Native American Legends
Of the surprising and singular adventures of two Water Fairies who were also Weasels, and how they each became the bride of a star. Including the mysterious and wonderful works of Lox, the great Indian Devil, who rose from the dead
A Micmac Legend
Wee-zig-yik-keseyook. "Of old times." Far back in the forest,
by a brook, dwelt two young men, Abistanooch, the Marten, and Team,
the Moose. Of these each had a wigwam, and therewith a grandmother
who kept house. And Team hunted and worked industriously, but Master
Marten was greatly moalet, which signifies one who liveth
upon his neighbors, depending on their good nature, even as he that
planteth corn and beans depends upon the pleasant smiles of the
sun; whence it came to pass that wherever victuals were in store
there too his presence did greatly abound.
Now it happened that one day Team, the Moose, had killed a bear,
and brought home a single load of the meat, leaving the rest to
be looked after anon. And being thrifty, and not caring to feed
those who fed him not, neither did they thank, he said unto himself,
and also to his grandmother, "Truly, the eyes of Marten shall not
see this thing, his nose shall not smell thereof, neither shall
his tongue taste it; so let not the tidings of our good luck go
forth from the wigwam." "Yes," replied the old woman, "and well
and wisely thou speakest, my son. But we have this day broken our
kettle, while Marten has brought in a new one. Behold, I will go
and borrow it, and having cooked in it I will wash and wipe it,
so that there shall be no sign of what we did therewith, and so
Now, this was done, but he who is moalet and a haunter of
feasts is like a hunter of beasts: he knows well from a small sign
where there is a large load, and the borrowing of kettles means
the boiling of victuals therein. So having in him somewhat of sorcery,
he did but step to his friend's wigwam, and, peeping through a crevice,
saw a great store of bear's meat. And when the grandmother of Moose
came unto him to return the kettle, just as she entered the lodge
there arose from it a savory steam, and looking in it was full of
well-cooked food. And Marten thanked her greatly, yet she, being
put to shame, fled to her own home. But Moose said it was no matter,
so the next day they went to the woods together, and all was well.
Now it befell Marten, as it might have befallen any other man,
that one day he came to a distant and lonely lake in the mountains.
Yet there, stepping softly as a cat behind the rocks bung with grapevines,
he heard laughing and splashing, and a pleasant sound as of girls'
voices. So, peeping carefully, he saw many maids merrily bathing
in the lake: and these were of the fairy race, who dwell in deep
waters and dark caves, and keep away from mankind. And seeing their
garments lying on the shore, and beholding among the damsels one
whom he desired to obtain, Marten quietly slipped along unseen,
as all of his species can do, till he had the clothes in his hands.
For being tinctured with magic and learned in the lore of all kind
of goblins, elves, and witches, Master Marten knew that when Naiads
are naked and a man has their garments he holds them at his mercy.
For in the apparel lies their fairy power; and if you doubt it,
do but give it a trial and see for yourself!
And having done this, the merry fellow ran inland with a brave
whoop, which the fairies hearing, they in a great rage ran after
the ravisher of their robes. But she whom he desired outstripped
the rest, and when she approached him he did but tap her lightly
on the head with a small stick, according to a certain ancient prescription
followed in Fairy-land, which makes of a woman a wife; whereupon
she, according to the antique rite, being astonished to find herself
so suddenly married, fainted dead away, and was carried off in peace.
And as for the clothes of the others, the Marten gave them back
without taking fee or rewards.
Then Team, the Moose, who was a good soul, but not wise above all
the world, coming home and finding Marten married, wished also for
a wife. And having heard all the tale, he said, "Well, if it is
no harder than that, 't is as easy as sucking a honeysuckle, and
I am as good as married." And going to the pond in the mountains,
among the rocks and behind the grapevines, he too beheld the virgins
jumping, flapping, splashing, and mischieving merrily, like mad
minxes, in the water; whereat he, being all of a rage, as it were,
caught up the clothes of these poor maids and ran; she whom he most
admired catching up with him. And being, resolved to do the thing
thoroughly, he grappled up a great club and gave her a bang on her
small head, which stunned her indeed, and that forever, inasmuch
as she was slain outright. So the Moose remained unmarried.
