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Fish-Hawk And Scapegrace
by [?]

The magicians of all countries, be they of Africa, Asia, or North America, are invariably represented by travelers as holding their flock in subjection, and never being doubted as to power or skill. But there are skeptics or Agnostics among the men of the woods as well as among those of civilized cities. There are shrewd fellows who cannot only detect impostors, but turn their tricks to their own advantage. An amusing illustration of this is given in the following story:

Fish-Hawk and Scapegrace

[Footnote: Wiskumagwasoo and Mahgwis. The Mahgwis, or “Scapegrace,” is a kind of sea-gull.]


Two men met and talked: one was Fish-Hawk, the other was Scapegrace. Now the Fish-Hawk can fly higher than any other ocean bird, and he is proud and particular as to his food; he is only beaten by the eagle. When he dives and takes a fish the eagle pursues him; he lets it drop; the great sagamore of the birds catches it; but to less than the chief he yields nothing. But the Scapegrace will eat anything he is heavy in flying; he is slow and of low degree.

So when the Scapegrace proposed to the Fish-Hawk that they should become partners the proud bird was angry in his heart, but said nothing, as he was crafty, and as it occurred to him that he could punish the other; and this he was the more willing to do because the Scapegrace actually proposed to fly a race with him! So he said, “Let us go together to a certain Indian village.” And they went off together.

The Fish-Hawk arrived there far before the other. And on arriving he said, “Beware of him who will come after me. You will know him by these signs: he is ugly and heavy; he will bring with him his own food. It is coarse and common; in fact it is poison. He wishes to kill you; he will offer it. Do not eat of it, or you will die.”

Then having been very well entertained himself, he took his departure. Scapegrace soon appeared, but was treated with great reserve. He offered his food, and the people pretended to eat it, but took good care to quietly throw it away. Then he told the chief that he was seeking a wife, and asked if there were girls to marry in the town. To which the chief replied, “Yes, there is a mother with several daughters, of the Amalchoogwech’ or Raccoon tribe.”

He went to see the girls. A bad name had gone before him. One of them stood before the lodge. She saw him, and cried, “Mahgwis wechooveet!” “Scapegrace is coming!” They received him as if he had been Sickness. He was welcomed like filth on fine clothes. They cried out, “Ulummeye!” “Go home!” He asked the mother if she had daughters. She answered, “Yes.” He asked her if she would give him one. She replied, “I will not.” So he went his way.

Now when he had gone Fish-Hawk came again, and asked if Scapegrace had been there. He inquired if all had passed as he predicted. They said it had. Then it occurred to him to pass himself off for a great prophet, a wise magician, well knowing that he could make much of it. So he said, “It is well. Remember that you would have all died but for my foresight. That wizard would have poisoned you all. But have no fear. In future I will watch over you.”

Then, he said to a man of the people that if at any time he should see a large bird flying over the village it would be an omen of great coming danger. “Then,” he said, “think of me; call on me, and I will come.” So he departed.

The man thought it all over for a long time. He was shrewd and wise. “He foretold the coming of Scapegrace,” he reflected. “Now he pretends to be a very great sorcerer. We shall see!”