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Title: A Guide to Mythology
Author: Clarke, Helen A. (Helen Archibald)
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Guide to Mythology" ***


[Illustration: Automedon and the Horses of Achilles. _H. Regnault._]

                           GUIDE TO MYTHOLOGY

                             HELEN A. CLARKE
        _Author of “Ancient Myth in Modern Poets,” “Longfellow’s
                    Country,” “Hawthorne’s Country,”
                     “The Poets’ New England,” Etc._


                         GARDEN CITY    NEW YORK
                        DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

                           COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY
                        DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                       INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN





It is a pleasure to express my thanks to publishers and authors for
courteous permission given me to include in this book stories from their
collections. To Houghton, Mifflin & Co., the publishers of “Algonquin
Legends,” by J. G. Leland, and of Bryant’s translation of the “Odyssey”;
to J. B. Lippincott Co., the publishers of “Gods and Heroes of Old
Japan,” by Violet M. Pasteur, and of “Old Deccan Days,” by Mary Frere;
to A. Wessels Co., the publishers and to Mr. W. W. Canfield, the author
of “Legends of the Iroquois”; to Ginn & Co., the publishers of “Classic
Myths in English Literature,” based on Bulfinch’s “Age of Fable,” by
Charles Mills Gayley; to Macmillan & Co., publishers of “Theocritus,
Bion, and Moschus, Done into English Prose,” by A. Lang; to Scott,
Foresman & Co., publishers of “Norse Mythology,” by Melville B. Anderson.
Other collections, out of print, as far as I know—the original publishers
no longer being in existence, from which I have taken stories, are:
“Indian Fairy Tales Based on Schoolcraft,” by Cornelius Mathews, and
“Indian Myths,” by Ellen R. Emerson; also from the following English
publications: “Polynesian Myths,” by Sir George Grey; “Russian Stories,”
by Ralston.

I am also deeply indebted, as every one who studies mythology must be, to
the following works, among others in various branches of the subject: Max
Müller’s “Chips from a German Workshop,” Cox’s “Mythology of the Aryan
Races,” John Fiske’s “Myths and Mythmakers,” Frazer’s “Golden Bough,”
Hartland’s “Myth of Perseus,” Clodd’s “Childhood of Religions,” Andrew
Lang’s “Custom and Myth,” Tyler’s “Primitive Culture,” Mills’s “Tree of
Mythology,” Chamberlain’s “The Child and Childhood in Folk Thought,” De
Gubernatis’s “Zoological Mythology,” Dr. Brinton’s “American Hero Myths,”
“Myths of the New World,” as well as to many collections of folk-tales.

       *       *       *       *       *

My aim in this book on Mythology for young readers has been to give them
solid knowledge on the subject, as far as it is advisable to go with
immature minds, based upon the most recent investigations of scholars,
and to select the myths used in illustration of the plan, with a view to
giving them interesting stories to read, which will, almost unconsciously
to themselves, lay a firm foundation for the fascinating study of
Comparative Mythology, should they wish to go more deeply into it in the

There is much talk nowadays as to the authenticity of the records of
savage myths. Much of this talk seems to me futile, for a myth is not
a fixed entity. Each successive narrator is almost sure to vary and
embellish somewhat the material that comes to him, according to his
own inventive fancy. If, therefore, a savage myth recorded by a white
man retains the chief characteristics of the savage myth, in spite of
some fanciful turns given it by him, to the degree, say, that a story of
Ovid’s retains those of a Greek myth, it is to all intents and purposes
a savage myth, and the embellishments may be disregarded, as Ovid’s are
when we are considering Greek Mythology. I have, therefore, included in
this volume those versions of the myths that seemed most readable and
attractive, provided the primitive attitude of mind and customs were
fully emphasized.



      I.—WHAT IS A MYTH?                                                19

     II.—ANIMALS IN PRIMITIVE MYTHS                                     40

        _STORIES_: How the muskrat made the world (_Indians of
        British Columbia_).—How a kite helped to make the world
        (_Philippine Island_).—How Maui fished up the earth
        (_Polynesian_).—The origin of the robin (_Odjibwa_,
        Cornelius Mathews, based on Schoolcraft).—The origin of the
        hare (_Aino_, B. F. Chamberlain).—How the mole became blind
        (_North American Indian_, Mill’s “Tree of Mythology”).—The
        boy and the wolves (_North American Indian_, Ellen R.
        Emerson, “Indian Legends”).—How Wasbashas, the snail,
        became a man (_North American Indian_, Emerson).—The
        amazing adventures of Master Rabbit (_Algonquin_, Leland’s
        “Algonquin Legends”).—The story of Manabozho (_Iroquois_,
        Mathews-Schoolcraft).—How Glooskap made his uncle, the
        turtle, into a great man (_Mic-Mac_ and _Passamaquoddy_,
        Leland).—Punchkin (_Hindoo_, M. Frere’s “Old Deccan Days”).

    III.—ANIMALS IN CULTURE MYTHS                                      131

        _STORIES_: Hymn to Indra (_Hindoo_, “Rig Veda”).—The
        Four apes (_Egyptian_, Book of the Dead).—Story of the
        Midgard serpent and Fenris, the wolf (_Norse_, Melville B.
        Anderson’s, “Norse Mythology,” based on the Eddas).—The
        story of Apollo and Phaëton (_Greek_, Gayley, based on
        Bulfinch).—The story of Odysseus and the oxen of the sun
        (_Greek_, paraphrase from Bryant’s “Odyssey”).—The story of
        Athēne and Arachne (_Greek_, Gayley-Bulfinch).

     IV.—TREE AND PLANT MYTHS                                          165

        _STORIES_: Ygdrasil, the Norse world tree.—Story of the
        Aino who fell asleep at the foot of a pine tree.—Wunzh,
        the father of Indian corn (_North American Indian_,
        Mathews-Schoolcraft).—Leelinau, the Lost Daughter (_North
        American Indian_, Mathews-Schoolcraft).—Birth of the
        arbutus (_Iroquois_, W. B. Canfield’s “Legends of the
        Iroquois”).—Song at the beginning (_Ancient Mexican_,
        Brinton’s “Myths of the New World”).—Flower song (_Ancient
        Mexican_, Brinton’s “Myths of the New World”).—The story of
        Erisichthon (_Greek_, Bulfinch’s “Age of Fable”).—Story of
        Pan and Syrinx (_Greek_, Gayley-Bulfinch).—Story of Pomona
        and Vertumnus (_Roman_, Gayley-Bulfinch).—Myth of Osiris
        and Isis (Bulfinch).—Story of Adonis (_Greek_, extracts
        from Lang’s “Lament for Adonis,” by Bion).

      V.—MYTHS OF THE SUN, MOON, AND STARS                             207

        _STORIES_: Story of the making of the sun, moon, and stars
        (_Navajo_, Emerson).—Story of the conquering of the sun
        (_North American Indian_, Emerson).—Hymn to the sun (_North
        American Indian_, Emerson).—Hymn to Sûrya (_Hindoo_, “Rig
        Veda”).—The worship of the sun and the dream of Onawutaquto
        (_North American Indian_, Emerson).—The witch and the sun’s
        sister (_Russian_, Ralston’s “Russian Folk-Tales”).—The
        making of the mirror (_Japanese_, Violet M. Pasteur,
        “Gods and Heroes of Old Japan”).—The death of Balder the
        Good (_Norse_, Anderson-Eddas).—Battle of Ra and Anapef
        (_Egyptian_, Book of the Dead).—Story of Phœbus Apollo
        (_Greek_, Gayley-Bulfinch).—Story of Artemis and Orion
        (_Greek_, Gayley-Bulfinch).—Story of the child and the star
        (_Iowa Indian_, Emerson).—Osseo, the son of the evening
        star (_North American Indian_, Mathews-Schoolcraft).—The
        wandering star (_Chippewa_, Emerson).—The daughters of the
        stars (_North American Indian_, Mathews-Schoolcraft).

     VI.—MYTHS OF THE SKY AND AIR                                      269

        _STORIES_: How a hunter visited the thunder spirits
        who dwell in Mount Katahdin (_Passamaquoddy_,
        Leland).—The thunder and lightning men (_Passamaquoddy_,
        Leland).—How Glooskap bound Wuchowsen, the great
        wind bird (_Passamaquoddy_, Leland).—The wonderful
        exploits of Paup-puk-keewiss (_North American Indian_,
        Mathews-Schoolcraft).—The story of Odin’s sword and
        Sigmund (_Norse_, Anderson-Eddas).—How Thor conquered the
        stone giant (_Norse_, Anderson-Eddas).—How Zeus came to
        be king of gods (_Greek_).—Hymn to the dawn (_Hindoo_,
        “Rig Veda”).—The lover’s vision of the happy land
        (_North American Indian_, Emerson).—The message-bearers
        (_Iroquois_, Canfield).—The way of the gods (_Japanese_,
        Violet M. Pasteur).

    VII.—MOTHER-MYTHS AND CHILD-MYTHS                                  336

        _STORIES_: Malayan story of the sun and moon.—Hymn to
        the mother of the gods (_Mexican Indian_, Brinton’s “Rig
        Veda Americanus”).—Hymn to Cihuacoatl (_Mexican Indian_,
        Brinton).—The children of heaven and earth (Sir George
        Grey, “Polynesian Mythology”).—Story of Demeter (_Greek_,
        from Hymn to Demeter, Callimachus).—The story of Demeter
        and Persephone (_Greek_, Gayley-Bulfinch, drawn from Ovid
        and Apollodorus).—Legend of Tu-tok-a-nu-la (_Indian_,
        Emerson).—Nezhik-e-wa-wa-sun, or the lone lightning
        (_Odjibwa_, Emerson).—Wasis, the baby (_Penobscot_,
        Leland).—Ojeeg Annung, or the summer-maker (_Indian_,
        Emerson).—The legend of Maui (_Polynesian_, Grey).—The
        infant Heracles (_Greek_, paraphrased from Lang’s
        translation of the Idyls of Theocritus).—The infant Hermes
        (_Greek_, paraphrased from Shelley’s translation of the
        Homeric Hymn to Mercury).


                                                               FACING PAGE

    Automedon and the Horses of Achilles         _Regnault_  _Frontispiece_

    A Reading from Homer                      _Alma-Tadema_             38

    Zeus                                     _From Pompeii_            140

    Athēne                             _Glyptothek, Munich_            162

    Apollo with the Lyre               _Glyptothek, Munich_            232

    Diana or Artemis the Huntress              _Versailles_            240

    Diana or Artemis                            _Correggio_            248

    Aurora                                     _Guido Reni_            270

    The Flying Mercury or Hermes      _Giovanni di Bologna_            316

    Athēne: Brandisher of the Spear         _Capitol, Rome_            320

    Demeter or Ceres                          _The Vatican_            340

    The Infant Hercules                            _Louvre_            384




What is a myth? This looks like a simple question, and one that ought
to be easy to answer. Yet it is one which has puzzled for centuries the
heads of many learned men, who in their attempts to give a satisfactory
answer to the question, have written whole libraries of profound books
on the subject. It would seem almost hopeless for us to try and find an
answer, if it were not that we live in the Twentieth Century, which is
like a great hilltop towering above all the past centuries; and from this
height we are able to look down and see right into the minds of all these
learned and distinguished men, and understand why they found the answer
to this question so difficult.

Let us try to imagine all the myths which have come into existence since
the beginning of the world shut up in a huge round castle in the midst
of a wide plain, and all these learned men like knights of the Middle
Ages besieging the castle to find out the secrets that are locked up
within it. They come, galloping up on horseback from every quarter of
the plain—North, East, South, West—carrying long spears with which they
batter away at the castle until they succeed in making a hole through the
wall. Then each of these knights of learning becomes so intent upon what
he sees in the castle through the hole that he, himself, has made that he
is entirely unaware of what the other knights see through the holes they
have made. Then they all go off and write their learned books, telling
what they have seen, and when they come to read each other’s books, of
course, they have terrible battles—all of words fortunately—in their
attempts to settle who is right, and each one contends that he has seen
all there is to be seen through his own particular little spear hole.
But we, upon the hilltop can perceive that every one of the knights saw
something about myths which was true, and the way to find the answer we
want is to piece together all the fractions of truth which each man saw
into a whole truth, or something near a whole truth, for, you know, the
whole truth about anything is so immense that it is almost if not quite
impossible to find it all out.

For example, it would not be possible for me to tell you in this one
short chapter all the secrets which all the knights of learning saw as
they looked into the castle; but I shall tell you a few of them, for it
will help you to understand more intelligently what a myth really is.

The first knight to be seen galloping out of a very far-distant past is
the Greek Theognis of Rhegium. He lived six hundred years B.C., but even
as long ago as that there had come to be such an immense number of myths
in Greece, that their existence was already a cause for much wonder. He
carried a spear, called “allegory,” and when he battered into the castle,
the only truth he could see was that all myths were allegories. According
to him the Greek mythical gods, Apollo, Helios, and Hephaestos, were fire
under different aspects: Hera was the air; Posidon, the water; Artemis,
the moon, and so on. Other learned Greeks followed in his footsteps
and saw much the same things. For example, three hundred years later,
Aristotle said that myths were the attempt of the world before his time
to express _philosophical_ speculations, and Plutarch four hundred and
sixty years later said that myths were _metaphysical_ statements in
disguise. That is, they all thought that myths had been invented to stand
as symbols of objects in nature or of ideas which men had expressed.

Now, if we look again, we shall see another Greek knight galloping out
of the past whose name was Euhemeros. He was a historian, a philosopher,
and a traveller, and he lived about three hundred years B.C. He was the
friend of the King of Macedon, who sent him off on missions to various
countries. The spear he carried was called “history,” and the way he came
to decide that myths were historical accounts of real persons is told in
the following little story. Once when he was off on his travels, after
sailing about for several days, he arrived in the Indian Ocean, where he
found a group of islands the most important of which was Panchaia. The
inhabitants of this island were distinguished for their piety and honored
the gods by the most magnificent sacrifices and offerings of gold and
silver. Among the wonderful works of art in this island was an immensely
tall column on the top of which was a temple to Jupiter Triumphant. This
was supposed to have been erected by Jupiter himself, when, an earthly
monarch, he marched through the country victorious. Inside this temple
was a column upon which were recorded the doings of Jupiter and of his
father and grandfather, Kronos and Uranos.

This story, itself, is so evidently a myth that it does not amount to
anything as a proof of the historical theory. Nevertheless there have
been many to adopt this belief.

Other knights of learning, both ancient and modern, have carried lances
with the sounding name, “natural phenomena.” When they look into
the castle they see myths as personifications of natural phenomena.
Everything that we see happening in nature comes under the head of
natural phenomena. The rising and setting of the sun, the moon and
the stars each day, the clouds that drift across the sky, storms and
whirlwinds, the lightning flash and the loud roar of the thunder, as well
as the gentle rain, the tinkling of waterfalls, and the light morning
breezes. When all these objects and events in nature are talked about
as if they had the same powers as human beings, they are said to be
personified. Here is a very pretty example of a myth in which the dawn is
personified. It is taken from one of the most ancient books in the world,
the “Rig Veda,” about which you will hear more later.

    “The lovely Dawn arousing man goes before the sun preparing
    practicable paths, riding in a spacious chariot, expanding
    everywhere, she diffuses light at the commencement of the days.”

Among the ancient knights of learning who thought that all myths were
started in this way was the great Thucydides; and Cicero also believed
that the exalted beings in mythology who were worshipped as gods were
in reality personifications of the objects in nature which struck the
imagination of primitive mankind.

There are also many modern knights of learning who hold the same view,
among the most distinguished of whom is the English scholar, Max Müller.
About him and his followers Sir George Cox and John Fiske, the American
historian and thinker, you will one day know more if you continue your
studies in mythology. When Max Müller came to write his learned books
upon what he saw in the castle of myths, he supported his learning upon
many interesting facts which he had discovered when he was studying the
languages of different races.

In comparing the ancient Greek language with the ancient language of
India, the Sanskrit, he found out that they were often very much alike.
This drove him to the conclusion that they must both be descended from
some still older language. He noticed also remarkable resemblances
between the myths of Greece and those of India, of which there were
large numbers collected in the old books in Sanskrit and other Indian
languages. Then he made up his mind that the ancient race of people who
spoke the old language from which Greek and Sanskrit were descended must
have had a great fondness for inventing myths, and that these myths had
been handed down from generation to generation. Finally, many of the
descendants of this ancient race went to live in India, while others went
to live in Greece, and that was the reason the languages and the myths of
these two peoples were so much alike in many ways. The original home of
this ancient myth-making race has been thought to be Central Asia, and
the race is known in history as the Aryan race. But Max Müller and others
who agreed with him were so intoxicated with their new discoveries that
they were constantly in danger of making fanciful comparisons between the
words of the two languages, and building upon these fanciful comparisons
explanations of myths, even more mythical than the myths themselves.
In fact they not only saw in one direction like the other knights, but
they used a huge magnifying glass that tinted every thing with unnatural
rainbow colors such as you have seen when looking through an opera glass.

I will speak of three others only of the many modern knights of
learning who have seen some of the truth:—E. B. Tylor, Andrew Lang, and
James G. Frazer. The first of these tells especially about some very
curious beliefs possessed by primitive men. These beliefs colored their
imagination no matter what kind of myths they might invent. One of them
was that a spirit, separate from their ordinary life lived inside of
their bodies; another that all things in nature had life like themselves,
and also spirits dwelling within them like the spirits within themselves.
This was thought to be true of trees and stones as well as of birds and
animals. The second, Andrew Lang, considers that myths are stories which
tell about the manners and customs of ancient or savage people, and the
third, James G. Frazer, sees in the worship of the spirits of vegetation,
the corn, the trees and so on the origin of most myths. Very long and
very profound are the arguments with which each supports his particular
point of view, and many are the illustrations drawn from the myths of all
lands with which each illuminates his argument, but, like the rest of the
knights, each sees so much in his own truth that he is more or less blind
to all that others see.

Now that I have tried to give you this glimpse at the various
explanations of myths proposed from the most ancient times to the
present, I think we shall be a little better prepared to find out an
answer for ourselves that will be satisfactory.

Suppose we take the top off the castle in which we imagined the myths
and the secrets of their origin to be locked up, and look down upon them
from our hilltop, using as an aid to our vision all the light that comes
in through the numerous breaks in the castle made by the lances of the
knights. What will the wonderful treasures revealed to us be like? They
will not be like jewels, all polished and placed in regular shining rows,
for myths were never fashioned as a jeweler would fashion his stones—all
at once—into perfectly finished and beautiful shapes. No!—the imaginary
contents of our castle which will best stand as a symbol or picture of
all the myths of the whole world in all their wonderful variety will be
an immense forest of almost countless kinds of trees. Under the trees
there are many sorts of plants and flowers; and if we look closer we
shall see that some of these trees and plants are ugly in shape, some
are even decaying, but there are many most lovely to behold, and a few
of the trees tower up above the others and are profusely decorated with
many shining ornaments, making them look like Christmas trees. You will
see at once that by using this symbol to stand for all the myths of the
whole world I want to point out and make clear to you the important fact
that myths were not made all at once as the jeweler polishes his stones,
but they grew up gradually from small beginnings, like oaks from acorns,
or pines from pine cones—and the soil in which they grew was the minds of
primitive men ages and ages ago.

Sometimes the trees of one land will look exceedingly like those in
another land—in fact, being the same sort of trees, but differing
somewhat in shape. Then the smaller plants and flowers are the symbols
for many kinds of little mythical stories about every thing that you can
think of, or rather that primitive man could think of, for he didn’t know
about trolleys and telephones and automobiles, and so there are not any
myths about such things as these. And the Christmas trees are the myths
which have been enlarged and glorified by having myths from other lands
added to them.

Now the point comes up, how did all this vast forest of myths which
covers the whole world arise, for the forest symbolizes, remember, only
the forms oral or written in which the myths of the world have come to
us. To answer this, we must now try to imagine behind all this wonderful
growth of myth, on the one hand, the mind of mankind, and on the other
hand all the objects of external nature. And besides we must think of
mankind as it was untold ages ago in the real childhood of the world.
In those far off days when the first men used to roam about the world
getting their food by hunting, with nothing but caves or tents to live
in, man’s consciousness of himself was not even as strong as that of a
small child to-day. Still, he had implanted in him the power of observing
whatever went on before him, and a constant curiosity to know the cause
or the “reason why” of every thing he saw. Above all he had a vivid
imagination. He could “make believe” about the things he saw far better
than children do in their games to-day, and that is how he came to
invent explanations of most of the things he saw about him. Here, for
example, is a little story invented by the Hottentots to explain two
things which they had observed, the spots on the moon, and the way in
which the upper lip of a hare is split.

    “The moon sent an insect to men saying, ‘Go thou to men and
    tell them, as I die and dying live, so ye shall also die and
    dying live.’ The insect started with his message, but while
    on the way was overtaken by the hare who asked him upon what
    errand he was bound. The insect answered that he had been sent
    by the moon to tell men that as she dies and dying lives so
    also shall they die and dying live! The hare said, ‘As thou
    art an awkward runner, let me go.’ With these words he ran off
    and when he reached men he said, ‘I am sent by the moon to
    tell you, as I die and dying perish, in the same manner shall
    ye also die and come wholly to an end.’ Then the hare returned
    to the moon and told her what he had said to men. The moon
    reproached him angrily, saying, ‘Darest thou tell the people a
    thing which I have not said?’ With these words she took up a
    hatchet to split his head, missing that the hatchet fell upon
    the upper lip and made a deep gash. Maddened by such treatment,
    the hare flew at the moon and scratched her face which are the
    dark spots which we now see on the moon.”

You see these primitive Hottentots treat every thing in nature as if
it were alive just as we learned from Tylor. They really did not know
what a great difference there is between a human being and an animal or
between animals and plants or even plants and stones. All of the objects
in nature being endowed with life, they might speak and act just like
human beings. But it was only the very wisest of human beings who could
understand this language that the animals and plants and other objects in
nature might speak.

On this account all nature seemed very mysterious to primitive man, and
he therefore was ready to worship almost any object that caught his

Then the strange feeling he had that another spirit quite detached from
his ordinary life lived inside his body, made him imagine queer things
about this spirit; for one thing, that it might leave his body and go off
on independent journeys in the form of a bird or an animal, or even that
it might be stowed away for safe keeping in some animal or other object,
like the famous story of the Norse giant whose heart, which is equivalent
to his true life, is far away in an egg that is in a church that is on an
island that lies in a lake. In many stories belonging to this primitive
time, a man’s luck often stands for his life and is bound up in some
object outside of himself as in this story of the Algonquin Indians,
which reflects all the strange notions I have spoken of as well as giving
an explanation of the appearance of the sheldrake duck. It is the story
of how one of the Partridge’s wives became a sheldrake duck, and why her
feet and feathers are red.

    “There was once a hunter who lived in the woods. He had a
    brother or spirit who was so small that he kept him in a box,
    and when he went forth he closed this very carefully, for fear
    lest an evil spirit should get him.

    “One day this hunter, returning, saw a very beautiful girl
    sitting on a rock by a river, making a moccasin. And being in
    a canoe he paddled up softly and silently to capture her; but
    she, seeing him coming, jumped into the water and disappeared.
    On returning to her mother, who lived at the bottom of the
    river, she was told to go back to the hunter and be his wife;
    ‘for now,’ said the mother, ‘you belong to that man.’

    “The hunter’s name was Mitchihess, the Partridge. When she came
    to his lodge he was absent. So she arranged every thing for his
    return, making a bed of boughs. At night he came back with one
    beaver. This he divided; cooked one half for supper and laid by
    the other half. In the morning when she awoke he was gone, and
    the other half of the beaver had also disappeared. That night
    he returned with another beaver, and the same thing took place
    again. Then she resolved to spy and find out what all this

    “So she lay down and went to sleep with one eye open. Then he
    quietly rose and cooked the half of the beaver, and taking a
    key unlocked a box, and took out a little red dwarf and fed
    him. Replacing the elf, he locked him up again, and lay down to
    sleep. And the small creature had eaten the whole half beaver.
    But ere he put him in his box he washed him and combed his
    hair, which seemed to delight him.

    “The next morning, when her husband had gone for the day, the
    wife sought for the key, and having found it opened the box
    and called to the little fellow to come out. This he refused
    to do for a long time, though she promised to wash and comb
    him. Being at length persuaded, he peeped out, when she pulled
    him forth. But whenever she touched him her hands became red,
    though of this she took no heed, thinking she could wash it off
    at will. But lo! while combing him, there entered a hideous
    being, an awful devil, who caught the small elf from her and
    ran away.

    “Then she was terribly frightened. And trying to wash her
    hands, the red stain remained. When her husband returned that
    night he had no game; when he saw the red stain he knew all
    that had happened; when he knew what had happened he seized
    his bow to beat her; when she saw him seize his bow to beat
    her she ran down to the river and jumped in to escape death at
    his hands, though it should be by drowning. But as she fell
    into the water she became a sheldrake duck. And to this day the
    marks of the red stain are to be seen on her feet and feathers.”

You will observe a very strange custom alluded to in this story, and
that is the way in which the hunter is described as capturing the maiden
for his wife instead of gently trying to persuade her to be his wife.
This shows that it is a very far-back myth, for there are many other
stories to prove that savages learned to be much more gentle in their
ways toward women even before men became altogether civilized.

How primitive men came to have such peculiar beliefs we cannot say
positively. Some people have thought that perhaps their dreams made them
think that there was a spirit inside of them separate from their ordinary
life, while the sounds and movements in nature, such as the singing of a
waterfall, the rustling of leaves, or the sound which stones would give
out when knocked together, would seem to the uneducated mind of early
mankind, to be signs of life like his own.

Another very early belief is that in magic and sorcery. Primitive man
used to imagine that he could make it rain by imitating the thunder,
which he did by shaking dried seeds about in a gourd. Magic is really
the producing of any desired effect or event by means which are quite
outside of the laws of nature. As the primitive savage did not know any
thing about the laws of nature, laws which have taken ages for men to
discover and all of which are not even yet discovered, he revelled in the
invention of means by which he thought he might accomplish the things he
would like to do. Sometimes he asked spirits to help him, and if what
he wanted to do was evil, he would ask aid of evil spirits. There are
countless myths in which magic plays a part, examples of which you will
see as you read the stories given in the following chapters.

Since in the time most remote men depended upon animals almost entirely
for their food, it is probable that animals were the objects that made
the most vivid impressions on them, and, therefore, that stories of
animals belong to this most primitive stage.

At this time, too, it is likely that the worship of animals arose, for
almost every tribe of savages had a sacred animal which, except in rare
instances, it was never allowed to kill and from which it often imagined
itself descended.

After many ages, mankind began to till the ground, and to raise grain
and vegetables, then plants and trees were more especially observed by
them, and the mythical stories have, in consequence, more about plants
and trees in them; and, as they had sacred animals, they had also sacred
trees or plants, and worshipped them or imagined themselves descended
from them.

Then as men progressed in their powers of observation they saw natural
phenomena more and more. The succession of night and day impressed itself
upon them, they took note of the motions of the sun, the moon and the
stars, clouds caught their attention, storms filled them with awe and
fear as the lightning flashed and the thunder roared and rattled in its
might. The wind laughed in summer breezes or howled in wintry blasts and
they noticed it, and as soon as their attention was fully aroused to all
these wonders of nature, they began to think of them, as not only endowed
with powers like their own, but as living beings. First, they frequently
personified nature as animals, then as human beings, and as they had
worshipped sacred animals and sacred plants and sacred trees, now they
worshipped these gods of nature; and as they invented tales about the
animals and the trees, so they invented tales about these gods of nature.
As one would expect, the stories about animals and trees would often be
mingled with the new stories of the nature gods, and sometimes changed so
that one would hardly recognize them. And then, again, a story told about
a nature god in one part of the world would, on account of the early
wanderings of the human race from one land to another, be added as an
ornament to a story told in another part of the world, like the ornaments
on the Christmas trees in the castle.

Again, whole myths would be transported, and as they reached different
countries they would be changed somewhat so that they would reflect the
manners or the knowledge of that particular country. A strange thing,
however, about many myths is that those in one part of the world are so
much like those in another part of the world that it would seem as if
they must have been invented by the same people. Not only are there myths
in India and Greece which are very much alike, but there are myths in
Scandinavia and North America and South America that strongly resemble
each other and those of Greece and India.

Why this should be the case is another point about which learned men have
had many opinions. Some of them have thought that the whole human race
must once have lived in one particular spot on the globe, and that from
there large numbers wandered forth to seek new homes in all the other
countries on the globe, taking with them the myths which they had in
common when they all lived together. It has never been settled just where
that particular spot was, and probably it never will be. Perhaps it was
in Central Asia, perhaps it was in the southern part of Spain, perhaps
in Norway and Sweden, perhaps in the island of Atlantis, in the Southern
Seas, which a legend says was submerged ages and ages ago. All of these
places have been suggested as the original home of the whole human race,
and very good arguments have been brought forward to prove the truth of
every one of these suggestions.

Since it does not seem possible to find out the truth about this, there
are other people who dismiss the idea altogether. They think that man and
nature being a good deal alike in whatever part of the world you find
them, it is highly probable that myths might resemble each other very
strikingly and yet be invented independently by people living in lands
far apart, while the differences would be due largely to climate.

Now if we try to think of centuries of time going by until in many
countries primitive man is no longer primitive but begins to be more
civilized, we shall find that certain groups of myths became crystallized
into complete religious systems, such as existed in Egypt, Assyria,
India, Greece, Persia, and many other countries. By this time the human
race had attained to a much greater degree of self-consciousness. Men
were beginning to understand both themselves and nature better, and they
often could see the true causes for the events of nature going on about
them. The next step was for them to begin to observe very carefully the
systems of religious myths which had been handed down to them by their
forefathers. Upon these they used their imaginative faculty, as man had
earlier used it upon nature itself, with the result that they attached
new meanings and gave fresh explanations of myths which had originally
started as simple personifications of nature. In Greece, for example,
Apollo, who was originally a personification of the sun, came to be
regarded as the God of Music and Poetry; Athēne, who was originally the
Dawn, became the Goddess of Wisdom; Hermes, originally the Wind, became
the God of Eloquence and the leader of spirits. This is the way myths
gradually grew to have philosophical or metaphysical meanings—that is,
to stand as symbols of the deepest and most far-reaching thoughts of
which the mind of man at that time was capable. Many of those thoughts
are so profound and so wonderful that one needs to have a great deal of
knowledge to understand them. All that interests you now is to know that
there are such thoughts and that some day you will want to know more
about them.

While some myths were thus raised to religious systems, there were many
which remained in the form of legends and stories. In the course of
many generations, these stories were told over again and again so that
many changes crept into them and many additions were made. Sometimes
the effect of these changes was to make a story cruder, sometimes the
complexity of a story was increased, and sometimes it became more
interesting and beautiful. Stories which have been changed or added to by
the people in this way are called _variants_ of the same story.

Owing to these facts mythology has been divided into two great sections.
That which has risen to the dignity of a religion is called culture-lore,
and that which has remained always in the form of stories and legends is
called folk-lore. The first reflects the learning, wisdom and manners
of the more intelligent portions of humanity, who developed in advance
of the others; and the second the beliefs and customs of the less

You are probably wondering by this time how all this vast array of myths
has come down to us from the long ago past. Much of it has been preserved
in ancient books like the “Rig Veda” in India, which is thought to be
about four thousand years old, the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” of Homer in
Greece, about three thousand years old and many others. These books
existed in manuscript for many hundreds of years. Since the invention of
printing, large numbers of them have been printed and translated into
modern languages. Knowledge of ancient myths has also been obtained from
monuments and the inscriptions upon them, from paintings on vases and
from statues.

The folk-lore has for the most part been preserved orally in the
stories of the common people, and has been handed down from generation
to generation and finally taken down in writing by some one especially
interested in collecting the stories, while the myths of the most
primitive men are preserved in the survivals of them among the races
still remaining uncivilized in various parts of the globe. These have
been for several centuries taken down from the mouths of the people, or
observed in their customs and recorded by students. Among these less
civilized races there are besides crude monuments, and even crude forms
of writing by means of which primitive men have recorded their own myths.

You will realize by this time what an extensive and wonderful forest this
forest of myths is which we imagine ourselves looking down upon from
our hilltop, and after having taken this bird’s-eye view of the whole
forest, you will be the better able to enjoy going down into the forest
and making little journeys in different directions and becoming better
acquainted with some of the most beautiful of the myths as you will in
the following chapters. And now, moreover, you will have no difficulty in
understanding me when I answer the question, “What is a myth?” by saying:

_A myth is any imaginative explanation or interpretation by man of
himself or of the objects and events in nature outside of himself,
including their appearance, their effects and the still greater mystery
of their causes. It may exist in many forms from the simple myth of
explanation to the complicated systems of religious myths in which the
objects of nature are regarded as gods in human form. The chief thing
to be remembered about myths is that they are not true, though they may
contain some elements of truth; another, that though not actually true
they seemed to be true to the people who made them._

[Illustration: A Reading from Homer. _L. Alma-Tadema._]



The stories now to be told belong to that very early time in human life,
when, as we learned in the last chapter, men regarded every thing in
nature as if it were gifted with life like themselves. The strange ideas
to which this belief gave rise are, of course, reflected in their myths.
Many of the stories have in them animals and plants which talk, while the
transformation of men into animals or animals into men or even gods into
animals, when animals are not actually worshipped is frequent.

The most curious of all these beliefs is that mankind is descended
from animals, all the more curious because some modern scientific men
have, as every one knows, tried to prove very much the same thing. The
modern scientist, however, does not have any especial reverence for
the antediluvian ape from which he supposes he may have evolved, while
the primitive savage regarded with awe and reverence the animals from
which he thought himself descended. Groups of savages called clans—all
tracing their descent from the same animal, considered that animal to
be especially their friend. They would not kill it or eat it, except in
a few instances when it was killed for the purposes of sacrifice. Many
different animals were regarded as ancestral animals, and became the sign
or totem, as it was called, of the tribe. Among totem animals may be
mentioned the following in Australia: Opossum, Swan, Duck, Fish. Most of
the Australian tribes declare that the family started by a transformation
of these animals into mankind. The North American Indians have a great
variety of totem animals: Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Turtle, Deer, Snipe, Heron,
Hawk, Crane, Duck, Loon, Turkey, Muskrat, Pike, Catfish, Carp, and so on.

It was an easy step for the savage from the belief in his own descent
from some animal to a belief in the sacredness and mystery of animals,
naturally leading to the worship of them. The Indians of Peru, for
example, regarded the dog as their most exalted deity. They set up the
image of a dog in their temples. They were also in the habit of choosing
a live dog as a representation of their deity. They worshipped this and
offered sacrifices to it, and when it was well fattened up they ate it
with solemn religious ceremonies. This is one of the cases where the
sacred animal was eaten. Serpent worship is one of the most wide-spread
forms of animal worship, an example of which is found among the Zulus
to whom certain species are sacred because they are supposed to be the
incarnations of ancestral spirits.