Now Team was one of the kind not uncommon in this world, who hold
that if any other man has or gets more than they have, then they
are deeply wronged. And it had come to pass that Master Marten,
finding that his wife yearned greatly for the society of her sisters,
offered to take yet another of them in marriage, merely to oblige
his wife; for in such a kind of benevolence he was one of the best
souls that ever lived, and rather than have trouble in the family
he would have wedded all the pretty girls in the country. So going
as before to the pond in the mountains, among the rocks and behind
the grapevines, he, by the same device, captured yet another fairy,
whom, taking home, he wedded.
Yet Team took this sadly to heart, and willed that Marten should
give him this last spouse, to which Marten would in nowise agree.
Truly, Team argued earnestly that as he had no wife, and no wisdom
wherewith to win one, of course he must have one of Marten's, or
that Marten should go and get him one. To which Marten replied that
Moose might skin his own skunks, and fish for his own minnows, and
also paddle his own canoe to the devil, if it so pleased him,--all
of these being approved Indian sayings of high and racy antiquity.
Whereupon Team sought to persuade Marten with a club, who gave a
soft answer by shooting a flint-headed arrow through Team's scalp-lock;
and this friendship they continued for many days, passing their
evenings in manufacturing missiles, and the mornings in sending
them one at the other.
Now the fairy water-wives, not being accustomed to this kind of
intimacy, sought to subtract themselves from it. So one morning,
when Marten and Team were most industriously endeavoring to effect
mutual murder, the two wives of the former fled afar to seek fortune,
and succeeded therein to perfection. And it came to pass when the
sun had set and the voice of Bumole, the Spirit of Night, was heard
afar on high, and Nibauchset, the Night-Walker, shone over all,
that the two brides lay in an oak opening of the forest, and looked
at P'ses'muk, the Stars, and talked about them even as children
might do. And one said to the other, "If those Stars be men, which
would you have for a husband?" "By my faith," replied the other,
"it should be that little red, twinkling fellow, for I like the
little stars best." "And I." said the other, "will wed the Wisawaioo
P'ses'm, the Great Yellow Star, for I love the large stars." And,
saying this in jest, they fell asleep.
But many a word spoken in jest is recalled in earnest, as these
brides learned when they awoke, and found themselves married again
in the Indian manner, at only a word. For she who had wished for
the Great Yellow Shining Star, as she opened her eyes, heard a man's
voice say, "Take care, or you will upset my war-paint!" And lo,
there lay by her side a great and handsome man, very noble, with
large and lustrous eyes. Then the other, as she awoke and stirred,
heard a little feeble, cracked voice crying, "Take care, or you
will spill my eye-water!" And by her was the smaller star, whom
she had chosen; but he was a weak-looking old fellow, with little
red, twinkling eyes. And as they had chosen so it came unto them.
But yellow or red, young or old, in a few days they both grew a-weary
of the star country to which they were taken, and wished to return
to the earth. And then that came to pass which made them yearn with
tenfold longing; for their husbands, who were absent all day hunting,
had pointed out to them a large flat stone, which they were on no
account to lift; which they obeyed in this wise, that they did not
both lift the stone, but only the younger, who, as soon as the Stars
had gone to the greenwood, rushed to the slab, and, lifting it up,
gazed greedily down into the hole beneath. And what she saw was
wonderful, for it was the sky itself, and directly under them was
the world in which they had lived, and specially in sight was the
home of their childhood, with all its woods and rivers. And then
the elder having looked, both almost broke their hearts with weeping.
Now the Stars were by no means such evil-minded men as you may
have deemed; for having perceived by magic that their wives had
looked through the hole in the sky, and knowing that they were lying
when they denied it, they gave them leave to go back to earth. Yet
there were conditions, and those not easy to such fidgety damsels
as these; for they said, "Ye shall lie together all this night,
and in the morning when ye awake ye shall be in no haste to open
your eyes or to uncover your faces. Wait until ye shall have heard
the song of the Ktsee-gee-gil-lassis, or chick-a-dee-dee.
And even then ye shall not arise, but be quiet until the song of
the red squirrel shall be heard. And even then ye must wait and
keep your faces covered and your eyes closed until ye hear the striped
squirrel sing. And then ye may leave your bed and look around."
Now the younger wife was ever impatient, and when the chick-a-dee-dee
sang she would have leaped up at once, but the elder restrained
her. "Wait," she said, "my sister, until we hear the Abalkakmooech."
And she lay still till the Adoo-doo-deech began his early
chatter and his morning's work. Then, without waiting, she jumped
up, as did the elder, when they found themselves indeed on earth,
but in the summit of a tall, spreading. hemlock-tree, and that in
such a manner that they could not descend without assistance. And
it had come to pass in this wise: for as each song was sung by the
bird and the squirrels, they had come nearer and nearer to the earth,
even as the light of day drew near, but as they could not delay
they had been deserted.
And as they sat there and day dawned, men of the different Indian
families went by, and unto all of these they cried for help. It
is true that their star husbands had made for them in the tree a
bed of moss, but they cared not to rest in the hemlock, for all
that. And of all the beasts of the forest or men of the clearing,
who should be the first to appear but Team, or Master Moose, himself.
And to him they cried, "N'sesenen-apkwahlin, n'sesenen!"
"Oh, our elder brother, let us free; take us down, and we will be
your two dear little wives, and go home with you." But he, looking
up scornfully, said, "I was married this autumn." And so he went
And he who next came was the shaggy Bear, or mooin, to whom
they made the same request, offering themselves for no higher price
than to be taken down safely out of their nest. But he growled out
that he had been married in the spring, and that one wife was enough
for any man. So he went his way.
And then who should come along but Marten himself, even the Abistanooch,
whom they had deserted! And they cried out for joy, begging him
to take them back. But he, behaving as if they were utter strangers,
replied that he had been married in the early spring to one of his
own tribe, and unto a damsel whose name was Marten, and that it
was not seemly for animals to wed out of their own kind. So he scampered
off, leaving the little Weasels all alone.
And last of all came Lox, whom hunters call the Indian Devil, and
others the Wolverine, who is exceeding subtle above the beasts of
the forest, and who is gifted with more evil mischief than all of
them in one. And when the Weasels called to him for help he tarried,
for it came into his heart that he might in some way torment and
tease them. But verily he had to deal with those who were not much
more virtuous than himself, and quite as cunning, for what with
traveling from the earth to the heavens and changing husbands, these
fair minevers were learning wisdom rapidly. So the elder sister,
who had not the least idea of keeping her promise unless it suited
her fancy, played a trick, and that quickly anon. For she at once
took off her hair-string and tied it into a few less than a hundred
knots among the twigs of the trees, tangling it so that you would
have deemed it a week's work before a man could loosen it again
Now Master Lox, having taken down the younger sister with all the
politeness in the world, came for the other, and aided her also
to descend. And when on the ground she indeed said, "Willee-oon,"
"I thank you", but begged him to go up the tree again and bring
down a great treasure which she had left there, her hair-string;
beseeching him for all their lives not to break or injure it in
any way, but to most carefully untie every knot, for thus doing
it would bring untold felicity on them all; and that they, the Weasels,
would meantime build a beautiful bridal bower, or a wigwam, and
that so furnished as he had never seen the like before,--in which
verily they kept their word.
For they speedily built the wigwam, but the furniture thereof was
of this rare kind. The Weasels had, it seems, certain sworn friends,--for
birds of a feather flock together,--and these were not far to seek,
as they were the Thorns, Burrs, and Briers of all kinds, Hornets
and other winged and stinged insects,--besides the Ants. And they
wore, moreover, intimate with all the sharp-edged Flints in the
land, which was a goodly company. So when the bower was built it
had therein a hornet's nest for a bridal bed, thorns for a carpet,
flints for a floor, and an ant's nest for a seat, which for a bare-footed
and bare-breeched Indian is indeed a sore essay. Now it had taken
Master Lox the entire day to untie the hair-string, so when he came
down it was dark, and he was glad when he saw the hut and thought
of resting therein.
But, as he entered, he ran among the Thorns, which pierced his
nose, and Flints, which cut his feet, so that he roared aloud. Then
he heard a voice, which seemed to be that of the younger Miss Weasel,
crying "Namescole", "Go to my sister, yonder!" So he went, and trod
in an ant-hill, and this was worse than the Briers. And then he
heard another voice on that side which cried, laughing, "N'kwech-kale!",
"Go to my sister, who is younger than I." And plunging furiously
through the darkness, he fell on the hornet's nest; and verily the
last state of that Indian was worst of all. Thus, seeing himself
mocked, he became furious; so that he who has by nature the very
worst temper of all beasts or men was never so angry before, and,
seeking the tracks of the Weasels, he pursued them as they fled
in the night and through the thick forest.
