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Glooscap fights the Water Monster

A Passamaquoddy Legend

Glooscap yet lives, somewhere at the southern edge of the world. He never grows old, and he will last as long as this world lasts. Sometimes Glooscap gets tired of running this world, ruling the animals, regulating nature, instructing people how to live. Then he tells us: "I'm tired of it. Good-bye; I'm going to make myself die now." He paddles off in his magic white canoe and disappears in mist clouds. But he always comes back. He cannot abandon the people forever, and they cannot live without him.

Glooscap is a spirit, a medicine man, a sorcerer. He can make men and women smile. He can do anything. Glooscap made all the animals, creating them to be peaceful and useful to humans. When he formed the first squirrel, it was as big as a whale.

"What would you do if I let you loose on the world?" Glooscap asked, and the squirrel attacked a big tree, chewing it to pieces in no time. "You're too destructive for your size," Glooscap said, and remade him small.

The first beaver also was as big as a whale, and it built a dam that flooded the country from horizon to horizon. Glooscap said, "You'll drown all the people if I let you loose like this." He tapped the beaver on the back, and it shrank to it's present size.

The first moose was so tall that it reached to the sky and looked altogether different from the way it looks now. It trampled everything in its path -- forests, mountains, everything. "You'll ruin everything," Glooscap said. "You'll step on people and kill them." Glooscap tapped the moose on the back to make it small, but the moose refused to become smaller. So Glooscap killed it and recreated it in a different size and with a different look. In this way Glooscap made everything as it should be.

Glooscap had also created a village and taught the people there everything they needed to know. They were happy hunting and fishing. Men and women were happy making love. Children were happy playing. Parents cherished their children, and children respected their parents. All was well as Glooscap had made it.

The village had one spring, the only source of water far and wide, that always flowed with pure, clear, cold water. But one day the spring ran dry; only a little bit of slimy ooze issued from it. It stayed dry even in the fall when the rains came, and in the spring when the snows melted. The people wondered, "What shall we do? We can't live without water." The wise men and elders held a council and decided to send a man north to the source of the spring to see why it had run dry.

This man walked a long time until at last he came to a village. The people there were not like humans; they had webbed hands and feet. Here the brook widened out. There was some water in it, not much but a little, though it was slimy, yellowish, and stinking. The man was thirsty from his walk and asked to be given a little water, even if it was bad.

"We can't give you any water," said the people with the webbed hands and feet, "unless our great chief permits it. He wants all the water for himself."

"Where is your chief?" asked the man.

"You must follow the brook further up," they told him.

The man walked on and at last met the big chief. When he saw him he trembled with fright, because the chief was a monster so huge that if one stood at his feet, one could not see his head. The monster filled the whole valley from end to end. He had dug himself a huge hole and damned it up, so that all the water was in it and none could flow into the stream bed. And he had fouled the water and made it poisonous, so that stinking mists covered it's slimy surface.

The monster had a mile-wide, grinning mouth going from ear to ear. His dull yellow eyes started out of his head like huge pine knots. His body was bloated and covered with warts as big as mountains.

The monster stared dully at the man with his protruding eyes and finally said in a fearsome croak: "Little man, what do you want?"

The man was terrified, but he said: "I come from a village far down-stream. Our only spring ran dry, because you're keeping all the water for yourself. We would like you to let us have some of this water. Also, please don't muddy it so much."

The monster blinked at him a few times. Finally he croaked:

Do as you please,
Do as you please,

I don't care,
I don't care,

If you want water,
If you want water,

Go elsewhere!

The man said, "We need the water. The people are dying of thirst."

The monster replied:

I don't care,
I don't care,

Don't bother me,
Don't bother me,

Go away,
Go away,

Or I'll swallow you up!

The monster opened his mouth wide from ear to ear, and inside it the man could see the many things that the creature had killed. The monster gulped a few times and smacked his lips with a noise like thunder. At this the man's courage broke, and he turned and ran away as fast as he could.

Back at his village the man told the people: "Nothing can be done. If we complain, this monster will swallow us up. He'll kill us all." The people were in despair. "What shall we do?" they cried.

Now, Glooscap knows everything that goes on in the world, even before it happens. He sees everything with his inward eye. He said: "I must set things right. I'll have to get water for the people!"

Then Glooscap girded himself for war. He painted his body with paint as red as blood. He made himself twelve feet tall. He used two huge clamshells for his earrings. He put a hundred black eagle feathers and a hundred white eagle feathers in his scalp lock. He painted yellow rings around his eyes. He twisted his mouth into a snarl and made himself look ferocious. He stamped, and the earth trembled. He uttered his fearful war cry, and it echoed and re-echoed from all the mountains. He grasped a huge mountain in his hand, a mountain composed of flint, and from it made himself a single knife sharp as a weasel's teeth.

"Now I am going," he said, striding forth among thunder and lightening, with mighty eagles circling above him. Then Glooscap came to the village of the people with webbed hands and feet.

"I want water," he told them. Looking at him, they were afraid. They brought him a little muddy water. "I'll think I'll get more and cleaner water," he said. Glooscap went upstream and confronted the monster. "I want clean water, " he said, "a lot of it, for the people downstream."

Ho! Ho!
Ho! Ho!

All the waters are mine!
All the waters are mine!

Go away!
Go away!

Or I'll kill you!

"Slimy lump of mud!" cried Glooscap. "We'll see who will be killed!"

They fought. The mountains shook. The earth split open. The swamp smoked and burst into flames. Mighty trees were shivered into splinters. The monster opened it's huge mouth wide to swallow Glooscap. Glooscap made himself taller than the tallest tree, and even the monster's mile-wide mouth was too small for him. Glooscap seized his great flint knife and slit the monster's bloated belly. From the wound gushed a mighty stream, a roaring river, tumbling, rolling, foaming down, down, down, gouging out for itself a vast, deep bed, flowing by the village and on to the great sea of the east.

"That should be enough water for the people," said Glooscap. He grasped the monster and squeezed him in his mighty palm, squeezed and squeezed and threw him away, flinging him into the swamp. Glooscap had squeezed this great creature into a small bullfrog, and ever since, the bullfrogs' skin has been wrinkled because Glooscap squeezed so hard.

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