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How Lox Deceived The Ducks, Cheated The Chief, And Beguiled The Bear
by [?]

Now while this conversation had been going on, Lox, who was deeply addicted to all kinds of roguery and mischief, had listened to it with interest. And when the two little guests had ceased he asked them where their village was, and who lived in it. Then he was told that all the largest animals had their homes there: the bear, caribou or reindeer, deer, wolf, wild cat, to say nothing of squirrels and mice. And having got them to show him the way, he some time after turned himself into a young woman of great beauty, or at least disguised himself like one, and going to the village married the young chief. And having left little Marten alone in a hollow tree outside the village, the boy, getting hungry, began to howl for food; which the villagers hearing were in a great fright. But the young chiefs wife, or the magician Lox, soon explained to them what it meant. “It is,” she-he said, “Owoolakumooejit, the Spirit of Famine. He is grim and gaunt; hear how he howls for food! Woe be unto you, should he reach this village! Ah, I remember only too well what happened when he once came among us. Horror! starvation!”

“Can you drive him back?” cried all the villagers.

“Yes, ’tis in my power. Do but give me the well-tanned hide of a yearling moose and a good supply of moose-tallow, [Footnote: A great delicacy among these semi-Arctic Indians.] then the noise will cease.” And seizing it, and howling furiously the name of his brother after a fashion which no one could understand,–Aa-chowwa’n!–and bidding him begone, he rushed out into the night, until he came to Marten, to whom he gave the food, and, wrapping him up well in the moose-skin, bade him wait a while. And the villagers thought the chief’s wife was indeed a very great conjurer.

And then she-he announced that a child would soon be born. And when the day came Badger handed out a bundle, and said that the babe was in it. “Noolmusugakelaimadijul,” “They kiss it outside the blanket.” But when the chief opened it what he found therein was the dried, withered embryo of a moose-calf. In a great rage he flung it into the fire, and all rushed headlong in a furious pack to catch Badger. They saw him and Marten rushing to the lake. They pursued him, but when he reached the bank the wily sorcerer cast in a stick; it turned into a canoe, and long ere the infuriated villagers could reach them they were on the opposite shore and in the woods.

Now it came to pass one day that as Lox sat on a log a bear came by, who, being a sociable fellow, sat down by him and smoked a pipe. While they were talking a gull flew over, and inadvertently offered to Lox what he considered, or affected to consider, as a great insult. And wiping the insult off, Lox cried to the Gull, “Oh, ungrateful and insolent creature, is this the way you reward me for having made you white!”

Now the Bear would always be white if he could, for the White Bear (wabeyu mooin) is the aristocrat of Beardom. So he eagerly cried, “Ha! did you make the Gull white?”

“Indeed I did,” replied Lox. “And this is what I get for it.”

“Could you, my dear friend,–could you make me white?”

Then Lox saw his way, and replied that he could indeed, but that it would be a long and agonizing process; Mooin might die of it. To be sure the Gull stood it, but could a Bear?

Now the Bear, who had a frame as hard as a rock, felt sure that he could endure anything that a gull could, especially to become a white bear. So, with much ceremony, the Great Enchanter went to work. He built a strong wigwam, three feet high, of stones, and having put the Bear into it he cast in red-hot stones, and poured water on them through a small hole in the roof. Erelong the Bear was in a terrible steam.