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

“Ah, Doctor Lox,” he cried, “this is awfully hot! I fear I am dying!”

“Courage,” said Lox; “this is nothing. The Gull had it twice as hot.”

“Can’t stand it any more, doctor. O-o-o-oh!”

Doctor Lox threw in more hot stones and poured more water on them. The Bear yelled.

“Let me out! O-o-h! let me out! O-o-o-oh!”

So he came bursting through the door. The doctor examined him critically.

Now there is on an old bear a small white or light spot on his upper breast, which he cannot see. [Footnote: This is very white on the Japanese bears.] And Doctor Lox, looking at this, said,–

“What a pity! You came out just as you were beginning to turn white. Here is the first spot. Five minutes more and you’d have been a white bear. Ah, you haven’t the pluck of a gull; that I can see.”

Now the Bear was mortified and disappointed. He had not seen the spot, so he asked Lox if it was really there.

“Wait a minute,” said the doctor. He led the Bear to a pool and made him look in. Sure enough, the spot was there. Then he asked if they could not begin again.

“Certainly we can,” replied the doctor. “But it will be much hotter and harder and longer this time. Don’t try it if you feel afraid, and don’t blame me if you die of it.”

The Bear went in again, but he never came out alive. The doctor had roast bear meat all that winter, and much bear’s oil. He gave some of the oil to his younger brother. The boy took it in a measure. Going along the creek, he saw a Muskrat (Keuchus, Pass.). He said to the Muskrat, “If you can harden this oil for me, I will give you half.” The Muskrat made it as hard as ice. The boy said, “If my brother comes and asks you to do this for him, do you keep it all.” And, returning, he showed the oil thus hardened to his brother, who, taking a large measure of it, went to the Muskrat and asked him to harden it. The Muskrat indeed took the dish and swam away with it, and never returned.

Then the elder, vexed with the younger, and remembering the ducks in the wigwam, and believing now that he had indeed been cheated, slew him.

This confused and strange story is manifestly pieced together out of several others, each of which have incidents in common. A part of it is very ancient. Firstly, the inveigling the ducks into the wigwam is found in the Eskimo tale of Avurungnak (Rink, p. 177). The Eskimo is told by a sorcerer to let the sea-birds into the tent, and not to begin to kill them till the tent is full. He disobeys, and a part of them escape. In Schoolcraft’s Hiawatha Legends, Manobozho gets the mysterious oil which ends the foregoing story from a fish. He fattens all the animals in the world with it, and the amount which they consume is the present measure of their fatness. When this ceremony is over, he inveigles all the birds into his power by telling them to shut their eyes. At last a small duck, the diver, suspecting something, opens one eye, and gives the alarm.

The sorcerer’s passing himself off for a woman and the trick of the moose abortion occurs in three tales, but it is most completely given in this. To this point the narrative follows the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Chippewa versions. After the tale of the chief is at an end it is entirely Passamaquoddy; but of the latter I have two versions, one from Tomah Josephs and one from Mrs. W. Wallace Brown.

I can see no sense in the account of the bear’s oil hardened by ice, but that oil is an essential part of the duck story appears from the Chippewa legend (Hiawatha L. p. 30). In the latter it is represented as giving size to those who partake of it.