

"I walk about," said Winter, "and the leaves die on the trees, and fall to the ground. The birds desert their nests and fly away beyond the lakes. The animals hide themselves in their holes."

"Oh! great are you, Winter," said the maiden, "and your name is to be feared by all living things in the land! Cruel are you, Winter! More cruel and cunning than the tortures of the Red Men! Your strength is greater than the strength of the forest trees, for do you not rend them with powerful hands?"

"But when I, the gentle maiden, walk forth, the trees burst into leaves, and the sweet birds build again their nests in the branches. The winds sing soft and pleasant music to the ears of the Red Man, while his wife and papooses sport in the warm sunshine near his wigwam."

As the maiden ceased speaking, the lodge became very warm and bright. But the boasting Winter heeded it not, for his head drooped upon his breast, and he slept. The maiden passed her hands above his head, and he grew smaller and smaller.

The bluebirds came and filled the trees about the lodge, and sang; and the rivers lifted their waves and foamed and leaped along. Streams of water flowed from Winter's mouth, and he vanished away, while his garments turned into glistering leaves.

Then the maiden knelt upon the ground, and took from her bosom a cluster of delicate flowers, fragrant and rose-white. She hid them beneath the leaves, and breathing on them with love, whispered:—

"I give you, O precious jewels, all my virtues and my sweetest breath. Men shall pluck you with bowed head and bended knee."

Then she arose, and moved joyously over the plains, and among the hills, and through the valleys. The birds and the winds sang together, while the flowers everywhere lifted up their heads and greeted her with fragrance.

So always in the early Spring, wherever the maiden stepped, grows the Trailing Arbutus.

 

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