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The Giant Magicians
by [?]

[There is a Micmac legend which is so magical and mystical, so inspired with Eskimo Shamanism, that it would not be remarkable if it had been originally a sacred song. This is The Giant Magicians.]

There was once a man and his wife who lived by the sea, far away from other people. They had many children, and they were very poor. One day this couple were in their canoe, far from land. There came up a dense fog; they were quite lost.

They heard a noise as of paddles and voices. It drew nearer. They saw dimly a monstrous canoe filled with giants, who greeted the little folk like friends. “Uch keen, tahmee wejeaok?” “My little brother,” said the leader, “where are you going?” “I am lost in the fog,” said the poor Indian, very sadly. “Ah, come with us to our camp,” said the giant, who seemed to be a good fellow, if there ever was one. “Truly, ye will be well treated, my small friends, for my father is the chief; so be of good cheer!” And they, being much amazed at this gentleness, sat still in awe, while two of the giants, each putting a tip of his paddle under their bark, lifted it up and put it into their own, as if it had been a chip. And truly the giants seemed to be as much pleased with the little folk as a boy would be who had found a flying squirrel. [Footnote: A story like this of giants in a canoe would very naturally originate about the Bay of Fundy, where, in the dense and frequent fogs, all objects assume greatly exaggerated apparent dimensions. One often beholds there, on the shore, “men as trees walking.”]

And as they drew near the beach, lo! they beheld three wigwams, high as mountains, in size according to that of the giants. And coming to meet them was the chief, who was taller than the rest.

“Ha!” he cried. “Son, what have you there? Where did you pick up that little brother?” “Noo, my father, I found him lost in the fog.” “Well, bring him home to the lodge, my son!” So the giant took the small canoe in the palm of his hand, the man and his wife sitting therein, and carried them home. Then they were taken into the wigwam, and the canoe was laid carefully in the eaves, but within easy reach, about a hundred and fifty yards from the ground.

Then an abundant meal was set before them, but the benevolent host, mindful of their small size, did not give them more to eat than they would have needed for about ten years to come, and informed them in a subdued whisper, which could hardly have been heard a hundred miles off, that his name was Oscoon. [Footnote: Mr. Rand suggests that this may indicate the dark color of his tribe. Eskimo legends speak of people among them who were black.]

Now it came to pass, a few days after, that a company of these well-grown people went hunting, and when they returned the guests must needs pity them that they had no game in their land which answered to their size; for they came in with strings of such small affairs as two or three dozen caribou hanging in their belts, as a Micmac would carry a string of squirrels, and swinging one or two moose in their hands like rabbits. Yet, what with these and many deer, bears, and beavers, they made up in the weight of their game what it lacked in size, and of what they had they were generous.

Now the giants became very fond of the small folk, and would not for the world that they should in any way come to harm. And it came to pass that one morning the chief told them that they were to have a grand battle, since they expected in three days to be attacked by a Chenoo. Therefore the Micmac saw that in all things it was even with the giants as with his own people at home, they having their troubles with the wicked, and the chiefs their share in being obliged to keep up their magic and know all that was going on in the world. Yea, for he would be a poor powwow and a necromancer worth nothing who could not foretell such a trifle as the day and hour when an enemy would be on them!