Now it came to pass that by daybreak the two girls, even the Misses
Weasel, had come to a broad river which they could not cross. But
in the edge of the water stood a large Crane, motionless, or the
Tum-gwo-lig-unach, who was the ferryman. Now truly this is
esteemed to be the least beautiful of all the birds, for which cause
he is greedy of good words and fondest of flattery. And of all beings
there were none who had more bear's oil ready to anoint every one's
hair with--that is to say, more compliments ready for everybody
-than the Weasels. So, seeing the Crane, they sang:--
"Wa wela quis kip pat kasqu',
Wa wela quis kip pat kasqu'."
The Crane has a very beautiful long neck,
The Crane has a very beautiful long neck.
This charmed the old ferryman very much, and when they said, "Please,
grandfather, hurry along," he came quickly. Seeing this, they began
to chant in chorus, sweetly as the Seven Stars themselves:--
"Wa wela quig nat kasqu',
Wa wela quig nat kasqu'."
The Crane has very beautiful long legs,
The Crane has very beautiful long legs.
Hearing this, the good Crane wanted more; so when they asked him
to give them a lift across, he answered slowly that to do so he
must be well paid, but that good praise would answer as well. Now
they who had abundance of this and to spare for everybody were these
very girls. "Have I not a beautiful form?" he inquired; and they
both cried aloud, "Oh, uncle, it is indeed beautiful!" "And my feathers?"
"Ah, pegeakopchu", "Beautiful and straight feathers indeed!"
"And have I not a charming long, straight neck?" "Truly our uncle
has it straight and long." "And will ye not acknowledge, oh, maidens,
that my legs are fine?" "Fine! oh, uncle, they are perfection. Never
in this life did we see such legs!" So being well pleased, the Crane
put them across, and then the two little Weasels scampered like
mice into the bush.
And scarcely were they concealed, or the Crane well again in his
place, ere Master Lox appeared. And being in no good temper he called
to Uncle Crane to set him across, and that speedily. Now the Crane
had been made mightily pleased and proud by the winsome words of
the Weasels, and was but little inclined to be rudely addressed.
So he said to Lox, "I will bear thee over the river if thou wilt
bear witness to my beauty. Are not my legs straight?" "Yea" replied
the Lox, "and beautifully painted, too." Now the color thereof was
little pleasing to poor Uncle Crane. "Are not my feathers very smooth
and fine?" "Yea, smooth and fine; what a pity, though, that they
are mildewed and dusty!" "And my straight neck?" "Yes, wonderfully
straight,--straight as this," said Lox to himself, taking
up a crooked stick. And then he sang:--
"Mecha guiskipat kasqu',
Meecha quig nat kasqu'."
"The Crane has a very ugly neck,
The Crane has dirty, ugly legs."
"Come, mooso me (grandfather), hurry up!
Oh, the Crane has a very ugly neck,
The Crane has dirty, ugly legs.
I wish you to be quick, mooso me. Hurry up, I say!"
And all of this ill-temper and insincerity was deeply and inwardly
detected by Uncle Crane, but he said not a word, and only meekly
bent him down to take the traveler on his back. But when in the
stream, and where it was deepest and most dangerous, he gave himself
a shake, and in another instant Lox was whirling round and round
like a chip in the rapids. And yet a little time he was dashed against
the rocks, and then anon was thrown high and dry on the shore, but
dead as a seven-year-old cedar cone.
Now the Lox is a great magician at certain times and seasons, albeit
his power fails him at others.
And he is one of those who rise from the dead. Now it came to pass
that some days after two boys of the Kwedech or Mohawk race found
the Lox lying dead on a rock in the sunshine, and the worms were
crawling from him. But when they touched him he arose as if from
sleep, and stood before them as a proud and fierce warrior. But
he was scarce alive ere he sought to do them who had roused him
to life a mischief; for having noted that they had fine bows, he
got them into his hands, and broke them, yet all as if he meant
it not. And then by magic making a sound as of many children at
play, afar off across the next point of land by the river, he bade
them run and join the pleasant games. And when he had got them a
space onward, lo, the sound seemed ever farther on, mingled with
the murmur of the stream; and so they went without him, seeking
it, and yet it wandered ever far away.