Another form which the sacred animal took was that of a supernatural
being not only concerned in the origin of men but who had a part to play
in the origin of the whole world.

In a large number of these myths, the water already existed and, also
of course, the remarkable animal who brought to pass such wonders. The
animal was sometimes very humble as in the story told by the Indians of
British Columbia of the creation of the world.


In the beginning nothing existed but water and a muskrat. As the little
animal kept diving down to the bottom of the water in search of food,
his mouth became frequently filled with mud. This he spat out and so
gradually formed by alluvial deposit, an island, which grew and grew
until it finally became large enough to be the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The natives of the Philippine Islands tell this story of the creation of
the world.


The world at first consisted only of sky and water and between these two
there flew a kite. The kite became weary of flying about, and finding
no place to rest; so he set the water at variance with the sky. Then,
in order to keep the water within bounds and so that it should not get
uppermost, the sky loaded the water with a number of islands in which
the kite might settle and leave them at peace. Now, it happened that
floating about in the water was a large cane with two joints which was
at length thrown up by the waves at the feet of the kite as it stood on
the shore of one of the islands. The kite split open the cane with its
bill, and behold, a man came out of one joint and a woman out of the
other. They were soon after married by the consent of their god, Bathala
Meycapal, and from them are descended the different nations of the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

In some stories, a fish instead of a bird or an animal is the maker of
the earth, while there is an interesting Polynesian myth in which the
earth itself was a fish and was fished up out of the waters with a fish
hook. The person who accomplished this remarkable feat was the youngest
of the Maui brothers, and the flower of the family, by all accounts. We
shall hear of him again in the chapter on child myths.


The youngest Maui was always very badly treated by his elder brothers.
They were in the habit of going off and leaving him alone at home with
nothing to do and nobody to play with. Their treatment of him at meals
was even more shocking. They would devour the best of every thing
themselves, and toss him a bone or offal to eat.

Finally, little Maui plucks up courage to assert himself, and the next
time his brothers go a-fishing, he takes his place in the boat and
insists on going, too. “Where is your hook,” ask the two brothers. “Oh
this will do,” says little Maui, taking out his ancestor’s jawbone. This
he throws overboard for his fish-hook, but on trying to pull it in again
he finds it very heavy. By hauling away at it, however, he at last lifts
it, and finds it has brought up the land from the bottom of the deep.
This land proved to be an extraordinary combination of an enormous fish
and an island with houses and men and animals on it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The world supporting tortoise is a familiar mythological friend, believed
in by Asia, and holding an important place in the mythology of the North
American Indian, where a turtle, the lonely inhabitant of the waste of
waters, dived to the depths for the earth.

Even so humble an insect as the grasshopper figures in the Bushman’s
story of the creation of the world. Insignificant as the grasshopper
appears to us, to the Bushman he appeared a great creature, called Cagn,
with truly omnipotent powers, for he undertook the work of creation
without even the usual raw material of water. He simply gave orders and
caused all things to appear and to be made,—sun, moon, stars, wind,
mountains, animals.

In many of the primitive stories, magic is the means by which the most
wonderful effects are produced. It was believed that a magician could
bring about any effect he desired by the mere use of his will, and often
without any visible symbol of magic power. Sometimes, however, magic
wands were used, and sometimes ceremonies were performed for the purpose
of producing magical results. On the other hand magical prodigies such
as the changing of shape from man to animal often occur without the
intervention of any magician.

Whatever may have been the origin of this belief, it is certain that it
was just as sincerely believed in as a theory of the universe by early
mankind as the doctrine of an endless, persistent energy, always working
from cause to effect has been believed in by the nineteenth century

Very fanciful stories have clustered about the idea that the spirit might
be detached from the body, and placed somewhere far away, as you will see
when you read the story of “Punchkin.”

So firmly was this idea fixed in the savage mind that, it seems probable,
his worship of animals, even in the earliest stages of life was really
a worship of the spirit within the animal, rather than of the animal
itself, and from this phase he passed on to the worship of a great spirit
that might manifest itself in many forms. This was the belief of many of
the North American Indian tribes. The Great Spirit, above all the lesser
gods, is frequently referred to in their stories.

Of the following stories the first three, are examples of a very large
class of early myths, which attempt to account for the origin or
peculiarities of animals. Curiosity having been awakened, the savage
tries to explain what he sees and often invents pretty and even elaborate
myths in his effort to find a truth beyond his knowledge.

In the “Origin of the Robin,” a custom observed among Indians is referred
to in the young man’s fast. Instead of college commencements, with
Baccalaureate sermons, and valedictories, the young Indian boy or maiden
was made to observe a solitary fast afar from the parental wigwam, and
while suffering the pangs of hunger and loneliness, it was believed that
the Great Spirit or a guardian spirit would reveal to him his future.


(_From the Odjibwa_)

An old man had an only son, named Opeechee, who had come to that age
which is thought to be most proper to make the long and final fast which
is to secure through life a guardian genius or spirit. The father was
ambitious that his son should surpass all others in whatever was deemed
wisest and greatest among his people. To accomplish his wish, he thought
it necessary that the young Opeechee should fast a much longer time than
any of those renowned for their power of wisdom, whose fame he coveted.

He therefore directed his son to prepare with great ceremony for the
event. After Opeechee had been several times in the sweating-lodge and
bath, which were to prepare and purify him for communion with his good
spirit, his father ordered him to lie down upon a clean mat in a little
lodge expressly provided for him. He enjoined upon him at the same time
to endure his fast like a man, and promised that at the expiration of
twelve days he should receive food and the blessing of his father.

The lad carefully observed the command, and lay with his face covered,
calmly awaiting the approach of the spirit which was to decide his good
or evil fortune for all the days of his life.

Every morning his father came to the door of the little lodge and
encouraged him to persevere, dwelling at length on the vast honor and
renown that must ever attend him, should he accomplish the full term of
trial allotted to him.

To these glowing words of promise and glory the boy never replied, but
he lay without the least sign of discontent or murmuring until the ninth
day, when he addressed his father as follows:

“My father, my dreams forebode evil. May I break my fast now, and at a
more favorable time make a new fast?”

The father answered:

“My son, you know not what you ask. If you get up now all your glory will
depart. Wait patiently a little longer. You have but three days more,
and your term will be completed. You know it is for your own good, and I
encourage you to persevere. Shall not your aged father live to see you a
star among the chieftains and the beloved of battle?”

The son assented; and covering himself more closely, that he might shut
out the light which prompted him to complain, he lay till the eleventh
day, when he repeated his request.

The father addressed Opeechee as he had the other day, and promised that
he would himself prepare his first meal, and bring it to him by the dawn
of the morning.

The son moaned, and the father added:

“Will you bring shame upon your father when his sun is falling in the

“I will not shame you, my father,” replied Opeechee; and he lay so still
and motionless that you could only know that he was living by the gentle
heaving of his breast.

At the spring of the day, the next morning, the father, delighted at
having gained his end, prepared a repast for his son, and hastened to
set it before him. On coming to the door of the little lodge, he was
surprised to hear his son talking to himself.

He held his ear down to listen, and, looking through a small opening, he
was yet more astonished when he beheld his son painted with vermilion
over all his breast, and in the act of finishing his work by laying on
the paint as far back on his shoulders as he could reach with his hands,
saying at the same time, to himself: “My father has destroyed my fortune
as a man. He would not listen to my requests. He has urged me beyond my
tender strength. He will be the loser. I shall be forever happy in my
new state, for I have been obedient to my parent. He alone will be the
sufferer, for my guardian spirit is a just one. Though not propitious to
me in the manner I desired, he has shown me pity in another way—he has
given me another shape; and now I must go.”

At this moment the old man broke in exclaiming:

“My son! I pray you leave me not!”

But the young man with the quickness of a bird flew to the top of the
lodge and perched himself on the highest pole, having been changed into a
beautiful robin red-breast. He looked down upon his father with pity, and
addressed him as follows:

“Regret not, my father, the change you behold. I shall be happier in my
present state than I could have been as a man. I shall always be the
friend of men, and keep near their dwellings. I shall ever be contented;
and although I could not gratify your wishes as a warrior, it will be
my daily aim to make you amends for it as a harbinger of peace and joy.
I shall cheer you by my songs, and strive to inspire in others the joy
and lightsomeness of heart I feel in my present state. This will be some
compensation to you for the loss of glory you expected. I am now free
from the cares and pains of human life. My food is furnished by the
mountains and fields, and my pathway of life is in the bright air.”

Then, stretching himself on his toes, as if delighted with the gift of
wings, Opeechee caroled one of his sweetest songs, and flew away into a
neighboring wood.


(_From the Aino_)

Suddenly, there was a large house on the top of a mountain, wherein were
six people beautifully arrayed, but constantly quarreling. Whence they
came was unknown. Thereupon Okikurumi came and said: “Oh! you bad hares!
you wicked hares! Who does not know your origin? The children in the sky
were pelting each other with snow balls, and the snow balls fell into the
world of men. As it would be a pity to waste anything that falls from the
sky, the snow balls were turned into hares, and those hares are you. You
who dwell in this world which belongs to me, should not quarrel. What is
that you are making such a noise about?”

With these words, Okikurumi seized a fire-brand, and beat each of the six
with it in turn. Thereupon all the hares ran away. This is the origin of
the hare and for this reason the body of the hare is white because made
of snow, while its ears, which are the place where it was charred by the
fire-brand,—are black.


(_North American Indian_)

Once a squirrel was being chased by an Indian, and in order to escape,
the squirrel ran all the way up a tree into the sky. The Indian set a
snare for the squirrel at the top of the tree and then came down, but
he found the next day that the sun was caught in the snare, and this
brought on night. He saw at once how much harm he had caused, and being
an Indian of very good intentions he was anxious to do what he could to
remedy the mischief. So he sent up great numbers of animals in the hope
that they might cut the noose and release the sun, but the intense heat
burned them all to ashes. At length the slow mole succeeded; he burrowed
under the road in the sky till he reached the place of the sun, gnawed in
twain the cords, and released the captive. But the sun’s flash put his
eyes out and this is the reason why the mole is blind. The effect of the
burning is still to be seen on the nose and the teeth of the mole, for
they are brown as if burnt. From that time on, however, the gait of the
sun has been more deliberate and slow.


(_North American Indian_)

In the depths of a solitary forest a hunter had built his lodge, for he
was weary of the companionship of the people of his tribe; their habits
of deceit and cruelty had turned his heart from them. With his family,
his wife and three children, he had selected a home in the solitude of
the forest. Years passed by while he peacefully enjoyed the quiet of
his home, or the more attractive pleasures of the chase, in which he
was joined by his eldest son. At length his peaceful enjoyments were
interrupted: sickness entered the solitary lodge, and the hunter was
prostrated upon his couch never more to rise.

As death drew near, he addressed his family in these words: “You,” said
he turning to his wife, “you, who have been the companion of my life,
shall join me in the Isle of the Blessed. You have not long to suffer.
But oh, my children!” and he turned his eyes affectionately upon them,
“you have just commenced life; and, mark me, unkindness, ingratitude,
and every wickedness is before you. I left my tribe and kindred to come
to this unfrequented place, because of the evils of which I have just
warned you. I have contented myself with the company of your mother and
yourselves, for I was solicitous that you might be kept from bad example;
and I shall die contented if you, my children, promise to cherish each
other, and not to forsake your youngest brother.”

Exhausted with speaking, the dying hunter closed his eyes for a few
moments, and then, rousing himself with great effort, he took the hand
of his two eldest children and said: “My daughter, never forsake your
youngest brother. My son, never forsake your youngest brother.”

“Never! never!” responded both; and the hunter sank back upon his pallet
and soon expired.

His wife, according to his predictions, followed him after the brief
expiration of eight months; but in her last moments she reminded the two
children of the promise made their father. During the winter following
their mother’s death, the two elder children were exceedingly thoughtful
in regard to their brother, who was a mere child and very delicate
and sickly; but when the winter had passed away, the young man became
restless, and at length determined to break his promise to his father,
and seek the village of his father’s tribe.

He communicated this determination to his sister, who replied: “My
brother, I cannot wonder at your desire, as we are not prohibited the
society of our fellow-men; but we were told to cherish each other, and
protect our little brother. If we follow our own inclinations, we may
forget him.”

To this the young man made no reply, but, taking his bow and arrows, left
the lodge and never returned. Several moons passed after his departure,
during which the girl tenderly watched over her little brother; but at
length the solitude of her life became unendurable, and she began to
meditate escaping from the care of her brother, and leaving him alone in
his helplessness. She gathered into the lodge a large amount of food, and
then said to her brother, “My brother, do not leave the lodge; I go to
seek our brother, and shall soon return.”

Then she went in search of the village of her tribe, where she hoped
to find her elder brother. When she reached the village, she was so
delighted with the novelty of society and the pleasure of seeing others
of her own age that she entirely forgot her little brother. She found her
elder brother nicely settled in life, he having married very happily;
and, on receiving a proposal of marriage herself, abandoned all thought
of returning to the solitary lodge in the forest, accepting a home in the
village with the young man who became her husband.

As soon as the little brother had eaten all the food collected by his
sister, he went into the woods and picked berries and dug up roots. That
satisfied his hunger as long as the weather was mild; but, when the
winter drew on, he was obliged to wander about in very great distress for
want of food. He often passed his nights in the clefts and hollows of old
trees, and was glad to eat the refuse-meat left by the wolves; and he
became so fearless of those animals that he would sit by them while they
devoured their prey, and the animals themselves were so accustomed to him
that they seemed pleased with his presence, and always left some of their
food for him. Thus the little boy lived on through the winter, succored
from hunger by the wild beasts of the woods.

When the winter had passed away and the ice had melted from the Great
Lake, he followed the wolves to its open shore. It happened one day that
his elder brother was fishing in his canoe on the lake, and, hearing the
cry of a child, hastened to the shore, where at a short distance from him
he discovered his little brother, who was singing plaintively these lines:

    Nesia, Nesia, shug wuh, gushuh!
    Ne mien gun-iew! Ne mien gun-iew!

    My brother, my brother!
    I am turning into a wolf!
    I am turning into a wolf!

At the termination of his song, he howled like a wolf; and the elder,
approaching him, was startled at seeing that the little fellow had indeed
half turned into a wolf, when, running hastily forward, he shouted, “My
brother, my little brother, come to me!” But the boy fled from him, while
he continued to sing: “I am turning into a wolf!—Ne mien gun-iew! Ne mien
gun-iew!” Filled with anguish and remorse, the elder brother continued to
cry, “My brother, my little brother, come to me!” But the more eagerly he
called, the more rapidly his brother fled from him, while he became more
and more like a wolf, until, with a prolonged howl, his whole body was
transformed, when he bounded swiftly away into the depths of the forest.

The elder brother, in the deepest sorrow, now returned to his village,
where with his sister he lamented the dreadful fate of his brother until
the end of his life.


(_North American Indian_)

Upon the banks of the Missouri River there once lived a snail, in great
enjoyment; for he found plenty of food, and was never in want of anything
that a snail could desire. At length, however, disaster reached him.
The waters of the river overflowed its banks; and, although the little
creature clung to a log with all his strength,—hoping thereby to remain
safe upon the shore,—the rising flood carried both him and the log away,
and they floated helplessly many days, until the waters subsided, when
the poor snail was left upon a strange shore that was covered with the
river’s slime, where, as the sun arose, the heat was so intense that he
was irrecoverably fixed in the mud. Oppressed with the heat and drought,
and famishing for want of nourishment, in despair he resigned himself
to his fate and prepared to die. But suddenly new feelings arose, and a
renewed vigor entered his frame. His shell burst open; his head gradually
arose above the ground; his lower extremities assumed the character
of feet and legs; arms extended from his sides, and their extremities
divided into fingers; and, thus beneath the influence of the shining sun,
he became a tall and noble-looking man. For a while he was stupefied
with the change; he had no energy, no distinct thoughts; but by degrees
his brain assumed its activity, and returning recollection induced him
to travel back to his native shore. Naked and ignorant, and almost
perishing with hunger, he walked along. He saw beasts and birds enticing
to the appetite; but, not knowing how to kill them, his hunger was left

At last he became so weak that he laid himself down upon the ground in
despair, thinking that he must die. He had not been lying thus very long,
when he heard a voice calling him by name, “Wasbashas, Wasbashas!” He
looked up, and before him beheld the Great Spirit sitting upon a white
animal. And the eyes of the Spirit were like stars; the hair of his head
shone like the sun. Trembling from head to foot, Wasbashas bowed his
head. He could not look upon him. Again the voice spoke, in a mild tone,
“Wasbashas, why art thou terrified?” “I tremble,” replied Wasbashas,
“because I stand before him who raised me from the ground. I am faint;
I have eaten nothing since I was left a little shell upon the shore.”
The Great Spirit then lifted up his hands, displaying in them a bow and
arrows; and telling Wasbashas to look at him, he put an arrow to the
string of the bow, and sent it into the air, striking a beautiful bird,
that dropped dead upon the ground. A deer then coming in sight, he placed
another arrow to the string, and pierced it through and through. “There,”
said the Great Spirit, “is your food, and these are your arms,”—handing
him the bow and arrows. The beneficent Being then instructed him how
to remove the skin of the deer, and prepare it for a garment. “You are
naked,” said he, “and must be clothed; for although it is now warm, the
skies will change, and bring rains and snow and cold winds.” Having said
this, he also imparted the gift of fire, and instructed him how to roast
the flesh of the deer and bird. He then placed a collar of wampum around
his neck. “This,” said he, “is your title of authority over all the
beasts.” Having done this, the Great Spirit arose in the air and vanished
from sight. Wasbashas refreshed himself with the food, and afterward
pursued his way to his native land. Having walked a long distance, he
seated himself on the banks of a river, and meditated on what had
transpired, when a large beaver arose up from the channel and addressed
him. “Who art thou?” said the beaver, “that comest here to disturb my
ancient reign?”

“I am a man,” he replied. “I was once a creeping shell; but who art
thou?” “I am king of the nation of beavers,” was answered; “I lead my
people up and down this stream. We are a busy people, and the river is my

“I must divide it with you,” said Wasbashas; “the Great Spirit has placed
me at the head of beasts and birds, fishes and fowls, and has provided me
with the power of maintaining my rights;” and then he exhibited the gifts
of the Great Spirit, the bow and arrows and the wampum.

“Come, come,” said the beaver in a modified tone, “I perceive we are
brothers; walk with me to my lodge, and refresh yourself after your
journey.” So saying he conducted Wasbashas, who had accepted the
invitation with great alacrity, to a beautiful large village, where he
was entertained in the chief’s lodge, which was built in a cone shape;
and, as the floor was covered with pine mats, it had a very delightful
appearance to the eyes of Wasbashas.

After they had seated themselves, the chief bade his wife and daughter
prepare for them the choicest food in their possession. Meanwhile he
entertained his guest by informing him how they constructed their lodges,
and described their manner of cutting down trees with their teeth,
and felling them across streams so as to dam up the water; and also
instructed him in the method of finishing the dams with leaves and clay.
With this wise conversation the chief beguiled the time, and also gained
the respect of Wasbashas. His wife and daughter now entered, bringing in
fresh peeled poplar and willow and sassafras and elder-bark, which was
the most choice food known to them. Of this Wasbashas made a semblance
of tasting, while his entertainer devoured a large amount with great
enjoyment. The daughter of the chief now attracted the eyes of Wasbashas.
Her modest deportment and cleanly attire, her assiduous attention to
the commands of her father, heightened very much her charms, which in
the estimation of the guest were very great; and the longer Wasbashas
gazed upon the maiden, the more deeply he was enamoured, until at length
he formed the resolution to seek her in marriage; upon which, with
persuasive words, he spoke to the chief, begging him to allow his suit.
The chief gladly assented; and as the daughter had formed a favourable
opinion of the suitor, a marriage was consummated—but not without a feast
to which beavers and friendly animals were invited. From this union of
the snail and beaver the Osage tribe has its origin.





Of old times, _Mahtigwess_, the Rabbit, who is called in the Micmac
tongue _Ableegumooch_, lived with his grandmother, waiting for better
times; and truly he found it a hard matter in midwinter, when ice was
on the river and snow was on the plain, to provide even for his small
household. And running through the forest one day he found a lonely
wigwam, and he that dwelt therein was _Keeoony_, the Otter. The lodge
was on the bank of a river, and a smooth road of ice slanted from the
door down to the water. And the Otter made him welcome, and directed his
housekeeper to get ready to cook; saying which, he took the hooks on
which he was wont to string fish when he had them, and went to fetch a
mess for dinner. Placing himself on the top of the slide, he coasted in
and under the water, and then came out with a great bunch of eels, which
were soon cooked, and on which they dined.

“By my life,” thought Master Rabbit, “but that is an easy way of getting
a living! Truly these fishing-folk have fine fare, and cheap! Cannot I,
who am so clever, do as well as this mere Otter? Of course I can. Why
not?” Thereupon he grew so confident of himself as to invite the Otter to
dine with him—_adamadusk ketkewop_—on the third day after that, and so
went home.

“Come on!” he said to his grandmother the next morning; “let us remove
our wigwam down to the lake.” So they removed; and he selected a site
such as the Otter had chosen for his home, and the weather being cold he
made a road of ice, of a coast, down from his door to the water, and all
was well. Then the guest came at the time set, and Rabbit, calling his
grandmother, bade her get ready to cook a dinner. “But what am I to cook,
grandson?” inquired the old dame.

“Truly I will see to that,” said he, and made him a _nabogun_, or stick
to string eels. Then going to the ice path, he tried to slide like one
skilled in the art, but indeed with little luck, for he went first to the
right side, then to the left, and so hitched and jumped till he came to
the water, where he went in with a bob backwards. And this bad beginning
had no better ending, since of all swimmers and divers the Rabbit is the
very worst, and this one was no better than his brothers. The water was
cold, he lost his breath, he struggled, and was well-nigh drowned.

“But what on earth ails the fellow?” said the Otter to the grandmother,
who was looking on in amazement.

“Well, he has seen somebody do something, and is trying to do likewise,”
replied the old lady.

“Ho! come out of that now,” cried the Otter, “and hand me your
_nabogun_!” And the poor Rabbit, shivering with cold, and almost frozen,
came from the water and limped into the lodge. And there he required much
nursing from his grandmother, while the Otter, plunging into the stream,
soon returned with a load of fish. But, disgusted at the Rabbit for
attempting what he could not perform, he threw them down as a gift, and
went home without tasting the meal.


Now Master Rabbit, though disappointed, was not discouraged, for this
one virtue he had, that he never gave up. And wandering one day in
the wilderness, he found a wigwam well filled with young women, all
wearing red head-dresses; and no wonder, for they were Woodpeckers. Now,
Master Rabbit was a well-bred Indian, who made himself as a melody to
all voices, and so he was cheerfully bidden to bide to dinner, which
he did. Then one of the red-polled pretty girls, taking a _woltes_, or
wooden dish, lightly climbed a tree, so that she seemed to run; and
while ascending, stopping here and there and tapping now and then, took
from this place and that many of those insects called by the Indians
_apchel-moal-timpkawal_, or rice, because they so much resemble it. And
note that this rice is a dainty dish for those who like it. And when it
was boiled, and they had dined, Master Rabbit again reflected, “La! how
easily some folks live! What is to hinder me from doing the same? Ho, you
girls! come over and dine with me the day after to-morrow!”

And having accepted this invitation, all the guests came on the day set,
when Master Rabbit undertook to play woodpecker. So having taken the head
of an eel-spear and fastened it to his nose to make a bill, he climbed
as well as he could—and bad was the best—up a tree, and tried to get
his harvest of rice. Truly he got none; only in this did he succeed in
resembling a Woodpecker, that he had a red poll; for his pate was all
torn and bleeding, bruised by the fishing-point. And the pretty birds all
looked and laughed, and wondered what the Rabbit was about.

“Ah!” said his grandmother, “I suppose he is trying again to do something
which he has seen some one do. ’Tis just like him.”

“Oh, come down there!” cried Miss Woodpecker, as well as she could for
laughing. “Give me your dish!” And having got it she scampered up the
trunk, and soon brought down a dinner. But it was long ere Master Rabbit
heard the last of it from these gay tree-tappers.


There are men who are bad at copying, yet are good originals, and of this
kind was Master Rabbit, who, when he gave up trying to do as others did,
succeeded very well. And, having found out his foible, he applied himself
to become able in good earnest, and studied _m’téoulin_, or magic, so
severely that in time he grew to be an awful conjurer, so that he could
raise ghosts, crops, storms, or devils whenever he wanted them. For
he had perseverance, and out of this may come anything, if it be only
brought into the right road.

Now it came to pass that Master Rabbit got into great trouble. The
records of the Micmacs say that it was from his stealing a string of fish
from the Otter, who pursued him; but the Passamaquoddies declare that he
was innocent of this evil deed, probably because they make great account
of him as their ancestor and as the father of the Wabanaki. Howbeit, this
is the way in which they tell the tale.

Now the Rabbit is the natural prey of the Loup-Cervier, or Lusifee, who
is a kind of wild-cat, none being more obstinate. And this Wild-Cat once
went hunting with a gang of wolves, and they got nothing. Then Wild-Cat,
who had made them great promises and acted as chief, became angry, and,
thinking of the Rabbit, promised them that this time they should indeed
get their dinner. So he took them to Rabbit’s wigwam; but he was out, and
the Wolves, being vexed and starved, reviled Wild-Cat, and then rushed
off howling through the woods.

Now I think that the Rabbit is _m’téoulin_. Yes, he must be, for when
Wild-Cat started to hunt him alone, he determined with all his soul not
to be caught, and made himself as magical as he could. So he picked up a
handful of chips, and threw one as far as possible, then jumped to it—for
he had a charm for a long jump; and then threw another, and so on, for a
great distance. This was to make no tracks, and when he thought he had
got out of scent and sight and sound he scampered away like the wind.

Now, as I said, when the wolves got to Master Rabbit’s house and found
nothing, they smelt about and left Wild-Cat, who swore by his tail that
he would catch Rabbit, if he had to hunt forever and run himself to
death. So, taking the house for a center, he kept going round and round
it, all the time a little further, and so more around and still further.
Then at last having found the track, he went in hot haste after Mr.
Rabbit. And both ran hard, till, night coming on, Rabbit, to protect
himself, had only just time _to trample down the snow a little, and stick
up a spruce twig on end and sit on it_. But when Wild-Cat came up he
found there a fine wigwam, and put his head in. All that he saw was an
old man of very grave and dignified appearance, whose hair was gray, and
whose majestic (_sogmoye_) appearance was heightened by a pair of long
and venerable ears. And of him Wild-Cat asked in a gasping hurry if he
had seen a Rabbit running that way.

“Rabbits!” replied the old man. “Why, of course, I have seen many.
They abound in the woods about here. I see dozens of them every day.”
With this he said kindly to Wild-Cat that he had better tarry with him
for a time. “I am an old man,” he remarked with solemnity—“an old man,
living alone, and a respectable guest, like you, sir, comes to me like a
blessing.” And the Cat, greatly impressed, remained. After a good supper
he lay down by the fire, and, having run all day, was at once asleep,
and made but one nap of it till morning. But how astonished, and oh, how
miserable he was, when he awoke, to find himself on the open heath in the
snow and almost starved! The wind blew as if it had a keen will to kill
him; it seemed to go all through his body. Then he saw that he had been
a fool and cheated by magic, and in a rage swore again by his teeth, as
well as his tail, that the Rabbit should die. There was no hut now, only
the trampled snow and a spruce twig, and yet out of this little, Rabbit
had conjured up so great a delusion.

Then he ran again all day. And when night came, Master Rabbit, having a
little more time than before, again trampled down the snow, but for a
greater space, and strewed many branches all about, for now a huge effort
was to be made. And when Wild-Cat got there he found a great Indian
village, with crowds of people going to and fro. The first building he
saw was a church, in which service was being held. And he, entering,
said hastily to the first person he saw, “Ha! ho! have you seen a Rabbit
running by here?”

“Hush—sh, sh!” replied the man. “You must wait till meeting is over
before asking such questions.” Then a young man beckoned to him to come
in, and he listened till the end to a long sermon on the wickedness of
being vindictive and rapacious; and the preacher was a gray ancient, and
his ears stood up over his little cap like the two handles of a pitcher,
yet for all that the Wild-Cat’s heart was not moved one whit. And when it
was all at an end he said to the obliging young man, “But _have_ you seen
a Rabbit running by?”

“Rabbits! Rab-bits!” replied the young man. “Why, there are hundreds
racing about in the cedar swamps near this place, and you can have as
many as you want.” “Ah!” replied Wild-Cat, “but they are not what I
seek. Mine is an entirely different kind.” The other said that he knew
of no sort save the wild wood-rabbits, but that perhaps their Governor,
or Chief, who was very wise, could tell him all about them. Then the
Governor, or Sagamore, came up. Like the preacher, he was very remarkable
and gray, with the long locks standing up one on either side of his head.
And he invited the stranger to his house, where his two very beautiful
daughters cooked him a fine supper. And when he wished to retire they
brought out blankets and a beautiful _white bear’s skin_, and made up a
bed for him by the fire. Truly, his eyes were closed as soon as he lay
down, but when he awoke there had been a great change. For now he was in
a wet cedar swamp, the wind blowing ten times worse than ever, and his
supper and sleep had done him little good, for they were all a delusion.
All around him were rabbits’ tracks and broken twigs, but nothing more.

Yet he sprang up, more enraged than ever, and swearing more terribly by
his tail, teeth, and claws that he would be revenged. So he ran on all
day, and at night, when he came to another large village, he was so weary
that he could just gasp, “Have—you—seen a Rab—bit run this way?” With
much concern and kindness they all asked him what was the matter. So he
told them all this story, and they pitied him very much; yea, one gray
old man—and this was the Chief—with two beautiful daughters, shed tears
and comforted him, and advised him to stay with them. So they took him to
a large hall, where there was a great fire burning in the middle thereof.
And over it hung two pots with soup and meat, and two Indians stood by
and gave food to all the people. And he had his share with the rest, and
all feasted gayly.

Now, when they had done eating, the old Governor, who was very gray,
and from either side of whose head rose two very venerable, long white
feathers, rose to welcome the stranger, and in a long speech said it was,
indeed, the custom of their village to entertain guests, but that they
expected from them a song. Then Wild-Cat, who was vain of his voice,
uplifted it in vengeance against the Rabbits:

    Oh, how I hate them!
    How I despise them!
    How I laugh at them!
    May I scalp them all!

Then he said that he thought the Governor should sing. And to this the
Chief consented, but declared that all who were present should bow their
heads while seated, and shut their eyes, which they did. Then Chief
Rabbit, at one bound, cleared the heads of his guests, and drawing his
_timheyen_, or tomahawk, as he jumped, gave Wild-Cat a wound which cut
deeply into his head and only fell short of killing him by entirely
stunning him. When he recovered, he was again in snow, slush and filth,
more starved than ever, his head bleeding from a dreadful blow, and he
himself almost dead. Yet, with all that, the Indian devil was stronger in
him than ever, for every new disgrace did but bring more resolve to be
revenged, and he swore it by his tail, claws, teeth, and eyes.

So he tottered along, though he could hardly walk; nor could he,
indeed, go very far that day. And when almost broken down with pain and
weariness, he came about noon to two good wigwams. Looking into one, he
saw a gray-haired old man, and in the other a young girl, apparently his
daughter. And they received him kindly, and listened to his story, saying
it was very sad, the old man declaring that he must really remain there,
and that he would get him a doctor, since, unless he were well cared for
at once, he would die. Then he went forth as if in great concern, leaving
his daughter to nurse the weary, wounded stranger.

Now, when the doctor came, he, too, was an old gray man, with a
scalp-lock strangely divided like two horns. But the Wild-Cat had become
a little suspicious, having been so often deceived, for much abuse will
cease to amuse even the most innocent; and truly he was none of these.
And, looking grimly at the Doctor, he said: “I was asking if any Rabbits
are here, and truly you look very much like one yourself. How did you
get that split nose?” “Oh, that is very simple,” replied the old man.
“Once I was hammering wampum beads, and the stone on which I beat them
broke in halves, and one piece flew up, and, as you see, split my nose.”
“But,” persisted the Wild-Cat, “why are the soles of your feet so yellow,
even like a Rabbit’s?” “Ah, that is because I have been preparing some
tobacco, and I had to hold it down with my feet, for, truly, I needed
both my hands to work with. So the tobacco stained them yellow.” Then the
Wild-Cat suspected no more, and the Doctor put salve on his wound, so
that he felt much better.

But oh, the wretchedness of the awaking in the morning! For then Wild-Cat
found himself indeed in the extreme of misery. His head was swollen and
aching to an incredible degree, and the horrible wound, which was gaping
wide, had been stuffed with hemlock needles and pine splinters, and this
was the cool salve which the Doctor had applied. And then he swore by all
his body and soul that he would slay the next being he met, Rabbit or
Indian. Verily this time he would be utterly revenged.

Now Mahtigwess, the Rabbit, had almost come to an end of his _m’téoulin_,
or wizard power, for that time, yet he had still enough left for one
more great effort. And, coming to a lake, he picked up a very large chip,
and, having seamed it with sorcery and magnified it by magic, threw it
into the water, where it at once seemed to be a great ship, such as white
men build. And when the Wild-Cat came up he saw it, with sails spread
and flags flying, and the captain stood so stately on the deck, with
folded arms, and he was a fine, gray-haired, dignified man, with a cocked
hat, the two points of which were like grand and stately horns. But the
Wild-Cat had sworn, and he was mindful of his great oath; so he cried,
“You cannot escape me this time, Rabbit! I have you now!” Saying this
he plunged in, and tried to swim to the ship. And the captain, seeing a
Wild-Cat in the water, being engaged in musket drill, ordered his men to
fire at it, which they did with a bang! Now this was caused by a party
of night-hawks overhead, who swooped down with a sudden cry like a shot;
at least it seemed so to Wild-Cat, who, deceived and appalled by this
volley, deeming that he had verily made a mistake this time, turned tail
and swam ashore into the dark old forest, where, if he is not dead, he is
running still.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the following two stories, the two most celebrated heroes of American
Indian Mythology figure. The first is known as Manabozho among the
Algonquin Indians and as Hiawatha among the Iroquois. Although he appears
most often in the form of a man in Indian legends, he seems at times to
be endowed with divine attributes. According to the ordinary account of
him[1] he is regarded as the messenger of the Great Spirit, sent down
to mankind, in the character of a wise man or prophet. But he has all
the attributes of humanity as well as the power of performing miraculous
deeds. He adapts himself perfectly to their manners and customs and
ideas. He marries, builds a lodge, hunts and fishes, goes to war, has
his triumphs and his failures like other Indians. Whatever man could do
in strength or wisdom he could do, but when he encounters situations
requiring more than human strength, his miraculous powers come into
play. He is provided with a magic canoe which goes where it is bid. He
could leap over extensive regions of country like an _ignis fatuus_. He
appears suddenly like a god, or wanders over weary wastes of country a
poor and starving hunter. His voice is at one moment deep and sonorous
as a thunder-clap, and at another clothed with the softness of feminine
supplication. He could transform himself into any animal he pleased. He
often conversed with animals, fowls, reptiles, and fishes. He deemed
himself related to them, and always in speaking to them called them “my
brother,” and one of his greatest resources when finding himself hard
pressed was to change himself into their shapes.

He could conquer Manitoes, no matter what their evil power might
be. Manitoes in Indian stories are not unlike fairies in their
characteristics. They were of all imaginary kinds, grades, powers,
sometimes benign, sometimes malicious, but Manabozho was a personage
strong enough in his necromantic powers to baffle the most malicious,
beat the stoutest, and overreach the most cunning. He was not, however,
the wholly benevolent being we might expect he would be with all these
great gifts; he was unfortunately ambitious, vainglorious, and deceitful,
and at times not much better himself than a wicked Manito. But what could
be expected of a son of the West Wind, for his father was Ningabiun, the
West Wind, and you will find that mythical beings which personify the
wind are always of a tricksy disposition just as the wind itself is. As a
god he was often spoken of as the great white Hare.

The Algonquin hero, Glooskap,[2] is equally interesting, and of a more
truly heroic disposition than Manabozho. The name of this divinity,
Glooskap, means a liar, because it is said that when he left the earth
for the land of spirits he promised to return and he has never done so.
Many and wonderful are the tales told of Glooskap, but he is never silly,
or cruel, or fantastic like Manabozho. Any one who goes to Nova Scotia,
to-day, may see the grand Cape Blomidon, where Glooskap lived. It juts
out between the Bay of Fundy and the Basin of Minas. Its foundations are
of red sandstone and far up toward the sky it is crowned with granite
battlements. Sometimes the waters of the Basin of Minas gently wash
against the base of this gigantic cape and sometimes one could walk a
mile or two from the cape to reach the water. Twice a day this happens as
the tide comes up and recedes. Truly, it is a magical land, and Blomidon
is a noble home, well befitting the great Indian divinity whose head
rises to the stars, and who could slay a giant enemy with a mere tap of
his bow. We shall meet with both of these heroes again later.



To begin at the beginning, Manabozho, while yet a youngster, was living
with his grandmother, near the edge of a wide prairie. It was on this
prairie that he first saw animals and birds of every kind; he also there
made first acquaintance with thunder and lightning; he would sit by the
hour watching the clouds as they rolled, and musing on the shades of
light and darkness as the day rose and fell.

For a stripling, Manabozho was uncommonly wide-awake. Every new sight he
beheld in the heavens was a subject of remark; every new animal or bird,
an object of deep interest; and every sound that came from the bosom of
nature, was like a new lesson which he was expected to learn. He often
trembled at what he heard and saw.

To the scene of the wide open prairie his grandmother sent him at an
early age to watch. The first sound he heard was that of the owl, at
which he was greatly terrified, and, quickly descending the tree he had
climbed, he ran with alarm to the lodge. “Noko! noko! grandmother!” he
cried. “I have heard a monedo.”

She laughed at his fears, and asked him what kind of noise his reverence
made. He answered, “It makes a noise like this: ko-ko-ko-ho.”

His grandmother told him he was young and foolish; that what he heard was
only a bird which derived its name from the peculiar noise it made.

He returned to the prairie and continued his watch. As he stood there
looking at the clouds, he thought to himself, “It is singular that I am
so simple and my grandmother so wise; and that I have neither father nor
mother. I have never heard a word about them. I must ask and find out.”

He went home and sat down, silent and dejected. Finding that this did
not attract the notice of his grandmother, he began a loud lamentation,
which he kept increasing, louder and louder, till it shook the lodge, and
nearly deafened the old grandmother. She at length said, “Manabozho, what
is the matter with you? You are making a great deal of noise.”

Manabozho started off again with his doleful hubbub; but succeeded in
jerking out between his big sobs, “I haven’t got any father nor mother; I
haven’t;” and he set out again lamenting more boisterously than ever.

Knowing that he was of a wicked and revengeful temper, his grandmother
dreaded to tell him the story of his parentage; as she knew he would
make trouble of it.

Manabozho renewed his cries, and managed to throw out, for a third or
fourth time, his sorrowful lament that he was a poor unfortunate, who had
no parents and no relations.

She at last said to him, “Yes, you have a father and three brothers
living. Your mother is dead. She was taken for a wife by your father, the
West, without the consent of her parents. Your brothers are the North,
East, and South; and being older than yourself, your father has given
them great power with the winds, according to their names. You are the
youngest of his children. I have nursed you from your infancy; for your
mother, owing to the ill-treatment of your father, died when you were an
infant. I have no relations beside you this side of the planet in which
I was born, and from which I was precipitated by female jealousy. Your
mother was my only child, and you are my only hope.”

“I am glad my father is living,” said Manabozho. “I shall set out in the
morning to visit him.”

His grandmother would have discouraged him; saying it was a long distance
to the place where his father, Ningabiun, or the West, lived.

This information seemed rather to please than to disconcert Manabozho;
for by this time he had grown to such a size and strength that he had
been compelled to leave the narrow shelter of his grandmother’s lodge and
to live out of doors. He was so tall that, if he had been so disposed, he
could have snapped off the heads of the birds roosting in the topmost
branches of the highest trees, as he stood up, without being at the
trouble to climb. And if he had at any time taken a fancy to one of the
same trees for a walking stick, he would have had no more to do than to
pluck it up with his thumb and finger, and strip down the leaves and
twigs with the palm of his hand.

Bidding good-by to his venerable old grandmother, who pulled a very long
face over his departure, Manabozho set out at great headway, for he was
able to stride from one side of a prairie to the other at a single step.

He found his father on a high mountain-ground, far in the west. His
father espied his approach at a great distance, and bounded down the
mountain-side several miles to give him welcome, and, side-by-side,
apparently delighted with each other, they reached in two or three of
their giant paces the lodge of the West, which stood high up near the

They spent some days in talking with each other—for these two great
persons did nothing on a small scale, and a whole day to deliver a
single sentence, such was the immensity of their discourse, was quite an
ordinary affair.

One evening Manabozho asked his father what he was most afraid of on

He replied—“Nothing.”

“But is there nothing you dread, here—nothing that would hurt you if you
took too much of it? Come, tell me.”

Manabozho was very urgent; at last his father said:

“Yes, there is a black stone to be found a couple of hundred miles from
here, over that way,” pointing as he spoke. “It is the only thing earthly
that I am afraid of, for if it should happen to hit me on any part of my
body it would hurt me very much.”

The West made this important circumstance known to Manabozho in the
strictest confidence.

“Now, you will not tell any one, Manabozho, that the black stone is bad
medicine for your father, will you?” he added. “You are a good son, and I
know will keep it to yourself. Now tell me, my darling boy, is there not
something that you don’t like?”

Manabozho answered promptly—“Nothing.”

His father, who was of a very steady and persevering temper, put the same
question to him seventeen times, and each time Manabozho made the same

But the West insisted—“There must be something you are afraid of.”

“Well, I will tell you,” says Manabozho, “what it is.”

He made an effort to speak, but it seemed to be too much for him.

“Out with it,” said Ningabiun, or the West, fetching Manabozho such a
blow on the back as shook the mountain with its echo.

“Je-ee, je-ee—it is,” said Manabozho, apparently in great pain. “Yeo,
yeo! I cannot name it, I tremble so.”

The West told him to banish his fears, and to speak up; no one would hurt

Manabozho began again, and he would have gone over the same make-believe
of anguish, had not his father, whose strength he knew was more than a
match for his own, threatened to pitch him into a river about five miles
off. At last he cried out:

“Father, since you will know, it is the root of the bulrush.”

He who could with perfect ease spin a sentence a whole day long, seemed
to be exhausted by the effort of pronouncing that one word, “bulrush.”

Some time after, Manabozho observed:

“I will get some of the black rock, merely to see how it looks.”

“Well,” said the father, “I will also get a little of the bulrush-root,
to learn how it tastes.”

They were both double-dealing with each other, and in their hearts
getting ready for some desperate work.

They had no sooner separated for the evening than Manabozho was striding
off the couple of hundred miles necessary to bring him to the place where
black rock was to be procured, while down the other side of the mountain
hurried Ningabiun.

At the break of day they each appeared at the great level on the
mountain-top, Manabozho with twenty loads, at least, of the black stone,
on one side, and on the other the West, with a whole meadow of bulrush in
his arms.

Manabozho was the first to strike—hurling a great piece of the black
rock, which struck the West directly between the eyes, who returned the
favor with a blow of bulrush, that rung over the shoulders of Manabozho,
far and wide, like the whip-thong of the lightning among the clouds.

And now either rallied, and Manabozho poured in a tempest of black
rock, while Ningabiun discharged a shower of bulrush. Blow upon blow,
thwack upon thwack—they fought hand to hand until black rock and bulrush
were all gone. Then they betook themselves to hurling crags at each
other, cudgeling with huge oak-trees, and defying each other from one
mountain-top to another; while at times they shot enormous boulders
of granite across at each other’s heads, as though they had been mere
jack-stones. The battle, which had commenced on the mountains, had
extended far west. The West was forced to give ground. Manabozho pressing
on, drove him across rivers and mountains, ridges and lakes, till at last
he got him to the very brink of the world.

“Hold!” cried the West. “My son, you know my power, and although I allow
that I am now fairly out of breath, it is impossible to kill me. Stop
where you are, and I will also portion you out with as much power as your
brothers. The four quarters of the globe are already occupied, but you
can go and do a great deal of good to the people of the earth, which is
beset with serpents, beasts, and monsters, who make great havoc of human
life. Go and do good, and if you put forth half the strength you have
to-day you will acquire a name that will last forever. When you have
finished your work I will have a place provided for you. You will then go
and sit with your brother, Kabinocca, in the North.”

Manabozho gave his father his hand upon this agreement. And parting from
him, he returned to his own grounds, where he lay for some time sore of
his wounds.

These being, however, greatly allayed, and soon after cured by his
grandmother’s skill in medicines, Manabozho, as big and sturdy as ever,
was ripe for new adventures. He set his thoughts immediately upon a war
excursion against the Pearl Feather, a wicked old Manito, living on the
other side of the great lake, who had killed his grandfather. He began
his preparations by making huge bows and arrows without number; but he
had no heads for his shafts. At last Noko told him that an old man, who
lived at some distance, could furnish him with such as he needed. He
sent her to get some. She soon returned with her wrapper full. Manabozho
told her that he had not enough, and sent her again. She came back with
as many more. He thought to himself, “I must find out the way of making
these heads.”

Instead of directly asking how it was done, he preferred—just like
Manabozho—to deceive his grandmother to come at the knowledge he desired,
by a trick. “Noko,” said he, “while I take my drum and rattle, and sing
my war-songs, do you go and try to get me some larger heads, for these
you have brought me are all of the same size. Go and see whether the old
man is not willing to make some a little larger.”

He followed her at a distance as she went, having left his drum at the
lodge, with a great bird tied at the top, whose fluttering should keep
up the drumbeat, the same as if he were tarrying at home. He saw the old
workman busy, and learned how he prepared the heads; he also beheld the
old man’s daughter, who was very beautiful; and Manabozho now discovered
for the first time that he had a heart of his own, and the sigh he heaved
passed through the arrow-maker’s lodge like a gale of wind.

“How it blows!” said the old man.

“It must be from the south,” said the daughter; “for it is very fragrant.”

Manabozho slipped away, and in two strides he was at home, shouting forth
his songs as though he had never left the lodge. He had just time to free
the bird which had been beating the drum, when his grandmother came in
and delivered to him the big arrow-heads.

In the evening the grandmother said, “My son, you ought to fast before
you go to war, as your brothers do, to find out whether you will be
successful or not.”

He said he had no objection; and having privately stored away, in a shady
place in the forest, two or three dozen juicy bears, a moose, and twenty
strings of the tenderest birds, he would retire from the lodge so far as
to be entirely out of view of his grandmother, fall to and enjoy himself
heartily, and at nightfall, having just despatched a dozen birds and
half a bear or so, he would return, tottering and woe-begone, as if quite
famished, so as to move deeply the sympathies of his wise old granddame.

The place of his fast had been chosen by Noko, and she had told him it
must be so far as to be beyond the sound of her voice or it would be

After a time Manabozho, who was always spying out mischief, said to
himself, “I must find out why my grandmother is so anxious to have me
fast at this spot.”

The next day he went but a short distance. She cried out, “A little
further off;” but he came nearer to the lodge, the rogue that he was, and
cried out in a low, counterfeited voice, to make it appear that he was
going away instead of approaching. He had now got so near that he could
see all that passed in the lodge.

He had not been long in ambush when an old magician crept into the lodge.
This old magician had very long hair, which hung across his shoulders and
down his back, like a bush or foot-mat. They commenced talking about him,
and in doing so, they put their two old heads so very close together that
Manabozho was satisfied they were kissing each other. He was indignant
that any one should take such a liberty with his venerable grandmother,
and to mark his sense of the outrage, he touched the bushy hair of the
old magician with a live coal which he had blown upon. The old magician
had not time to kiss the old grandmother more than once again before he
felt the flame; and jumping out into the air, it burned only the fiercer,
and he ran, blazing like a fire-ball, across the prairie.

Manabozho who had, meanwhile, stolen off to his fasting place, cried out,
in a heart-broken tone, and as if on the very point of starvation, “Noko!
Noko! is it time for me to come home?”

“Yes,” she cried. And when he came in she asked him, “Did you see

“Nothing,” he answered, with an air of childish candor; looking as much
like a big simpleton as he could. The grandmother looked at him very
closely and said no more.

Manabozho finished his term of fasting; in the course of which he slyly
despatched twenty fat bears, six dozen birds, and two fine moose; sung
his war-song, and embarked in his canoe, fully prepared for war. Beside
weapons of battle, he had stowed in a large supply of oil.

He travelled rapidly night and day, for he had only to will or speak,
and the canoe went. At length he arrived in sight of the fiery serpents.
He paused to view them; he observed that they were some distance apart,
and that the flames which they constantly belched forth reached across
the pass. He gave them a good morning, and began talking with them in a
very friendly way; but they answered, “We know you, Manabozho; you cannot

He was not, however, to be put off so easily. Turning his canoe as if
about to go back, he suddenly cried out with a loud and terrified voice:

“What is that behind you?”

The serpents, thrown off their guard, instantly turned their heads, and
he in a moment glided past them.

“Well,” said he, quietly, after he had got by, “how do you like my

He then took up his bow and arrows, and with deliberate aim shot every
one of them, easily, for the serpents were fixed to one spot, and could
not even turn round. They were of an enormous length, and of a bright

Having thus escaped the sentinel serpents, Manabozho pushed on in his
canoe until he came to a part of the lake called Pitch-water, as whatever
touched it was sure to stick fast. But Manabozho was prepared with his
oil, and rubbing his canoe freely from end to end, he slipped through
with ease, and he was the first person who had ever succeeded in passing
through the Pitch-water.

“There is nothing like a little oil to help one through pitch-water,”
said Manabozho to himself.

Now in view of land, he could see the lodge of the Shining Manito, high
upon a distant hill.

Putting his clubs and arrows in order, just at the dawn of day Manabozho
began his attack, yelling and shouting, and beating his drum, and calling
out in triple voices:

“Surround him! surround him! run up! run up!” making it appear that he
had many followers.

“It was you that killed my grandfather,” and shot off a whole forest of

The Pearl Feather appeared on the height, blazing like the sun, and paid
back the discharges of Manabozho with a tempest of bolts, which rattled
like the hail.

All day long the fight was kept up, and Manabozho had fired all of his
arrows but three, without effect; for the Shining Manito was clothed
in pure wampum. It was only by immense leaps to right and left that
Manabozho could save his head from the sturdy blows which fell about him
on every side, like pine-trees, from the hands of the Manito. He was
badly bruised, and at his very wit’s end, when a large woodpecker flew
past and lit on a tree. It was a bird he had known on the prairie, near
his grandmother’s lodge.

“Manabozho,” called out the woodpecker, “your enemy has a weak point;
shoot at the lock of hair on the crown of his head.”

He shot his first arrow and only drew blood in a few drops. The Manito
made one or two unsteady steps, but recovered himself. He began to
parley, but Manabozho, now that he had discovered a way to reach him, was
in no humor to trifle, and he let slip another arrow, which brought the
Shining Manito to his knees. And now, having the crown of his head within
good range, Manabozho sent in his third arrow, which laid the Manito out
upon the ground, stark dead.

Manabozho lifted up a huge war-cry, beat his drum, took the scalp of the
Manito as his trophy, and calling the woodpecker to come and receive a
reward for the timely hint he had given him, he rubbed the blood of
the Shining Manito on the woodpecker’s head, the feathers of which are
red to this day. Full of his victory, Manabozho returned home, beating
his war-drum furiously, and shouting aloud his songs of triumph. His
grandmother was on the shore ready to welcome him with the war-dance,
which she performed with wonderful skill for one so far advanced in years.

The heart of Manabozho swelled within him. He was fairly on fire, and
an unconquerable desire for further adventures seized upon him. He had
destroyed the powerful Pearl Feather, killed his serpents, and escaped
all his wiles and charms. He had prevailed in a great land fight, his
next trophy should be from the water.

He tried his prowess as a fisherman, and with such success that he
captured a fish so monstrous in size and so rich in fat that with the
oil Manabozho was able to form a small lake. To this, being generously
disposed, and having a cunning purpose of his own to answer, he invited
all the birds and beasts of his acquaintance; and he made the order in
which they partook of the banquet the measure of their fatness for all
time to come. As fast as they arrived he told them to plunge in and help

The first to make his appearance was the bear, who took a long and steady
draught; then came the deer, the opossum, and such others of the family
as are noted for their comfortable case. The moose and bison were slack
in their cups, and the partridge, always lean in flesh, looked on till
the supply was nearly gone. There was not a drop left by the time the
hare and the martin appeared on the shore of the lake, and they are, in
consequence, the slenderest of all creatures.

When this ceremony was over, Manabozho suggested to his friends, the
assembled birds and animals, that the occasion was proper for a little
merry-making; and taking up his drum, he cried out:

“New songs from the South; come, brothers, dance!”

He directed them, to make the sport more mirthful, that they should shut
their eyes and pass round him in a circle. Again he beat his drum and
cried out:

“New songs from the South; come, brothers, dance!”

They all fell in and commenced their rounds. Whenever Manabozho, as he
stood in the circle, saw a fat fowl which he fancied, pass by him, he
adroitly wrung its neck and slipped it in his girdle, at the same time
beating his drum and singing at the top of his lungs, to drown the noise
of the fluttering, and crying out in a tone of admiration:

“That’s the way, my brothers; that’s the way!”

At last a small duck, of the diver family, thinking there was something
wrong, opened one eye and saw what Manabozho was doing. Giving a spring,
and crying:

“Ha-ha-a! Manabozho is killing us!” he made for the water.

Manabozho, quite vexed that the creature should have played the spy upon
his house-keeping, followed him, and just as the diver duck was plunging
into the water, gave him a kick, which is the reason that the diver’s
tail-feathers are few, his back flattened, and his legs straightened out,
so that when he comes on land he makes a poor figure in walking.

Meantime, the other birds, having no ambition to be thrust into
Manabozho’s girdle, flew off, and the animals scampered into the woods.

Manabozho stretching himself at ease in the shade along the side of the
prairie, thought what he should do next. He concluded that he would
travel and see new countries; and having once made up his mind, in less
than three days, such was his length of limb and the immensity of his
stride, he had walked over the entire continent, looked into every lodge
by the way, and with such nicety of observation, that he was able to
inform his good old grandmother what each family had for a dinner at a
given hour.

By way of relief to these grand doings, Manabozho was disposed to vary
his experiences by bestowing a little time upon the sports of the woods.
He had heard reported great feats in hunting, and he had a desire to
try his power in that way. Besides that, it was a slight consideration
that he had devoured all the game within reach of the lodge; and so, one
evening, as he was walking along the shore of the great lake, weary and
hungry, he encountered a great magician in the form of an old wolf, with
six young ones, coming toward him.

The wolf no sooner caught sight of him than he told his whelps, who were
close about his side, to keep out of the way of Manabozho; “For I know,”
he said, “that it is that mischievous fellow whom we see yonder.”

The young wolves were in the act of running on, when Manabozho cried out,
“My grandchildren, where are you going? Stop and I will go with you. I
wish to have a little chat with your excellent father.”

Saying which he advanced and greeted the old wolf, expressing himself as
delighted at seeing him looking so well. “Whither do you journey?” he

“We are looking for a good hunting ground to pass the winter,” the old
wolf answered. “What brings you here?”

“I was looking for you,” said Manabozho. “For I have a passion for the
chase, brother. I always admired your family; are you willing to change
me into a wolf?”

The wolf gave him a favorable answer, and he was forthwith changed into a

“Well, that will do,” said Manabozho; then looking at his tail, he added,
“Oh! could you oblige me by making my tail a little longer and more

“Certainly,” said the wolf; and he gave Manabozho such a length and
spread of tail, that it was constantly getting between his legs, and it
was so heavy that it was as much as he could do to find strength to carry
it. But having asked for it, he was ashamed to say a word; and they all
started off in company, dashing up a ravine.

After getting into the woods for some distance, they fell in with the
tracks of moose. The young ones scampered off in pursuit, the old wolf
and Manabozho following at their leisure.

“Well,” said the old wolf, by way of opening discourse, “who do you think
is the fastest of the boys? Can you tell by the jumps they take?”

“Why,” he replied, “the one that takes such long jumps, he is the fastest
to be sure.”

“Ha! ha! you are mistaken,” said the old wolf. “He makes a good start,
but he will be the first to tire out; this one, who appears to be behind,
will be the one to kill the game.”

By this time they had come to the spot where the boys had started in
chase. One had dropped what seemed to be a small medicine-sack, which he
carried for the use of the hunting party.

“Take that, Manabozho,” said the old wolf.

“Esa,” he replied, “what will I do with a dirty dog-skin?”

The old wolf took it up; it was a beautiful robe.

“Oh, I will carry it now,” cried Manabozho.

“Oh, no,” said the old wolf, who had exerted his magical powers, “it is a
robe of pearls. Come along!” And away sped the old wolf at a great rate
of speed.

“Not so fast,” called Manabozho after him; and then he added to himself
as he panted after, “Oh, this tail!”

Coming to a place where the moose had lain down, they saw that the young
wolves had made a fresh start after their prey.

“Why,” said the old wolf, “this moose is poor. I know by the tracks; for
I can always tell whether they are fat or not.”

A little further on, one of the young wolves, in dashing at the moose,
had broken a tooth on a tree.

“Manabozho,” said the old wolf, “one of your grandchildren has shot at
the game. Take his arrow; there it is.”

“No,” replied Manabozho; “what will I do with a dirty dog’s tooth?”

The old wolf took it up, and behold it was a beautiful silver arrow.

When they at last overtook them, they found that the youngsters had
killed a very fat moose. Manabozho was very hungry; but the old wolf just
then again exerted his magical powers, and Manabozho saw nothing but the
bones picked quite clean. He thought to himself, “Just as I expected;
dirty, greedy fellows. If it had not been for this log at my back, I
should have been in time to have got a mouthful:” and he cursed the bushy
tail which he carried, to the bottom of his heart. He, however, sat down
without saying a word.

At length the old wolf spoke to one of the young ones, saying:

“Give some meat to your grandfather.”

One of them obeyed, and coming near to Manabozho, he presented him the
other end of his own bushy tail, which was nicely seasoned with burs,
gathered in the course of the hunt.

Manabozho jumped up and called out:

“You dog, now that your stomach is full, do you think I am going to eat
you to get at my dinner? Get you gone into some other place.”

Saying which Manabozho, in his anger, walked off by himself.

“Come back, brother,” cried the wolf. “You are losing your eyes.”

Manabozho turned back.

“You do the child injustice. Look there!” and behold, a heap of fresh,
ruddy meat, was lying on the spot, already prepared.

Manabozho, at the view of so much good provision, put on a smiling face.

“In amazement,” he said; “how fine the meat is!”

“Yes,” replied the old wolf, “it is always so with us; we know our work,
and always get the best. It is not a long tail that makes the hunter.”

Manabozho bit his lip.

They now fixed their winter quarters. The youngsters went out in search
of game, and they soon brought in a large supply. One day, during the
absence of the young hunters, the old wolf amused himself in cracking the
large bones of a moose.

“Manabozho,” said he, “cover your head with the robe, and do not look at
me while I am busy with these bones, for a piece may fly in your eye.”

He did as he was bid; but looking through a rent that was in the robe, he
saw what the other was about. Just at that moment a piece flew off and
hit him on the eye. He cried out:

“Tyau, why do you strike me, you old dog?”

The wolf answered, “You must have been looking at me.”

“No, no,” retorted Manabozho, “why should I want to look at you?”

“Manabozho,” said the old wolf, “you must have been looking or you would
not have got hurt.”

“No, no,” he replied again, “I was not. I will repay the saucy wolf this
mischief,” he thought to himself.

So the next day, taking up a bone to obtain the marrow, he said to the

“Brother, cover your head and do not look at me, for I very much fear a
piece may fly in your eye.”

The wolf did so; and Manabozho, taking the large leg-bone of the moose,
first looking to see if the wolf was well covered, hit him a blow with
all his might. The wolf jumped up, cried out, and fell prostrate from the
effects of the blow.

“Why,” said he, when he came to a little and was able to sit up, “why do
you strike me so?”

“Strike you?” said Manabozho, with well-feigned surprise; “no; you must
have been looking at me.”

“No,” answered the wolf, “I say I have not.”

But Manabozho insisted, and as the old wolf was no great master of tricky
argument, he was obliged to give it up.

Shortly after this the old wolf suggested to Manabozho that he should go
out and try his luck in hunting by himself.

When he chose to put his mind upon it he was quite expert, and this time
he succeeded in killing a fine fat moose, which he thought he would take
aside slyly, and devour alone, having prepared to tell the old wolf a
pretty story on his return, to account for his failure to bring anything
with him.

He was very hungry, and he sat down to eat; but as he never could go to
work in a straightforward way, he immediately fell into great doubts as
to the proper point at which to begin.

“Well,” said he, “I do not know where to commence. At the head? No.
People will laugh, and say, ‘He ate him backward.’”

He went to the side. “No,” said he, “they will say I ate him sideways.”

He then went to the hind-quarter. “No, that will not do either; they will
say I ate him forward. I will begin here, say what they will.”

He took a delicate piece from the small of the back, and was just on the
point of putting it to his mouth, when a tree close by made a creaking
noise. He seemed vexed at the sound. He raised the morsel to his mouth
the second time, when the tree creaked again.

“Why”, he exclaimed, “I cannot eat when I hear such a noise. Stop, stop!”
he said to the tree. He put it down, exclaiming, “I cannot eat with such
a noise;” and starting away he climbed the tree, and was pulling at the
limb which had offended him, when his fore paw was caught between the
branches so that he could not free himself.

While thus held fast, he saw a pack of wolves advancing through the wood
in the direction of his meat. He suspected them to be the old wolf and
his cubs, but night was coming on and he could not make them out.

“Go the other way, go the other way!” he cried out; “what would you come
to get here?”

The wolves stopped for a while and talked among themselves, and said:

“Manabozho must have something there, or he would not tell us to go
another way.”

“I begin to know him,” said an old wolf, “and all his tricks. Let us go
forward and see.”

They came on, and finding the moose, they soon made away with it.
Manabozho looked wistfully on to see them eat till they were fully
satisfied, when they scampered off in high spirits.

A heavy blast of wind opened the branches and released Manabozho, who
found that the wolves had left nothing but the bare bones. He made for
home, where, when he related his mishap, the old wolf, taking him by the
fore paw, condoled with him deeply on his ill-luck. A tear even started
to his eye as he added:

“My brother, this should teach us not to meddle with points of ceremony
when we have good meat to eat.”

The winter having by this time drawn fairly to a close, on a bright
morning in the early spring the old wolf addressed Manabozho: “My
brother, I am obliged to leave you; and although I have sometimes been
merry at your expense, I will show that I care for your comfort. I shall
leave one of the boys behind me to be your hunter, and to keep you
company through the long summer afternoons.”

The old wolf galloped off with his five young ones; and as they
disappeared from view, Manabozho was disenchanted in a moment, and
returned to his mortal shape.

Although he had been sometimes vexed and imposed upon, he had,
altogether, passed a pleasant winter with the cunning old wolf, and
now that he was gone, Manabozho was downcast and low in spirit. But
as the days grew brighter he recovered by degrees his air of cheerful
confidence, and was ready to try his hand upon any new adventure that
might occur to him. The old spirit of mischief was still alive within him.

The young wolf who had been left with him was a good hunter, and never
failed to keep the lodge well supplied with meat. One day Manabozho
addressed him as follows:

“My grandson, I had a dream last night, and it does not portend good. It
is of the large lake which lies in that direction. You must be careful
always to go across it, whether the ice seem strong or not. Never go
around it, for there are enemies on the further shore who lie in wait for
you. The ice is always safe.”

Now Manabozho knew well that the ice was thinning every day under the
warm sun, but he could not stay himself from playing a trick upon the
young wolf.

In the evening when he came to the lake, after a long day’s travel in
quest of game, the young wolf, confiding in his grandfather, said,
“Hwooh! the ice does look thin, but Nesho says it is sound;” and he
trotted upon the glassy plain.

He had not got half way across when the ice snapped, and with a
mournful cry the young wolf fell in and he was immediately seized by
the water-serpents who knew that it was Manabozho’s grandson, and were
thirsting for revenge upon him for the death of their relations in the
war upon Pearl Feather.

Manabozho heard the young wolf’s cry as he sat in his lodge; he knew what
had happened; and, from that moment, he was deprived of the greater part
of his magical power.

He returned, scarcely more than an ordinary mortal, to his former place
of dwelling, whence his grandmother had departed no one knew whither.
He married the arrow-maker’s daughter, and became the father of several
children, and very poor. He was scarcely able to procure the means of
living. His lodge was pitched in a remote part of the country, where he
could get no game. It was winter, and he had not the common comforts of
life. He said to his wife one day, “I will go out walking and see if I
cannot find some lodges.”

After walking some time he saw a lodge at a distance. The children were
playing at the door. When they saw him approaching they ran in and told
their parents that Manabozho was coming.

It was the residence of the large red-headed woodpecker. He came to the
door and asked Manabozho to enter. This invitation was promptly accepted.

After some time, the woodpecker, who was a magician, said to his wife:

“Have you nothing to give Manabozho? He must be hungry.”

She answered, “No.”

“He ought not to go without his supper,” said the woodpecker. “I will see
what I can do.”

In the center of the lodge stood a large tamarack-tree. Upon this the
woodpecker flew, and commenced going up, turning his head on each side
of the tree, and every now and then driving in his bill. At last he
pulled something out of the tree and threw it down; when, behold, a fine
fat raccoon lay on the ground. He drew out six or seven more. He then
descended, and told his wife to prepare them.

“Manabozho,” he said, “this is the only thing we eat; what else can we
give you?”

“It is very good,” replied Manabozho.

They smoked their pipes and conversed with each other.

After eating, Manabozho got ready to go home; when the woodpecker said to
his wife, “Give him the other raccoons to take home for his children.”

In the act of leaving the lodge, Manabozho, on purpose, dropped one of
his mittens, which was soon after observed on the ground.

“Run,” said the woodpecker to his eldest son, “and give it to him; but
mind that you do not give it into his hand; throw it at him, for there is
no knowing him, he acts so curiously.”

The boy did as he was directed.

“Grandfather,” said he to Manabozho, as he came up to him, “you have left
one of your mittens; here it is.”

“Yes,” he said, affecting to be ignorant of the circumstance, “it is so;
but don’t throw it, you will soil it on the snow.”

The lad, however, threw it, and was about to return, when Manabozho cried
out, “Bakah! Bakah! stop—stop; is that all you eat? Do you eat nothing
else with your raccoon? Tell me!”

“Yes, that is all,” answered the young woodpecker; “we have nothing else.”

“Tell your father,” continued Manabozho, “to come and visit me, and
let him bring a sack. I will give him what he shall eat with his

When the young one returned and reported this message to his father, the
old woodpecker turned up his nose at the invitation. “I wonder,” he said,
“what he thinks he has got, poor fellow!”

He was bound, however, to answer the proffer of hospitality, and he went
accordingly, taking along a cedar-sack, to pay a visit to Manabozho.

Manabozho received the old red-headed woodpecker with great ceremony.
He had stood at the door awaiting his arrival, and as soon as he came in
sight Manabozho commenced, while he was yet far off, bowing and opening
wide his arms, in token of welcome; all of which the woodpecker returned
in due form, by ducking his bill, and hopping to right and left, upon the
ground, extending his wings to their full length and fluttering them back
to his breast.

When the woodpecker at last reached the lodge, Manabozho made various
remarks upon the weather, the appearance of the country, and especially
on the scarcity of game.

“But we,” he added, “we always have enough. Come in, and you shall not go
away hungry, my noble bird!”

Manabozho had always prided himself on being able to give as good as he
had received; and to be up with the woodpecker, he had shifted his lodge
so as to enclose a large dry tamarack-tree.

“What can I give you,” said he to the woodpecker; “but as we eat so shall
you eat.”

With this he hopped forward, and, jumping on the tamarack-tree, he
attempted to climb it just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his own
lodge. He turned his head first on one side, then on the other, in the
manner of the bird, meanwhile striving to go up, and as often slipping
down. Ever and anon he would strike the tree with his nose, as if it had
been a bill, and draw back, but he pulled out no raccoons; and he dashed
his nose so often against the trunk that at last the blood began to
flow, and he tumbled down senseless upon the ground.

The woodpecker started up with his drum and rattle to restore him, and by
beating them violently he succeeded in bringing him to.

As soon as he came to his senses, Manabozho began to lay the blame of his
failure upon his wife, saying to his guest:

“Nemesho, it is this woman-relation of yours—she is the cause of my not
succeeding. She has made me a worthless fellow. Before I took her I also
could get raccoons.”

The woodpecker said nothing, but flying on the tree he drew out several
fine raccoons.

“Here,” said he, “this is the way we do!” and left him in disdain,
carrying his bill high in the air, and stepping over the door-sill as if
it were not worthy to be touched by his toes.

After this visit, Manabozho was sitting in the lodge one day with his
head down. He heard the wind whistling round it, and thought that by
attentively listening he could hear the voice of some one speaking to
him. It seemed to say to him:

“Great chief, why are you sorrowful? Am not I your friend—your guardian

Manabozho immediately took up his rattle, and without rising from the
ground where he was sitting, began to sing the chant which has at every
close the refrain of, “Wha lay le aw.”

When he had dwelt for a long time on this peculiar chant, which he had
been used to sing in all his times of trouble, he laid his rattle aside
and determined to fast. For this purpose he went to a cave which faced
the setting sun, and built a very small fire, near which he lay down,
first telling his wife that neither she nor the children must come near
him till he had finished his fast.

