Native American Legends
Of the dreadful deeds of the Evil Pitcher, who was both Man and Woman, and how she fell in love with Glooskap, and, being scorned, became his enemy. Of the Toads and Porcupines, and the awful Battle of the Giants
A Passamaquoddy Legend
When Glooskap came into the world it abounded in giants, monsters,
sorcerers and witches, fiends and devils. Among the witches there
was one whom the Passamaquoddy call Pook-jin-skwess, or the Pitcher.
And they have a legend that she once fell in love with Glooskap
when he was young and had not gained the power of his riper age.
He fled before her, and she pursued him. It was a dreadful flight,
since to make rapid steps both took the form of giants by their
m'téoulin, or magic power. It was like an awful storm in
winter, the wind chasing the cloud; it was like a frightful tempest
in summer, the lightning chasing the thunder. As the snow lay deep,
both had snow-shoes on. When they came to the shore Glooskap leaped
from the main-land to the island of Grand Manan, and so escaped
her. Now the snow-shoes of Glooskap were sams'ook , or round, while
those of Pook-jin-skwess were long and pointed, and the marks of
them as they jumped are to be seen deep in the rocks to this day.
When Glooskap came to the camp, which was at Ogumkegéak,
now called Liverpool, he found none. But there lay the witch-kwed-lakun-cheech,
or birch-bark dish of Martin, and from it, or, as another legend
states, from an old main and woman who dwelt hard by, he learned
that Win-pe and the families had been gone for seven years, along
a road guarded by wicked and horrible beings, placed by Win-pe to
prevent the Great Master from finding him. For it was a great triumph
for him to keep Glooskap's friends as slaves, and all the land spoke
And these monsters were Pook-jin-skwess, or the Evil Pitcher herself,
in many forms; for she could be man or woman, or many of them, and
also several girls, when she willed it. Now it is a great part of
Indian m'téoulin to know what one's enemies are planning
and plotting, and all their tricks and darkened paths, and in this
Glooskap went beyond them all, for before his time every one went
his own way, even in wickedness. But Glooskap first of all threw
out his soul unto others.
And when he came to Ogumkeok he found a hut, and in it, seated
over a fire, the ugliest old hag he had ever seen, trembling in
every limb, as if near death, dirty, ragged, and loathsome in all
ways. Looking up at him with bleared eyes, she begged him to gather
her a little firewood, which he did. And then she prayed him to
free her from the wah gook, or vermin, with which she was covered,
and which were maddening her with their bites. These were all devils
in disguise, the spirits of foul poison, such as she deemed must
kill even the Master. Now Glooskap, foreseeing all this, had taken
with him, as he came, from a bog many cranberries. And bidding Pook-jin-skwess
bend over, he began to take from her hair the hideous vermin, and
each, as he took it, became a horrid porcupine or toad. Then the
hag asked, "Have you found one?" "I have," replied
the Master. "Bâsp!" "Crush it!" was her
answer, and Glooskap crushed a cranberry; and she, hearing the noise,
thought that he had done as she bid, and that the poison on his
fingers would penetrate to his life. But he put the imps, one by
one, under the wooden platter, which lay before him. As this went
on he put the witch to sleep. When she awoke he was gone. The foul
porcupines and toads were swarming all over the ground, having upset
their hive. And filled with fury at being made a jest of, since
it was a great despite that he had not even found it worth while
to kill her when asleep, she burst out into her own form, which
was beautiful as sin, wild as the devil, and gathering up all her
imps, and making herself far more magical by fiercer will, went
onward to encounter him again.
Then Glooskap came to a narrow pass in the hills. Here were two
terrible beasts, as one story has it, or two monstrous dogs, as
it is told in another. And they attacked him; but he set his own
at them, and they, growing to tremendous size, killed the others.
His dogs were so trained that when called to come off they went
on, and the more they were bid to be quiet the more they bit.
Soon he came to the top of a high hill, and looking thence over
all the land saw afar off a large wigwam, and knew in his heart
that an enemy dwelt therein. And coming to it he found an old man
and his two daughters. Now the girls came out greeting
him with very pleasant glances, wooing softly and sweetly; they
offered him a string of sausages, such as the Indians make from
the entrails of the dear by only turning them inside out. For the
fat, which clings to the outside, fills the skin. When these are
washed and dried and smoked, many deem them delicious. But these
which the girls offered, as girls do, to show their love, by casting
the string round the neck of the favored youth, were enchanted,
and had they once put the necklace upon him he would have been overpowered.
