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How Master Lox As A Raccoon Killed The Bear And The Black Cats
by [?]

Soon the Raccoon saw the fierce Black Cat, as an Indian, coming after him with a club. And, looking at him, he said, “No club can kill me; nothing but a bulrush or cat-tail can take my life.” Then the Black Cat, who knew where to get one, galloped off to a swamp, and, having got a large cat-tail, came to the Coon and hit him hard with it. It burst and spread all over the Raccoon’s head, and, being wet, the fuzz stuck to him. And the Black Cat, thinking it was the Coon’s brains and all out, went his way.

The Raccoon lay quite still till his foe was gone, and then went on his travels. Now he was a great magician, though little to other folks’ good. And he came to a place where there were many women nursing their babes, and said, “This is but a slow way you have of raising children.” To which the good women replied, “How else should we raise them?” Then he answered, “I will show you how we do in our country. When we want them to grow fast, we dip them into cold water over night. Just lend me one, and I will show you how to raise them in a hurry.” They gave him one: he took it to the river, and, cutting a hole in the ice, put the child into it. The next morning he went to the place, and took out a full-grown man, alive and well. The women were indeed astonished at this. All hastened to put their babes that night under the ice, and then the Raccoon rushed away. So they all died.

Then he came to another camp, where many women with fine stuff and furs were making bags. “That is a very slow way you have of working,” he said to the goodwives. “In our country we cook them under the ashes. Let me see the stuff and show you how!” They gave him a piece: he put it under the hot coals and ashes, and in a few minutes drew out from them a beautiful bag. Then they all hurried to put their cloth under the fire. Just then he left in haste. And when they drew the stuff out it was scorched or burned, and all spoiled.

Then he came to a great river, and did not know how to get across. He saw on the bank an old Wiwillmekq’, a strange worm which is like a horned, alligator; but he was blind. “Grandfather,” said the Raccoon, “carry me over the lake.” “Yes, my grandson,” said the Wiwillmekq’, and away he swam; the Ravens and Crows above began to ridicule them. “What are those birds saying?” inquired the Old One. “Oh, they are crying to you to hurry, hurry, for your life, with that Raccoon!” So the Wiwillmekq’, not seeing land ahead, hurried with such speed that the Raccoon made him run his head and half his body into the bank, and then jumped off and left him. But whether the Wiwillmekq’ ever got out again is more than he ever troubled himself to know.

So he went on till he came to some Black Berries, and said, “Berries, how would you agree with me if I should eat you?” “Badly indeed, Master Coon,” they replied, “for we are Choke-berries.” “Choke-berries, indeed! Then I will have none of you.” And then further he found on some bushes, Rice-berries. “Berries,” he cried, “how would you agree with me if I should eat you?” “We should make you itch, for we are Itch-berries.” “Ah, that is what I like,” he replied, and so ate his fill. Then as he went on he felt very uneasy: he seemed to be tormented with prickles, he scratched and scratched, but it did not help or cure. So he rubbed himself on a ragged rock; he slid up and down it till the hair came off.

Now the Raccoon is bare or has little fur where he scratched himself, to this very day. This story is at an end.

This story is from the Passamaquoddy Indian-English collection made for me by Louis Mitchell. In the original, the same incident of boiling the hero in a kettle and of his springing out of it occurs as in the tale of Mrs. Bear and the Raccoon. This I have here omitted. The Mephistophelian and mocking character of Lox is strongly shown when he says, “Nothing but a cat-tail or bulrush can kill me,” this being evidently an allusion to Glooskap. This is to an Indian much like blasphemy. Lox, or Raccoon, or Badger,–for they are all the same,–in his journeyings after mere mischief reminds us of an Indian Tyl Eulenspiegel. But the atrocious nature of his jokes is like nothing else, unless it be indeed the homicide Punch. It is the indomitable nature of both which commends them respectively to the Englishman and to the Red Indian. In this tale Lox appears as the spirit of fire by drawing a bag from it. The itching or pricking from which he suffers is also significant of that element, as appears, according to Keary, in many Norse, etc., legends.

In the Seneca tale of the Mischief Maker, the Berries are distinctly declared to have souls.