At the end of seven days he came back to the lodge, pale and thin,
looking like a spirit himself, and as if he had seen spirits. His wife
had in the meantime dug through the snow and got a few of the plants
called truffles. These she boiled and set before him, and this was all
the food they had or seemed likely to obtain.

When he had finished his light repast, Manabozho took up his station in
the door to see what would happen. As he stood thus, holding in his hand
his large bow, with a quiver well filled with arrows, a deer glided past
along the far edge of the prairie but it was miles away, and no shaft
that Manabozho could shoot would be able to touch it.

Presently a cry came down the air, and looking up he beheld a great
flight of birds, but they were so far up in the sky that he would have
lost his arrows in a vain attempt among the clouds.

Still he stood watchful, and confident that some turn of luck was about
to occur, when there came near to the lodge two hunters, who bore between
them, on poles upon their shoulders, a bear, and it was so fine and fat
a bear that it was as much as the two hunters could do with all their
strength to carry it.

As they came to the lodge-door, one of the hunters asked if Manabozho
lived thereabout.

“He is here,” answered Manabozho.

“I have often heard of you,” said the first hunter, “and I was curious to
see you. But you have lost your magical power. Do you know whether any of
it is left?”

Manabozho answered that he was himself in the dark on the subject.

“Suppose you make a trial,” said the hunter.

“What shall I do?” asked Manabozho.

“There is my friend,” said the hunter, pointing to his companion, “who
with me owns this bear which we are carrying home. Suppose you see if you
can change him into a piece of rock.”

“Very well,” said Manabozho; and he had scarcely spoken before the other
hunter became a rock.

“Now change him back again,” said the first hunter.

“That I can’t do,” Manabozho answered; “there my power ends.”

The hunter looked at the rock with a bewildered face.

“What shall I do?” he asked. “This bear I can never carry alone, and it
was agreed between my friend there and myself that we should not divide
it till we reached home. Can’t you change my friend back, Manabozho?”

“I would like to oblige you,” answered Manabozho, “but it is utterly out
of my power.”

With this, looking again at the rock with a sad and bewildered face, and
then casting a sorrowful glance at the bear, which lay by the door of the
lodge, the hunter took his leave, bewailing bitterly at heart the loss of
his friend and his bear.

He was scarcely out of sight when Manabozho sent the children to get red
willow sticks. Of these he cut off as many pieces of equal length as
would serve to invite his friends among the beasts and birds to a feast.
A red stick was sent to each one, not forgetting the woodpecker and his

When they arrived they were astonished to see such an abundance of meat
prepared for them at such a time of scarcity. Manabozho understood their
glance, and was proud of a chance to make such a display.

“Akewazi,” he said to the oldest of the party, “the weather is very
cold, and the snow lasts a long time; we can kill nothing now but small
squirrels, and they are all black; and I have sent for you to help me eat
some of them.”

The woodpecker was the first to try a mouthful of the bear’s meat, but he
had no sooner begun to taste it than it changed into a dry powder, and
set him coughing. It appeared as bitter as ashes.

The moose was affected in the same way, and it brought on such a dry
cough as to shake every bone in his body.

One by one, each in turn joined the company of coughers, except Manabozho
and his family, to whom the bear’s meat proved very savory.

But the visitors had too high a sense of what was due to decorum and
good manners to say anything. The meat looked very fine, and being keenly
set and strongly tempted by its promising look, they thought they would
try more of it. The more they ate the faster they coughed, and the louder
became the uproar, until Manabozho, exerting the magical gift which he
found he retained, changed them all into squirrels; and to this day
the squirrel suffers from the same dry cough which was brought on by
attempting to sup off of Manabozho’s ashen bear’s meat.

And ever after this transformation, when Manabozho lacked provisions for
his family, he would hunt the squirrel, a supply of which never failed
him, so that he was always sure to have a number of his friends present
in this shape at the banquet.

The rock into which he changed the hunter, and so became possessed of
the bear, and thus laid the foundations of his good fortune, ever after
remained by his lodge-door, and it was called the Game-Bag of Manabozho,
the Mischief-Maker.


(_Micmac and Passamaquoddy_)

Now when Glooskap left Uktukamkw, or Newfoundland, it was in a canoe, and
he came to Piktook (M. for Pictou), which means the bubbling up of air,
because there is much bubbling in the water near that place. And here
there was an Indian village, and in that place the Master met with a man
whom he loved all his life.

And this was not because this man, whose name in Micmac is Mikchich and
in Passamaquoddy Chick-we-notchk, meaning the Turtle, was great, or well
favored, or rich. For truly he was none of these, being very poor and
lazy, no longer young, and not very clever or wise in any way. It is
said that he was indeed Glooskap’s uncle, but others think that this was
by adoption. However, this old fellow bore all his wants with such good
nature that the Master, taking him in great affection, resolved to make
of him a mighty man. Which came to pass, and that in a strange manner, as
we shall see.

For coming to Piktook, where there were above a hundred wigwams,
Glooskap, being a very handsome, stately man, with the manner of a great
chief, was much admired, and that not a little by all the women, so that
every one wished to have him in the house. Yet he gave them all the
go-by, and dwelt with his old uncle, in whose quaint ways and old time
stories he took great delight. And there was to be a great feast with
games, but Glooskap did not care to go, either as a guest or a performer
in the play.

Still he inquired of Mikchich if he would not take part in it, telling
him that all the maidens would be there, and asking him why he had never
married, and saying that he should not live alone. Then the uncle said,
“Poor and old and plain am I; I have not even garments fit for a feast;
better were it for me to smoke my pipe at home.” “Truly, if that be all,
uncle,” replied Glooskap, “I trow I can turn tailor and fit you to a
turn; and have no care as to your outside or your face, for to him who
knows how, ’tis as easy to make a man over as a suit of clothes.” “Yes;
but, nephew,” said Mikchich, “how say you as to making over the inside of
a mortal?” “By the great Beaver!” answered the Master, “that is something
harder to do, else I were not so long at work in this world. But before
I leave this town I shall do that also for you; and as for this present
sport, do but put on my belt.” And when he had done that, Mikchich became
so young and handsome that no man or woman ever saw the like. And then
Glooskap dressed him in his own best clothes, and promised him that
to the end of his days, whenever he should be a man, he would be the
comeliest of men; and because he was patient and tough, he should, as an
animal, become the hardest to kill of all creatures on the face of the
earth, as it came to pass.

So Mikchich went to the feast. Now the chief of Piktook had three
beautiful daughters, and the youngest was the loveliest in the land. And
on her he cast his eyes, and returning said, “I have seen one whom I
want.” Now all the young men in Piktook desired this girl, and would kill
any one who would win her.

So the next day Glooskap, taking a bunch of _wawbap_ (P., wampum), went
to the chief and proposed for Mikchich, and the mother at once said
“Yes.” So the girl made up a bed of fresh twigs and covered it with a
great white bear-skin, and went to Mikchich, and they returned and had
dried meat for supper. So they were married.

Now Turtle seemed to be very lazy, and when others hunted he lounged
at home. One day his young wife said to him that if this went on thus
they must soon starve. So he put on his snow-shoes and went forth, and
she followed him to see what he would do. And he had not gone far ere
he tripped and fell down, and the girl, returning, told her mother that
he was worthless. But the mother said, “He will do something yet. Be

One day it came to pass that Glooskap said to Mikchich, “To-morrow there
will be a great game at ball, and you must play. But because you have
made yourself enemies of all the young men here, they will seek to slay
you, by crowding altogether and trampling upon you. And when they do this
it will be by your father-in-law’s lodge, and to escape them I give you
the power to jump high over it. This you may do twice, but the third time
will be terrible for you, and yet it must be.”

All this happened as he foretold; for the young men indeed tried to take
his life, and to escape them Mikchich jumped over the lodge, so that he
seemed like a bird flying. But the third time he did this he was caught
on the top of the tent-poles, and hung there dangling in the smoke which
rose from below.

Then Glooskap, who was seated in the tent, said, “Uncle, I will now make
you the _sogmo_, or great chief of the Tortoises, and you shall bear up
a great nation.” Then he smoked Mikchich so long that his skin became a
hard shell, and the marks of the smoke may be seen thereon to this day.
And removing his entrails he destroyed them, so that but one short one
was left. And he cried aloud, “_Milooks!_ (M.) My nephew, you will kill
me!” But the nephew replied, “Not so. I am giving you great life. From
this time you may roll through a flame and never feel it, and live on
land or in the water. And though your head be cut off, it will live for
nine days, and your heart, even, shall beat as long when taken from your
body.” So Mikchich rejoiced greatly.

And this came betimes, for he soon had need of it all. For the next day
all the men went on a hunt, and the Master warned him that they would
seek to slay him. Now the young men went on before, and Turtle lingered
behind; but all at once he made a magic flight far over their heads,
unseen, and deep in the forest he slew a moose. Then he drew this to the
snow-shoe track or road, and when his foes came up there he sat upon the
moose, smoking, and waiting for them. Now Glooskap had told them that
they would see some one come out ahead of them all that day, and when
this came to pass they were more angered in their hearts than ever.

So they plotted to kill Turtle, and his nephew, who was about to leave,
told him how it would be. “First of all, they will build a mighty fire
and throw you in it. But do thou, O uncle, go cheerfully, for by my power
thou wilt in no wise suffer. Then they will speak of drowning, but thou
must beg and pray that this may not be; and then they will the more seek
to do so, and thou shalt fight them to the bitter end, and yet it shall

And as he said, so it came to pass; and Mikchich, being of good cheer,
bade farewell to his nephew. And they seized him and threw him into a
great fire, but he turned over and went to sleep in it, being very lazy;
and when the fire had burnt out he awoke, and called for more wood,
because it was a cold night.

Then they seized him yet again, and spoke of drowning. But, hearing this,
he, as if he were in mortal dread, begged them not to do this thing. And
he said they might cut him to pieces, or burn him, as they would, but
not to throw him into the water. Therefore they resolved to do so, and
dragged him on. Then he screamed horribly and fought lustily, and tore
up trees and roots and rocks like a madman; but they took him into a
canoe and paddled out into the middle of the lake (or to the sea), and,
throwing him in, watched him sink as he vanished far down below. So they
thought him dead, and returned rejoicing.

Now the next day at noon there was a hot sunshine, and something was seen
basking on a great rock, about a mile out in the lake. So two young men
took a canoe and went forth to see what this might be. And when they came
to the edge of the rock, which was about a foot high, there lay Mikchich
sunning himself; but seeing them coming to take him, he only said,
“Good-by,” and rolled over plump into the water, where he is living to
this day. In memory whereof all turtles, when they see any one coming,
tip tilt themselves over into the water at once.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the following Hindoo story of “Punchkin” you will see the expression
of the primitive notion that the life of a person may be bound up in some
external object. Invention runs riot in the attempts to make this object
as inaccessible as possible. There is the Norse story of the “Giant who
had no Heart in his Body,” who finally tells the lovely princess he
keeps in bondage that “Far, far away in a lake lies an island; on that
island stands a church; in that church is a well; in that well swims a
duck; in that duck there is an egg; and in that egg there lies my heart,
you darling.” The hero, of course, goes and finds the giant’s heart,
and so kills him, and rescues the princess. There is also the story of
the little Hindoo princess, called Sodawa Bai, whose soul was in the
beautiful golden necklace she was born with around her neck, and who died
when another princess who hated her finally took it off.


(_A Hindoo Story_)

Once upon a time there was a Rajah who had seven beautiful daughters.
They were all good girls; but the youngest, named Balna, was more clever
than the rest. The Rajah’s wife died when they were quite little
children, so these seven poor princesses were left with no mother to take
care of them.

The Rajah’s daughters took it by turns to cook their father’s dinner
every day, whilst he was absent deliberating with his ministers on the
affairs of the nation.

About this time the Purdan died, leaving a widow and one daughter; and
every day, when the seven princesses were preparing their father’s
dinner, the Purdan’s widow and daughter would come and beg for a little
fire from the hearth. Then Balna used to say to her sisters, “Send that
woman away; send her away. Let her get the fire at her own house. What
does she want with ours? If we allow her to come here we shall suffer
for it some day.” But the other sisters would answer, “Be quiet, Balna;
why must you always be quarrelling with this poor woman? Let her take
some fire if she likes.” Then the Purdan’s widow used to go to the hearth
and take a few sticks from it; and, whilst no one was looking, she would
quickly throw some mud into the midst of the dishes which were being
prepared for the Rajah’s dinner.

Now the Rajah was very fond of his daughters. Ever since their mother’s
death they had cooked his dinner with their own hands, in order to avoid
the danger of his being poisoned by his enemies. So, when he found
the mud mixed up with his dinner, he thought it must arise from their
carelessness, as it appeared improbable that any one should have put mud
there on purpose; but being very kind, he did not like to reprove them
for it, although this spoiling of the curry was repeated many successive

At last, one day, he determined to hide and watch his daughters cooking
and see how it all happened; so he went into the next room, and watched
them through a hole in the wall.

There he saw his seven daughters carefully washing the rice and preparing
the curry, and as each dish was completed they put it by the fire ready
to be cooked. Next he noticed the Purdan’s widow come to the door, and
beg for a few sticks from the fire to cook her dinner with. Balna turned
to her, angrily, and said, “Why don’t you keep fuel in your own house and
not come here every day and take ours? Sisters, don’t give this woman any
more; let her buy it for herself.”

Then the eldest sister answered, “Balna, let the poor woman take the wood
and the fire; she does us no harm.” But Balna replied, “If you let her
come here so often, maybe she will do us some harm, and make us sorry for
it, some day.”

The Rajah then saw the Purdan’s widow go to the place where all his
dinner was nicely prepared, and, as she took the wood, she threw a little
mud into each of the dishes.

At this he was very angry, and sent to have the woman seized and brought
before him. But when the widow came, she told him that she had played
this trick because she wanted to gain an audience with him; and she spoke
so cleverly, and pleased him so well with her cunning words, that instead
of punishing her the Rajah married her, and made her his Ranee, and she
and her daughter came to live in the palace.

The new Ranee hated the seven poor princesses, and wanted to get them, if
possible, out of the way, in order that her daughter might have all their
riches and live in the palace as princess in their place; and instead of
being grateful to them for their kindness to her, she did all she could
to make them miserable. She gave them nothing but bread to eat, and very
little of that, and very little water to drink; so these seven poor
little princesses, who had been accustomed to have everything comfortable
about them, and good food and good clothes all their lives long, were
very miserable and unhappy; and they used to go out every day and sit by
their dead mother’s tomb and cry; and used to say, “Oh mother, mother,
cannot you see your poor children, how unhappy we are, and how we are
starved by our cruel step-mother?”

One day, whilst they were sobbing and crying, lo and behold! a beautiful
pomelo tree grew up out of the grave, covered with fresh ripe pomeloes,
and the children satisfied their hunger by eating some of the fruit; and
every day after this, instead of trying to eat the nasty dinner their
step-mother provided for them, they used to go out to their mother’s
grave and eat the pomeloes which grew there on the beautiful tree.

Then the Ranee said to her daughter, “I cannot tell how it is; every day
those seven girls say they don’t want any dinner, and won’t eat any, and
yet they never grow thin nor look ill; they look better than you do. I
cannot tell how it is;” and she bade her watch the seven princesses and
see if any one gave them anything to eat.

So next day, when the princesses went to their mother’s grave, and were
eating the beautiful pomeloes, the Purdan’s daughter followed them and
saw them gathering the fruit.

Then Balna said to her sisters, “Do you see that girl watching us? Let us
drive her away or hide the pomeloes, else she will go and tell her mother
all about it, and that will be very bad for us.”

But the other sisters said, “Oh, no, do not be unkind, Balna. The girl
would never be so cruel as to tell her mother. Let us rather invite her
to come and have some of the fruit;” and calling her to them, they gave
her one of the pomeloes.

No sooner had she eaten it, however, than the Purdan’s daughter went home
and said to her mother, “I do not wonder the seven princesses will not
eat the nasty dinner you prepare for them, for by their mother’s grave
there grows a beautiful pomelo tree, and they go there every day and eat
the pomeloes. I ate one, and it was the nicest I have ever tasted.”

The cruel Ranee was much vexed at hearing this, and all next day she
stayed in her room, and told the Rajah that she had a very bad headache.
The Rajah at hearing this was deeply grieved, and said to his wife,
“What can I do for you?” She answered, “There is only one thing that
will make my headache well. By your dead wife’s tomb there grows a fine
pomelo tree; you must bring that here, and boil it, root and branch, and
put a little of the water in which it has been boiled on my forehead,
and that will cure my headache.” So the Rajah sent his servants, and had
the beautiful pomelo tree pulled up by the roots, and did as the Ranee
desired; and when some of the water in which it had been boiled was put
on her forehead she said her headache was gone and she felt quite well.

Next day, when the seven princesses went as usual to the grave of their
mother, the pomelo tree had disappeared. Then they all began to cry very

Now there was by the Ranee’s tomb a small tank, and as they were crying
they saw that the tank was filled with a rich, cream-like substance,
which quickly hardened into a thick white cake. At seeing this all the
princesses were very glad, and they ate some of the cake, and liked it;
and next day the same thing happened, and so it went on for many days.
Every morning the princesses went to their mother’s grave, and found
the little tank filled with nourishing, cream-like cake. Then the cruel
step-mother said to her daughter, “I cannot tell how it is; I have had
the pomelo tree which used to grow by the Ranee’s grave destroyed, and
yet the princesses grow no thinner, nor look more sad, though they never
eat the dinner I give them. I cannot tell how it is!”

And her daughter said, “I will watch.”

Next day, while the princesses were eating the cream cake, who should
come by but their step-mother’s daughter. Balna saw her first, and said,
“See, sisters, there comes that girl again. Let us sit round the edge of
the tank, and not allow her to see it; for if we give her some of our
cake she will go and tell her mother, and that will be very unfortunate
for us.”

The other sisters, however, thought Balna unnecessarily suspicious, and
instead of following her advice they gave the Purdan’s daughter some of
the cake, and she went home and told her mother all about it.

The Ranee, on hearing how well the princesses fared, was exceedingly
angry, and sent her servants to pull down the dead Ranee’s tomb and fill
the little tank with the ruins. And not content with this, she next day
pretended to be very, very ill—in fact, at the point of death; and when
the Rajah was much grieved, and asked her whether it was in his power
to procure her any remedy, she said to him, “Only one thing can save my
life, but I know you will not do it.” He replied, “Yes, whatever it is,
I will do it.” She then said, “To save my life, you must kill the seven
daughters of your first wife, and put some of their blood on my forehead
and on the palms of my hands, and their death will be my life.” At these
words the Rajah was very sorrowful; but because he feared to break his
word, he went out with a heavy heart to find his daughters.

He found them crying by the ruins of their mother’s grave.

Then, feeling he could not kill them, the Rajah spoke kindly to them, and
told them to come out into the jungle with him; and there he made a fire
and cooked some rice, and gave it to them. But in the afternoon, it being
very hot, the seven princesses all fell asleep, and when he saw they
were fast asleep the Rajah, their father, stole away and left them (for
he feared his wife), saying to himself, “It is better my poor daughters
should die here than be killed by their step-mother.”

He then shot a deer, and returning home, put some of the blood on the
forehead and hands of the Ranee, and she thought then that he had really
killed the princesses and said she felt quite well.

Meantime the seven princesses awoke, and when they found themselves all
alone in the thick jungle they were much frightened, and began to call
out as loud as they could, in hopes of making their father hear; but he
was by that time far away, and would not have been able to hear them,
even had their voices been as loud as thunder.

It so happened that this very day the seven young sons of a neighboring
Rajah chanced to be hunting in the same jungle, and as they were
returning home after the day’s sport was over, the youngest prince said
to his brothers: “Stop, I think I hear some one crying and calling out.
Do you not hear voices? Let us go in the direction of the sound, and try
and find out what it is.”

So the seven princes rode through the wood until they came to the place
where the seven princesses sat crying and wringing their hands. At the
sight of them the young princes were very much astonished, and still more
so on learning their story; and they settled that each should take one of
these poor forlorn ladies home with him and marry her.

So the first and eldest prince took the eldest princess home with him and
married her.

And the second took the second;

And the third took the third;

And the fourth took the fourth;

And the fifth took the fifth;

And the sixth took the sixth;

And the seventh, and handsomest of all, took the beautiful Balna.

And when they got to their own land there was great rejoicing throughout
the kingdom at the marriage of the seven young princes to seven such
beautiful princesses.

About a year after this Balna had a little son, and his uncles and aunts
were so fond of the boy that it was as if he had seven fathers and seven
mothers. None of the other princes or princesses had any children, so the
son of the seventh prince and Balna was acknowledged their heir by all
the rest.

They had thus lived very happily for some time, when one fine day the
seventh prince (Balna’s husband) said he would go out hunting, and away
he went; and they waited long for him, but he never came back.

Then his six brothers said they would go and see what had become of him;
and they went away, but they also did not return.

And the seven princesses grieved very much, for they felt sure their kind
husbands must have been killed.

One day, not long after this had happened, as Balna was rocking her
baby’s cradle, and whilst her sisters were working in the room below,
there came to the palace door a man in a long black dress, who said that
he was a Fakir, and came to beg. The servants said to him, “You cannot go
into the palace—the Rajah’s sons have all gone away; we think they must
be dead, and their widows cannot be interrupted by your begging.” But he
said, “I am a holy man; you must let me in.” Then the stupid servants let
him walk through the palace, but they did not know that this man was no
Fakir, but a wicked magician named Punchkin.

Punchkin Fakir wandered through the palace, and saw many beautiful things
there, till at last he reached the room where Balna sat singing beside
her little boy’s cradle. The magician thought her more beautiful than all
the other beautiful things he had seen, insomuch that he asked her to go
home with him and to marry him. But she said, “My husband, I fear, is
dead, but my little boy is still quite young; I will stay here and teach
him to grow up a clever man, and when he is grown up he shall go out
into the world, and try and learn tidings of his father. Heaven forbid
that I should ever leave him or marry you.” At these words the magician
was very angry, and turned her into a little black dog, and led her away,
saying, “Since you will not come with me of your own free will, I will
make you.” So the poor princess was dragged away, without any power of
effecting an escape, or of letting her sisters know what had become of
her. As Punchkin passed through the palace gate the servants said to him,
“Where did you get that pretty little dog?” And he answered, “One of the
princesses gave it to me as a present.” At hearing which they let him go
without further questioning.

Soon after this the six elder princesses heard the little baby, their
nephew, begin to cry, and when they went upstairs they were much
surprised to find him all alone, and Balna nowhere to be seen. Then they
questioned the servants, and when they heard of the Fakir and the little
black dog they guessed what had happened, and sent in every direction
seeking them, but neither the Fakir nor the dog was to be found. What
could six poor women do? They had to give up all hopes of ever seeing
their kind husbands and their sister and her husband again, and they
devoted themselves thenceforward to teaching and taking care of their
little nephew.

Thus time went on, till Balna’s son was fourteen years old. Then one
day his aunts told him the history of the family; and no sooner did he
hear it than he was seized with a great desire to go in search of his
father and mother and uncles, and bring them home again if he could find
them alive. His aunts, on learning his determination, were much alarmed
and tried to dissuade him, saying, “We have lost our husbands, and our
sister and her husband, and you are now our sole hope; if you go away,
what shall we do?” But he replied, “I pray you not to be discouraged; I
shall return soon, and, if it is possible, bring my father and mother and
uncles with me.” So he set out on his travels, but for some months he
could learn nothing to help him in his search.

At last, after he had journeyed many hundreds of weary miles, and become
almost hopeless of ever being able to hear anything further of his
parents, he one day came to a country which seemed full of stones and
rocks and trees, and there he saw a large palace with a high tower; hard
by which was a Malee’s little house.

As he was looking about, the Malee’s wife saw him, and ran out of the
house and said, “My dear boy, who are you that dare venture to this
dangerous place?” And he answered, “I am a Rajah’s son, and I come in
search of my father and my uncles and my mother whom a wicked enchanter
bewitched.” Then the Malee’s wife said, “This country and this palace
belong to a great enchanter; he is all-powerful, and if any one
displeases him, he can turn them into stones and trees. All the rocks and
trees you see here were living people once, and the magician turned them
to what they now are. Some time ago a Rajah’s son came here, and shortly
afterward came his six brothers, and they were all turned into stones and
trees; and these are not the only unfortunate ones, for up in that tower
lives a beautiful princess, whom the magician has kept prisoner there for
twelve years, because she hates him and will not marry him.”

Then the little prince thought, “These must be my parents and my uncles.
I have found what I seek at last.” So he told his story to the Malee’s
wife, and begged her to help him to remain in that place a while, and
inquire further concerning the unhappy people she mentioned; and she
promised to befriend him, and advised his disguising himself, lest the
magician should see him, and turn him likewise into stone. To this
the prince agreed. So the Malee’s wife dressed him up in a saree, and
pretended that he was her daughter.

One day, not long after this, as the magician was walking in his garden,
he saw the little girl (as he thought) playing about, and he asked her
who she was. She told him she was the Malee’s daughter, and the magician
said, “You are a pretty little girl, and to-morrow you shall take a
present of flowers from me to the beautiful lady who lives in the tower.”

The young prince was much delighted at hearing this, and after some
consultation with the Malee’s wife, he settled that it would be more safe
for him to retain his disguise, and trust to the chance of a favorable
opportunity for establishing some communication with his mother, if it
were indeed she.

Now it happened that at Balna’s marriage her husband had given her a
small gold ring on which her name was engraved, and she put it on her
little son’s finger when he was a baby, and afterward when he was older,
his aunts had had it enlarged for him, so that he was still able to wear
it. The Malee’s wife advised him to fasten the well-known treasure to one
of the bouquets he presented to his mother, and trust to her recognizing
it. This was not to be done without difficulty, as such a strict watch
was kept over the poor princess (for fear of her ever establishing
communication with her friends) that though the supposed Malee’s daughter
was permitted to take her flowers every day, the magician or one of his
slaves was always in the room at the same time. At last one day, however,
opportunity favored him and when no one was looking the boy tied the ring
to a nosegay and threw it at Balna’s feet. The ring fell with a clang on
the floor, and Balna, looking to see what made the strange sound, found
the little ring tied to the flowers. On recognizing it, she at once
believed the story her son told her of his long search, and begged him to
advise her as to what she had better do; at the same time entreating him
on no account to endanger his life by trying to rescue her. She told him
that for twelve long years the magician had kept her shut up in the tower
because she refused to marry him, and she was so closely guarded that she
saw no hope of release.

Now Balna’s son was a bright, clever boy; so he said, “Do not fear, dear
mother; the first thing to do is to discover how far the magician’s power
extends, in order that we may be able to liberate my father and uncles,
whom he has imprisoned in the form of rocks and trees. You have spoken to
him angrily for twelve long years; do you now rather speak kindly. Tell
him you have given up all hopes of again seeing the husband you have so
long mourned, and say you are willing to marry him. Then endeavor to find
out what his power consists in, and whether he is immortal or can be put
to death.”

Balna determined to take her son’s advice; and the next day sent for
Punchkin and spoke to him as had been suggested.

The magician, greatly delighted, begged her to allow the wedding to take
place as soon as possible.

But she told him that before she married him he must allow her a little
more time in which she might make his acquaintance, and that, after being
enemies so long, their friendship could but strengthen by degrees. “And
do tell me,” she said, “are you quite immortal? Can death never touch
you? And are you too great an enchanter ever to feel human suffering?”

“Why do you ask?” said he.

“Because,” she replied, “if I am to be your wife I would fain know all
about you, in order, if any calamity threatens you, to overcome, or, if
possible, to avert it.”

“It is true,” he said, “that I am not as others. Far, far away, hundreds
of thousands of miles from this, there lies a desolate country covered
with thick jungle. In the midst of the jungle grows a circle of palm
trees, and in the center of the circle stand six chattees full of water,
piled one above another; below the sixth chattee is a small cage which
contains a little green parrot; on the life of the parrot depends my
life, and if the parrot is killed I must die. It is, however,” he added,
“impossible that the parrot should sustain any injury, both on account of
the inaccessibility of the country and because, by my appointment, many
thousand evil genii surround the palm trees, and kill all who approach
the place.”

Balna told her son what Punchkin had said, but, at the same time,
implored him to give up all idea of getting the parrot.

The prince, however, replied, “Mother, unless I can get hold of that
parrot you and my father and uncles cannot be liberated: be not afraid,
I will shortly return. Do you, meantime, keep the magician in good
humor—still putting off your marriage with him on various pretexts; and
before he finds out the cause of delay I will return.” So saying he went

Many, many weary miles did he travel, till at last he came to a thick
jungle, and being very tired, sat down under a tree and fell asleep.
He was awakened by a soft rustling sound, and, looking about him, saw
a large serpent which was making its way to an eagle’s nest built in
the tree under which he lay, and in the nest were two young eagles. The
prince, seeing the danger of the young birds, drew his sword and killed
the serpent; at the same moment a rushing sound was heard in the air, and
the two old eagles, who had been out hunting for food for their young
ones, returned. They quickly saw the dead serpent and the young prince
standing over it; and the old mother eagle said to him, “Dear boy, for
many years all our young have been devoured by that cruel serpent: you
have now saved the lives of our children; whenever you are in need,
therefore, send to us and we will help you; and as for these little
eagles, take them, and let them be your servants.”

At this the prince was very glad, and the two eaglets crossed their
wings, on which he mounted; and they carried him far, far away over the
thick jungles until he came to the place where grew the circle of palm
trees in the midst of which stood the six chattees full of water. It was
the middle of the day. All around the trees were the genii fast asleep;
nevertheless, there were such countless thousands of them that it would
have been quite impossible for any one to walk through their ranks to the
place. Down swooped the strong-winged eaglets—down jumped the prince; in
an instant he had overthrown the six chattees full of water, and seized
the little green parrot, which he rolled up in his cloak; while, as he
mounted again into the air, all the genii below awoke, and, finding
their treasure gone, set up a wild and melancholy howl.

Away, away flew the little eagles till they came to their home in the
great tree; then the prince said to the old eagles, “Take back your
little ones; they have done me good service; if ever again I stand in
need of help I shall not fail to come to you.” He then continued his
journey on foot till he arrived once more at the magician’s palace, where
he sat down at the door and began playing with the parrot. The magician
saw him, and came to him quickly and said, “My boy, where did you get
that parrot? Give it to me, I pray you.” But the prince answered, “Oh,
no, I cannot give away my parrot; it is a great pet of mine; I have had
it many years.” Then the magician said, “If it is an old favorite, I can
understand you not caring to give it away; but come, what will you sell
it for?” “Sir,” replied the prince, “I will not sell my parrot.”

Then the magician got frightened and said, “Anything, anything; name what
price you will, and it shall be yours.” “Then,” the prince answered, “I
will that you liberate the Rajah’s seven sons whom you turned into rocks
and trees.” “It is done as you desire,” said the magician, “only give
me my parrot” (and with that, by a stroke of his wand, Balna’s husband
and his brothers resumed their natural shapes). “Now give me my parrot,”
repeated Punchkin. “Not so fast, my master,” rejoined the prince; “I must
first beg that you restore to life all whom you have thus imprisoned.”

The magician immediately waved his wand again; and whilst he cried in an
imploring voice, “Give me my parrot!” the whole garden became suddenly
alive: where rocks and stones and trees had been before, stood Rajahs and
Punts and Sirdars, and mighty men on prancing horses, and jewelled pages
and troops of armed attendants.

“Give me my parrot!” cried Punchkin. Then the boy took hold of the parrot
and tore off one of its wings; and as he did so the magician’s right arm
fell off.

Punchkin then stretched out his left arm, crying “Give me my parrot!” The
prince pulled off the parrot’s second wing, and the magician’s left arm
tumbled off.

“Give me my parrot!” cried he, and fell on his knees. The prince pulled
off the parrot’s right leg—the magician’s right leg fell off; the prince
pulled off the parrot’s left leg—down fell the magician’s left.

Nothing remained of him save the limbless body and the head; but still
he rolled his eyes, and cried, “Give me my parrot!” “Take your parrot,
then,” cried the boy, and with that he wrung the bird’s neck and threw
it at the magician; and as he did so, Punchkin’s head twisted round, and
with a fearful groan he died!

Then they let Balna out of the tower; and she, her son, and the seven
princes went to their own country, and lived very happily ever afterward.
And as to the rest of the world, every one went to his own house.



All the stories so far have reflected primitive man’s way of thinking and
acting. Passing now to more developed phases of life, we are confronted
in myths by such an array of animals—definite personifications of natural
phenomena—that no possible ark would hold these cosmical monsters.

Now if we imagine ourselves off for a hunt for some of these animals
in the mythology of people no longer primitive but with a considerable
degree of culture, we shall find ourselves rewarded to the full in the
myths of India. The ancient Hindoo revels in animal cosmic myths. The
sky seems to be in his imagination one vast pasture land for cows and
bulls, though frequently it is turned into a battle-ground because of
the incursions of an evil serpent who has a predilection for carrying
off cows. These tremendous dramas in the imaginative sky of the Hindoo
are a magnified reflection of the state of affairs existing upon the
earth. Cosmic cattle would be expected to be more glorious than mundane
cattle, yet we see through these myths how important the cow was to the
existence of the Hindoo.[3] To increase the number of cows, to render
them fruitful in milk and prolific in calves, to have them well looked
after, is the dream, the ideal of the ancient Hindoo. His worst enemy,
therefore, is he that robs him of his cows, while his best friend would
be he who rescues the cows from the robber.

The dewy moon, the dawn, the watery cloud, in fact, the entire vault of
heaven which gives the benignant and quickening rain as cows give their
milk, are all personified as the beneficent Cow of Abundance.

The great and awful ruler of all these cows is the God Indra, who rides
in a car to which are harnessed magnificent bay steeds. Sometimes he is
called a Bull and sometimes he is said to roar like a Bull.

From the hymns of the “Rig Veda,” probably three or four thousand years
old, many of which were written in honor of Indra, may be gathered the
characteristics of Indra and these remarkable cattle. In her cloudy
aspects, this cow of the sky was called the spotted one, and was said
to be the mother of the storm winds or Maruts, while Indra, who hides
himself in thunder-clouds is the Bull of Bulls, invincible son of a
cow that bellows like the Maruts. This terrible creature bellows and
shows his strength as he sharpens his horns, who is able of himself to
overthrow all peoples. His horns are the lightning, and he is sometimes
said to have a thousand of them. With all these animals prancing about in
the sky, there is a fine opportunity for brilliant onslaughts upon the
enemy who steals the cows. Indra with his thunder-bolts and the Maruts
with their winds are the leaders on one side, while in the hostile camp
will be found a horrid monster called by different names, such as Valas,
Vritras, Cushnas, meaning the enemy, black one, thief, serpent, wolf, or
wild boar. This awful being generally seems to throw down the gauntlet
by stealing the cows of Indra and imprisoning them in a dark and dismal
cavern in the clouds. Then an exciting battle follows; Indra bellows,
the thunder-bolt bellows, the Maruts bellow, and ascend the rock, now
by their own efforts making the sonorous stone, the rock mountain fall;
now, with the iron edge of their rolling chariots violently splitting the
mountain; then the valiant hero, Indra, beloved by the gods, moves the
stone; he hears the cows, by aid of the Maruts he finds the cows hidden
in the cavern. Furnished with an arm of stone he opens the grotto of
Valas, who keeps the cows; he vanquishes, kills or pursues the thieves in
battle. We may see this battle every time there is a thunder-storm, the
lightning often leaps between the clouds, and the thunder roars before
the rain falls, but when there comes the heavy downpour of rain, the
ancient Hindoo would compare it to the refreshing milk of the cows which
have been rescued by Indra.

Horses are also important animals in Hindoo myths. The Asvins, who gallop
across the sky from morning till night, are sometimes called the sons of
the Sun and the Dawn and sometimes they are called the steeds of Indra.
They are described in the hymns of the “Rig Veda” as full of life, having
eyes like the sun, drawing the chariot with the golden yoke, the two most
rapid ones, who carry Indra as every day they carry the sun. They are as
two rays of the sun, which illumine the sky with manes the color of a
peacock, bridled sixty times, beneficent, winged, indefatigable, resolute
destroyers of enemies.

The Hindoo deities all have animals on which they ride, called Vahans
or Vehicles; thus, Indra sometimes rides an elephant, Siva, a bull,
Durga, a tiger, and so on. These all share in the honors of worship
accorded to their riders. These vehicles of the gods were probably once
impersonations of the gods themselves, or animals into which they changed
themselves as they do in the primitive myths with which we are already

The cow does not seem to have been a Vahan for any of the gods. She was
too much of a goddess in her own right, shown by the fact that she was
regularly worshipped every year with great ceremony.

Egypt, however, was the land where animals received the greatest
reverence. We find there a complete archæological museum of mythological
animals. Cats and dogs, mice and crocodiles, birds and insects—all were
worshipped. So sacred did the Egyptians consider animals in general that
it was a capital crime if any of them were killed. Should an Ibis or a
Hawk be even accidentally killed, the unfortunate person who happened to
do it was put to death by the multitude without form of law. Even if a
cat died, everybody in the house cut off his eyebrows. Nothing, not even
the direst extremes of famine, could tempt an Egyptian to eat a sacred
animal. They would rather devour each other than this.

But of all the animals, the ox kind received the highest honors. Bulls
were occasionally sacrificed, but cows never. They were sacred to Isis,
the Moon Goddess. There were special individuals of the species, however,
who were looked upon with the utmost veneration. They were called Apis
and Mnevis. Apis was a black bull, but had a white star on his forehead,
the figure of an eagle on his back, a crescent on his right side, with a
knot under his tongue, resembling the Scarabeus or sacred beetle. Apis is
described as living twenty-five years, when he jumped into a well or into
the river Nile. Upon the discovery of a new Apis the Egyptians celebrated
a joyful festival.

According to an ancient account, as soon as a report had been spread
abroad that the Egyptian god had been brought to light, certain sacred
scribes, who were well versed in the mystic marks, which they had learned
by tradition, approached the divine calf. They fed it during four months
with milk, in a house that fronted the rising sun. After this the sacred
scribes carried him in a vessel prepared for the purpose to Memphis,
where he had a convenient and delightful abode, with pleasure grounds
and ample space for salubrious exercise. Companions were provided for
him. He drank from a well or fountain of clean water.

Dances and festivities and joyful assemblies were held in honor of this
animal at the rising of the Nile, and the man from whose flock the
divine beast sprang was the happiest of mortals and was looked upon with
admiration by all the people. According to some, Apis was dedicated
to Isis or the Moon. Next to Apis the highest honors were paid to the
sacred bull of Heliopolis, called Mnevis. This bull was black and was
dedicated to Osiris. He was kept in a stable in the Temple of the Sun
and was worshipped as a god. The warring principle in nature, Typhon,
was identified with various hideous animals, such as the crocodile and
hippopotamus. The most sacred of beetles was the Scarabeus, the symbol
either of the sun or immortality. Even the higher gods were frequently
represented as animals, or in part animals, while to those gods imaged
in human form, like Osiris and Isis, animals were sacred. There was also
an important bird, which was itself mythical, called the Phœnix. This
wonderful bird was said to rise from time to time out of its own ashes.

Animals occupy a somewhat different position in Norse mythology. They are
also survivals, very likely, from an earlier stage of life when animals
were worshipped, but when we meet with them in the Norse myths they have
become symbols of the various ideas of mankind in regard to the mind and
spirit, and no longer appear simply as personifications of the events of
nature like Indra and the cows in Hindoo mythology.

The Norse gods appear galloping into view on their wonderful steeds
across the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, from Heaven to Earth. Their names are
very significant: Odin rides Sleipner; Heimdal, Goldtop. The other horses
are Glad (Bright), Gyller (Gilder), Gler (the Shining One), Skeidbrimer
(Fleetfoot), Silfrintop (Silvertop), Siner (Sinews), Gisl (the Sunbeam),
Falhofner (Palehoof), Letfet (Lightfoot).

Thor, the thunderer, unlike Indra, who often drove two bay steeds, had
no horse upon which to ride over the rainbow bridge. He would destroy it
with his thunder-bolts, so he had to wade through three rivers every day
in order to reach the council of the gods. Odin’s horse, Sleipner, is the
most wonderful—a genuine cosmic animal, with eight legs that symbolize
the eight winds of heaven.

The maiden Sol drove two gentle and beautiful steeds which were harnessed
to the car of the sun. She drove in great haste, for she as well as her
brother, who watches over the moon, are pursued by two wolves, by which
is probably meant eclipses of the sun and moon. Day and Night also drive
round the sky after each other. Night first with his steed Rine-fax.
Every morning, as he ends his course, Rine-fax bedews the earth with the
foam from his bit. Then Day follows with her steed, Shining-fax, from
whose mane all the sky and earth glisten. The god Frey rides on a boar
named Golden-bristle, and his sister, Freyja, the goddess of love, is
drawn by two cats.

The Midgard serpent or the worm which supported the earth with its tail
in its mouth, is another most interesting mythical animal, whose story
will be found in this chapter.

Finally, there is a Norse cow, still more remarkable than the Hindoo cow.
She was made of frozen vapor, and four rivers of milk ran from her and
fed the giant Yiner, or the earth. It is easy to recognize these rivers
of milk as mountain streams of melted snow. This poor cow had only rime
stones to live on, which she licked because of the salt. After she had
licked them for some time, two magical, godlike beings sprang out of the
stones and became the parents of Odin. The name of this strange cow was

In the Norse Heaven, Valhalla, there are two more strange animals. The
food of the Gods of Valhalla, Mead, is supplied by the milk of a she-goat
who feeds upon the leaves of an extraordinary tree. Upon this same tree
feeds a stag, and from his antlers fall so many drops of dew that water
is supplied to thirty-six rivers, twelve of which flow to the abodes of
the gods, twelve to the abodes of men, and twelve to Niflheim.

Fenris, the wolf, is another important animal who typifies evil.

Turning now to Greek mythology, we find that animals, on the whole,
play a subordinate part. Animals are sacrificed to the gods of Greece,
but they are not often worshipped. Many of the gods have more than one
animal sacred to them or sacrificed to them in their worship, and very
likely some of these animals, as in Indian mythology, were originally
worshipped. When the ideas of early mankind once began to develop it
would soon occur to them that human beings would be better impersonations
for their gods than animals, yet the animals, once having been sacred, it
would be very difficult to banish them altogether, hence they remained in
the more developed myths as animals sacred to gods in human form. Greek
myths, too, abound in transformations into animal form, Zeus (Roman name
Jupiter or Jove), the ruling god of heaven and earth, being especially
given to appearing on earth in the form of some animal. Gods of the
earth and sea were also often represented as half man, half animal, the
most famous of these being Pan, the god of the woods, who was half man,
half goat, and the mermaids, who had the bodies of women with fishes’
tails. Though not so prominent as in India, the sky is the pasture land
for flocks and herds in Greece, as you will see illustrated in the story
of Odysseus’s meeting with them. There are animals, also, which talk,
like the celebrated steeds of Achilles, described in the “Iliad.” In one
place they are pictured as weeping when they saw the Greek hero Patroclus
slain. As Pope translates this affecting scene:

                            “Along their face
    The big round drops cours’d down with silent pace
    Conglobing on the dust. Their manes that late
    Circled their arched necks and waved in state
    Trailed on the dust beneath the yoke, were spread,
    And prone to earth was hung their languid head.”

But even more marvellous was the time when Xanthus broke into speech and
warned his master of his approaching doom. It is quite in the manner of
an animal in a savage myth, but in the days of Homer’s “Iliad” thought
had advanced so far among the Greeks that the speech of this horse was
not regarded as a perfectly natural event as it would be in a savage
myth. It was Juno, the goddess, who willed that Xanthus should break
eternal silence and portentous speak. Achilles addresses his horses, and
Xanthus answers:

    “Xanthus and Balius! of Podarges’ strain;
    (Unless ye boast that heavenly race in vain)
    Be swift, be mindful of the load ye bear
    And learn to make your master more your care:
    Through falling squadrons bear my slaughtering sword,
    Nor, as ye left Patroclus, leave your lord.”
    The generous Xanthus, as the words he said,
    Seemed sensible of woe, and droop’d his head:
    Trembling he stood before the golden wain,
    And bow’d to dust the honors of his mane;
    When, strange to tell! (so Juno will’d) he broke
    Eternal silence, and portentous spoke:
    “Achilles! yes! this day at least we bear
    Thy rage in safety through the files of war:
    But come it will, the fatal time must come,
    Not ours the fault, but God decrees thy doom.
    Not through our crime, or slowness in the course,
    Tell thy Patroclus, but by heavenly force:
    The bright far-shooting god who gilds the day
    (Confess’d we saw him) tore his arms away.
    No: could our swiftness o’er the winds prevail,
    Or beat the pinions of the western gale,
    All were in vain: the fates thy death demand,
    Due to a mortal and immortal hand.’
    Then ceas’d forever, by the Furies tied,
    This fateful voice. Th’ intrepid chief replied
    With unabated rage: ‘So let it be!
    Portents and prodigies are lost on me.’”

[Illustration: Zeus. _From Pompeii._]

In Pegasus, the winged steed of the Nine Muses, we have what might be
called the prize horse of all mythology. The old Greek writer Hesiod says
he was born near the springs of Ocean. And he, indeed, winging his flight
away, left Earth, the mother of flocks, and came to the immortals; in
Jove’s house he dwells, bearing to counsellor Jove thunder and lightning.
This looks very much as if he began life as a personification of a
natural phenomenon, like the Hindoo Asvins and the Norse Sleipner. But he
was destined to a more glorious career than any of them. The goddess of
wisdom, Athēne, caught him and tamed him, and he became the symbol of the
imagination in its highest flights into the region of poetic aspiration
and inspiration, a fitting climax to an idea, going back to the very
fountains of the imagination which bubbled up in that early stage of life
when animals as well as men were thought to be endowed with spirit.

In the two hymns following, one from the most ancient of Hindoo books,
the “Rig Veda,” and one from a still more ancient Egyptian book called
“The Book of the Dead,” there is quite a contrast, though they both
represent myths in the highly developed religious form of hymns or songs
to the gods. The Hindoo song sings the praises of Indra, while the
Egyptian song is a prayer. Rā, who is mentioned, was the God of the Sun
in Egypt.

Instead of driving steeds as many other sun-gods did, he was said to ride
in a boat. But according to this hymn, there were four sacred apes in the
boat, to whom the ancient Egyptians offered prayers as they did to the
sacred bulls Apis and Mnevis.


(_From the “Rig Veda”_)

    I will declare the manly deeds of Indra, the first that he achieved,
         the thunder-wielder.
    He slew the dragon, then disclosed the waters, and cleft the channels
         of the mountain torrents.
    He slew the dragon lying on the mountain; his heavenly bolt of thunder
         Twashtar fashioned.
    Like lowing kine in rapid flow descending the waters glided downward
         to the ocean.
    Impetuous as a bull, he chose the Soma, and quaffed in threefold
         sacrifice the juices.
    Maghavan grasped the thunder for his weapon, and smote to death this
         first born of the dragons.
    When, Indra, thou hadst slain the dragon’s first born, and overcome
         the charms of the enchanters,
    Then, giving life to sun and dawn and heaven, thou foundest not one
         foe to stand against thee.
    Indra with his own great and deadly thunder smote into pieces Vritra
         worst of Vritras.
    They who pervaded earth’s extremest limit subdued not with their
         charms the wealth-bestower:
    Indra, the bull, made his ally the thunder, and with its light milked
         cows from out the darkness.
    The waters flowed according to their nature; he mid the navigable
         streams waxed mighty.
    Then, Indra, with his spirit concentrated, smote him forever with
         his strongest weapon.
    Indra broke through Ilîbisa’s strong castles, and Sushna with his
         horn he cut to pieces:
    Thou, Maghavan, for all his might and swiftness, slewest thy fighting
         foeman with thy thunder.
    Fierce on his enemies fell Indra’s weapon: with his sharp horn he
         rent their towns in pieces.
    He with his thunderbolt dealt blows on Vritra, and conquered,
         executing all his purpose.


(_From the “Book of the Dead”_)

“Hail, ye four apes, who sit in the bows of the boat of Rā, who convey
right and truth to Neb-er-tchu, who sit in judgment on my misery and on
my strength, who make the gods to rest contented by means of the flame of
your mouths, who offer holy offerings to the gods and sepulchral meals
to the Khus who live upon right and truth, and who feed upon right and
truth of heart, who are without deceit and fraud and to whom wickedness
is an abomination, do ye away with my evil deeds, and put ye away my sin
which deserved stripes upon earth, and destroy ye any evil whatsoever
that belongeth unto me, and let there be no obstacle whatsoever on my
part toward you. O, grant ye I may make my way through the underworld.
O, grant that there may be given to me cakes and ale and sweetmeats, even
as they are given to the living Khus.”

The four apes make answer, saying, “Come then, for we have done away
with thy wickedness, and we have put away thy sin, along with the sin
deserving of stripes which thou didst commit upon earth, and we have
destroyed all the evil which belonged to thee upon earth. There shall be
given unto thee cakes and ale and sweetmeats, and thou shalt come forth
and thou shalt enter in at thy desire, even as do those Khus who are
favored of the god, and thou shalt be proclaimed each day in the horizon.”


(_From the Norse Eddas_)

This huge beast was one of the children of Loke, a troublesome,
mischievous giant, who forced himself upon the society of the gods. His
delight was to get them into all sorts of difficulties, and then by his
cunning, wit and skill to extricate them. The gods knew that as the
Midgard serpent grew larger he would bring untold troubles upon gods and
men. So Odin thought the best way to dispose of him would be to throw
him into the deep ocean which surrounds the earth. He did so, but the
serpent has grown to such an enormous size, that holding his tail in his
mouth, he encircles the whole earth. One time the god Thor went with his
servant Loke to the land of the giants. After some adventures they came
to a city, standing in the middle of a plain. It was so lofty that they
were obliged to bend their necks quite back on their shoulders in order
to see the top of it. On arriving, they entered the city, and seeing a
large palace before them with the door wide open, they went in and found
a number of men of prodigious stature sitting on benches in the hall.
Going further they came before the king, Utgard-Loke, whom they saluted
with great respect. The king, regarding them with a scornful smile,
said, “If I do not mistake me, that stripling yonder must be the god
Thor.” Utgard-Loke then asked Thor and his companions in what feats they
excelled, for he said, “No one is permitted to remain here who does not,
in some feat or other, excel all other men.” Various feats of strength
were tried, then Utgard-Loke said, “We have a very trifling game here.
It consists merely in lifting my cat from the ground; nor should I have
dared to mention such a feat to the great Thor if I had not already
observed that thou art by no means what we took thee for.”

As he finished a large gray cat sprang on the hall floor. Thor put his
hand under the cat, and did his utmost to raise him from the floor, but
the cat, bending his back, had, notwithstanding all Thor’s efforts, only
one of his feet lifted up, seeing which Thor made no further attempt.

“This trial has turned out,” said Utgard-Loke, “just as I imagined it
would. The cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison with our men.”

The next morning, at break of day, Thor and his companions dressed
themselves and prepared for their departure. Utgard-Loke ordered a table
to be set for them, on which there was no lack of victuals or drink.
After the repast, Utgard-Loke led them to the gate of the city, and on
parting asked Thor how he thought his journey had turned out, and whether
he had met with any men stronger than himself. Thor told him that he
could not deny but that he had brought great shame on himself. “And what
grieves me most,” he added, “is that thou wilt call me a person of little

“Nay,” said Utgard-Loke, “it behooves me to tell thee the truth, now
thou art out of the city, which so long as I live and have my way thou
shalt never enter again. And, by my troth, had I known beforehand that
thou hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst have brought me so near
to a great mishap, I would not have suffered thee to enter this time.
Know then that I have all along deceived thee by my illusions.” He then
complimented Thor upon each feat he had performed, and as for the cat,
he said, “Thou hast indeed performed a wonderful feat by lifting up the
cat, and to tell thee the truth, when we saw that one of his paws was off
the floor we were all of us terror-stricken, for what thou tookest for a
cat was in reality the Midgard serpent that encompasseth the earth, and
he was so stretched by thee that he was barely long enough to enclose it
between his head and tail.”

The wolf Fenris was also one of Loke’s children, and gave the gods a
great deal of trouble until they succeeded in chaining him. He broke
the strongest fetters as if they were made of cobwebs. Finally the gods
sent a messenger to the mountain spirits, who made for them the chain
called Gleipnir. It was fashioned of various things: the noise made by
the footfall of a cat, the roots of stones, the breath of fishes, the
nerves of bears, and the spittle of birds. When finished it was as smooth
and soft as a silken string. But when the gods asked the wolf to suffer
himself to be bound with this apparently slight ribbon he suspected
their design, fearing that it was made by enchantment. He therefore only
consented to be bound with it on condition that one of the gods put his
hand in his (Fenris’s) mouth as a pledge that the band was to be removed
again. Tyr alone had sufficient courage to do this. But when the wolf
found that he could not break his fetters and that the gods would not
release him, he bit off Tyr’s hand. Tyr, consequently, has ever since
remained one-handed.


(_Greek: After Ovid_)

Phaëton was the son of Apollo and the earthly nymph Clymene. One day
Epaphus, the son of Zeus and Io, scoffed at the idea of Phaëton’s being
the son of a god. Phaëton complained of the insult to his mother,
Clymene. She sent him to Phœbus Apollo to ask for himself whether he
had not been truly informed concerning his parentage. Gladly Phaëton
travelled toward the regions of the sunrise, and gained at last the
palace of the Sun. He approached his father’s presence, but stopped at
a distance, for the light was more than he could bear. Phœbus Apollo,
arrayed in purple, sat on a throne that glittered with diamonds. Beside
him stood the Day, the Month, the Year, the Hours and the Seasons.
Surrounded by these attendants, the Sun beheld the youth dazzled with
the novelty and splendor of the scene, and inquired the purpose of his
errand. The youth replied, “Oh, light of the boundless world, Phœbus, my
father—give me some proof, I beseech thee, by which I may be known as
thine!” He ceased. His father, laying aside the beams that shone around
his head, bade him approach, embraced him, and swore by the river Styx
that whatever proof he might ask should be granted. Phaëton immediately
asked to be permitted for one day to drive the chariot of the Sun. The
father repented of his promise, and tried to dissuade the boy by telling
him the perils of the undertaking. “None but myself,” he said, “may drive
the flaming car of day. Not even Zeus, whose terrible right arm hurls
the thunder-bolts. The first part of the way is steep, and such as the
horses when fresh in the morning can hardly climb; the middle part is
high up in the heavens, whence I myself can scarcely, without alarm,
look down and behold the earth and sea stretched beneath me. The last
part of the road descends rapidly and requires most careful driving.
Tethys, who is waiting to receive me, often trembles for me lest I should
fall headlong. Add to this that the heaven is all the time turning round
and carrying the stars with it. Couldst thou keep thy course, while the
sphere revolved beneath thee? The road, also, is through the midst of
frightful monsters. Thou must pass by the horns of the Bull, in front of
the Archer, and near the Lion’s jaws, and where the Scorpion stretches
its arms in one direction and the Crab in another. Nor wilt thou find it
easy to guide these horses, with their breasts full of fire that they
breathe forth from their mouths and nostrils. Beware, my son, lest I be
the donor of a fatal gift; recall the request while yet thou canst.” He
ended; but the youth rejected admonition, and held to his demand. So,
having resisted as long as he might, Phœbus at last led the way to where
stood the lofty chariot.

It was of gold, the gift of Vulcan: the axle of gold, the pole and wheels
of gold, the spokes of silver. Along the seat were rows of chrysolites
and diamonds reflecting the brightness of the sun. While the daring youth
gazed in admiration, the Dawn threw open the purple doors of the east,
and showed the pathway strewn with roses. The stars withdrew, marshalled
by the Day Star, which last of all retired also. The father when he saw
the earth beginning to glow and the moon preparing to retire, ordered
the Hours to harness up the horses. They led forth from the lofty stalls
the steeds full fed with ambrosia, and attached the reins. Then the
father, smearing the face of his son with a powerful unguent, made him
capable of enduring the brightness of the flame. He set the rays on the
lad’s head, and, with a foreboding sigh, told him to spare the whip and
hold tight the reins; not to take the straight road between the five
circles, but to turn off to the left; to keep within the limit of the
middle zone, and avoid the northern and the southern alike; finally, to
keep in the well-worn ruts, and to drive neither too high nor too low,
for the middle course was safest and best.

Forthwith the agile youth sprang into the chariot, stood erect and
grasped the reins with delight, pouring out thanks to his reluctant
parent. But the steeds soon perceived that the load they drew was lighter
than usual; and as a ship without ballast is tossed hither and thither on
the sea, the chariot, without its accustomed weight, was dashed about as
if empty. The horses rushed headlong and left the travelled road. Then
for the first time the Great and Little Bears were scorched with heat,
and would fain, if it were possible, have plunged into the water; and the
serpent which lies coiled round the north pole, torpid and harmless, grew
warm, and with warmth felt its rage revive. Boötes, they say, fled away
though encumbered with his plough and unused to rapid motion.

When hapless Phaëton looked down upon the earth, now spreading in vast
extent beneath him, he grew pale, and his knees shook with terror. He
lost his self-command, and knew not whether to draw tight the reins or
throw them loose; he forgot the names of the horses. But when he beheld
the monstrous forms scattered over the surface of heaven—the Scorpion
extending two great arms, his tail, and his crooked claws over the space
of two signs of the Zodiac—when the boy beheld him, reeking with poison
and menacing with fangs, his courage failed, and the reins fell from
his hands. The horses, unrestrained, went off into unknown regions of
the sky, in among the stars, hurling the chariot over pathless places,
now up in high heaven, now down almost to the earth. The Moon saw with
astonishment her brother’s chariot running beneath her own. The clouds
began to smoke, the forest-clad mountains burned—Athos and Taurus and
Timolus and Œti; Ida, once celebrated for fountains; the Muses’ Mountain,
Helicon and Hæmus; Ætna, with fires within and without, and Parnassus,
with his two peaks, and Rhodope, forced at last to part with his snowy
crown. The cold climate was no protection to Scythia; Caucasus burned,
and Ossa and Pindus, and, greater than both, Olympus,—the Alps high in
air, and the Apennines crowned with clouds.

Phaëton beheld the world on fire, and felt the heat intolerable. Then,
too, it is said, the people of Ethiopia became black because the blood
was called by the heat so suddenly to the surface; and the Libyan Desert
was dried up to the condition in which it remains to this day. The
nymphs of the fountains, with dishevelled hair, mourned their waters,
nor were the rivers safe beneath their banks; Tanaïs smoked, and Caïcus,
Xanthus and Mæander; Babylonian Euphrates and Ganges, Tagus with golden
sands, and Caÿster where the swans resort. Nile fled away and hid his
head in the desert, and there it still remains, concealed. Where he
used to discharge his waters through seven mouths into the sea, seven
dry channels alone remained. The earth cracked open and through the
chinks light broke into Tartarus, and frightened the king of shadows and
his queen. The sea shrank up. Even Nereus and his wife Doris, with the
Nereïds, their daughters, sought the deepest caves for refuge.

Thrice Neptune essayed to raise his head above the surface, and thrice he
was driven back by the heat. Earth, surrounded as she was by waters, yet
with head and shoulders bare, screening her face with her hand, looked
up to heaven, and with husky voice prayed Zeus, if it were his will that
she should perish by fire, to end her agony at once by his thunderbolts,
or else to consider his own heaven, how both the poles were smoking that
sustained his palace, and that all must fall if they were destroyed.

Earth, overcome with heat and thirst, could say no more. Then Zeus,
calling the gods to witness that all was lost unless some speedy remedy
were applied, thundered, brandished a lightning-bolt in his right hand,
launched it against the charioteer, and struck him at the same moment
from his seat and from existence. Phaëton with his hair on fire, fell
headlong like a shooting star which marks the heavens with its brightness
as it falls, and Eridanus, the great river, received him and cooled his
burning frame. His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate, were
turned into poplar trees, on the banks of the river, and their tears,
which continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the stream.


(_Greek: From the “Odyssey”_)

When Odysseus (called also Ulysses) one of the heroes of the Trojan war,
was returning to his home in Ithaca, he had many adventures and suffered
many hardships which caused him to be years making the voyage from Troy
to Ithaca. One of these adventures was his visit to the Isle of the Sun,
about which he had been warned by the goddess Circè. Odysseus himself
tells how the ship in which he and his comrades were embarked entered the
great deep and reached the Isle Æacea, where the Morning, child of Dawn,
abides and holds her dances, and the Sun goes up from the earth. There
they landed, and drew their galley up on the beach. After disembarking,
they all lay down to sleep beside the sea and waited for the holy Moon to

As soon as Circè, for this was the island where this goddess dwelt,
heard that Odysseus and his comrades were there, she quickly attired
herself and came down to the beach with her maids who followed, bringing
bread and store of meats and generous wines. Then the wise goddess,
standing in their midst, spake to them and said, “Take food and wine, and
hold a feast to-day, and with the dawn of morning you shall sail away. I
will show you the way, and point out to you all its dangers, so that you
may not come to any harm through following false counsels, either on the
land or on the water.” The confiding minds of Odysseus and his men were
easily swayed by her counsels. So all that day they sat and banqueted
upon the abundant meats and generous wines. And when the sun went down
and darkness came, the crew lay down to sleep beside the moorings of the
ship, and Circè, taking the hand of Odysseus, led him apart, made him sit
down, and sitting before him made him tell all that he had seen.

Then she addressed him, saying, “Thus far all is well; now needfully
attend to what I say, and may some deity help you to remember it.” She
told him first about the Sirens’ haunt, which it would be difficult for
him to pass, and then about the horrible rocks where Scylla and Charybdis
dwelt, giving him instructions how to meet these dangers; then continuing
she said, “In your voyage you will reach the Isle Trinacria, where in
pastures belonging to the Sun many beeves and fatling sheep of his are
fed—seven herds of oxen, and as many flocks of sheep, and fifty in each
flock and herd. They never increase and they never die, and they are
tended by two shepherdesses, goddesses with redundant locks. One is named
Lampetia, the other Phaëthusa. If your desire be to return to Ithaca,
your home, only leave these flocks and herds unharmed, and you and all
your men will return, though after many toils. But if you rashly harm
them, I foretell destruction to your ship and all its crew; and if you
should escape, yet your return will be late and in sorrow, with all your
comrades lost.”

As she finished speaking, the Morning on her golden throne looked forth;
the glorious goddess went her way into the isle, and Odysseus went to his
ship and bade the men embark and cast the hawsers loose. Straightway they
all went on board, and duly manned the benches, smiting the hoary waters
with their oars. Then Circè, amber-haired, the mighty goddess of the
musical voice, sent a fair wind behind the dark-prowed ship, which gayly
bore them company and filled the sails.

Odysseus then told the crew all that Circè, the amber-haired, had said to
him. He warns them of the dangers to come, and how they may be escaped,
first the Sirens, and the rocks where Scylla and Charybdis dwelt. They
escaped these dangers, and approached the pleasant island of the Sun,
where the oxen with broad, beautiful foreheads were grazing, and flocks
of sheep, the fatlings of the god who makes the round of heaven. While
yet at sea, Odysseus heard from his ship the lowing of the herds in
the stables and the bleating of the flocks, and when he heard them he
immediately thought of the words the blind seer, Tiresias of Thebes, had
said to him, and those of Circè, by whom he had often been warned to shun
the island of the god whose light is sweet to all. Then with a sorrowing
heart he said to his companions, “My comrades, sufferers as you are,
listen to me, and I shall disclose the oracles which lately Tiresias and
Circè gave me. The goddess earnestly admonished me not to approach the
island of the Sun, whose light is sweet to all, for there she said some
great misfortune lay in wait for us. Now let us speed the ship and pass
the isle.”

The hearts of the men were broken by this speech, and one of them,
Eurylochus, bitterly replied, “How austere you are, Odysseus. You are
exceedingly strong and no labor tires your limbs; they must be made
of iron, since by your will you deny to us, overcome with toil and
sleeplessness, the chance to tread the land again, and make a generous
banquet in that island amid the waters. You would have us sail into the
swiftly coming night, and stray far from the island, through the misty
sea. By night the mighty winds spring up that make a wreck of ships; and
how can one escape destruction, should a sudden hurricane rise from the
south or the hard-blowing west, causing a ship to founder in the dark in
spite of all the sovereign gods? Let us obey the dark-browed Night, and
take our evening meal, remaining close beside our gallant bark, and go
on board again when morning breaks, and enter the wide sea.” The others
all approved, and Odysseus knew at once that some god was meditating
evil against them, and he replied, “Eurylochus, you force me to your will
since I am only one. Now all of you, bind yourselves to me firmly, by an
oath, that if you here shall meet a herd of beeves or flock of sheep,
you will not dare to slay a single ox or sheep, but feed contented on
the stores that Circè gave.” The crew swore as Odysseus asked, and when
the solemn oath was taken they brought the galley to land and moored it
in a winding creek, beside a fountain of sweet water. They then stepped
from the deck and made ready their evening meal. They ate and drank until
their thirst and hunger were appeased, and then they thought of those
whom Scylla had snatched from the galley’s deck and devoured, and wept
until sleep stole softly over them amid their tears. Now came the third
part of the night; the stars were sinking, when the cloud-compeller,
Jove, sent forth a violent wind with eddying gusts, and covered both
the earth and the sky with clouds, and darkness fell from heaven. When
morning came, the rosy-fingered daughter of the Dawn, they drew the ship
into a spacious bay. The home of the nymphs was there, and there they saw
the smooth fair places where they danced. Then Odysseus called a council
of his men and said to them, “My friends, in our good ship are food and
drink; we must abstain from these beeves, lest we be made to suffer,
for these herds and these fair flocks are sacred to a dreaded god, the
Sun—the all-beholding and all-hearing Sun.” All were swayed full easily
by what he said. Now for an entire month the gales blew from the south,
and after that no wind save east and south. As long as they had the bread
and wine Circè had given them, the men spared the beeves, moved by the
love of life. But when the stores on board the galley were consumed, they
roamed the island in their need, and sought for prey. They snared with
baited hooks the fish and birds—whatever came to hand—till they were
gaunt with famine.

Meanwhile, Odysseus withdrew apart within the isle to supplicate the
gods, hoping one of them might reveal the way of his return. As he
strayed into the land apart from all the rest, he found a sheltered nook
where no wind came, and prayed with washed hands to all the gods who
dwelt in heaven. At last he fell into a soft slumber. But Eurylochus, in
the meantime, was beguiling the men with fatal counsels.

“Hear, my companions, sufferers as you are, the words that I shall speak.
All modes of death are hateful to the wretched race of men; but this of
hunger, thus to meet our fate, is the most fearful. Let us drive apart
the best of all the oxen of the Sun, and sacrifice them to the immortal
ones, who dwell in the broad heaven. And if we come to Ithaca, our
country, we will there build to the Sun, whose path is o’er our heads,
a sumptuous temple, and endow its shrine with many gifts and rare. But
if it be his will, approved by all the other gods, to sink our bark in
anger, for the sake of these high-horned oxen, I should choose sooner
to gasp my life away amid the billows of the deep, than pine to death by
famine in this melancholy isle.”

The crew approved of this, and now from the neighboring herd they drove
the best of all the beeves; for near the dark-prowed ship the fair
broad-fronted herd with crooked horns was feeding. The crew stood round
the victims and, offering their petitions to the gods, held tender oak
leaves in their hands, just plucked from a tall tree, for in the good
ship’s hold there was left no more white barley. When they had prayed,
and slain and dressed the beeves, they hewed away the thighs and covered
them with double folds of skin, and laid raw slices over these. They
had no wine to pour in sacrifice upon the burning flesh, so they poured
water instead, and roasted all the entrails thus. When the thighs were
thoroughly consumed, the entrails tasted, all the rest was carved into
small portions, and transfixed with spits.

Just at this moment Odysseus awoke, and hurrying to the shore and his
good ship, he perceived the savory steam from the burnt offering, and
sorrowfully, then, he called upon the ever-living gods:—“O Father Jove,
and all ye blessed gods, who live forever, ’twas a cruel sleep in which
ye lulled me to my grievous harm. My comrades here have done a fearful

Then Lampetia, of the trailing robes, flew in haste to the Sun, who
journeys round the earth, to tell him that the men had slain his beeves.

In anger then he thus addressed the gods:

“O Father Jove, and all ye blessed gods who never die, avenge the wrong
I bear upon the comrades of Laertes’ son, Odysseus, who have foully
slain my beeves, in which I took delight whene’er I rose into the starry
heaven, and when again I sank from heaven to earth. If they make not
large amends for this great wrong, I shall go down to Hades, there to
shine among the dead.”

And cloud-compelling Zeus replied: “Still shine, O Sun! among the
deathless gods and mortal men, upon the nourishing earth. Soon will I
cleave with a white thunder-bolt their galley in the midst of a black

When Odysseus came to the ship beside the sea, he spoke to them all
sternly, man after man, yet he could think of no redress. The beeves were
dead, and now the gods amazed them with prodigies. The skins moved and
crawled, the flesh, both raw and roasted on the spits, lowed with the
voice of oxen. Six whole days the men feasted, taking from the herd the
Sun’s best oxen. When Jove brought the seventh day, the tempest ceased;
the wind fell, and they straightway went on board. They set the mast
upright, and, spreading the white sails, they ventured on the great wide
sea again.

When they had left the isle and there appeared no other land, but only
sea and sky, the son of Saturn (Jove) caused a lurid cloud to gather o’er
the galley, and to cast its darkness on the ship. Not long the ship ran
onward, ere the furious west wind rose and blew a hurricane. A strong
blast snapped both ropes that held the mast; the mast fell back; the
tackle dropped entangled to the hold; the mast in falling on the galley’s
stem, dashed on the pilot’s head and crushed the bones, and from the deck
he plunged like one who dives into the deep. His gallant spirit left the
limbs at once. Jove thundered from on high, and sent a thunder-bolt into
the ship, that, quaking with the fearful blow, and filled with stifling
sulphur, shook the men off into the deep. They floated round the ship
like sea mews; Jupiter had cut them off from their return.

Odysseus moved from place to place, still in the ship, until the
tempest’s force parted the sides and keel. The naked keel was swept
before the waves. The mast had snapped just at the base, but round it was
a thong made of a bullock’s hide. With this Odysseus bound the mast and
keel together. He took his seat upon them and the wild winds bore him on.


(_Greek: After Ovid_)

There was once a beautiful maiden, named Arachne, who was so accomplished
in the arts of carding and spinning, of weaving and embroidery, that the
nymphs themselves would leave their groves and fountains to come and gaze
upon her work. It was not only beautiful when it was done, but beautiful
also in the doing. To watch her one would have said that Athēne herself
had taught her. But this she denied, and could not bear to be thought
even a pupil of a goddess. “Let Athēne try her skill with mine,” she
said; “if beaten I will pay the penalty.”

Athēne heard this and was much displeased. Assuming the form of an old
woman, she appeared to Arachne, and kindly advised her to challenge
her fellow mortals if she would, but at once to ask forgiveness of the
goddess. Arachne bade the old dame to keep her counsel for others. “I am
not afraid of the goddess. Let her try her skill if she dare venture.”
“She comes,” said Athēne, and dropping her disguise stood confessed. The
nymphs bent low in homage, and all the bystanders paid reverence. Arachne
alone was unterrified. A sudden color dyed her cheeks, and then she grew
pale; but she stood to her resolve, and rushed on her fate. They proceed
to the contest. Each takes her station and attaches the web to the beam.
Then the slender shuttle is passed in and out among the threads. The reed
with its fine teeth strikes up the woof into its place, and compacts the
web. Wool of Tyrian dye is contrasted with that of other colors, shaded
off into one another so adroitly that the joining deceives the eye. And
the effect is like the bow whose long arch tinges the heavens, formed
by sunbeams reflected from the shower, in which, when the colors meet,
they seem as one, but at a little distance from the point of contact are
wholly different.

[Illustration: Athēne. _Glyptothek, Munich._]

Athēne wrought on her web the scene of her contest with Posidon. Twelve
of the heavenly powers were represented, Zeus with august gravity sitting
in the midst. Posidon, the ruler of the sea, held his trident, and
appeared to have just smitten the earth, from which a horse had leaped
forth. The bright-eyed goddess depicted herself with helmeted head, her
ægis covering her breast, as when she had created the olive tree, with
its berries and its dark green leaves. But the most astonishing example
of her skill appeared in a butterfly, so beautiful that only a poet can
describe it properly. Listen to the charming description of the poet

    Amongst these leaves she made a Butterfly,
      With excellent device and wondrous slight;
    Fluttering among the olives wantonly,
      That seemed to live, so like it was in sight;
    The velvet nap which on his wings doth lie,
      The silken down with which his back is dight;
    His broad outstretchèd horns, his hairy thighs,
      His glorious colors, and his glistening eyes.
    Which when Arachne saw, as overlaid
      And masterèd with workmanship so rare,
    She stood astonished long, ne aught gainsaid;
      And with fast fixèd eyes on her did stare.

Such was the central circle of Athēne’s web; and in the four corners were
represented incidents illustrating the displeasure of the gods at such
presumptuous mortals as had dared to contend with them. These were meant
as warnings from Athēne to her rival to give up the contest before it was
too late.

But Arachne did not yield. She filled her web with subjects designedly
chosen to exhibit the failings and errors of the gods, wonderfully well
done, but strongly marking her presumption and impiety. Athēne could
not forbear to admire, yet was indignant at the insult. She struck the
web with her shuttle, and rent it in pieces; then, touching the forehead
of Arachne, she made her realize her guilt. It was more than mortal
could bear; and forthwith Arachne hanged herself. “Live, guilty woman,”
said Athēne, “but that thou mayest preserve the memory of this lesson,
continue to hang, both thou and thy descendants, to all future times.”
Then sprinkling her with the juices of aconite, the goddess transformed
her into a spider, forever spinning the thread by which she is suspended.



To primitive man, trees and plants seemed as mysterious as animals, and
there are many myths which tell of the descent of mankind from trees, and
many cases in which plants were totems instead of animals. Among various
Indian tribes who had such a belief may be mentioned the Miztecs, who
declared they were descended from two majestic trees that stood in the
gorge of the mountain of Apiola. The Chiapanecas thought they sprang
from the roots of a silk cotton tree. The Tamaraquas of South America
have a tradition that the human race sprang from the fruits of the date
palm after the Mexican age of water. Passing half way round the world
to the Damaras of South Africa we find still more remarkable qualities
attributed to the first tree. “In the beginning,” they say, “there was a
tree, and out of this tree came Damaras, Bushmen (the wildest of South
African tribes), oxen and zebras. The Damaras lit a fire which frightened
away the Bushmen and the zebras, but the oxen remained. Hence it is
that Bushmen and wild beasts live together in all sorts of inaccessible
places, but the Damaras and oxen possess the land.”

Even in Greek mythology, the idea of descent from trees had not quite
died out, for we read in the “Odyssey” that Penelope says to Odysseus,
while still in the disguise of a beggar, so that she does not recognize
him, “Now, I pray, declare thy lineage, for thou surely art not sprung
from the old fabulous oak nor from the rock.”

The oak was regarded with very great reverence by the Greeks. They
declared it to be the first tree that grew upon the earth, its acorns
being the earliest food of man. There is an interesting story to the
effect that the Deluge was due to quarrels between Zeus (Jupiter) and
Hera (Juno), and when the waters subsided an oaken statue emerged
supposed to be a symbol of peace between the king of gods and his consort.

When the imagination begins to sprout a little more the savage invents
a story telling how the first men and animals were made out of trees by
some divinity. Thus Glooskap, the Algonquin divinity, made man in this
way: “He took his bow and arrows and shot at trees, the basket tree,
the ash. Then Indians came out of the bark of the ash trees.” In Norse
mythology there is a similar legend, according to which there were no
intelligent men on earth until there came three mighty and benevolent
gods to the world. Men had no sense, nor blood, nor motive powers, nor
goodly color. Odin gave spirit, Haemir gave sense, and Lodur gave blood
by bestowing it upon the senseless ashes and elms.

The worship of trees is told of in stories from one end of the world to
the other.

The Ainos of Japan have a story that “at the beginning of the world the
ground was so hot that the creatures called men even got their feet
burnt. For this reason no tree or herb could grow. The only herb that
grew at that time was the mugwort. Of trees the only ones were the oak
and pine. For this reason these two trees are the oldest among trees.
This being so, these two trees are divine; they are trees which human
beings worship.”

They also believe in a mystic pine tree made of metal which grew at the
head of the world, against which the swords of the gods broke and bent
where they attacked it. The Japanese god, Izanagi, repels the eight
thunder gods in the infernal regions by throwing at them the three fruits
of the peach tree that grew at the entrance of the level pass of the dark

There is also a Chinese peach tree of the gods which grows near the
palace of Si Wang Mu, the West Queen Mother. Its fruit of immortality
ripens once in thirteen thousand years and gives three thousand years of
life to the eater. Tung Fang So stole three and lived nine thousand years.

The Hindoos have more than one marvellous mythical tree. According to
the “Rig Veda,” the god Brahma himself was a tree and all the other
gods are considered branches of the divine parent stem. There is also
a supernatural tree sacred to Buddha. This cloud tree is the tree of
knowledge and wisdom and is covered with divine flowers. It glows and
sparkles with the brilliance of all manner of precious stones. The root,
the trunk, the branches, and the leaves are formed of gems of the most
glorious description. It grows in soil pure and delightfully even to
which the rich verdure of grass imparts the tints of a peacock’s neck.
This tree receives the homage of the gods. The arm of Maya, the mother of
Buddha, when she stretches it forth to grasp the bough which bends toward
her shines as the lightning illumines the sky. Beneath this tree Buddha,
at whose birth a flash of light pierced through all the world, sat down
with the firm resolve not to rise until he had attained the knowledge
which maketh free. Then the tempter Mara advanced with his demoniacal
forces. Encircling the sacred tree, hosts of demons assailed Buddha with
fiery darts, amid the whirl of hurricanes, darkness and the downpour of
floods of water, to drive him from the tree.

Buddha, however, maintained his position unmoved and at length the demons
were compelled to fly.

Still another marvellous tree is that of the Persians. It is called the
Haoma. It is the sacred vine of the Zoroastrians, which produces the
primal drink of immortality, after which it is named. It is the first
of all trees, planted in heaven by Ormuzd in the fountain of life. Near
this tree grows another, called the “impassive” or “inviolable,” which
bears the seeds of every kind of vegetable life. Both these trees are
situated in a lake and guarded by ten fish, who keep a ceaseless watch
upon a lizard sent by the evil power, Ahriman, to destroy the sacred
Haoma. The inviolable tree is also known both as the eagle’s and the
owl’s tree. Either one or the other of these birds sits perched upon the
top. The moment he rises from the tree a thousand branches shoot forth;
when he settles again, he breaks a thousand branches, and causes their
seed to fall. Another bird, his constant companion, picks up these seeds
and carries them to where the god Tistar draws water, which he then rains
down upon the earth with the seeds it contains.


The chief of all the great mythical trees is the Norse World Tree, an ash
tree called “Ygdrasil.” One of the stems of this tree springs from the
central primordial abyss, from the subterranean source of matter, runs
up through the earth which it supports, and issuing out of the celestial
mountain in the world’s center, called Asgard, spreads its branches
over the entire universe. These widespread branches are the ethereal or
celestial regions, their leaves the clouds, their buds or fruits the
stars. Four harts run across the branches of the tree and bite the buds.
These are the four cardinal winds. Perched upon the top branches is an
eagle and between his eyes sits a hawk. The eagle symbolizes the air and
the hawk the wind-still ether. A squirrel runs up and down the ash, and
seeks to cause strife between the eagle and Nidhögg, a monster which is
constantly gnawing the roots. The squirrel signifies hail and other
atmospheric phenomena. Nidhögg and serpents which gnaw the roots of the
tree are the volcanic agencies which are constantly seeking to destroy
the earth’s foundation. Another stem springs from the holy Urdan-fountain
where the gods sit in judgment. In this fountain swim two swans, the
progenitors of all the species. These are by some thought to typify the
sun and the moon. Near the fountain dwell three maidens who fix the
lifetime of all men, called Norns. Every day they draw water from the
spring and with it sprinkle the ash Ygdrasil in order that its branches
may not rot and wither away. This water is so holy that everything placed
in the spring becomes as white as the film within an egg-shell. The dew
that falls from the tree upon the earth men call honey-dew, and it is the
food of the bees. The third stem of the Ygdrasil takes its rise in the
cold and cheerless regions of the North (the land of the Frost Giants),
over the source of the ocean, which is typified by a spring called
Mirmir’s Well, in which wisdom and wit lie hidden. Mirmir, the owner of
this spring, is full of wisdom because he drinks of the waters.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this myth the whole universe is symbolized as a tree, and so we see
how the simple thoughts of the early savage about trees grow and expand
until a great poet comes upon the earth and with his larger powers of
imagination throws into a myth so much wonder and beauty that we can
scarcely realize what a humble little beginning it had in the groping
mind of a primitive savage.

In Greek mythology the woods are peopled with fauns and satyrs, dryads
and hamadryads. The first were spirits or gods of the wood and were
represented as goats with the heads of men. The principal of these was
Pan, already mentioned as an example of an animal myth. Since, however,
he is a personification of nature as a whole he partakes of the qualities
of a plant myth, as do all the other gods of the wood.

The dryads and hamadryads sometimes appeared in the form of peasant
girls, or shepherdesses, or followers of the hunt, but it was thought
that they perished when certain trees which had been their abode died
or were felled, and upon whose existence theirs depended. The Romans,
whose mythology is based for the most part upon the Greek mythology,
except that their names for the gods were different, have some special
plant gods of their own. Faunus was worshipped as a god of fields and
shepherds, and the god Sylvanus presided over forest glades and ploughed
fields. Then there was Flora, the goddess of flowers, and Pomona, the
goddess of fruit trees, and Vertumnus, the husband of Pomona, the
guardian of fruit trees, gardens and vegetables.

Many lovely stories are based upon this idea that the plant world is
also a living world, some of which you may read for yourselves in this



There was once a young Aino who fell asleep at the foot of a pine of
extraordinary height. While asleep there appeared to him in a dream the
goddess of the tree. This pine was near the entrance of an immense cavern
at the far end of which is a gleam of light, where there is an issue to
another world. He found this cavern by pursuing a bear, who turned out to
be a god, up a mountain of the underworld, until it took refuge in a hole
in the ground which led into the cavern. When he awoke, he offered up
thanks to the tree and set up divine symbols in its honor.


(_North American Indian_)

In time past—we cannot tell exactly how many, many years ago—a poor
Indian was living, with his wife and children, in a beautiful part of the
country. He was not only poor, but he had the misfortune to be inexpert
in procuring food for his family, and his children were all too young to
give him assistance.

Although of a lowly condition and straitened in his circumstances, he
was a man of kind and contented disposition. He was always thankful to
the Great Spirit for everything he received. He even stood in the door
of his lodge to bless the birds that flew past in the summer evenings;
although, if he had been of a complaining temper, he might have repined
that they were not rather spread upon the table for his evening meal.

The same gracious and sweet disposition was inherited by his eldest son,
who had now arrived at the proper age to undertake the ceremony of the
fast, to learn what kind of a spirit would be his guide and guardian
through life.

Wunzh, for that was his name, had been an obedient boy from his
infancy—pensive, thoughtful, and gentle—so that he was beloved by the
whole family.

As soon as the first buds of spring appeared, and the delicious fragrance
of the young year began to sweeten the air, his father, with the help
of his younger brothers, built for Wunzh the customary little lodge, at
a retired spot at some distance from their own, where he would not be
disturbed during the solemn rite.

To prepare himself, Wunzh sought to clear his heart of every evil
thought, and to think of nothing that was not good and beautiful and

That he might store his mind with pleasant ideas for his dreams, for the
first few days he amused himself by walking in the woods and over the
mountains, examining the early plants and flowers.

As he rambled far and wide, through the wild country, he felt a strong
desire to know how the plants and herbs and berries grew, without any
aid from man, and why it was that some kinds were good to eat, and that
others were possessed of medicinal or poisonous power.

After he had become too languid to walk about, and confined himself
strictly to the lodge, he recalled these thoughts, and turning
them in his mind, he wished he could dream of something that would
prove a benefit to his father and family, and to all others of his

“True,” thought Wunzh, “the Great Spirit made all things, and it is to
him that we owe our lives. Could he not make it easier for us to get our
food than by hunting animals and taking fish? I must try to find this out
in my visions.”

On the third day Wunzh became weak and faint, and kept his bed. Suddenly
he fancied, as he lay thus, that a bright light came in at the lodge
door, and ere he was aware he saw a handsome young man, with a complexion
of the softest and purest white, coming down from the sky, and advancing
toward him.

The beautiful stranger was richly and gayly dressed, having on a great
many garments of green and yellow colors, but differing in their deeper
or lighter shades. He had a plume of waving feathers on his head, and
all his motions were graceful, and reminded Wunzh of the deep green of
the summer grass, and the clear amber of the summer sky, and the gentle
blowing of the summer wind. Beautiful as the stranger was, he paused on a
little mound of earth, just before the door of the lodge.

“I am sent to you, my friend,” said this celestial visitor, in a voice
most soft and musical to listen to, “I am sent to you by that Great
Spirit who made all things in the sky and on the earth. He has seen
and knows your motives in fasting. He sees that it is from a kind and
benevolent wish to do good to your people and to procure a benefit for
them; that you do not seek for strength in war, or the praise of the men
of the bloody hand. I am sent to instruct you and to show you how you can
do your kindred good.”

He then told the young man to arise, and to prepare to wrestle with him,
as it was only by this means that he could hope to succeed in his wishes.

Wunzh knew how weak he was from fasting, but the voice of the stranger
was cheery, and put such a courage in his heart, that he promptly
sprang up, determined to die rather than fail. Brave Wunzh! if you ever
accomplish anything, it will be through the power of the resolve that
spake within you at that moment.

He began the trial, and after a long-sustained struggle he was almost
overpowered, when the beautiful stranger said:

“My friend, it is enough for once, I will come again to try you;” and
smiling on him, he returned through the air in the same direction in
which he had come.

The next day, although he saw how sweetly the wild flowers bloomed upon
the slopes, and the birds warbled from the woodland, he longed to see the
celestial visitor, and to hear his voice.

To his great joy he reappeared at the same hour, toward the going down
of the sun, and rechallenged Wunzh to a trial of strength.

The brave Wunzh felt that his strength of body was even less than on the
day before, but the courage of his mind seemed to grow. Observing this,
and how Wunzh put his whole heart in the struggle, the stranger again
spoke to him in the words he used before, adding:

“To-morrow will be your last trial. Be strong, my friend, for this is the
only way in which you can overcome me and obtain the boon you seek.”

The light which shone after him as he left Wunzh was brighter than before.

On the third day he came again and renewed the struggle. Very faint
in body was poor Wunzh, but he was stronger at heart than ever, and
determined to prevail now or perish. He put forth his utmost powers,
and after a contest more severe than either of the others, the stranger
ceased his efforts, and declared himself conquered.

For the first time he entered Wunzh’s little fasting-lodge, and sitting
down beside the youth, he began to deliver his instructions to him and
to inform him in what manner he should proceed to take advantage of his

“You have won your desire of the Great Spirit,” said the beautiful
stranger. “You have wrestled manfully. To-morrow will be the seventh day
of your fasting. Your father will give you food to strengthen you, and as
it is the last day of trial you will prevail. I know this, and now tell
you what you must do to benefit your family and your people. To-morrow,”
he repeated, “I shall meet you and wrestle with you for the last time. As
soon as you have prevailed against me, you will strip off my garments and
throw me down, clean the earth of roots and weeds, make it soft, and bury
me in the spot. When you have done this, leave my body in the earth, and
do not disturb it, but come at times to visit the place, to see whether
I have come to life, and above all be careful never to let the grass or
weeds grow upon my grave. Once a month cover me with fresh earth. If you
follow these my instructions you will accomplish your object of doing
good to your fellow-creatures by teaching them the knowledge I now teach

He then shook Wunzh by the hand and disappeared, but he was gone so soon
that Wunzh could not tell what direction he took.

In the morning, Wunzh’s father came to his lodge with some slight
refreshments, saying:

“My son, you have fasted long enough. If the Great Spirit will favor you,
he will do it now. It is seven days since you have tasted food, and you
must not sacrifice your life. The Master of Life does not require that.”

“My father,” replied Wunzh, “wait till the sun goes down. I have a
particular reason for extending my fast to that hour.”

“Very well,” said the old man, “I shall wait till the hour arrives, and
you shall be inclined to eat.”

At his usual hour of appearing, the beautiful sky-visitor returned, and
the trial of strength was renewed. Although he had not availed himself
of his father’s offer of food, Wunzh felt that new strength had been
given him. His heart was mighty within him to achieve some great purpose.
Courage within the bosom of the brave Wunzh was like the eagle that
spreads his wings within the treetop for a great flight.

He grasped his angel challenger with supernatural strength, threw him
down, and, mindful of his own instructions, tore from him his beautiful
garments and plume, and finding him dead, he immediately buried him
on the spot, using all the precautions he had been told of, and very
confident was Wunzh, all the time, that his friend would again come to

Wunzh now returned to his father’s lodge, where he was warmly welcomed,
for as it had been appointed to him during the days of his fasting to
walk apart with Heaven, he was not permitted to see any human face save
that of his father, the representative to the little household upon earth
of the Good Father who is in Heaven.

Wunzh partook sparingly of the meal that had been prepared for him, and
once more mingled in the cares and sports of the family. But he never
for a moment forgot the grave of his friend. He carefully visited it
throughout the spring, and weeded out the grass, and kept the ground in
a soft and pliant state; and sometimes, when the brave Wunzh thought of
his friend that was gone from his sight, he dropped a tear upon the earth
where he lay.

Watching and tending, and moistening the earth with his tears, it was
not long before Wunzh saw the tops of green plumes coming through the
ground; and the more faithful he was in obeying his instructions in
keeping the ground in order, and in cherishing the memory of his departed
friend, the faster they grew. He was, however, careful to conceal the
charge of the earth which he had from his father.

Days and weeks had passed in this way; the summer was drawing toward a
close, when one day, after a long absence in hunting, Wunzh invited his
father to follow him to the quiet and lonesome spot of his former fast.

The little fasting-lodge had been removed, and the weeds kept from
growing on the circle where it had stood; but in its place rose a tall
and graceful plant, surmounted with nodding plumes and stately leaves
and golden clusters. There was in its aspect and bearing the deep green
of the summer grass, the clear amber of the summer sky, and the gentle
blowing of the summer wind.

“It is my friend!” shouted Wunzh, “it is the friend of all mankind. It
is Mondawmin: it is our Indian Corn! We need no longer rely on hunting
alone, for as long as this gift is cherished and taken care of, the
ground itself will give us a living.”

He then pulled an ear.

“See, my father,” said he, “this is what I fasted for. The Great Spirit
has listened to my voice, and sent us something new, and henceforth our
people will not alone depend upon the chase or upon the waters.”

Wunzh then communicated to his father the instructions given to him by
the stranger. He told him that the broad husks must be torn away, as he
had pulled off the garments in his wrestling, and having done this, he
directed him how the ear must be held before the fire till the outer skin
became brown—as the complexion of his angel friend had been tinted by the
sun—while all the milk was retained in the grain.

The whole family, in high spirits, and deeply grateful to the Merciful
Master who gave it, assisted in a feast on the newly grown ears of corn.

So came that mighty blessing into the world, and we owe all of those
beautiful fields of healthful grain to the dream of the brave boy Wunzh.


(_North American Indian_)

Leelinau was the favorite daughter of a hunter who lived on the lake
shore, near the base of the lofty highlands, called Kang Wudjoo.

From her earliest youth she was observed to be thoughtful and retiring.
She passed much of her time in solitude, and seemed ever to prefer the
companionship of her own shadow to the society of the lodge circle.

Whenever she could leave her father’s lodge she would fly to remote
haunts and recesses in the woods, or sit in lonely revery upon some high
promontory of rock overlooking the lake. In such places she would often,
with her face turned upward, linger long in contemplation of the air, as
if she were invoking her guardian spirit, and beseeching him to lighten
her sadness.

But amid all the leafy haunts, none drew her steps toward it so often
as a forest of pines on the open shore, called Manitowok, or the Sacred
Wood. It was one of those hallowed places which is the resort of the
little wild men of the woods, and of the turtle spirits or fairies
which delight in romantic scenes. Owing to this circumstance, its green
retirement was seldom visited by Indians, who feared to fall under the
influence of its mischievous inhabitants.

And whenever they were compelled by stress of weather to make a landing
on this part of the coast, they never failed to leave an offering of
tobacco, or some other token, to show that they desired to stand well
with the proprietors of the fairy ground.

To this sacred spot Leelinau had made her way at an early age, gathering
strange flowers and plants, which she would bring home to her parents,
and relate to them all the haps and mishaps that had occurred in her

Although they discountenanced her frequent visits to the place, they were
not able to restrain them, for she was of so gentle and delicate a temper
that they feared to thwart her.

Her attachment to the fairy wood, therefore, grew with her years. If she
wished to solicit her spirits to procure pleasant dreams, or any other
maiden favor, Leelinau repaired to the Manitowok. If her father remained
abroad in the hunt later than usual, and it was feared that he had
been overwhelmed by the tempest, or had met with some other mischance,
Leelinau offered up her prayers for safety at the Manitowok. It was there
that she fasted, mused, and strolled.

She at length became so engrossed by the fairy pines that her parents
began to suspect that some evil spirit had enticed her to its haunts, and
had cast upon her a charm which she had not the power to resist.

This belief was confirmed when, one day, her mother, who had secretly
followed her, overheard her murmuring to some unknown and invisible
companion appeals like these:

“Spirit of the dancing leaves!” whispered Leelinau, “hear a throbbing
heart in its sadness. Spirit of the foaming stream! visit thou my nightly
pillow, shedding over it silver dreams of mountain brook and pebbly
rivulet. Spirit of the starry night! lead my footprints to the blushing
mis-kodeed, or where the burning passion-flower shines with carmine hue.
Spirit of the greenwood plume!” she concluded, turning with passionate
gaze to the beautiful young pines which stood waving their green beauty
over her head, “shed on me, on Leelinau the sad, thy leafy fragrance,
such as spring unfolds from sweetest flowers, or hearts that to each
other show their inmost grief. Spirits! hear, O hear a maiden’s prayer!”

Day by day these strange communings with unseen beings drew away the
heart of Leelinau more and more from the simple duties of the lodge, and
she walked among her people, melancholy and silent, like a spirit who had
visited them from another land.

The pastimes which engaged the frolic moments of her young companions,
passed by her as little trivial pageants in which she had no concern.

When the girls of the neighboring lodges assembled to play at the
favorite female game of pappus-e-ko-waun, or the block and string, before
the lodge-door, Leelinau would sit vacantly by, or enter so feebly into
the spirit of the play as to show that it was irksome to her.

Again, in the evening, when the young people formed a ring around the
lodge, and the piepeend-jigun, or leather and bone, passed rapidly from
one to the other, she either handed it along without attempting to play,
or if she took a part, it was with no effort to succeed.

The time of the corn gathering had come, and the young people of the
tribe were assembled in the field, busy in plucking the ripened maize.
One of the girls, noted for her beauty, had found a red ear, and every
one congratulated her that a brave admirer was on his way to her father’s
lodge. She blushed, and hiding the trophy in her bosom, she thanked the
Good Spirit that it was a red ear, and not a crooked, that she had found.

Presently it chanced that one who was there among the young men espied
in the hands of Leelinau, who had plucked it indifferently, one of the
crooked kind, and at once the word “Wa-ge-min!” was shouted aloud
through the field, and the whole circle was set in a roar.

“The thief is in the corn-field!” exclaimed the young man, Iagoo by name,
and famous in the tribe for his mirthful powers of story-telling; “see
you not the old man stooping as he enters the field? See you not signs
that he crouched as he crept in the dark? Is it not plain by this mark on
the stalk that he was heavily bent in his back? Old man, be nimble, or
some one will take thee while thou art taking the ear.”

These questions Iagoo accompanied with the action of one bowed with age
stealthily entering the corn-field. He went on:

“See how he stoops as he breaks off the ear. Nushka! He seems for a
moment to tremble. Walker, be nimble! Hooh! It is plain the old man is
the thief.”

He turned suddenly where she sat in the circle, pensively regarding the
crooked ear which she held in her hand, and exclaimed:

“Leelinau, the old man is thine!”

Laughter rang merrily through the corn-field, but Leelinau, casting down
upon the ground the crooked ear of maize, walked pensively away.

The next morning the eldest son of a neighboring chief called at her
father’s lodge. He was quite advanced in years; but he enjoyed such
renown in battle, and his name was so famous in the hunt, that the
parents accepted him as a suitor for their daughter. They hoped that
his shining qualities would draw back the thoughts of Leelinau from that
spirit-land whither she seemed to have wholly directed her affections.

It was this chief’s son whom Iagoo had pictured as the corn-taker, but,
without objecting to his age, or giving any other reason, Leelinau
firmly declined his proposals. The parents ascribed the young daughter’s
hesitancy to maiden fear, and paying no further heed to her refusal, a
day was fixed for the marriage-visit to the lodge.

The warrior came to the lodge-door, and Leelinau refused to see him,
informing her parents, at the same time, that she would never consent to
the match.

It had been her custom to pass many of her hours in her favorite place of
retirement, under a broad-topped young pine, whose leaves whispered in
every wind that blew; but most of all in that gentle murmur of the air at
the evening hour, dear to lovers, when the twilight steals on.

Thither she now repaired, and, while reclining pensively against the
young pine tree, she fancied that she heard a voice addressing her. At
first it was scarcely more than a sigh; presently it grew more clear, and
she heard it distinctly whisper:

“Maiden, think me not a tree, but thine own dear lover, glad to be with
thee in my tall and blooming strength, with the bright green nodding
plume that waves above thee. Thou art leaning on my breast, Leelinau;
lean forever there and be at peace. Fly from men who are false and
cruel, and quit the tumult of their dusty strife, for this quiet, lonely
shade. Over thee I my arms will fling, fairer than the lodge’s roof. I
will breathe a perfume like that of flowers over thy happy evening rest.
In my bark canoe I’ll waft thee o’er the waters of the sky-blue lake. I
will deck the folds of thy mantle with the sun’s last rays. Come, and on
the mountain free rove a fairy bright with me!”

Leelinau drank in with eager ear these magical words. Her heart was
fixed. No warrior’s son should clasp her hand. She listened in the hope
to hear the airy voice speak more; but it only repeated, “Again! again!”
and entirely ceased.

On the eve of the day fixed for her marriage, Leelinau decked herself in
her best garments. She arranged her hair according to the fashion of her
tribe, and put on all of her maiden ornaments in beautiful array. With a
smile, she presented herself before her parents.

“I am going,” she said, “to meet my little lover, the chieftain of the
Green Plume, who is waiting for me at the Spirit Grove.”

Her face was radiant with joy, and the parents, taking what she had said
as her own fanciful way of expressing acquiescence in their plans, wished
her good fortune in the happy meeting.

“I am going,” she continued, addressing her mother as they left the
lodge, “I am going from one who has watched my infancy and guarded my
youth; who has given me medicine when I was sick, and prepared my food
when I was well. I am going from a father who has ranged the forest to
procure the choicest skins for my dress, and kept his lodge supplied
with the best spoil of the chase. I am going from a lodge which has been
my shelter from the storms of winter, and my shield from the heats of
summer. Farewell, my parents, farewell!”

So saying, she sped faster than any could follow her to the margin of the
fairy wood, and in a moment was lost to sight.

As she had often thus withdrawn herself from the lodge, the parents were
not in fear, but confidently awaited her return. Hour chased hour, as
the clouds of evening rolled up in the west; darkness came on, but no
daughter returned. With torches they hastened to the wood, and although
they lit up every dark recess and leafy gloom, their search was in vain.
Leelinau was nowhere to be seen. They called aloud, in lament, upon her
name, but she answered not.

Suns rose and set, but nevermore in their light did the bereaved parents’
eyes behold the lost form of their beloved child. Their daughter was lost
indeed. Whither she had vanished no mortal tongue could tell; although
it chanced that a company of fishermen, who were spearing fish near the
Spirit Grove, descried something that seemed to resemble a female figure
standing on the shore. As the evening was mild and the waters calm, they
cautiously pulled their canoe toward land, but the slight ripple of their
oars excited alarm. The figure fled in haste, but they could recognize
in the shape and dress as she ascended the bank, the lost daughter, and
they saw the green plumes of her fairy-lover waving over his forehead as
he glided lightly through the forest of young pines.



Many, many moons ago there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a
frozen stream in the great forest beyond the wide waters of the northern
lakes. His locks were long and white with age and frost. The fur of
the bear and cunning beaver covered his body, but none too warmly, for
snow and ice were everywhere. Over all the earth there was winter. The
winds came down the bleak mountain sides and wildly hurried through the
branches of the trees and bushes, looking for song birds that they might
chill to the heart. Even the evil spirits shivered in the desolation and
sought to dig for themselves sheltering caves in the deep snow and ice.
Lonely and halting, the old man went abroad in the forest, looking for
the broken branches that had fallen from the trees that he might keep
alive the fire in his lodge. Few fagots could he find, and in despair he
again sought his lodge, where, hovering over the fading embers on his
hearth, he cried in anguish to the Great Spirit that he might not perish.

Then the wind moaned in the tree-tops, and circling through the forests
came back and blew aside the skin of the great bear hanging over his
lodge-door, and, lo! a beautiful maiden entered. Her cheeks were red
like the leaves of wild roses; her eyes were large and glowed like the
eyes of the fawn at night; her hair was black as the wing of the crow,
and so long that it brushed the ground as she walked; her hands were clad
in willow buds; over her head was a crown of flowers; her mantle was
woven with sweet grasses and ferns, and her moccasins were white lilies,
laced and embroidered with the petals of honeysuckle. When she breathed,
the air of the lodge became warm, and the cold winds rushed back in

The old man looked in wonder at his strange visitor, and then opened
his lips and said: “My daughter, thou art welcome to the poor shelter
of my cheerless lodge. It is lonely and desolate, and the Great Spirit
has covered the fallen branches of the trees with his death-cloth that
I may not find them and light again the fire of my lodge. Come sit thou
here and tell me who thou art that thou dost wander like the deer in
the forest. Tell me also of thy country and what people gave thee such
beauty and grace, and then I, the desolate Manito, will tell thee of my
victories till thou dost weary of my greatness.”

The maiden smiled, and the sunlight streamed forth and shot its warmth
through the roof of the lodge. The desolate Manito filled his pipe of
friendship, and when he had drawn of the fragrant tobacco, he said: “When
I, the Manito, blow the breath from my nostrils the waters of the river
stand still, the great waves on the lakes rest, and the murmurings of the
streams die away in silence.”

Then the maiden said: “The Manito is great and strong and the waters
know the touch of his breath; but when I, the loved of the birds, smile,
the flowers spring up over all the forest and the plains are covered with
a carpet of green.”

Then said the Manito: “I shake my locks, and lo! the earth is wrapped in
the death-cloth of snow.”

Then the maiden replied: “I breathe into the air and the warm rains
come and the death-cloth vanishes like the darkness when the great fire
awakens from its bed in the morning.”

Then the Manito said: “When I walk about, the leaves die on the trees and
fall to the ground; the birds desert their nests and fly away beyond the
lakes; the animals bury themselves in holes in the earth or in caves in
the mountain side, and the winds wail the death-chant over all the land.”

“Ah, great is the Manito,” said the maiden, “and his mighty name is
feared by all living things in the land. ‘Great is the Manito,’ says all
the world, and his fame has spread among the children of the Great Spirit
till they crouch with fear and say: ‘Mighty and cruel is the Manito!
Terrible is the Manito, and more cruel and cunning in his tortures than
the red men. His strength is greater than the strength of the giant trees
of the forest, for does he not rend them with his mighty hands?’ But when
I, the gentle maiden, walk forth, the trees cover with many leaves the
nakedness which thou, the great Manito, hath caused; the birds sing in
the branches and build again the nests from which thou drivest them; the
animals seek their mates and rear their young; the wind sings soft and
pleasant music to the ears of the red man, while his wives and pappooses
sport in the warm sunshine near his wigwam.”

As the maiden spoke the lodge grew warm and bright, but the boasting
Manito heeded it not, for his head drooped forward on his breast, and he

Then the maiden passed her hands above the Manito’s head and he began to
grow small. The bluebirds came and filled the trees about the lodge, and
sang, while the rivers lifted up their waters and boiled with freedom.
Streams of water poured from the Manito’s mouth, and the garments that
covered his shrunken and vanishing form turned into bright and glistening

Then the maiden knelt upon the ground and took from her bosom most
precious and beautiful rose-white flowers. She hid them under the leaves
all about her, and as she breathed with love upon them, said:

“I give to you, oh, precious jewels, all my virtues and my sweetest
breath, and men shall pluck thee with bowed head on bended knee.”

Then the maiden moved over the plains, the hills and the mountains. The
birds and the winds sang together in joyous chorus, while the flowers
lifted up their heads and greeted her with fragrance.

Wherever she stepped, and nowhere else, grows the arbutus.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the two little poems following, by an ancient Mexican Indian, the poet
calls the songs he sings “flowers,” which he seems to think he gathers
in some mysterious land of the spirit. The idea is a very beautiful one,
worthy of any poet, and certainly shows that some, at least, of the
Indians had reached a high plane of poetic fancy.


(_Ancient Mexican Indian_)

1. I am wondering where I may gather some pretty, sweet flowers. Whom
shall I ask? Suppose that I ask the brilliant humming-bird, the emerald
trembler; suppose that I ask the yellow butterfly; they will tell me they
know where bloom the pretty, sweet flowers, whether I may get them here
in the laurel woods where dwell the tzinitzcan birds, or whether I may
gather them in the flowery forests where the thanquehol lives. There they
may be plucked sparkling with dew, there they come forth in perfection.
Perhaps there I shall see them if they have appeared; I shall place them
in the folds of my garment, and with them I shall greet the children, I
shall make glad the nobles.

2. Truly as I walk along I hear the rocks as it were replying to the
sweet songs of the flowers; truly the glittering, chattering water
answers; the bird-green fountain, there it sings, it dashes forth, it
sings again; the mocking-bird answers; perhaps the coyol bird answers;
and many sweet singing birds scatter their songs around like music. They
bless the earth, pouring out their sweet voices.

3. I said, I cried aloud: May I not cause you pain, ye beloved ones, who
are seated to listen; may the brilliant humming-birds come soon. Whom
do we seek, O noble poet? I ask, I say: Where are the pretty, fragrant
flowers with which I may make glad you, my noble compeers? Soon they will
sing to me: “Here we will make thee to see, thou singer, truly wherewith
thou shalt make glad the nobles, thy companions.”

4. They led me within a valley to a fertile spot, a flowery spot, where
the dew spread out in glittering splendor, where I saw various lovely
fragrant flowers, lovely odorous flowers, clothed with the dew, scattered
around in rainbow glory. There they said to me: “Pluck the flowers,
whichever thou wishest, mayest thou the singer be glad, and give them to
thy friends, to the nobles, that they may rejoice on the earth.”

5. So I gathered in the folds of my garment the various fragrant flowers,
delicate scented, delicious, and I said: May some of our people enter
here, may very many of us be here; and I thought I should go forth
to announce to our friends that here all of us should rejoice in the
different lovely, odorous flowers, and that we should cull the various
sweet songs with which we might rejoice our friends here on earth, and
the nobles in their grandeur and dignity.

6. So I, the singer, gathered all the flowers to place them upon the
nobles, to clothe them and put them in their hands, and soon I lifted
my voice in a worthy song glorifying the nobles before the face of the
Cause of All, where there is no servitude.

7. Where shall one pluck them? Where gather the sweet flowers? And how
shall I attain the flowery land, that fertile land, where there is no
servitude nor affliction? If one purchases it here on earth, it is only
through submission to the Cause of All; here on earth grief fills my soul
as I recall where I, the singer, saw the flowery spot.

8. And I said: Truly there is no good spot here on earth, truly in some
other bourne there is gladness; for what good is this earth? Truly there
is another life in the hereafter. There may I go, there the sweet birds
sing, there may I learn to know those good flowers, those sweet flowers,
those delicious ones, which alone pleasurably, sweetly intoxicate, which
alone pleasurably, sweetly intoxicate.


(_Ancient Mexican Indian_)

1. In the place of tears, I, the singer, watch my flowers; they are in
my hand; they intoxicate my soul and my song, as I walk alone with them,
with my sad soul among them.

2. In this spot, where the herbage is like sweet ointment and green as
the turquoise and emerald, I think upon my song, holding the beauteous
flowers in my hand, as I walk alone with them, with my sad soul among

3. In this spot of turquoise and emerald, I think upon beauteous songs,
beauteous flowers; let us rejoice now, dear friends and children, for
life is not long upon earth.

4. I shall hasten forth, I shall go to the sweet songs, the sweet
flowers, dear friends and children.

5. O he! I cried aloud; O he! I rained down flowers as I left.

6. Let us go forth anywhere; I, the singer, shall find and bring forth
the flowers; let us be glad while we live; listen to my song.

7. I, the poet, cry out a song for a place of joy, a glorious song which
descends to Mictlan, and there turns about and comes forth again.

8. I seek neither vestment nor riches, O children, but a song for a place
of joy.



Erisichthon was a profane person and a despiser of the gods. On one
occasion he presumed to violate with the axe a grove sacred to Ceres
(Demeter). There stood in this grove a venerable oak, so large that it
seemed a wood in itself, its ancient trunk towering aloft, whereon votive
garlands were often hung and inscriptions carved expressing the gratitude
of suppliants to the nymph of the tree. Often had the dryads danced
round it hand in hand. Its trunk measured fifteen cubits round, and it
overtopped the other trees as they overtopped the shrubbery. But for all
that, Erisichthon saw no reason why he should spare it, and he ordered
his servants to cut it down. When he saw them hesitate he snatched an
axe from one, and thus impiously exclaimed, “I care not whether it be a
tree beloved of the goddess or not. Were it the goddess herself it should
come down, if it stood in my way.” So saying, he lifted the axe, and
the oak seemed to shudder and utter a groan. When the first blow fell
upon the trunk, blood flowed from the wound. All the bystanders were
horror-struck, and one of them ventured to remonstrate and hold back
the fatal axe. Erisichthon, with a scornful look, said to him, “Receive
the reward of your piety,” and turned against him the weapon which he
had held aside from the tree, gashed his body with many wounds, and cut
off his head. Then from the midst of the oak came a voice: “I who dwell
in this tree am a nymph, beloved by Ceres, and, dying by your hands,
forewarn you that punishment awaits you.” He desisted not from his crime;
and at last the tree, sundered by repeated blows and drawn by ropes, fell
with a crash, and prostrated a great part of the grove in its fall.

The dryads, in dismay at the loss of their companion, and at seeing
the pride of the forest laid low, went in a body to Ceres, all clad in
garments of mourning, and invoked punishment upon Erisichthon. She nodded
her assent, and as she bowed her head, the grain ripe for harvest in the
laden fields bowed also. She planned a punishment so dire that one would
pity him, if such a culprit as he could be pitied—to deliver him over
to Famine. As Ceres herself could not approach Famine, for the Fates
have ordained that these two goddesses shall never come together, she
called on Oread from her mountain and spoke to her in these words: “There
is a place in the farthest part of ice-clad Scythia, a sad and sterile
region without trees and without crops. Cold dwells there, and Fear,
and Shuddering, and Famine. Go and tell the last to take possession of
the bowels of Erisichthon. Let not Abundance subdue her, nor the power
of my gifts drive her away. Be not alarmed at the distance, for Famine
dwells very far from Ceres, but take my chariot. The dragons are fleet
and obey the rein, and will take you through the air in a short time.”
So she gave her the reins, and she drove away and soon reached Scythia.
On arriving at Mount Caucasus she stopped the dragons and found Famine
in a stony field, pulling up with teeth and claws the scanty herbage.
Her hair was rough, her eyes sunk, her face pale, her lips blanched, her
jaws covered with dust, and her skin drawn tight, so as to show all her
bones. As Oread saw her afar off (for she did not dare to come near), she
delivered the commands of Ceres; and though she stopped as short a time
as possible, and kept her distance as well as she could, yet she began to
feel hungry, and turned the dragons’ heads and drove back to Thessaly.

Famine obeyed the commands of Ceres and sped through the air to the
dwelling of Erisichthon, entered the bed-chamber of the guilty man, and
found him asleep. She enfolded him with her wings and breathed herself
into him, infusing her poison into his veins. Having discharged her task,
she hastened to leave the land of plenty and returned to her accustomed
haunts. Erisichthon still slept, and in his dreams craved food, and moved
his jaws as if eating. When he awoke his hunger was raging. Without a
moment’s delay he would have food set before him, of whatever kind earth,
sea, or air produces, and complained of hunger even while he ate. What
would have sufficed for a city or a nation was not enough for him. The
more he ate the more he craved.

His property rapidly diminished under the unceasing demands of his
appetite, but his hunger continued unabated. At length he had spent all,
and had only his daughter left, a daughter worthy of a better parent.
Her, too, he sold. She scorned to be the slave of a purchaser, and, as
she stood by the sea-side, raised her hands in prayer to Neptune. He
heard her prayer, and, though her new master was not far off, and had
his eyes on her a moment before, Neptune changed her form, and made her
assume that of a fisherman busy at his occupation. Her master, looking
for her and seeing her in her altered form, addressed her and said:
“Good fisherman, whither went the maiden whom I saw just now, with hair
dishevelled and in humble garb, standing about where you stand? Tell
me truly, so may your luck be good, and not a fish nibble at your hook
and get away.” She perceived that her prayer was answered, and rejoiced
inwardly at hearing herself inquired of about herself. She replied:
“Pardon me, stranger, but I have been so intent upon my line that I have
seen nothing else; but I wish I may never catch another fish if I believe
any woman or other person except myself to have been hereabouts for some
time.” He was deceived and went his way, thinking his slave had escaped.
Then she resumed her own form. Her father was well pleased to find her
still with him, and the money, too, that he got by the sale of her; so he
sold her again. But she was changed by the favor of Neptune as often as
she was sold—now into a horse, now a bird, now an ox, and now a stag—got
away from her purchasers, and came home.



Once there was a beautiful nymph of the woods whose name was Syrinx. She
was much admired by all the satyrs and spirits of the wood, but she was a
faithful worshipper of Artemis and did not respond to the attentions of
any of her admirers. One day, however, Pan met her, and was so delighted
with her that he persistently wooed her with many compliments. Away she
ran from him without stopping to hear what he had to say, but on the
bank of the river he overtook her. Then she called on her friends the
water-nymphs to help her. They heard her, and just as Pan was about to
throw his arms around her they changed her into a tuft of reeds. As
he breathed a sigh, the air sounded through the reeds and produced a
plaintive melody. Pan, delighted with the music and with the novelty of
the experience, exclaimed, “Thus, then, at least, you shall be mine.” So
he took some of the reeds, of unequal lengths, and placing them together
side by side, he made an instrument and called it Syrinx, in honor of the



Pomona was a hamadryad who presided over fruit trees and especially
over apple orchards. She had scorned the offers of love made her by Pan
and other spirits of the woods, and also those of Vertumnus, the god of
gardens and of the changing seasons. But, unwearied, he wooed her in as
many guises as his seasons themselves could assume. Now as a reaper, now
as haymaker, now as ploughman, now as vine-dresser, now as apple picker,
now as fisherman, now as soldier, all to no avail.

At last he disguised himself as an old woman and came to her. He admired
her fruit, especially the luxuriance of her grapes, and enlarged upon
the dependence of the luxuriant vine, close by, upon the elm to which
it was clinging; advised Pomona, likewise, to choose some youth—say,
for instance, the young Vertumnus—about whom to twine her arms. Then he
told the melancholy tale of how the worthy Iphio, spurned by Anaxarete,
had hanged himself to her gate-post; and how the gods had turned the
hard-hearted virgin to stone even as she gazed on her lover’s funeral.
“Consider these things, dearest child,” said the seeming old woman, “lay
aside thy scorn and thy delays, and accept a lover. So may neither the
vernal frosts blight thy young fruits, nor furious winds scatter thy

When Vertumnus had thus spoken he dropped his disguise, and stood before
Pomona in his proper person, a comely youth. Pleased with such ardent
wooing, Pomona consented and became his wife.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although the god Osiris in Egyptian Mythology has been frequently
identified with the sun, there is no doubt that he was also regarded as a
god of vegetation. There is a representation of him in one of the great
temples in Egypt in which the dead body of Osiris is shown with stalks
of corn springing from it, and a priest is watering the stalks from a
pitcher which he holds in his hands. The inscription which accompanies
this representation sets forth, “This is the form of him one may not
name, Osiris of the Mysteries, who springs from the returning waters.”
He is often spoken of, also, as “The one in the tree,” “The solitary
one in the Acacia.” The myth here related seems to be one of the death
of vegetation, slain by the evil Typhon. This was caused in Egypt by
drought, while the springing up of vegetation was caused by the annual
overflow of the Nile.

A similar myth exists in Greece in which the god of vegetation, Adonis,
is mourned by Aphrodite, also called Cypris and Cytherea (Roman Venus),
who loved him.



Osiris and Isis were at one time induced to descend to the earth to
bestow gifts and blessings on its inhabitants. Isis showed them first the
use of wheat and barley, and Osiris made the instruments of agriculture
and taught men the use of them, as well as how to harness the ox to the
plough. He then gave men laws, the institution of marriage, a civil
organization, and taught them how to worship the gods. After he had
thus made the valley of the Nile a happy country, he assembled a host
with which he went to bestow his blessings upon the rest of the world.
He conquered the nations everywhere but only with music and eloquence.
His brother Typhon saw this, and sought during his absence to usurp
his throne. But Isis, who held the reins of government, frustrated his
plans. Still more imbittered, he now resolved to kill his brother.
Having organized a conspiracy of seventy-two members, he went with them
to the feast which was celebrated in honor of the king’s return. He
then caused a box or chest to be brought in, which had been made to fit
exactly the size of Osiris, and declared that he would give that chest
of precious wood to whosoever could get into it. The rest tried in vain,
but no sooner was Osiris in it than Typhon and his companions closed
the lid and flung the chest into the Nile. When Isis heard of the cruel
murder she wept and mourned; and then, with her hair shorn, clothed in
black, and beating her breast, she sought diligently for the body of her
husband. In the search she was assisted by Anubis. They sought in vain
for some time; for when the chest, carried by the waves to the shores of
Byblos, had become entangled in the reeds that grew at the edge of the
water, the divine power that dwelt in the body of Osiris imparted such
strength to the shrub that it grew into a mighty tree, enclosing in its
trunk the coffin of the god. This tree, with its sacred deposit, was
shortly after felled, and erected as a column in the palace of the King
of Phœnicia. But at length, by the aid of Anubis and the sacred birds,
Isis ascertained these facts, and then went to the royal city. There she
offered herself at the palace as a servant, and, being admitted, threw
off her disguise, and appeared as the goddess, surrounded with thunder
and lightning. Striking the column with her wand, she caused it to split
open and give up the sacred coffin. This she seized, and returned with
it, and concealed it in the depth of a forest; but Typhon discovered it,
and cutting the body into fourteen pieces, scattered them hither and
thither. After a tedious search, Isis found thirteen pieces, the fishes
of the Nile having eaten the other. This she replaced by an imitation
of sycamore wood, and buried the body at Philæ, which became ever after
the burying place of the nation, and the spot to which pilgrimages were
made from all parts of the country. A temple of surpassing magnificence
was also erected there in honor of the god, and at every place where
one of his limbs had been found minor temples and tombs were built in
commemoration of the event.


(_From Bion’s Lament for Adonis_)

Low on the hills is lying the lovely Adonis, and his thigh with the
boar’s tusk, his white thigh with the boar’s tusk, is wounded, and sorrow
on Cypris he brings, as softly he breathes his life away.

To Cypris his kiss is dear, though he lives no longer, but Adonis knew
not that she kissed him whenas he died.

_Woe, woe for Adonis, the Loves join in the lament!_

A cruel, cruel wound on his thigh hath Adonis, but a deeper wound in her
heart Cytherea bears. About him his dear hounds are loudly baying, and
the nymphs of the wild wood wail him; but Aphrodite with unbound locks
through the glades goes wandering—wretched, with hair unbraided, with
feet unsandalled, and the thorns as she passes wound her and pluck the
blossom of her sacred blood. Shrill she wails as down the long woodlands
she is borne, lamenting her Assyrian lord, and again calling him and

_Woe, woe for Cytherea, the Loves join in the lament!_


No more in the oak woods, Cypris, lament thy lord. It is no fair couch
for Adonis, the lonely bed of reeds!

Now lay him down to sleep in his own soft coverlets, in a couch all of
gold, that yearns for Adonis, though sad is he to look upon. Cast on him
garlands and blossoms: all things have perished in his death, yea, all
the flowers are faded. Sprinkle him with ointments of Syria, sprinkle him
with unguents of myrrh. Nay, perish all perfumes, for Adonis, who was thy
perfume, hath perished.

He reclines, the delicate Adonis, in his raiment of purple, and around
him the Loves are weeping, and groaning aloud, clipping their locks for
Adonis. And one upon his shafts, another on his bow is treading, and
one hath loosed the sandals of Adonis, and another hath broken his own
feathered quiver, and one in a golden vessel bears water, and another
laves the wound, and another from behind him with his wings is fanning

_Woe, woe for Cytherea, the Loves join in the lament!_


And woe, woe for Adonis, shrilly cry the Muses, neglecting Pæan (Apollo),
and they lament Adonis aloud, and songs they chant to him, but he does
not heed them, not that he is loath to hear, but that the Maiden of
Hades doth not let him go.

Cease, Cytherea, from thy lamentations, to-day refrain from thy dirges.
Thou must again bewail him, again must weep for him another year.



We come now to myths in which the Sun and the Moon, and other objects of
nature, play the most important part. We find myths of this sort all over
the globe, some of them crude and simple, and some of them in the form of
very beautiful stories.

The Incas of Peru believed they were descended from the Sun, so with them
the Sun was their totem instead of an animal or a plant. But there came a
time when the Incas established a higher god than the Sun. They deposed
the Sun because it could move only in one part of the heavens and so must
have a ruler over it. So then to the question: “What are the Sun, the
Moon, and the Stars,” they answered: “They are men and women. At evening
they swim in the waters, they go down from sight in the west. In the
morning the Sun cometh forth at Wau-bunong, the Place of Breaking Light.”

According to the Cherokee Indians, a number of beings were employed in
constructing the Sun, the first planet made. “It was the intention of
the Creator that men should live always, but the Sun, having surveyed
the land, and, finding an insufficiency for their support, changed this
design, and arranged that they should die. The daughter of the Sun was
the first to suffer under this law. She was bitten by a serpent, and
died. Thereupon the Sun decreed that men should live always. At the same
time, he commissioned a few persons to take a box, and seek the spirit of
his daughter, and return with it encased therein. In no wise must the box
be opened. But the box was opened. Immortality fled. Men must die.”

The Sun-God was not always able to carry everything before him, as the
story of his battle with the Hare-God shows, as well as the various
stories about his being ensnared and his course regulated. In some
countries, the Sun is the husband of the Moon, in others the Moon is the
husband of the Sun. Again the Moon will be the sister of the Sun or the
Sun the sister of the Moon.


At the beginning, when the people had all crept out of the aperture in
the cave in which they had previously lived, a council of wise men was
held to discuss the propriety of introducing more light upon the earth,
which at that time was very small, being lit only by a twilight, like
that seen just at the breaking of dawn. Having deliberated some time, the
wise men concluded to have a sun and moon, and a variety of stars placed
above the earth. They first made the heavens for them to be placed in;
then the old men of the Navajos commenced building a sun, which was done
in a large house constructed for the purpose.

To the other tribes was confided the making of the moon and stars,
which they soon accomplished; when it was decided to give the sun and
moon to the guidance of the two dumb Fluters, who had figured with
some importance as musicians in their former place of residence in the
cave, and one of whom had accidentally conceived the plan of leaving
that place for their present more agreeable quarters. These two men,
who have carried the two heavenly bodies ever since, staggered at first
with their weight; and the one who carried the sun came near burning the
earth by bearing it too near, before he had reached the aperture in the
mountain through which he was to pass during the night. This misfortune,
however, was prevented by the old men, who puffed the smoke of their
pipes toward it, which caused it to retire to a greater distance in the
heavens. These men have been obliged to do this four times since the
dumb man—the Fluter—has carried the sun in the heavens; for the earth
has grown very much larger than at the beginning, and consequently the
sun would have to be removed, or the earth and all therein would perish
in its heat. Now, after the sun and moon had taken their places, the
people commenced embroidering the stars upon the heavens the wise men had
made, in beautiful and varied patterns and images. Bears and fishes and
all varieties of animals were being skilfully drawn, when in rushed a
prairie wolf, roughly exclaiming: “What folly is this? Why are you making
all this fuss to make a bit of embroidery? Just stick the stars about
the sky anywhere;” and, suiting the action to the word, the villainous
wolf scattered a large pile all over the heavens. Thus it is that there
is such confusion among the few images which the tasteful Navajos had so
carefully elaborated.


(_North American Indian_)

Once upon a time Tä-vwotz, the Hare-God, was sitting with his family by
the camp-fire in the solemn woods, anxiously waiting for the return of
Tä-vi, the wayward Sun-God. Weary with long watching, the Hare-God fell
asleep, and the Sun-God came so near that he scorched the shoulders of
Tä-vwotz. Foreseeing the vengeance which would be thus provoked, he fled
back to his cave beneath the earth. Tä-vwotz awoke in great wrath and
speedily determined to go and fight the Sun-God.

After a long journey of many adventures the Hare-God came to the brink
of the earth, and there watched long and patiently, till at last, the
Sun-God coming out, he shot an arrow in his face; but the fierce heat
consumed the arrow ere it had finished its course. Then other arrows were
sped, till only one remained in his quiver; but this was the magical
arrow that never failed its mark. Tä-vwotz, holding it in his hand,
lifted the barb to his eye and baptized it in a divine tear; then the
arrow was sped and struck the Sun-God full in the face, and the sun was
shivered into a thousand fragments, which fell to the earth and caused
a general conflagration. Then Tä-vwotz, the Hare-God, fled before the
destruction he had wrought; and as he fled, the burning earth consumed
his feet, consumed his legs, consumed his body, his hands and arms. All
were consumed but the head alone, which rolled across valleys and over
mountains, fleeing destruction from the burning earth, until at last,
swollen with heat, the eyes of the god burst, and the tears gushed forth
in a flood which spread over the earth and extinguished the fire. The
Sun-God was now conquered; and he appeared before a council of the gods
to await sentence.

In that long council were established the days and nights, the seasons
and years, with the length thereof, and the Sun-God was condemned to
travel across the firmament by the same trail every day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another view of the religion of the sun is shown in the Indian hymns to
the sun, as it is rising, at mid-day, and at sunset. After the Indian
hymn, we shall find it interesting to go to the opposite side of the
earth and see what a Hindoo hymn to the sun is like. It is less a prayer
than the Indian hymn, and, like the other Hindoo hymns, a song of praise.


(_North American Indian_)

Great Spirit! Master of our lives. Great Spirit! Master of things visible
and invisible, and who daily makes them visible and invisible. Great
Spirit! Master of every other spirit, good or bad, command the good to be
favorable unto us, and deter the bad from the commission of evil.

O Grand Spirit! preserve the strength and courage of our warriors, and
augment their numbers, that they may resist oppression from our enemies,
and recover our country and the rights of our fathers.

O Grand Spirit! preserve the lives of such of our old men as are inclined
to give counsel to the young. Preserve our children and multiply their
number, and let them be the comfort and support of declining age.
Preserve our corn and our animals, and let no famine desolate the land.
Protect our villages, guard our lives!

O Great Spirit! when hidden in the west protect us from our enemies, who
violate the night and do evil when thou art not present. Good Spirit!
make known to us your pleasure by sending to us the Spirit of Dreams. Let
the Spirit of Dreams proclaim thy will in the night, and we will perform
it in the day; and if it say the time of some be closed, send them,
Master of Life, to the great country of souls, where they may meet their
friends, and where thou art pleased to shine upon them with a bright,
warm and perpetual blaze!

O Grand, O Great Spirit! hearken to the voice of the nations, hearken to
all thy children, and remember us always, for we are descended from thee.

Courage, nations, courage! the Great Spirit, now above our heads, will
make us vanquish our enemies; he will cover our fields with corn, and
increase the animals of our woods. He will see that the old be made
happy, and that the young augment. He will make the nations prosper, make
them rejoice, and make them put up their voice to him, while he rises
and sets in their land, and while his heat and light can thus gloriously
shine out.

The nations must prosper; they have been looked upon by the Great Spirit.
What more can they wish? Is not that happiness enough? See, he retires,
great and content, after having visited his children with light and
universal good.

O Grand Spirit! sleep not longer in the gloomy west, but return and call
your people to light and life—to light and life—to light and life.


(_From the “Rig Veda”_)

    His heralds bear him up aloft, the god who knoweth all that lives,
    Sûrya, that all may look on him.
    The constellations pass away, like thieves, together with their beams,
    Before the all-beholding Sun.

    His herald rays are seen afar refulgent o’er the world of men,
    Like flames of fire that hum and blaze.
    Swift and all beautiful art thou, O Sûrya, maker of the light,
    Illuming all the radiant realm
    Thou goest to the hosts of the gods, thou comest hither to mankind,
    Hither all light to be beheld.

    Traversing sky and wide mid-air, thou makest with thy beams our days,
    Sun, seeing all things that have birth.
    Seven bay steeds harnessed to thy car bear thee, O thou far-seeing one,
    God, Sûrya, with the radiant hair.
    Sûrya hath yoked the pure bright seven, the daughters of the chariot;
    With these, self-yoked, he goeth forth.
    Looking upon the loftier light above the darkness we have come
    To Sûrya, god among the gods, the light that is most excellent.


(_North American Indian_)

On the shores of Lake Huron there lived, a long time ago, an aged Odjibwa
and his wife, who had an only son—a very beautiful boy—whose name was
Onawutaquto, or He that catches Clouds. These parents were proud of their
son, and anticipated the time when they should see him a celebrated
warrior. But when Onawutaquto arrived at the proper age, he was unwilling
to submit to the fast prescribed to youths entering manhood, which
very much disturbed his parents, who denied him food at their lodge,
giving him only charcoal with which to blacken his face, according to
the custom. Finally he consented to their wishes, and left the lodge
for a place of solitude. The night came on and the youth slept. In his
dream a beautiful woman came down from the clouds and stood by his side.
“Onawutaquto,” said she, “I am come for you; follow in my footsteps.” The
young man obeyed, and presently found himself ascending gradually above
the trees, where, passing through an orifice in the clouds, he perceived
that he had arrived upon a beautiful plain. Following his guide, he
entered a splendidly furnished lodge, on one side of which there were
bows and arrows, clubs and spears, and various warlike implements, tipped
with silver. On the other side were articles exclusively belonging to
women, which were of the most elegant description.

This, the young man found, was the home of his fair guide, who,
exhibiting to him a broad rich belt that she was embroidering with many
colors, said: “Let me conceal you beneath this belt, for my brother is
coming, and I must hide you from him.” Then, placing him in one corner
of the lodge, she concealed him entirely with the belt. Presently her
brother came in. He was very richly dressed, and his whole person shone
as if he had bright points of silver glittering all over his garments.
Without speaking, the brother took down from the wall a very richly
carved pipe, within which he placed a fragrant smoking mixture, and
regaled himself. When he had finished he turned to his sister, saying:
“Nemissa, my elder sister, when will you quit these practices? Do you
forget that the Great Spirit has commanded that you should not take away
the children from below? Perhaps you suppose that you have effectually
concealed Onawutaquto, and I do not know of his presence. If you would
not offend me, send him immediately down to his parents.” But Nemissa
was resolved to retain the young man, and the brother desisted from
urging his request. Addressing the youth, he said: “Come forth from your
concealment, and walk about and amuse yourself! You will become hungry
if you remain there.” He then presented him with a bow and arrow, and
a pipe of red stone elaborately ornamented. This was a signal that he
consented to the marriage of Nemissa to Onawutaquto, which immediately
took place. The young man found that the lodge, which was now his home,
was situated in the most delightful part of the plain; and all things—the
flowers and trees and birds—were more beautiful than any on earth. The
streams ran more swiftly, and gleamed like silver. The animals were
full of enjoyment, while the birds wore feathers of gorgeous colors.
Onawutaquto observed that the brother regularly left in the morning,
returning in the evening, when his sister would depart, remaining away a
portion of the night. This aroused his curiosity, and, wishing to solve
the mystery of this singular habit, he sought and obtained consent to
accompany the brother in one of his daily journeys. They travelled over
a smooth plain without boundaries, until Onawutaquto felt exceedingly
fatigued and very much in need of food, and he asked his companion if
there were no game in that region. “Patience, my brother,” answered
he, “we shall soon reach the spot where I eat my dinner, and you will
then see in what way I am provided.” After walking on a long time, they
came to a place which was spread over with very fine mats, where they
sat down to rest. There was at this place a round aperture in the sky,
looking through which Onawutaquto discovered the earth, with its gleaming
lakes and thick forests. In some places he could see the villages of the
Indians, and in others he saw a war party stealing upon the camp of its
enemy. In another place he saw feasting and dancing, where, on the green
plain, young men were engaged at ball. Along the stream the women were
employed in gathering apukwa for mats. “Do you see,” said the brother,
“that group of children playing beside a lodge? Observe that beautiful
and active boy,” said he, at the same time darting something at him from
his hand. The child immediately fell upon the ground, and was carried
into a lodge where the people gathered in crowds; when Onawutaquto heard
the Jossakeed, or priest, asking the child’s life in the sheshegwam, or
“song of entreaty.” To this entreaty the companion of Onawutaquto made
answer: “Send me up the sacrifice of a white dog.” Immediately a feast
was ordered by the parents of the child; the white dog was killed, his
carcass was roasted, and all the wise men and the Jossakeed of the
village assembled to witness the ceremony. “There are many below,” said
the brother to Onawutaquto, “whom you call Jossakeed, because of their
great success in the medical science, but it is to me they owe their
skill. When I have struck one of the people with sickness, the Jossakeed
directs them to look to me; and when they send me the offering I ask, I
remove my hand from off them and they recover.” The sacrifice was now
parcelled out in dishes, when the master of the feast said: “We send this
to thee, great Manito, thou that dwellest in the sun.” And immediately
the roasted animal came up to the two residents of the sky. After
partaking of this repast, they returned to the lodge by another way. It
was in this manner Onawutaquto lived for some time; but at last he became
wearied of such a life, and, thinking of his friends he had left, one
day he asked permission of his wife to return to the earth, to which,
with great reluctance and with many delays, she consented. “Since you are
better pleased,” she said, “with the cares and the ills and the poverty
of your earthly life than with the peaceful delights of the sky, go! I
give you permission, and I will guide your return; but remember, you
are still my husband. I hold a chain in my hand by which I can draw you
back whenever I will. Beware, therefore, how you venture to take a wife
among the people below. Should you ever do so, it is then you shall feel
the full force of my displeasure.” As she said this her eyes flashed and
she straightened herself up with a majestic air, and—Onawutaquto awoke
from his dream. He found himself where he had lain down to fast, and his
mother told him he had been absent a year. The change from the beautiful
realms in which he had been living to the scenes of earthly existence
was at first distasteful. He became moody and abstracted. By degrees,
however, these impressions wore away, and he regained his interest in
terrestrial pursuits. Now, forgetting the admonition of his heavenly
spouse, he married a beautiful woman of his tribe, but his bride died in
four days after their marriage. Although thus reminded, Onawutaquto soon
married again; when one day he left his lodge for the purpose of hunting,
and from that time never was seen by mortal eyes.



In a certain far-off country there once lived a king and queen. And they
had an only son, Prince Ivan, who was dumb from his birth. One day, when
he was twelve years old, he went into the stable to see a groom who was a
great friend of his.

That groom always used to tell him tales (_skazki_), and on this occasion
Prince Ivan went to him expecting to hear some stories (_skazochki_), but
that wasn’t what he heard.

“Prince Ivan!” said the groom, “your mother will soon have a daughter,
and you a sister. She will be a terrible witch, and she will eat up her
father and her mother, and all their subjects. So go and ask your father
for the best horse he has—as if you wanted a gallop—and then, if you want
to be out of harm’s way, ride away whithersoever your eyes guide you.”

Prince Ivan ran off to his father and, for the first time in his life,
began speaking to him.

At that the king was so delighted that he never thought of asking what he
wanted a good steed for, but immediately ordered the very best horse he
had in his stud to be saddled for the prince.

Prince Ivan mounted, and rode off without caring where he went. Long,
long did he ride.

At length he came to where two old women were sewing, and he begged them
to let him live with them. But they said:

“Gladly would we do so, Prince Ivan, only we have now but a short time
to live. As soon as we have broken that trunkful of needles, and used up
that trunkful of thread, that instant will death arrive!”

Prince Ivan burst into tears and rode on. Long, long did he ride. At
length he came to where the giant Vertodub was, and he besought him,
saying: “Take me to live with you.”

“Gladly would I have taken you, Prince Ivan,” replied the giant, “but now
I have very little longer to live. As soon as I have pulled up all these
trees by the roots, instantly will come my death!”

More bitterly still did the prince weep as he rode farther and farther
on. By and by he came to where the giant Vertogor was, and made the same
request to him, but he replied:

“Gladly would I have taken you, Prince Ivan, but I myself have very
little longer to live. I am set here, you know, to level mountains. The
moment I have settled matters with these you see remaining, then will my
death come!”

Prince Ivan burst into a flood of bitter tears, and rode on still
farther. Long, long did he ride. At last he came to the dwelling of the
Sun’s Sister. She received him into her house, gave him food and drink,
and treated him just as if he had been her own son.

The prince now led an easy life. But it was all no use; he couldn’t help
being miserable. He longed so to know what was going on at home.

He often went to the top of a high mountain, and thence gazed at the
palace in which he used to live, and he could see that it was all eaten
away; nothing but the bare walls remained! Then he would sigh and weep.
Once when he returned after he had been thus looking and crying, the
Sun’s Sister asked him:

“What makes your eyes so red to-day, Prince Ivan?”

“The wind has been blowing in them,” said he.

The same thing happened the second time. Then the Sun’s Sister ordered
the wind to stop blowing. Again, a third time did Prince Ivan come back
with a blubbered face. This time there was no help for it; he had to
confess everything, and then he took to entreating the Sun’s Sister to
let him go, that he might satisfy himself about his old home. She would
not let him go, but he went on urgently entreating.

So at last he persuaded her, and she let him go away to find out about
his home. But first she provided him for the journey with a brush, a
comb, and two youth-giving apples. However old anyone might be, let him
eat one of these apples, he would grow young again in an instant.