However, they knew not of this new magic which the Master had brought
into the land, by which one can read the heart; so, as they sidled
up unto him with smiles and blandishments, waving in the wind as
they danced their garlands of enchanted sausages, he looked as if
he wanted to be won. And when his dogs growled at them he cried,
"Cuss!" which means Stop! but which the dogs only knew
as "Hie, at them!" So they flew at the witches, and these
flashed up like fire into their own dreadful forms of female fiends.
Then there was a terrible tumult, for never before in the land of
the Wabanaki had there been such a battle. All the earth and rocks
around were torn up. All the while the Master cried to the dogs,
"Stop! These are my sisters. Come off, ye evil beasts! Let
them alone' Cease, oh cease!" Yet the more he exhorted them
to peace the more they inclined to war, and the more fiercely they
fought, until the witches fled.
Then he entered the wigwam where the old sorcerer sat, waiting
for him as food. And the Master said, "Are you hungry? Or do
you love sausages? Here they are!" Instantly casting the links
around his neck, he was taken, and Glooskap slew him with one blow.
Then, going on, he reached the Strait of Camsoke, or Canso, and
to cross over again sang the song which wins the whales, and one
of these rising, carried him to the opposite shore. Thence he made
the circle of Oona-mah-gik, keeping round by the southern coast,
and coming to the old camps where his enemy had been. From the witch-kwed-lakun-cheech,
or birch-bark dish, left by Martin, he learned how long they had
been gone. When he came to Uk-tu-tun (Cape North) he found they
had rowed to Uk-tuk-amqw (Newfoundland), and had left three days
Then again he sang, and once more a whale carried him over. And
now he knew that he was indeed coming to what he sought, for in
the deserted camp he found the embers of a fire, still smoking.
Advancing rapidly, he saw near the next camp Martin, seeking wood
to burn. The youth and the old Dame Bear had been most cruelly treated
by Win-pe, and they were nearly starved, but Martin's clothes were
good. And Martin was so sunk in sorrow that he did not hear Glooskap
call him, and not till the Master threw a small stick at him did
he look up, and even then he thought it had fallen from a tree.
Then, seeing him, he cried out with joy; but Glooskap, who was hiding
in the woods, bade him be silent. "Wait till it is dark,"
he said, "and I will go to your wigwam. Now you may go home
and tell your grandmother."
In the other story it is narrated that as Martin with the grandmother
were on the road, and Dame Bear bore him as almost a babe on her
back, he turned his head and saw Glooskap following them, and cried
"Where, oh where,
Where is my brother?
He who fed me often
On the marrow of the moose!"
And she replied,--
"Alas for thee, boy!
He is far, far away;
You will see him no more."
But the little fellow, seeing him again, sang as before, and Dame
Bear, turning her head and beholding her Master, was so moved that
she fainted and fell to the ground. Then Glooskap raised her in
his arms, and when she had recovered she related how cruelly they
had been treated by Win-pe. And Glooskap said, "Bear with him
yet a little while, for I will soon pay him in full for what he
Then the Master bade the old woman go back to the camp with Martin,
and say nothing. It was the youth's duty to go for water and tend
the baby in its swinging cot. And Glooskap told him all that he
should do. When he should bring water he must mix with it the worst
filth, and so offer it to Win-pe, the sorcerer.
And even as he ordered it was done, and Martin meekly offered the
foul drink to the evil man, who at the smell of it cried aloud,
"Uk say!" (Micmac: Oh, horror!) and bade him bring a cleaner
cup. But Martin, bearing the babe, threw it into the fire, and,
running to the spot where Glooskap hid, cried out, "Nse-sako!
nse-sako!" (Micmac: My brother! my brother!) Win-pe, pursuing
him, said, "Cry out to him; your brother cannot help you now.
He is far away from here, on the island where I left him. Cry out
well, for now you must die!" All this had been done that Win-pe's
power might be put to sleep by anger, and his mind drawn to other
things. And the Master rose before him in all his might, and stepped
forward, while Win-pe drew backward a pace to recover his strength.
And with great will the bad man roused all the magic within him,
and as it came, he rose till his head was above the tallest pine;
and truly in those days trees were giants beyond those of this time.
But the lord of men and beasts laughed as he grew till his head
was far above the clouds and reached the stars, and ever higher,
till Win-pe was as a child at his feet. And holding the man in scorn,
and disdaining to use a nobler weapon, he tapped the sorcerer lightly
with the end of his bow, like a small dog, and he fell dead.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends