Page images
PDF
EPUB

and hungry,—I have eaten nothing since the floods left me upon the shore —a little shell."

The Great Spirit here lifted up his hands and displaying a bow and arrows, told him to look at him. At a distance sat a bird on a tree. He put an arrow to the string, and pulling it with force, brought down the beautiful object. At this moment a deer came in sight. He placed another arrow to the string, and pierced it through and through. "These" said he, "are your food, and these are your arms," handing him the bow and arrows. He then instructed him how to remove the skin of the deer, and prepare it for a garment. "You are naked," said he, "and must be clothed; it is now warm, but the skies will change, and bring rains, and snow, and cold winds." Having said this, he also imparted the gift of fire, and instructed him how to roast the flesh. He then placed a collar of wampum around his neck. "This," said he, " is your authority over all beasts." Having done this, both horse and rider rose up, and vanished from his sight.

Was-bas-has refreshed himself, and now pursued his way to his native land. He had seated himself on the banks of the river, and was meditating on what had passed, when a large beaver rose up from the channel and addressed him. "Who art thou;" said the beaver, "that comest here to disturb my ancient reign?" "I am a man," he replied ; " I was once a shell, a creeping shell; but who art thou?" "I am king of the nation of beavers," he answered: "I lead my people up and down this stream; we are a busy people, and the river is my dominion." "I must divide it with you," retorted Was-bas-has. "The Great Spirit has placed me at the head of beasts and birds, fishes and fowl; and has provided me with the power of maintaining my rights." Here he held up the bow and arrows, and displayed the collar of shells around his neck. "Come, come," said the Beaver, modifying his tone, "I perceive we are brothers.—Walk with me to my lodge, and refresh yourself after your journey," and so saying he led the way. The Snail-Man willingly obeyed his invitation, and had no reason to repent of his confidence. They soon entered a fine large village, and his host led him to the chief's lodge. It was a well-built room, of a cone-shape, and the floor nicely covered with mats. As soon as they were seated, the Beaver directed his wife and daughter to prepare food for their guest. While this was getting ready, the Beaver chief thought he would improve his opportunity by making a fast friend of so superior a being; whom he saw, at the same time, to be but a novice. He informed him of the method they had of cutting down trees, with their teeth, and of felling them across streams, so as to dam up the water, and described the method of finishing their dams with leaves and clay. He also instructed him in the way of erecting lodges, and with other wise and seasonable conversation beguiled the time. His wife and daughter now entered, bringing in vsssaj of fresh peeled poplar, and willow, and I

[graphic]
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]
[graphic]

fras, and alder bark, which is the most choice food known to them. Of this, Was-bas-has made a merit of tasting, while his entertainer devoured t with pleasure. He was pleased with the modest looks and deportment of he chief's daughter, and her cleanly and neat attire, and her assiduous attention to the commands of her father. This was ripened into esteem by the visit he made her. A mutual attachment ensued. A union was proposed to the father, who was rejoiced to find so advantageous a match for his daughter. A great feast was prepared, to which all the beavers, and other animals on good terms with them, were invited. The SnailMan and the Beaver-Maid were thus united, and this union is the origin of the Osages. So it is said by the old people.

[graphic]

THE ORIGIN OF THE KUG-E-BEENG-WA-KWA,* OR DORMOUSE.

FROM THE ODJIBWA ALGONQUIN.

At the time when the animals reigned in the earth, they had killed all but a girl, and her little brother, and these two were living in fear and seclusion. The boy was a perfect pigmy, and never grew beyond the stature of a small infant; but the girl increased with her years, so that the labor of providing food and lodging devolved wholly on her. She went out daily to get wood for their lodge-fire, and took her little brother along that no accident might happen to him; for he was too little to leave alone. A big bird might have flown away with him. She made him a bow and arrows, and said to him one day, "I will leave you behind where I have been chopping—you must hide yourself, and you will soon see the Gitshee-gitshee-gaun, ai see ug or snow birds, come and pick the worms out of the wood, where I have been chopping," (for it was in the winter.) "Shoot one of them and bring it home." He obeyed her, and tried his best to kill one, but came home unsuccessful. She told him he must not despair, but try again the next day. She accordingly left him at the place she got wood, and returned. Towards nightfall, she heard his little footsteps on the snow, and he came in exultingly, and threw down one of the birds, which he had killed. "My sister," said he, "I wish you to skin it and stretch the skin, and when I have killed more, I will have a coat made out of them." ■ But what shall we do with the body 1" said she: for as yet men had not begun to eat animal food, but lived on vegetables alone. "Cut it in two," he answered, "and season our pottage with one half of it

* Blind Woman. at a time." She did so. The boy, who was of a very small stature, continued his efforts, and succeeded in killing ten birds, out of the skins of which his sister made him a little coat.

"Sister," said he one day, "are we all alone in the world? Is there nobody else living?" She told him that those they feared and who had destroyed their relatives lived in a certain quarter, and that he must by no means go in that direction. This only served to inflame his curiosity and raise his ambition, and he soon after took his bow and arrows and went in that direction. After walking a long time and meeting nothing, he became tired, and lay down on a knoll, where the sun had melted the snow. He fell fast asleep; and while sleeping, the sun beat so hot upon him, that it singed and drew up his bird-skin coat, so that when he awoke and stretched himself, he felt bound in it, as it were. He looked down and saw the damage done to his coat. He flew into a passion and upbraided the sun, and vowed vengeance against it. "Do not think you are too high," said he, "I shall revenge myself."

On coming home he related his disaster to his sister, and lamented bitterly the spoiling of his coat. He would not eat. He lay down as one that fasts, and did not stir, or move his position for ten days, though she tried all she could to arouse him. At the end of ten days, he turned over, and then lay ten days on the other side. When he got up, he told his sister to make him a snare, for he meant to catch the sun. She said she had nothing; but finally recollected a little piece of dried deer's sinew, that her father had left, which she soon made into a string suitable for a noose. But the moment she showed it to him, he told her it would not do, and bid her get something else. She said she had nothing—nothing at all. At last she thought of her hair, and pulling some of it out of her head, made a string. But he instantly said it would not answer, and bid her, pettishly, and with authority, make him a noose. She told him there was nothing to make it of, and went out of the lodge. She said to herself, when she had got without the lodge, and while she was all alone, "neow obewy indapin." This she did, and twisting them into a tiny cord she handed it to her brother. The moment he saw this curious braid he was delighted. "This will do," he said, and immediately put it to his mouth and began pulling it through his lips ; and as fast as he drew it changed it into a red metal cord, which he wound around his body and shoulders, till he had a large quantity. He then prepared himself, and set out a little after midnight, that he might catch the sun before it rose. He fixed his snare on a spot just where the sun would strike the land, as it rose above the earth's disc ; and sure enough, he caught the sun, so that it was held fast in the cord, and did not rise.

The animals who ruled the earth were immediately put into a great commotion. They had no light. They called a council to debate upon the matter, and to appoint some one to go and cut the cord—for this

[graphic]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »