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Fish-Hawk And Scapegrace
by [?]

Sure enough, in a few days he saw a bird flying on high. “That,” said he, “must be the Wis-kuma-gwasoo.” He called him, and he came. “You spoke,” he said, “of danger to our town. What is it?”

“There is great danger. In a few days your town will be attacked by a Kookwes. [Footnote: In Passamaquoddy Kewahqu’, a cannibal giant, who is also a sorcerer.] Unless you save yourselves you will all be devoured.”

“What shall we do to be saved?” asked the man. “When will he come?”

“In seven days,” replied the Fish-Hawk. “Before that time you must take to your canoes and flee afar. You may get beyond his reach, but you cannot before that time get beyond the horrible roar of his voice. And all who hear it will drop dead.”

“How can we escape this second danger?” asked the man.

“You must all close your ears, so that you can hear nothing. When the time is over you may return.”

The man’s name was Oscoon. [Footnote: Oscoon (M.): the Liver.] He led the people away. He closed their ears; he did not close his own. Once he heard-a far-away whoop. It was not very terrible. But he said nothing. After a time, the scouts who were sent out returned. They reported that the Kookwes had departed. They had not even seen him. It was a great escape.

The people thought much of Oscoon. They made him their chief. In a few days the Fish-Hawk returned. He spoke to Oscoon: “Did the giant come?” “He did.” “You escaped?” “By following your advice, we did.” “And in which direction did he go?” [Footnote: Here the Fish-Hawk inadvertently betrays himself. In the Edda, Loki changes himself into a falcon and flies to Jotunheim to make mischief, as usual. Odin also changes himself to a hawk or eagle when he is chased by the giant Suttung. There is a strong Norse color to all this tale. The Fish-Hawk is very Loki-like and tricky.] “Surely you, who know so much about him, must know that better than we do.” Then the Fish-Hawk saw that he was found out. He flew away, and never returned to the town to play the prophet.

He who would cheat must watch his words well.

As in the preceding tradition, there has been tacked to this a fragment of a very poor French tale about a king, a great city, a royal carriage, and the forest of wild beasts, borrowed from so many old European romances. But what is here given is apparently really Indian, and it shows with spirit and humor how men tricked one another and rose in life by trickery, in the days of old.

There are naturally contradictory opinions on such a subject as to what constitutes the morality of magic. The old Shaman or Manitou regarded witchcraft as wicked. The Roman Catholic has taught the Indian that all sorceries and spells except his own are of the devil. Hence it came that I got from two Passamaquoddy Indians, next-door neighbors, the following opinions:–

Tomah.–“There was once a man who hated another. So he prayed until he became a snake,” etc.

Another Indian.–“If a man wanted to be m’teoulin he must go without food, or sleep, or saying his prayers, for seven days. Yes, that certainly. He must go far into the woods. He must go again when his power was used up.”

The faith in and fondness for magic were so great among the Algonquins that there is not one even of their most serious histories into which it has not been introduced. The Passamaquoddies will narrate an incident of their wars with the Mohawks. The first time it will all be probable enough; but hear it again, when the story-teller has become more trustful, and some of the actors in it or the scene will be sure to end like a Christmas pantomime in fairy-land. With them m’teoulin covered everything; it entered into every detail of life. I do not think that it was so deeply felt even by the ancient Babylonians or the modern Arabs and Hindoos as by our red men. It is no wonder they prefer the Catholic religion to the Protestant.