Native American Legends
How Master Lox played a trick on Mrs Bear, who lost her eyesight and had her eyes opened
A Micmac Legend
Don't live with mean people if you can help it. They will turn
your greatest sorrow to their own account if they can. Bad habit
gets to be devilish second nature. One dead herring is not much,
but one by one you may make such a heap of them as to stink out
a whole village.
As it happened to old Mrs. Bear, who was easy as regarded people,
and thought well of everybody, and trusted all. So she took in for
a house-mate another old woman. Their wigwam was all by itself,
and the next neighbor was so far off that he was not their neighbor
at all, but that of some other folks.
One night the old women made up a fire, and lay down and went to
sleep Indian-fashion,--witkusoodijik,--heads and points,
so that both could lie with their back to the fire.
Now while they were sound asleep, Lox, the Wolverine, or Indian
Devil, came prowling round. Some people say it was Hespuns, the
Raccoon; and it is a fact that Master Coon can play a very close
game of deviltry on his own account. However, this time it must
have been Lox, as you can see by the tracks.
While they were both sound asleep Lox looked in. He found the old
women asleep, heads and points, and at once saw his way to a neat
little bit of mischief. So, going into the woods, he cut a fine
long sapling-pole of ozo-bo-goos, and poked one end of it
into the fire till it was a burning coal. Then he touched the soles
of Mrs. Bear; and she, waking, cried out to the other, "Take care!
you are burning me!" which the other denied like a thunder-clap.
Then Master Lox carefully applied the end of the hot pole to the
feet of the other woman. First she dreamed that she was walking
on hot sand and roasting rocks in summer-time, and then that the
Mohawks were cooking her at the death-fire; and then she woke up,
and, seeing where she was, began to blame Mrs. Bear for it all,
just as if she were a Mohawk.
Ali, yes. Well, Master Lox, seeing them fighting in a great rage,
burst out laughing, so that he actually burst himself, and fell
down dead with delight. It was a regular side-splitter. When my
grandfather said that we always laughed.
In the morning, when the women came out, there lay a dead devil
at the door. He must indeed have looked like a Raccoon this time;
but whatever he was, they took him, skinned him, and dressed him
for breakfast. Then the kettle was hung and the water boiled, and
they popped him in. But as soon as it began to scald he began to
come to life. In a minute he was all together again, alive and well,
and with one good leap went clear of the kettle. Rushing out of
the lodge, he grabbed his skin, which hung on a bush outside, put
it on, and in ten seconds was safe in the greenwood. He just saved
himself with a whole skin.
Now Master Lox had precious little time, you will say, to do any
more mischief between his coming to life and running away; yet,
short as the allowance was, he made a great deal of it. For even
while jumping out his wits for wickedness came to him, and he just
kicked the edge of the pot, so that it spilled all the scalding
hot water into the fire, and threw up the ashes with a great splutter.
They flew into the eyes of Dame Bear and blinded her.
Now this was hard on the old lady. She could not go out hunting,
or set traps, or fish any more; and her partner, being mean, kept
all the nice morsels for herself. Mrs. Bear only got the leanest
and poorest of the meat, though there was plenty of the best. As
my grandfather used to say, Mrs. Bear might have fared better if
she had used her eyes earlier.
One day, when she was sitting alone in the wigwam, Mrs. Bear began
to remember all she had ever heard about eyes, and it came into
her head that sometimes they were closed up in such a way that clever
folk could cut them open again. So she got her knife and sharpened
it, and, carefully cutting a little, saw the light of day. Then
she was glad indeed, and with a little more cutting found that she
could see as well as ever. And as good luck does not come single,
the very first thing she beheld was an abundance of beautiful fat
venison, fish, and maple-sugar hung up overhead.
Dame Bear said nothing about her having recovered her eyesight.
She watched all the cooking going on, and saw the daintiest dinner,
which all went into one platter, and a very poor lot of bones and
scraps placed in another. Then, when she was called to eat, she
simply said to the other woman, who kept the best, "Well, you have
done well for yourself!"
The other saw that Mrs. Bear had recovered her sight. She was frightened,
for Dame Bear was by far the better man of the two. So she cried
out, "Bless me! what a mistake I've made! Why, I gave you the wrong
dish. You know, my dear sister, that I always give you the best
because you are blind."
My grandfather said that after this Mrs. Bear kept her eyes open
on people in two ways. And it always made us laugh, that
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