Native American Legends
How the great Glooskap fought the giant Sorcerers at Saco, and turned them into Fish
A Penobscot Legend
N'karnayoo, of old times: Woodenit atok hagen Glusgahbe.
This is a story of Glooskap. There was a father who had three sons
and a daughter: they were m'téoulin, or mighty magicians;
they were giants; they ate men, women, and children; they did everything
that was wicked and horrible; and the world grew tired of them and
of all their abominations. Yet when this family was young, Glooskap
had been their friend; he had made the father his adopted father,
the brothers his brothers, the sister his sister. Yet as they grew
older, and he began to hear on every side of their wickedness, he
said: "I will go among them and find if this be true. And if it
be so, they shall die. I will not spare one of those who oppress
and devour men, I do not care who he may be."
This family was at Samgadihawk, or Saco, on the sandy field
which is in the Intervale or the summer bed of the Saco River, in
the El-now-e-bit, the White Mountains, between Geh-sit-wah-zuch
and K'tchee penahbesk, and near Oonahgemessuk weegeet, the Home
of the Water Fairies.
Now the old man, the father of the evil magicians and his adopted
father, had only one eye, and was half gray. And Glooskap made himself
like him,--there was not between them the difference of a hair;
and having this form, he entered the wigwam and sat down by the
old man. And the brothers, who killed everybody, not sparing one
living soul, bearing a talking, looked in slyly, and seeing the
new-comer, so like their father that they knew not which was which,
said, "This is a great magician. But he shall be tried ere he goes,
and that bitterly."
Then the sister took the tail of a whale, and cooked it for the
stranger to eat. But as it lay before him, on the platter and on
his knees, the elder brother entered, and saying rudely, "This is
too good for a beggar like you," took it away to his own wigwam.
Then Glooskap spoke: "That which was given to me was mine; therefore
I take it again." And sitting still he simply wished for it, and
it came flying into the platter where it was before. So he ate it.
Then the brothers said, "Indeed, he is a great magician. But he
shall be tried ere he goes, and that bitterly."
When he had eaten, they brought in a mighty bone, the jaw of a
whale, and the eldest brother, with great ado, and using both his
arms and all his strength, bent it a little. Then he handed it to
Glooskap, who with his thumb and fingers snapped it like a pipe-stem.
And the brothers said again, "Truly, this is a great magician. But
he shall for all that be tried ere he goes, and that bitterly."
Then they brought a great pipe full of the strongest tobacco; no
man not a magician could have smoked it. And it was passed round:
every one smoked; the brothers blew the smoke through their nostrils.
But Glooskap filled it full, and, lighting it, burnt all the tobacco
to ashes at one pull, and blew all the smoke through his nostrils
at one puff. Then the brothers said again in anger, "This is indeed
a great magician. Yet he shall be tried again ere he goes, and that
bitterly." But they never said it again.
And they still tried to smoke with him, and the wigwam was closed;
they hoped to smother him in smoke, but he sat and puffed away as
if he had been on a mountain-top, till they could bear it no longer.
And one said, "This is idle; let us go and play at ball." The place
where they were to play was on the sandy plain of Samgadihawk, or
Saco, on the bend of the river. And the game begun; but Glooskap
found that the ball with which they played was a hideous skull;
it was alive and snapped at his heels, and had he been as other
men and it had bitten him, it would have taken his foot off. Then
Glooskap laughed, and said, "So this is the game you play. Good,
but let us all play with our own balls."
So he stepped up to a tree on the edge of the river-bed and broke
off the end of a bough, and it turned into a skull ten times more
terrible than the other. And the magicians ran before it as it chased
them as a lynx chases rabbits; they were entirely beaten.
Then Glooskap stamped on the sand, and the waters rose and came
rushing fearfully from the mountains adown the river-bed; the whole
land rang with their roar. Now Glooskap sang a magic song, which
changes all beings, and the three brothers and their father became
the chinahmess, a fish which is as long and large as a man,
and they went headlong down on the flood, to the deep sea, to dwell
there forever. And the magicians had on, each of them, a wampum
collar; wherefore the chinahmess has beneath its head, as
one may say, round its neck, the wampum collar, as may be seen to
this day. And they were mighty m'téoulin in their
time; but they were tried before they went, and that bitterly.
Yes, seewass, my brother, this is a true story. For Glus-gah-be
was a great man in his day, and the day will come when I shall go
to him and see him.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends