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- The Algonquin Legends of New England - 30/54 -
"You mean thing! You threw hot pudding at me, when I did you no harm."
"I didn't throw any!" said the other, in a rage.
"Yes, you _did_, you mean thing!"
"Stop! stop!" cried the others. Just then hot pudding flew in all their faces; they had a terrible quarrel, and the Mischief Maker left them to settle it among themselves as they could.
He entered the village near by, and gave the usual signal for news. The runners came out and met him; the chiefs and all the people assembled, lining the path on both sides for a long way. They asked, "What news do you bring?"
He replied, "I come from at village where there is great distress. A pestilence visited the people. The medicine man could not cure the sick; till I came there was no remedy; the tribe was becoming very small. But I told them the remedy, and now they are getting well. I have come to tell you to prepare for the pestilence: it will soon be here; it is flying like the wind, and there is only one remedy."
"What is it? what is it? what is it?" interrupted the people.
He answered, "Every man must embrace the woman who is next to him at this very instant; kiss her, quick, immediately!"
They all did so on the spot, he with the rest.
As he was leaving them an elderly man came to him and whispered, "Are you going to do this thing again at the next village? If you are I should like to be on hand. I didn't get any girl myself here. The woman I went for dodged me, and said she had rather have the pestilence, and death too, than have me kiss her. Is the operation to be repeated?"
The Mischief Maker said that it certainly would be, about the middle of the morrow forenoon.
"Then I will start now," said the middle-aged man, "for I am lame, and it will take me all night to get there."
So he hurried on, and at daylight entered the village. He found a wigwam, by which several beautiful Indian girls were pounding corn in a great wooden mortar. He sat down by them. He could hardly take his eyes from them, they were so charming, and they wondered at his strange behavior.
He talked with them, and said, "My eyelids quiver, and by that I know that some great and strange news will soon be brought to this tribe. Hark!"--here he moved up towards the one whom he most admired,--"did you not hear a signal?"
"No," they replied.
The middle-aged man became very uneasy. Suddenly the girls gave a cry, and dropped their corn pestles. A voice was heard afar; the runners leaped and flew, the chiefs and people went forth. With them went the girls and the middle-aged man, who took great pains to keep very near his chosen one, so as to lose no time in applying the remedy for the pestilence when the Mischief Maker should give the signal. He was determined that a life should not be lost if he could prevent it.
The Stranger went through his story as at the other village. The people became very much excited. They cried, out to know the remedy, and the old bachelor drew nearer to the pretty girl.
"The only remedy for the pestilence is for every woman _to knock down the man who is nearest her_."
The women began to knock down, and the first to fall was the too familiar old bachelor. So the Mischief Maker waited no longer than to see the whole town in one general and bitter fight, tooth and nail, tomahawk and scalper, and then ran at the top of his speed far away and fleet, to find another village. Then the people, finding they had been tricked, said, as people generally do on such occasions, "If we had that fellow here, wouldn't we pay him up for this?"
The Mischief Maker was greatly pleased at his success. It was nearly dark when he stopped, and said, "I will not enter the next village to-night; I will camp here in the woods." So he had piled up logs for a fire, and was just about to strike a light, when he saw a stranger approaching. "Camp with me here over night," said the Mischief Maker, "and we will go to the village in the morning."
So they ate and smoked their pipes, and told stories till it was very late. But the stranger did not seem to tire; nay, he even proposed to tell stories all night long. The Mischief Maker looked at him aslant.
"My friend," he said, "can you tell me of what wood my back-log is?"
"Hickory?" inquired the stranger.
"No, not hickory."
"No, not maple."
"No, not white oak."
"No, not black walnut."
"No, not moosewood."
"No, not ash."
"No, not pine."
"No, not cedar."
The stranger began to yawn, but he kept on guessing. Then his head nodded. By the time he had found out that it was slippery elm he was sound asleep.
"This fellow deserves punishment," remarked the Mischief Maker. "He is an enemy to mankind." Here he adroitly put some sticky clay on the sleeper's eyes, and departed. When the stranger awoke he thought himself still fast asleep in darkness, and then that he was blind.
"If ever I meet with that fellow again," he said, "I'll punish him!"
The Mischief Maker played so many pranks that all the tribes sent out runners to catch him. He heard their whoops in every forest. He knew that he was being hunted down. He hurried on, and once at night hid in a cave under a rock. The runners did not quite overtake him, but they saw that his tracks were fresh, and thought they might catch him in the morning. In the morning he was up and far away long before they awoke. The next night he hid again in a hollow log. In the middle of the afternoon of the next day he heard the whoops of the pursuers very near, and knew that they were gaining fast on him. He climbed a thickly limbed tree, and hid in the top. Here the runners lost his track, because he had broken the weeds and bushes down beyond the tree, as if he had gone further on. They ran for a long distance. Then they returned, and camped and built a fire under the tree.
The smoke crept up among the branches and curled above, and rose in a straight column to the sky. The fugitive sailed away on the smoke, going up and up,--past beautiful lakes and hunting-grounds stocked with deer, large fields of corn and beans, tobacco and squashes; past great companies of handsome Indians, whose wigwams were hung full of dried venison and bear's meat. And so he went on and up to the wig-wam of the Great Chief.
Here he rested. He remained for a hundred moons observing the customs of the people and learning their language. One morning the Great Chief told him that he must return to his own people. He disliked to do this, for he was very happy in the new place. The Chief said, "These are the happy hunting grounds. We have admitted you that you may know how and what to teach your people, that they may get here. Go, and if you do what I tell you, you may return to remain forever. You have not been allowed to come here to remain, but only to observe. When you come again, you shall join us in all things. You shall hunt and fish then, and have whatever you wish. But return now, and teach what you have learned here."
A cloud of smoke in the form of a great eagle came to him, and, seated on its back, he was borne down to the top of the tree from which he had risen. He opened his eyes. The sun was shining. His pursuers had gone away. He descended and traveled on. His mind was filled with what he had seen. He said, "I will no longer play tricks, but tell the people about what I learned in the happy hunting-grounds."
After a long journey he drew near a village. He gave the common signal. Runners came to meet him. The head chief and all the people came to hear. He was asked, "What news do you bring us?"
He said, "I that was the Mischief Maker am the Peace Maker now. The Great Spirit took me to the happy hunting-grounds, and I am sent back to tell you how to get there." Then the Peace Maker described all he had seen. The people built a great fire and danced around it, and shouted as they had never done before. Then he said, "This is the message I bring you."
So the people sat in a great circle round the fire and listened. He spoke:--
"The Great Spirit is unseen, but he is about us. He will not forsake us. He rules all things for us. He will take care of us. He told me that we should return thanks to him, for he changes the seasons, and makes corn and beans and squashes grow for us. He is displeased when we kill our brothers. He hopes that we will not forget him. He will never die. His name is _Ha-wen-ni-yu_,--the Ruler. He bids us keep away from his wicked brother, whose name is _Ha-ne-go-ate-geh_, the Evil-Minded. He is very bad. He brings pestilence and fevers, and lizards and poisonous weeds. He destroys peace, and brings war. Ha-wen-ni-yu will care for us if we trust in him. Obey his words, and Ha-ne-go-ate-geh will never
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