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Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 28

“You shall have it,” said Manabush. Then he turned to the silent one. He asked, “What do you wish?”

The Indian replied, “I wish no hunting medicine. I wish to live forever.”

Manabush rose and went towards the Indian. He took him by the shoulders and carried him to his sleeping place. He set him down, and said:

“You shall be a stone. Thus you shall be everlasting.”

Immediately the other Indians arose and went down to the shore. In their canoes they returned to their own land. It is from these seven who returned that we know of the abode of Manabush.

[77]

PEBOAN AND SEEGWAN

Ojibwa

LONG ago an old man sat alone in his lodge beside a frozen stream. The fire was dying out, and it was near the end of winter. Outside the lodge, the cold wind swept before it the drifting snow. So the old man sat alone, day after day, until at last a young warrior entered his lodge. He was fresh and joyous and youthful.

The old man welcomed him. He drew out his long pipe and filled it with tobacco. He lighted it from the dying embers of the fire. Then they smoked together.

The old man said, “I blow my breath and the streams stand still. The water becomes stiff and hard like the stones.”

“I breathe,” said the warrior, “and flowers spring up over the plain.”

“I shake my locks,” said the old man, “and snow covers the land. Leaves fall from the trees. The birds fly away. The animals hide. The earth becomes hard.”

“I shake my locks,” said the young man, “and the [78] warm rain falls. Plants blossom; the birds return; the streams flow.”

Then the sun came up over the edge of the Earth-plain, and began to climb the trail through the Sky-land. The old man slept. Behold! The frozen stream near by began to flow. The fire in the lodge died out. Robins sat upon the lodge poles and sang.

Then the warrior looked upon the sleeping old man. Behold! It was Peboan, the Winter-maker.[15]

[15] In his lodge beside a river,
Close beside a frozen river,
Sat an old man, sad and lonely,
White his hair was as a snow-drift;
Dull and low his fire was burning,
And the old man shook and trembled,
. . . .
Hearing nothing but the tempest
As it roared along the forest,
Seeing nothing but the snow-storm,
As it whirled and hissed and drifted.
All the coals were white with ashes
And the fire was slowly dying,
As a young man, walking lightly,
At the open doorway entered.
Red with blood of youth his cheeks were,
Soft his eyes, as stars in Spring-time.
Hiawatha

[79]

THE GRAVE FIRES

Ojibwa

A SMALL war party of Ojibwas fought, long ago, with enemies on an open plain. Then their chief was shot by an arrow in his breast as he rode after the retreating enemy. When his warriors found their chief dead, they placed him, sitting, with his back against a tree. They left him there with his bow and arrows.

But the chief was not dead. He saw the warriors leave him and he ran after them as they rode the homeward trail. He followed closely in their trail. He slept in their camp, yet they did not see him.


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