Now he had learned from the boys that they were of a Cullo
family; and the Culloos are certain monstrous birds, exceeding fierce.
But Master Lox, having seen in the cabin plenty of fine meat, desired
greatly to become one of the family, and having been much about
in life knew something of the ways of every one. So putting on the
Culloo style, he, seeing a babe, began to sing with the most natural
air in the world a Culloo nursery-song:--
"Agoo ge abeol,
A seal-skin strap,
Now it costs very little to fall into the humor of a man; but this
the woman would not do, and told him plainly that he could not deceive
her. On hearing which Master Lox, in a great rage, seized his tomahawk
and slew her. Then seeing a kettle boiling on the fire, he cut off
her head and put it into the pot, hiding the body. And this was
a merry jest after his own heart, so that it greatly solaced him.
But after a time, the two boys, returning, missed their mother,
and looking into the kettle, found her head. Then they knew well
who had done this. And, being fearless, they pursued him, but having
no bows they could do him no harm; however, they took from him his
gloves, and with these they returned.
And anon there came also an uncle of the boys, or Kah-kah-goos,
the Crow. So he gave chase to Lox, yet all that he could do was
to snatch away his cap as he ran. Yet without shame he cried aloud,
"Well, my head was getting warm, and now I am cooler. Thank you!"
Then came another relative, Kitpoo, the Eagle. And he, pursuing
Lox, took from him his coat. Yet all unabashed he replied, "Thanks
unto you also; for I was just wishing that my younger brother were
here to carry my coat for me." But he who now arrived, hearing of
the deadly deed, was the great Culloo himself, the most terrible
of all created creatures, and he, pursuing Lox, caught him up, and
carrying him in his claws, even to the summit of the sky itself,
let him drop, and he was a whole day in falling; even from the first
dawn unto sunset he went down ere he touched the earth. But before
he was let drop, and when on high, he burst into a mocking song
on what he saw, and the words were as follows:-
Telap tumun ek,
Yog wa egen'
Yog wa egeno
Telap tumen ek
Kumut ken ooik'
Stuga 'mkudomoos koon."
Our country all lost
Seems clearly to us
As though it were all spread with boughs.
Heigh he, hay hum!
Heigh ho, hay hum!
Our country now lost
Seems now unto us
To be blue like the clear blue sky.
Hum, hum--tol de rol!
And when let fall, this graceless jackanapes in nowise ceased his
ribaldry; for while pretending to flap with his arms as if they
were wings, he imitated with his mouth, mockingly, the wish!
wish! of the wide wings of the Culloo. Yet just ere he touched
the earth he uttered one little magic spell, "Oh, spare my poor
backbone!" And with that all the trouble of all the birds went for
nothing. Truly he was mashed to a batter, and his blood and brains
flew in every direction, like raspberry pudding; but among the remains
his backbone lay whole, and this was his life.
And in a few days after his younger brother came by, who, seeing
the dire mess, exclaimed, "Hey, what is all this?" Whereupon a Voice
came from the bone, crying, "Nuloogoon, ba ho!" "Ho, my leg,
come hither!" and a leg came unto the spine. Then the Voice cried,
"N'petunagum, ha ho!" "Ho, my arm, come hither!" And when
the last fragment had come he arose, the same indomitable Lox as
ever, even the Indian Devil, or Wolverine, who never says Die, and
whom nothing can kill, and who is hard to put away.
Now the two brothers went on till they came to the top of a high
mountain, where there lay a very great round rock, or a mighty boulder.
And, being full of fun, they turned it over with great sticks, saying
to it, "Now let us run a race!" Then it rolled downhill till it
stopped at the foot, they rushing along by it all the time. And
when it rested they jeered it, and bade it race with them again,
when it so listed.
And truly they had not long to wait, for soon after, as they sat
cooking their food, they heard a mighty commotion as of something
coming with dreadful speed through the forest. And lo! it was the
stone in dire wrath, which, having rested a little while, came rushing
through the forest, crashing the mighty trees like grass, with a
roar like thunder, leaving a smooth road behind it in the roughest
wilderness. Up and after the sorcerers flew the stone, and the younger
slipped aside like a snake, but the elder had scarcely time to utter
his magic charm, "Noo-goon ooskudeskuch!" "Let my backbone
remain uninjured!" ere the awful rock rolled down upon him, crushing
his bones and mashing his flesh. Yet the spine was unhurt; it remained
sound as ever.
And the stone went on and ever on, till the sound of its roar died
away in the breeze and afar in the wilderness.
Then the younger brother turned to the Backbone and said, "Cagooee
wejismook' tumun?" "Why are you lying there?" And bearing this
charm the Bone called aloud, "Ntenin ba ho!" "My body, ho!"
and "Nuloogoon ba ho!" "My leg, ho!" and so with the rest
of the members as before, until he that was decomposed was now recomposed;
yes, and composed perfectly. And then he that was dead, but was
now alive, arose, and said as one awaking, "What have I been doing?"
So his brother told him all.
Then he was greatly angered, and when the Wolverine is angry it
is not a little. And he said in his wrath, "Shall I that am the
devil of the woods himself be slain by birds and stones, and not
be revenged?" So they went onwards through the woods till they found
the Great Rock: they followed in the path of the broken trees; even
by the trees did they track it. Which having found, they built a
fire around it; with great stones for hammers they broke it, and
ever more and still smaller, till it was all mere dust, for their
souls were sore for revenge.
When lo, a great wonder! For the Spirit of the Old Rock, even that
which was itself, turned all the dust to black flies, into the stinging
and evil things which drive men and beasts mad, so that its hatred
and spite might be carried out on all living creatures unto the
end of time.
And having had their ill-will of the Rock and seen it become Flies,
the two went through the forest, and so on till they came to a village
of good, honest folk; and knowing what manner of men they were,
Lox resolved to forthwith play them an evil trick, for in all life
there was nothing half so dear to him as to make mischief, the worse
And this time it came into his head that it would be a fine piece
of wit to go into the town as a gay girl and get married, and see
what would come of it, trusting to luck to fashion a sad fool out
of somebody. So having made himself into a delicate young beauty,
richly attired, he entered the place; and truly the town was soon
agog over the new guests. And the young chief of the tribe, wanting
her, won her without waste of time. Truly there lieth herein some
mystery. I know not what, only this I know: that there are in all
towns certain folk who, by means of magic or meddling, always find
out everything about everybody, and then tittle-tattle thereof.
Now, albeit Lox had utterly abjured all the sinfulness of manhood,
and had made a new departure in an utterly mew direction, saying
not a word thereof to any one, yet in a brief measure of time, one
here, another there, Jack in a corner and Jane by the bush, began
to whisper of a strange thing, and hint that all was not as it should
be, and, whatever the chief might think, that in their minds matters
were going wrong in his wigwam.
Now Lox, knowing all this thread as soon as it was spun, began
to think it high time to show his hand in the game. And what was
the amazement of all the town to hear, one fine evening, that the
chief's wife would soon be a mother. And when the time came Dame
Lox informed her husband that, according to the custom of her people,
she must be left utterly alone till he was a father and the babe
born. And when in due time the cry of a small child was heard in
the lodge the women waiting ran in, and received from the mother
the little one, abundantly rolled in many wrappers, which they took
to the chief. But what was his amazement, when having unrolled the
package, he found under one skin after another, tied up hard, yet
another sewed up, and yet again, as the inmost kernel of this nut,
the little withered, wizened, dead, and dried shrivelment of an
unborn moose calf. Which pleased the chief so much that, dashing
Master Moose into the fire, he seized his tomahawk and ran to his
lodge to make his first morning call on the mother.
But Master Lox was now a man again, and expecting this call, and
not wishing to see visitors, had with his brother fled to the woods,
and that rapidly. And in the rush he came to a river, and, seeing
a very high waterfall, thought of a rare device whereby he might
elude pursuit. For he with his brother soon built a dam across the
top with trees and earth, so that but little water went below. And
lying in a eave, concealed with care, he imitated the boo-oo-oo
of a falling stream with quaint and wondrous skill. And there he
lay, and no man wist thereof.
But verily the wicked one is caught in his own snare, and even
so it befell Master Lox. For as he bid, the water above, having
gathered to a great lake, burst the dam, so that it all came down
upon him at once and drowned him; nor was there any great weeping
for him that ever I heard of. So here he passes out of this story,
and does not come into it again. But whether he went for good and
all out of this life is doubtful, since I find him living again
in so many rare, strange histories that it has become a proverb
that Lox never dies.
Now the tale returns to the two little Weasels, or Ermines, or
Water-Maids, poor souls, who had such a hard life! And it happened
that, fleeing from Master Lox, they came at evening to a deserted
village, and entered a wigwam to pass the night. But the elder,
being the wiser, and somewhat of a witch in the bud, mistrusted
the place, deeming it not so empty as it seemed. And beholding by
the door, lying on the ground, the Neckbone of a man or some other
animal, she warned her sister that she should in nowise offend it
or treat it lightly, to which the younger replied by giving it a
kick which sent it flying, and by otherwise treating it with scorn
Then they laid them down to sleep; but before their slumber came
they heard a doleful, bitter voice chanting aloud and shouting,
and it was Chamach keg wech, or the Neckbone, bewailing the
scorn that had been put upon him, and reviling them with all manner
of curses. Then the elder said, "There, truly, I said it. I knew
you would be our death if you did not mind me:" it being in all
cases an esteemed solace for every woman and most men to say, "I
told you so!" But the younger, being well-nigh frightened to a corpse,
in a soft whisper implored the elder to let her hide herself in
her roll of hair, which the Voice, mocking her, repeated; adding
thereto all the reviling and railing that Mitche-hant, the devil,
himself ever yet invented, and abusing her so for her past life,
and exhorting her so for all the sins, slips, and slops therein
(of which there were many), that even the impenitent little Weasel
repented and wept bitterly. Howbeit no further harm came to them
beyond this, so that the next morning they went their way in peace;
and I warrant you Master Neckbone got no kicks that day from them,
Then, coming to a river, they saw on the other side a handsome
young man holding a bow, and to him they called, making their usual
offer to become his wives, and all for no greater thing than to
carry them over the ferry. And this man's name was See-witch, and
to please them he did indeed pass them over in his canoe; but as
for taking them home, he said that he had housekeepers in store,
and as many as he needed just then, and that of a kind who kept
him very busy. So they went their way onwards.
And coming anon to the great sea, they beheld yet another canoe
with two men therein, and these were Kwe-moo, the Loon, and Mahgwis,
the Scapegrace. And embarking with them, Loon soon began to admire
the girls greatly. And saying many sweet things, he told them that
he dwelt in the Wigem territory, or in the land of the Owealkesk,
of which he himself was one. But the Mahgwis whispered to them aside
that they should put little trust in what he told them, for Loon
was a great liar. Now when they came to the land of the Owealkesk,
they were amazed at the beauty of the people, and saw that all in
that land was lovely, nor did they themselves seem less marvelously
fair to the men therein. Indeed, the poor little Weasels began to
see the end of their sorrows, for, being water-fairies, these sea-birds
were nigh akin to them. And there was a great feast, a great dance,
and great games held in honor of their arrival, and the two finest
young Sea-Duck men, utterly unheeding the old Loon, who believed
indeed that they were his own wives, carried them off, and nothing
loath wedded them.
And it was in this wise. There was a canoe-race, and Kwe-moo, being
bitterly angry that he was held of so little account in the Sea-Duck
land, went forth with the rest, and, paddling far outside, upset
his canoe, and making as if he were drowning called to the Weasels
to come and save him. But the Sea, Ducks laughed, and said, "Let
him alone. Truly he will never drown. We know him." And the race
ended they went ashore in peace.
And that night they danced late, and the Weasels, being better
pleased with the two handsome Sea-Ducks than with Loon, forthwith
divorced themselves out of hand, and at once married them, going
to where their canoe lay, to pass the bridal night. Now Loon had
not gone to the dance, but sat at home nursing his vengeance till
he was well-nigh mad. And as the Weasels did not return, he went
forth and sought them; and this he did so carefully that at last
he found all four by the sea, sound asleep. Whereupon he, with his
knife, slew the young men, and being in great fear of their friends
took his canoe and went down the river to kill a deer. But not daring
to return, and being mad for loss of the Weasels, and fearing to
fall into the hands of the enemy, he in despair took his knife and
Yet the Weasels, who had seen the deed done, did not betray him,
for there was at least so much truth left in them. And they lived
with the Sea-Ducks, and I doubt me not went on marrying and mischief-making
after their wont even unto the end of their days. And their kind
are not dead as yet in any land.
Native American Legends
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