Native American Legends
Of other men who went to Glooskap for gifts
A Micmac Legend
N'karnayoo: wood-enit-atokhagen Glooskap. Of the
old times: this is a story of Glooskap. Now there went forth many
men unto Glooskap, hearing that they could win the desires of their
hearts; and all got what they asked for, in any case; but as for
having what they wanted, that depended on the wisdom with which
they wished or acted.
The good Glooskap liked it not that when he had told any one evenly
and plainly what to do, that man should then act otherwise, or double
with him. And it came to pass that a certain fool, of the kind who
can do nothing unless it be in his own way, made a long journey
to the Master. And his trials were indeed many. For he came to an
exceeding high mountain in a dark and lonely land, where he heard
no sound. And the ascent thereof was like a smooth pole, and the
descent on the other side far worse, for it hung over the bottom.
Yet it was worse beyond, for there the road lay between the heads
of two huge serpents, almost touching each other, who darted their
terrible tongues at those who went between. And yet again the path
passed under the Wall of Death. Now this wall hung like an awful
cloud over a plain, rising and falling at times, yet no man knew
when. And when it fell it struck the ground, and that so as to crush
all that was beneath it.
But the young man escaped all these trials, and came to the island
of the Great Master. And when he had dwelt there a certain time,
and was asked what he would have, he replied, "If my lord will,
let him give me a medicine which will cure all disease." More than
this he asked not. So the Master gave him a certain small package,
and said, "Herein is that which thou seekest; but I charge thee
that thou lettest not thine eyes behold it until thou shalt reach
thy home." So he thanked the Master, and left.
But he was not far away ere he desired to open the package and
test the medicine, and, yet more, the truth of the Master. And he
said to himself, "Truly, if this be but a deceit it was shrewdly
devised to bid me not open it till I returned. For he knew well
that once so far I would make no second journey to him. Tush! if
the medicine avail aught it cannot change in aught." So he opened
it, when that which was therein fell to the ground, and spread it
self like water everywhere, and then dried away like a mist. And
when he returned and told his tale, men mocked him.
Then again there were three brothers, who, having adventured, made
known their wishes. Now the first was very tall, far above all his
fellows, and vain of his comeliness. For he was of those who put
bark or fur into their moccasins, that they may be looked up to
by the little folk and be loved by the squaws; and his hair was
plastered to stand up on high, and on the summit of it was a very
long turkey-tail feather. And this man asked to become taller than
any Indian in all the land.
And the second wished that he might ever remain where he was to
behold the land and the beauty of it, and to do naught else.
And the third wished to live to an exceeding old age, and ever
to be in good health.
Now the three, when they came to the island, had found there three
wigwams, and in two of these were dwellers, not spoken of in other
traditions. In one lived Cool-puj-ot, a very strange man.
For he has no bones, and cannot move himself, but every spring and
autumn he is rolled over with handspikes by the order of
Glooskap, and this is what his name means in the Micmac tongue.
And in the autumn he is turned towards the west, but in the spring
towards the east, and this is a figure of speech denoting the revolving
seasons of the year. With his breath he can sweep down whole armies,
and with his looks alone he can work great wonders, and all this
means the weather,--frost, snow, ice, and sunshine.
And in the other wigwam dwelt Cuhkw, which means Earthquake.
And this mighty man can pass along under the ground, and make all
things shake and tremble by his power.
Now when Glooskap had heard what these visitors wished for, he
called Earthquake, and bid him take them all three and put them
with their feet in the ground. And he did so, when they at once
became three trees: as one tradition declares, pines; and another,
So that he that would be tall became exceeding tall, for his head
rose above the forest; and even the turkey-feather at the top thereof
is not forgotten, since to this day it is seen waving in the wind.
And he who will listen in a pine-wood may hear the tree murmuring
all day long in the Indian tongue of the olden time,--
"Ee nil Etuchi nek m'kilaskitopp
Ee nil Etuche wiski nek n'kil ooskedjin."
Oh, I am such a great man!
Oh, I am such a great Indian!
And the second, who would remain in the land, remains there; for
while his roots are in the ground he cannot depart from it.
And the third, who would live long in health, unless men have cut
him down, is standing as of yore.
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