Monday, March 8, 2021

The Old Woman And The Moose-Snake

The Old Woman And The Moose-Snake [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

The Old Woman And The Moose-Snake [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

In a little village, on the shore of a great lake, lived a poor old Indian woman. She had no friends to love her, and, because she was so poor, nobody would have anything to do with her.

The Old Woman And The Moose-Snake [Red Folk And Wild Folk]


One day, while she was sitting alone on the shore of the lake, she saw the great moose-snake (M'sas-sook) stick his head out of the water. She was not afraid of him, because he was always good to the Indians ; but she knew there would be a great storm, for, whenever the snake rose straight out of the water, the thunder and lightning came down to drive him back again.

M'sas-sook (king of the waters) had a gold medal on each side of his head. The old woman saw them shine, and she thought: “If I had those bright pieces from the head of the moose-snake, I should always have good luck. I will ask him for them." That night, the old woman did not return to her hut, but went into the forests and waited on the shore of a small lake, through which she knew the moose-snake would have to pass, on his way over the mountains, as he travelled from one body of water to another She could only think of her troubles :—" How lonely I am ; I have no friends to comfort me, and, if it were not poor bark hut, the north winds would freeze me, or the wild beasts would devour me. M'sas-sook will take pity when he hears my story; he is always good to the Indians. What is that noise! “She turned and saw the great snake, coming toward her. She was frightened when she saw him, with his great moose-horns and big, round, snake body, and felt like running away; but she knew he would not hurt her.

M'sas-sook saw the woman, as he was about to enter the lake.

"What do you want of me?" he asked.

M'sas-sook, give me the golden medals from your head. I need them very much; all my people dislike me because I am poor, and they will have nothing to do with me. If you will give me your medals, I shall be happy, and my people will be kind to me. Please give me the medals!

“I will let you take one of my medals, but I must keep the other," said M'sas-sook, and the poor woman took one of the medals from the head of the great moose-snake. She thanked him for his kindness and started for her village. She was a very happy old woman, and she thought as she hurried along, “Now my people will love me, and I shall have friends."

Night overtook her before she was out of the woods; so she lay down on the bank of a lake to rest. She was tired and soon fell fast asleep: but, suddenly she sat up and was wide awake in a moment. She heard a strange noise; what could it mean? All around her, staring through the darkness, were the bright eyes of many wild animals. The old woman was terribly frightened.

“What do you want of me?” she asked. “You have one of the medals from the head of the moose-snake, and we have come to help you," answered a voice from one of the animals.

“You can do nothing for me, you are only animals, and I am a poor, lonely old woman."

“We can give you furs and skins; then you will be rich among your people," answered the voice, and each of the animals gave the woman meat and furs, so she should have plenty. Then they stared at her out of the darkness.

The Old Woman And The Moose-Snake [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

Though she knew M'sas-sook had sent the animals, the old woman was afraid. She gladly welcomed the grey dawn, when she bade the animal people goodbye, and started, on her journey home, this time with arms full of riches. Her people were surprised when she entered the village, and treated her more kindly. She told how M'sas-sook had let her take one of his medals, and then they knew she would always have plenty of everything.

When darkness came again, she went to her poor hut to sleep. She would not leave it, though many of her people asked her to; for this bark hut had been her only friend, and she would always love it. With the night came the many mysterious animals and the great, staring eyes, looking out of the darkness. "What do you want of me this time?" asked the woman. "You have one of the medals from the head of M'sas-sook, and we have come to help you," answered a voice from one of the animals.

"But, you gave me many things last night, and I am rich among my people now!"

As they had done the night before, the animals left many furs, skins, and a great deal of meat. Then they stayed, staring through the night, until the morning light broke through the darkness, when they disappeared, and the woman did not know where they had come from, nor where they had gone. When the people came to see her, they saw all the things M'sas-sook had sent.

 The old woman wore the medal about her neck, fastened to a buckskin string, so that she should not lose It. She loved to walk through the village and hear the happy laughter of the children as they hurried to greet her. Everybody and everything loved her; even the dogs would try to push the children aside in their eagerness to be close to her, and she could never thank the great snake enough for all her happiness.