Well, Prince Ivan came to where Vertogor was. There was only just one
mountain left! He took his brush and cast it down on the open plain.
Immediately there rose out of the earth, goodness knows whence, high,
ever so high mountains, their peaks touching the sky. And the number
of them was such that there were more than the eye could see! Vertogor
rejoiced greatly and blithely recommenced his work.

After a time Prince Ivan came to where Vertodub was, and found that there
were only three trees remaining there. So he took the comb and flung it
on the open plain. Immediately from somewhere or other there came a sound
of trees, and forth from the ground arose dense oak forests, each stem
more huge than the others! Vertodub was delighted, thanked the prince,
and set to work uprooting the ancient oaks.

By and by Prince Ivan reached the old women, and gave each of them an
apple. They ate them, and straightway became young again. So they gave
him a handkerchief; you only had to wave it, and behind you lay a whole
lake! At last Prince Ivan arrived at home. Out came running his sister to
meet him, and caressed him fondly.

“Sit thee down, my brother!” she said. “Play a tune on the lute while I
go and get dinner ready.”

The prince sat down and strummed away on the lute (_gusli_).

Then there crept a mouse out of a hole, and said to him in a human voice:

“Save yourself, Prince. Run away quick! your sister has gone to sharpen
her teeth.”

Prince Ivan fled from the room, jumped upon his horse, and galloped away
back. Meantime the mouse kept running over the strings of the lute. They
twanged, and the sister never guessed that her brother was off. When she
had sharpened her teeth she burst into the room. Lo and behold! not a
soul was there; nothing but the mouse bolting into his hole. The witch
waxed wroth, ground her teeth like anything, and set off in pursuit.

Prince Ivan heard a loud noise and looked back. There was his sister
chasing him. So he waved his handkerchief, and a deep lake lay behind
him. While the witch was swimming across the water, Prince Ivan got a
long way ahead. But on she came faster than ever; and now she was close
at hand! Vertodub guessed that the prince was trying to escape from his
sister. So he began tearing up oaks and strewing them across the road. A
regular mountain did he pile up! there was no passing by for the witch!
So she set to work to clear the way. She gnawed, and gnawed, and at
length contrived by hard work to bore her way through; but by this time
Prince Ivan was far ahead.

On she dashed in pursuit, chased and chased. Just a little more, and it
would be impossible for him to escape! But Vertogor spied the witch,
laid hold of the very highest of all the mountains, pitched it down all
of a heap on the road, and flung another mountain right on top of it.
While the witch was climbing and clambering, Prince Ivan rode and rode,
and found himself a long way ahead. At last the witch got across the
mountain, and once more set off in pursuit of her brother. By and by she
caught sight of him and exclaimed:

“You sha’n’t get away from me this time!” And now she is close, now she
is just going to catch him!

At that very moment Prince Ivan dashed up to the abode of the Sun’s
Sister and cried.

“Sun, Sun! open the window!”

The Sun’s Sister opened the window, and the prince bounded through it,
horse and all.

Then the witch began to ask that her brother might be given up to her for
punishment. The Sun’s Sister would not listen to her, nor would she give
him up. Then the witch said:

“Let Prince Ivan be weighed against me, to see which is the heavier. If I
am, then I will eat him; but if he is, then let him kill me!”

This was done. Prince Ivan was the first to get into one of the scales;
then the witch began to get into the other. But no sooner had she set
foot in it than up shot Prince Ivan in the air, and that with such force
that he flew right up into the sky, and into the house of the Sun’s

But as for the Witch-Snake, she remained down below on earth.



Now, when Amaterasu, the Sun-Goddess, ascended into her kingdom, she
reigned there peacefully in great glory; and the fair light of her beauty
flooded the earth and the heavens.

Her brother Susa-wo, at the time of his banishment to the under-world,
beheld her shining and said:

“I will go and bid farewell to my sister the Sun-Goddess, ere I depart!”

So he mounted to heaven with such sudden violence that the rivers and
mountains shook and groaned aloud, and every land and country quaked.

Amaterasu was greatly alarmed and said: “I know my brother desires to
take my kingdom from me!” So she girt on her ten-span sword and her
nine-span sword, and her necklace of five hundred jewels which she
twisted round her hair and arms, and she slung on her thousand-arrow
quiver, and great high-sounding elbow-shield. Then she brandished her bow
and stamped her feet into the hard ground till it fell away from her like
rotten snow, and she stood valiantly, uttering a mighty cry of defiance.

Then Susa-wo stood on the farther side of the Tranquil River of Heaven,
which is the Milky Way, and answered her softly with fair words:

“O my sister! I am come hither with a pure heart to bid thee farewell.
Why dost thou put on a stern countenance? Let me but see thee once and
speak with thee, face to face, ere I depart.” Then the heart of the
Sun-Goddess was softened, and she let him enter and cross the River of
Heaven. But even here Susa-wo could not rest from his turbulent ways.

Now, in her wisdom, Amaterasu would wonder how best to help and comfort
mankind, and on a certain day she sent Susa-wo on a journey to find her
sister, the Food-Goddess, as she had many things to inquire of her.
When the Food-Goddess looked and saw Susa-wo descending toward her, she
quickly prepared a great banquet in his honor, and by her miraculous
power she produced from her mouth boiled rice and every kind of fish and
game. But Susa-wo, watching her, flew into a rage and cried out: “Thou
art unclean! Dost thou offer me what comes from thy mouth?” And he took
out his sword and slew her.

When Amaterasu heard this, she was very wroth with her brother, and sent
a second messenger to see if the Food-Goddess were really dead. And when
he found her, behold, a miracle! All things good for man were growing
from her head and body. Millet and grass, mulberry trees with silkworms
on them, rice and wheat and large and small beans. The messenger took
them all and presented them to the Sun-Goddess, who rejoiced greatly and
gave them to mankind, rice for the wet fields and other grains for the

And she planted the mulberry trees on the fragrant hills of heaven,
and chewed the cocoons of the silkworms, and spun thread to weave silk
garments for the gods.

Now, one day, while she was weaving with her maidens in the sacred hall,
word was brought to her that her brother had trampled the rice fields and
polluted her storehouses. And when she sought to excuse him he angered
her yet more by his folly and violence. So Amaterasu covered her face,
and in her grief and anger she hid herself from the sight of all men in a
rocky cave, and closed the door.

When her radiance was hidden, all the world was left in deep darkness and
confusion, the whole plain of heaven was obscured, and the Land of the
Reed-Plains darkened. Night and day were unknown, and neither in heaven
nor earth was there any light at all. The sound of many voices rose and
fell, like the swarming of bees, and everywhere was trouble and dismay.

In the midst of the gloom the eighty myriads of gods met together in
council, and their meeting-place was on the banks of the Milky Way of
Heaven. And the Great Wise God, wiser than his fellows, who held in
his mind the thoughts and imaginings of all men, said softly: “She is
a woman, and surely will be curious. Let us show her something more
beautiful than herself!” But as in all High Heaven nothing fairer could
be found, they made a mighty mirror, forged by the Blacksmith God from
the metals of heaven. Yet the gods were not satisfied, and commanded
him to make another. So with his anvil from the Milky Way, and bellows,
fashioned from a single deer-skin, he forged a second and yet a third,
and this last was perfect and flawless, in shape like the Sun.

And they lit great fires outside the cave and hung the mirror there
on the branches of the sacred Sakaki tree, above it a necklace of
ever-bright and glittering jewels, and below it some strips of fine-woven
cloth. Then the Wise God took from his fellows six long bows and bound
them together, and placed them upright in the ground and gently brushed
the strings.

And the fair Goddess Amé-no-Uzumé was led forth to dance, her flowing
sleeves bound up with the creeping plant Masaki, and her head-dress of
trailing Kadsura vine, gathered from the mountains of Heavenly Fragrance,
and in her hands the branches of young bamboos hung with tiny bells.
These she waved rhythmically to and fro to the sound of her stepping, and
as the humming of the bow-strings rose and fell, the eighty Myriad Gods
sat around her and joyfully beat the measure.

She sang of the beauty of an unknown goddess, and as her body swayed in
cadence, the great assembly of gods laughed aloud till the vault of
heaven shook.

The Sun-Goddess wondered greatly at all this mirth and music, and said:
“How is it that while the whole Plain of Heaven and the Land of the
Reed-Plains is darkened, Uzumé sings and frolics, and the eighty Myriad
Gods do laugh?” She peeped inquisitive out of the cave.

Uzumé still sang of the beauty of the Unknown Goddess, and the words of
the first song were these:

    Gods! from the cavern’s gloom
    Comes she majestical.
    Shall not our hearts rejoice?
    Mine is the victory!
    Who can resist my charms?
      Hail, Ever-Shining One!

And wondering—longing—yet unwilling to venture forth, Amaterasu looked
from the depths of the cave and listened to the strains, and heard
the gods make merry; till, opening wider the door, she stood upon the

Two gods hastily held forward the mirror, and she saw, amazed, the vision
of her own exceeding loveliness. Then the first flush of dawn appeared
suddenly in the east, there was a stir as of awakening birds, the
mountain-tops blushed pink, and all the gods held their breath.

She stepped forward softly, still gazing entranced, while broad shafts
of light shot upward in the sky, and her glory filled the air with rosy
radiance. As she looked on her ineffable beauty, the Wise God, twisting
a rice-straw rope, stretched it across the mouth of the cave—for never
more could she desire to hide her face from a sorrowing world.

And thus with the sunshine came music and dancing, for the delight of men.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Norse mythology, the story is told that the heavenly bodies were
formed of the sparks from Muspelheim. The gods did not create them, but
they placed them in the heavens to give light to the world, and assigned
them a prescribed locality and motion. Mundilfare was the father of the
sun and moon. He had two children, a son and a daughter, so lovely and
graceful that he called the boy Maane (Moon), and the girl Sol (Sun), and
Sol he gave in marriage to Glener (the Shining One).

The gods, however, were much incensed at the presumption of Mundilfare,
so they took his two children and placed them in the heavens, where they
let Sol drive the horses of the Sun, while Maane guides the Moon and
regulates its increasing and waning aspect.

Very closely akin to a god of the Sun in Norse mythology is Balder the
Good. He is the favorite of all the gods and of all men and nature. So
fair and dazzling is he in form and features that rays of light seem to
issue from him. Some idea of the beauty of his hair may be formed from
the fact that the whitest of all plants is called Balder’s brow. Balder
is described as the mildest, the wisest and the most eloquent of all the
gods, yet such is his nature that the judgment he has pronounced can
never be altered. He dwells in the heavenly mansion called Breidablik,
meaning the broad-shining splendor, into which nothing unclean can enter.
He is, in fact, the God of Light. Some one says of him,[5] “Light is
the best thing we have in the world; it is white and pure; it cannot
be wounded; no shock can disturb it; nothing in the world can kill it
excepting its own negative, darkness (Höder). Loke (Fire) is jealous
of it; the pure light of heaven and the blaze of fire are each other’s
enemies. Balder does not fight, the mythology gives no exploits by him;
he only shines and dazzles, conferring blessings upon all, and this he
continues to do steadfast and unchangeable, until darkness steals upon
him—darkness that does not itself know what harm it is doing; and when
Balder is dead, cries of lamentation are heard throughout all nature.”
How his death occurred will be related in the story of him in this

The God of the Sun in Egypt was Ra, though Osiris is often called the God
of the Sun; and probably was identified with the sun in some stage of the
long development of this myth, as already mentioned.

Like Balder and other sun gods, Ra has his fight with the demon of
darkness in the under world, as described in an ancient Egyptian papyrus,
a translation of which is given in this chapter.

In Greek mythology there are two gods of the sun and two goddesses of
the moon.[6] The older ones were Helios and Selene, but they became
identified with the later celebrated pair, Phœbus Apollo and Artemis
or Diana, as the Romans called her, the children of Zeus, the God of
the Sky, and Latona. Apollo was not only a god of the sun, who brought
the warm sun and the spring, but he was the healer, who warded off the
dangers and diseases of summer and autumn. He had a temple at Delphi,
where a priestess was wont to give forth oracles in regard to the future,
supposed to be revealed by Apollo. He was a founder of cities, a promoter
of colonization, a giver of good laws, and, finally, he was the patron of
music and poetry. To him were sacred the wolf, the roe, the mouse, the
he-goat, the ram, the dolphin, and the swan.

[Illustration: Apollo with the Lyre. _Glyptothek, Munich._]

An ancient hymn by Callimachus (240 B.C.) describes him as follows:

    “How hath the laurel shoot of Apollo heaved! How the whole of
    the shrine! Afar, afar be ye, sinners. Now verily doth Phœbus
    knock at the doors with beauteous foot. See you not? The Delian
    palm has nodded in a pleasant fashion on a sudden, and the swan
    sings sweetly on the air. Now of your own accord fall back, ye
    bolts of the doors, and of yourselves, ye bars. For no longer
    is the god afar off. Make ready, ye young men, for the song and
    the choir. Not to every one doth Apollo manifest himself, but
    to only the good. Whoso shall have seen him, great is he; small
    that man who hath not seen him.

    “We shall behold thee, O Fardarter! and shall be no more of
    small account. Nor silent lyre, nor noiseless tread should the
    servants of Phœbus have, when he sojourns among them. Listen
    and keep holy silence at the song in honor of Apollo.


    “Golden are both the garment and the clasp of Apollo, his lyre,
    his Lyctian bow, and his quiver: golden, too, his sandals; for
    Apollo is rich in gold, and has also many possessions.


    “And indeed he is ever beauteous, ever young.


    “Great, too, in art is no one so much as Apollo.

    “To Phœbus the care of the bow as well as of song is intrusted.

    “To him, likewise, belong divinations and diviners: and from
    Phœbus physicians have learned the art of delaying death.


    “And following Phœbus men are wont to measure out cities. For
    Phœbus ever delights in founding cities and Phœbus himself lays
    their foundations.”

The twin sister of Apollo, Artemis, is first of all the Goddess of the
Moon. Its slender arc is her bow; its beams are her arrows, with which
she sends upon womenkind a painless death. She determined herself never
to fall in love or marry, and so she imposed upon the nymphs she gathered
about her vows of perpetual maidenhood, and if any of them broke these
vows she punished them severely and swiftly. Graceful in form and free
of movement, equipped for the chase, and surrounded by a bevy of fair
companions, the swift-rushing goddess was wont to scour hill, valley,
forest, and plain. She was, however, not only huntress, but guardian
of wild beasts, mistress of horses and kine and other domestic brutes.
She ruled marsh and mountain; her gleaming arrows smote sea as well as
land. Springs and woodland brooks she favored, for in them she and her
attendants were accustomed to bathe. She blessed with verdure the meadows
and arable lands, and from them obtained a meed of thanks. When weary
of the chase, she turned to music and dancing, for the lyre and flute
and song were dear to her. Muses, graces, nymphs, and the fair goddesses
themselves thronged the rites of the chorus-leading queen. But ordinarily
a woodland chapel or a rustic altar sufficed for her worship. There the
hunter laid his offering—antlers, skin, or edible portions of the deer
that Artemis of the golden arrows had herself vouchsafed him.

She was mistress of the brute creation, protectress of youth, patron of
temperance in all things, guardian of civil right. The cypress tree was
sacred to her; and her favorites were the bear, the boar, the dog, the
goat, and especially the hind.

A pretty picture is given of Artemis in a hymn by Callimachus which
describes how, when sitting yet a blooming child on the knees of her
sire, she thus addressed him:

    “‘Grant me, kind father, to preserve eternal maidenhood, and
    many names, that so Phœbus may not vie with me. And give me
    arrows and bow. Grant it, sire! I ask not a quiver of thee, nor
    a large bow: the cyclopes will forthwith forge me arrows, and
    fashion a flexible bow. And I ask to be girt as far as the knee
    with a tunic of colored border, that I may slay wild beasts.
    And give me sixty ocean nymphs to form my chorus, all young and
    of the same age. Give me likewise as attendants twenty Amnisian
    nymphs, who may duly take care of my buskins, and, when I no
    longer am shooting lynxes and stags, may tend my fleet dogs.
    Give me all mountains, and assign to me any city, whichsoever
    thou choosest. For ’twill be rare, when Artemis shall go down
    into a city. On mountains will I dwell.’

    “Thus having spoken, the maiden wished to touch the beard of
    her sire, and oft outstretched her hands to no purpose, until
    at last she might touch it. Then her father assented with a
    smile, and said as he fondled her: ‘Have, child, whatever you
    ask of your own choice; but other yet greater gifts will your
    sire bestow. Thrice ten cities will I present to you, which
    shall not learn to honor any other god, but thee alone, and
    shall be called the cities of Artemis. And I will give thee
    many cities to measure out in common with other gods, on the
    continent and islands; in all shall be altars and sacred groves
    of Artemis, and thou shalt be guardian over ways and harbors.’”


(_From the Norse Eddas_)

This was an event which the asas deemed of great importance. Balder
the Good having been tormented by terrible dreams, indicating that his
life was in great peril, communicated them to the assembled gods, who,
sorrow-stricken, resolved to conjure all things to avert from him the
threatened danger. Then Frigg exacted an oath from fire and water, from
iron and all other metals, as well as from stones, earths, diseases,
beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of them would do
any harm to Balder. Still Odin feared that the prosperity of the gods
had vanished. He saddled his steed Sleipner and rode down to Niflheim,
where the dog from Hel met him; it was bloody on the breast and barked
a long time at Odin. Odin advanced; the earth trembled beneath him, and
he came to the high dwelling of Hel. East of the door he knew the grave
of the vala was situated; thither he rode and sang magic songs (_kvao
galdra_), until she unwillingly stood up and asked who disturbed her
peace, after she had been lying so long covered with snow and wet with
dew. Odin called himself Vegtam, a son of Valtam, and asked for whom
the benches were strewn with rings and the couches were swimming in
gold. She replied that the mead was brewed for Balder, but all the gods
would despair. When Odin asked further who should be Balder’s bane, she
answered that Höder would hurl the famous branch and become the bane of
Odin’s son; but Rind should give birth to a son who, only one night old,
should wield a sword, and would neither wash his hands nor comb his hair
before he had avenged his brother. But recognizing Odin by an enigmatical
question, she said: “You are not Vegtam, as I believed, but you are Odin,
the old ruler.” Odin replied: “You are no vala, but the mother of three
giants.” Then the vala told Odin to ride home and boast of his journey,
but assured him that no one should again visit her thus before Loke
should be loosed from his chains and the ruin of the gods had come.

When it had been made known that nothing in the world would harm Balder,
it became a favorite pastime of the gods at their meetings to get Balder
to stand up and serve them as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some
stones, while others hewed at him with their swords and battle-axes; for
whatever they did none of them could harm him, and this was regarded
by all as a great honor shown to Balder. But when Loke Laufeyarson
beheld the scene he was sorely vexed that Balder was not hurt. Assuming,
therefore, the guise of a woman he went to Fensal, the mansion of Frigg.
That goddess, seeing the pretended woman, inquired of her whether she
knew what the gods were doing at their meetings. The woman (Loke)
replied that they were throwing darts and stones at Balder without being
able to hurt him.

“Ay,” said Frigg, “neither metal nor wood can hurt Balder, for I have
exacted an oath from all of them.”

“What!” exclaimed the woman, “have all things sworn to spare Balder?”

“All things,” replied Frigg, “except one little shrub that grows on the
eastern side of Valhal, and is called mistletoe, and which I thought too
young and feeble to crave an oath from.”

As soon as Loke heard this he went away, and, resuming his natural form,
pulled up the mistletoe and repaired to the place where the gods were
assembled. There he found Höder standing far to one side without engaging
in the sport on account of his blindness. Loke, going up to him, said:
“Why do not you also throw something at Balder?”

“Because I am blind,” answered Höder, “and cannot see where Balder is,
and besides I have nothing to throw at him.”

“Come, then,” said Loke, “do like the rest, and show honor to Balder by
throwing this twig at him, and I will direct your arm toward the place
where he stands.”

Höder then took the mistletoe, and under the guidance of Loke darted it
at Balder, who, pierced through and through, fell down lifeless. Surely
never was there witnessed, either among gods or men, a more atrocious
deed than this! When Balder fell the gods were struck speechless with
horror, and then they looked at each other; and all were of one mind to
lay hands on him who had done the deed, but they were obliged to delay
their vengeance out of respect for the sacred place (place of peace)
where they were assembled. They at length gave vent to their grief by
such loud lamentations that they were not able to express their grief to
one another. Odin, however, felt this misfortune most severely, because
he knew best how great was the mischief and the loss which the gods had
sustained by the death of Balder. When the gods were a little composed,
Frigg asked who among them wished to gain all her love and favor by
riding to the lower world to try and find Balder, and offer a ransom to
Hel if she would permit Balder to return to Asgard; whereupon Hermod,
surnamed the Nimble, offered to undertake the journey. Odin’s horse
Sleipner was then led forth and prepared for the journey; Hermod mounted
him and galloped hastily away.

The gods then took the dead body of Balder and carried it to the sea,
where lay Balder’s ship, _Ringhorn_, which was the largest of all ships.
But when they wanted to launch this ship, in order to make Balder’s
funeral pile on it, they were unable to move it from the place. In this
predicament they sent a messenger to Jotunheim for a certain giantess
named Hyrroken (the smoking fire), who came riding on a wolf and had
twisted serpents for her reins. As soon as she alighted Odin ordered
four berserks to hold her steed, but they were obliged to throw the
animal down on the ground before they could manage it. Hyrroken then went
to the prow of the ship, and with a single push set it afloat; but the
motion was so violent that fire sparkled from the underlaid rollers and
the whole world shook. Thor, enraged at the sight, grasped his mallet
and would have broken the woman’s skull had not the gods interceded for
her. Balder’s body was then carried to the funeral pile on board the
ship, and this ceremony had such an effect upon Balder’s wife Nanna,
daughter of Nep, that her heart broke with grief, and her body was laid
upon the same pile and burned with that of her husband. Thor stood beside
the pile and consecrated it with his hammer Mjolner. Before his feet
sprang up a dwarf called Lit. Thor kicked him with his foot into the
fire, so that he also was burned. There was a vast concourse of various
kinds of people at Balder’s funeral procession. First of all came Odin,
accompanied by Frigg, the valkyries, and his ravens. Then came Frey in
his chariot, drawn by the boar Gullinburste (gold-brush), or Slidrugtanne
(the sharp-toothed). Heimdal rode his horse Goldtop, and Freyja drove in
her chariot drawn by cats. There were also a great number of frost giants
and mountain giants present. Odin cast upon the funeral pile the famous
ring Draupner, which had been made for him by the dwarfs, and possessed
the property of producing every ninth night eight rings of equal weight.
Balder’s horse, fully caparisoned, was also laid upon the pile, and
consumed in the same flames with the body of his master.

[Illustration: Diana or Artemis the Huntress. _Versailles._]

Meanwhile Hermod was proceeding on his mission. Of him it is to be
related that he rode nine days and as many nights through dark and deep
valleys—so dark that he could not discern anything until he came to the
river Gjol and passed over the Gjallar bridge (bridge over the river
Gjol), which is covered with glittering gold. Modgud, the maiden who
kept the bridge, asked him his name and parentage, and added that the
day before five fylkes (kingdoms, bands) of dead men had ridden over the
bridge; “but,” she said, “it did not shake as much beneath all of them
together as it does under you alone, and you have not the complexion
of the dead; why, then, do you ride here on your way to Hel?” “I ride
to Hel,” answered Hermod, “to seek for Balder; have you perchance seen
him pass this way?” She replied that Balder had ridden over the Gjallar
bridge, and that the road to the abodes of death (to Hel) lay downward
and toward the north.

Hermod then continued his journey until he came to the barred gates of
Hel. Then he alighted from his horse, drew the girths tighter, remounted
him, and clapped both spurs into him. The horse cleared the gate with
a tremendous leap without touching it. Hermod then rode forward to the
palace, alighted and went in, where he found his brother Balder occupying
the most distinguished seat in the hall, and spent the night in his
company. The next morning he entreated Hel (death) to let Balder ride
home with him, representing to her the sorrow which prevailed among the
gods. Hel replied that it should now be tried whether Balder was so
universally beloved as he was said to be; if, therefore, she added, all
things in the world, the living as well as the lifeless, will weep for
him, then he shall return to the gods, but if anything speak against him
or refuse to weep, then Hel will keep him.

After this Hermod rose up; Balder went with him out of the hall and gave
him the ring Draupner, to present as a keepsake to Odin. Nanna sent Frigg
a carpet, together with several other gifts, and to Fulla she sent a gold
finger-ring. Hermod then rode back to Asgard and related everything that
he had heard and witnessed.

The gods upon this dispatched messengers throughout all the world to
beseech everything to weep, in order that Balder might be delivered
from the power of Hel. All things very willingly complied with the
request—man, animals, the earth, stones, trees, and all metals—just as we
see things weep when they come out of the frost into the warm air. When
the messengers were returning, with the conviction that their mission had
been quite successful, they found on their way home a giantess (ogress,
_gygr_), who called herself Thok. They bade her also weep Balder out of
the dominion of Hel. But she answered:

    Thok will weep
    With dry tears
    For Balder’s death;
    Neither in life nor in death
    Gave he me gladness;
    Let Hel keep what she has.



Get thee back, depart, retreat from me, O Anapef; withdraw, or thou
shalt be drowned at the pool of Nu, at the place where thy father hath
ordered that thy slaughter be performed. Depart thou from the divine
place of birth of Ra, wherein is thy terror. I am Ra who dwelleth in his
terror. Get thee back, Fiend, before the darts of his beams. Ra hath
overthrown thy words, the gods have turned thy face backward, the Lynx
hath torn open thy breast, the Scorpion hath cast fetters upon thee, and
Maat hath sent forth thy destruction. Those who are in the ways have
overthrown thee; fall down and depart, O Apep, thou Enemy of Ra! O thou
that passest over the region in the eastern part of heaven with the
sound of the roaring thunder-cloud, O Ra, who openest the gates of the
horizon straightway on thy appearance, Apep hath sunk helpless under thy
gashings. I have performed thy will, O Ra, I have performed thy will,
I have done that which is fair, I have done that which is fair, I have
labored for the peace of Ra. I have made to advance thy fetters, O Ra,
and Apep hath fallen through thy drawing them tight. The gods of the
south and of the north, of the west and of the east, have fastened chains
upon him, and they have fettered him with fetters; the god Rekes hath
overthrown him and the god Hertit hath put him in chains. Ra setteth, Ra
setteth, Ra is strong at his setting. Apep hath fallen; Apep, the enemy
of Ra, departeth. Greater is the punishment which hath been inflicted
on thee than the sting which is the Scorpion goddess, and mightily hath
she, whose course is everlasting, worked in upon thee, and with deadly
effect. Thou shalt never enjoy the delights of love, thou shalt never
fulfil thy desire, O Apep, thou Enemy of Ra! He maketh thee to go back,
O thou who art hateful to Ra; he looketh upon thee, get thee back! He
pierceth thy head, he cutteth through thy face, he divideth thy head at
the two sides of the ways, and it is crushed in his land; thy bones are
smashed in pieces, thy members are hacked off thee, and the god Aker hath
condemned thee, O Apep, thou Enemy of Ra! Thy mariners are those who
keep the reckoning for thee, O Ra; as thou advancest and thou resteth
there within are the offerings made to thee. As thou advancest, as thou
advancest toward the House. Let not any baleful obstacle proceed from thy
mouth against me when thou workest on my behalf. I am Set, who let loose
the storm-clouds and the thunder in the horizon of heaven.



Soon after his birth the Sun God spent a year among the Hyperboreans,
where for six continuous months of the year there is sunshine and spring,
soft climate, profusion of herbs and flowers, and the very ecstasy of
life. During this delay the Delphians sang pæans—hymns of praise—to
Apollo, and danced in chorus about the tripod, or three-legged stool,
where the expectant priestess of Apollo had taken her seat. At last, when
the year was warm, came the god in his chariot drawn by swans—heralded
by songs of springtide, of nightingales and swallows and crickets. Then
the crystal fount of Castalia and the stream Cephissus overflowed their
bounds, and mankind made grateful offerings to the god. But his advent
was not altogether peaceful. An enormous serpent (Python) had crept forth
from the slime with which, after the flood, the earth was covered; and in
the caves of Mount Parnassus this terror of the people lurked. Him Apollo
encountered, and after fearful combat slew with arrows, weapons which the
god of the silver bow had not before used against any but feeble animals.
In commemoration of this conquest, he instituted the Pythian games, in
which the victor, in feats of strength, swiftness of foot, or in the
chariot race, should be crowned with a wreath of beach leaves.

In his conflict with another monster of darkness, Apollo had the
assistance of his sister Artemis (Diana). By their unerring, fiery darts
they subdued the giant Tityus, who not only had obstructed the peaceful
ways to the oracle of Delphi, but had ventured to insult the mother of
the twin deities.

Another event in the life of Apollo shows the fatal effect of his fiery
darts upon a young friend, Hyacinthus. The god of the silver bow was in
the habit of going with Hyacinthus when he went forth on his hunting
and fishing expeditions, or upon tramps in the mountains. One day
they decided to play a game of quoits together. Apollo, heaving aloft
the discus with strength mingled with skill, sent it high and far.
Hyacinthus, excited with the sport and eager to make his throw, ran
forward to seize the missile; but it bounded from the earth and struck
him in the forehead. He fainted and fell. The god, as pale as himself,
raised him and tried all his art to staunch the wound and retain the
flitting life, but in vain. As when one has broken the stem of a lily in
the garden it hangs its head and turns its flowers to the earth, so the
head of the dying boy, as if too heavy for his neck, fell over on his
shoulder. “Thou diest, Hyacinth,” said Phœbus, “robbed of thy life by
me. Would that I could die for thee! But since that may not be, my lyre
shall celebrate thee, my song shall tell thy fate, and thou shalt become
a flower inscribed with my regret.” While the golden god spoke, the blood
which had flowed on the ground and stained the herbage ceased to be
blood, and a flower of hue more beautiful than Tyrian purple sprang up,
resembling in shape the lily. Phœbus then, to confer still greater honor,
marked the petals with his sorrow, inscribing “Ai! ai!” upon them. The
flower bears the name of Hyacinthus, and with returning spring revives
the memory of his fate.

Apollo was also a perfect magician in music. He helped Neptune, the God
of the Sea, to build the walls of the ancient and far-famed city of Troy
simply by playing on his lyre.

It is said that upon one occasion Pan had the temerity to compare his
music with that of Apollo, and to challenge the God of the Lyre to a
trial of skill. The challenge was accepted, and Tmolus, the Mountain
God, was chosen umpire. The Senior took his seat, and cleared away the
trees from his ears to listen. At a given signal, Pan blew on his pipes,
and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his
faithful follower Midas, who happened to be present. Then Tmolus turned
his head toward the Sun God, and all his trees turned with him. Apollo
rose, his brow wreathed with Parnassian laurel, while his robe of Tyrian
purple swept the ground. In his left hand he held the lyre, and with his
right hand struck the strings. Tmolus at once awarded the victory to the
lyric god, and all but Midas acquiesced in the judgment. He dissented,
and questioned the justice of the award, and Apollo promptly transformed
his depraved pair of ears into those of an ass.



Orion, the son of Neptune, was a giant and a mighty hunter, whose prowess
and manly favor gained for him the rare good-will of Artemis. It is
related that he loved Merope, the daughter of Œnopion, king of Chios, and
sought her in marriage. He cleared the island of wild beasts, and brought
the spoils of the chase as presents to his beloved; but as Œnopion
constantly deferred his consent, Orion attempted to gain possession of
the maiden by violence. Her father, incensed at this conduct, made Orion
drunk, deprived him of his sight, and cast him out on the seashore.
The blinded hero, instructed by an oracle to seek the rays of morning,
followed the sound of a Cyclop’s hammer till he reached Lemnos, where
Vulcan, taking pity on him, gave him Cedalion, one of his men, to be his
guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Cedalion on his shoulders, Orion
proceeded to the east, and there meeting the Sun God, was restored to
sight by his beam.

[Illustration: Diana or Artemis. _Correggio._]

After this he used to go hunting with Artemis, much to the displeasure of
Apollo, who did not like his sister to make such a friend of Orion. One
day, therefore, observing Orion as he walked through the sea, with his
head just above water, Apollo pointed out the black object to his sister,
and maintained that she could not hit it. The archer goddess discharged
a shaft with fatal aim; the waves rolled the dead body of Orion to the
land. Then, bewailing with many tears the death of her friend, Artemis
placed him among the stars, where he appears as a giant, with a girdle,
sword, lion’s skin, and club. Sirius, his dog, follows him, and the
Pleiades fly before him. In the beginning of winter, all through the
night, Orion follows the chase across the heavens, but with dawn he sinks
toward the waters of his father, Neptune. In the beginning of summer he
may be seen, with daybreak, in the eastern sky, till Artemis draws again
her darts and slays him.

       *       *       *       *       *

The myths of the stars are almost as numerous as those of the sun and
moon, and exist everywhere. A very prevalent idea in regard to them is
that human beings are transformed into stars; for example, in Australia
they say that the god Pundjel made stars of all the good men and women
after the Deluge. In Greek mythology, the gods very frequently turned men
and women into stars. Both in Australia and Greece the stars the Greeks
called, and we know now as, Castor and Pollux were two young men. In
the first case they are said to be two hunters, in the second they were
two brothers so famous for their brotherly love that Zeus, desiring to
make their memory immortal, placed them both among the stars. Sometimes
a human being or an animal is transformed into a whole constellation or
group of stars. The story told about the constellations of the Great
Bear and the Little Bear in Greece is that once a nymph, Callisto,
of the train of Artemis, who fell in love, was changed into a bear by
Juno. One day long after she saw a youth hunting, and recognized him as
her own son. She stopped and wanted to embrace him, but her son, not
recognizing her in her bear form, was on the point of transfixing her
when Zeus arrested the crime, and, snatching away both of them, placed
them in the heavens as the Great Bear and the Little Bear. The story of
Orion’s translation into a constellation has already been given. Around
the group of stars called the Pleiades cluster many legends. Of this
group of seven stars one is so dim that it seems entirely to disappear. A
South Australian legend tells that the Pleiades were a queen and her six
attendants. The Crow fell in love with the queen, who refused to be his
wife. The Crow, however, found that the queen and her six maidens were
in the habit of hunting for white, edible grubs in the bark of trees.
The Crow at once changed himself into a grub and hid in the bark of a
tree. The six maidens sought to pick him out with their wooden hooks,
but he broke the points of all the hooks. Then came the queen with her
pretty bone hook; he let himself be drawn out, took the shape of a giant,
and ran away with her. Ever since there have only been six stars and
six maidens in the Pleiades. According to a Greek myth, the Pleiades,
who still fly before Orion in the heavens, were daughters of Atlas and
nymphs of the train of Artemis. One day they were pursued by the giant
hunter Orion, and, being very much frightened, they prayed to the gods to
change their form. Zeus heard their prayers, changed them into pigeons,
and placed them among the stars. Though their number was seven, only six
stars are now visible, for it is said Electra left her place that she
might not behold the ruin of Troy, which had been founded by her son
Dardanus. The sight had such an effect on her sisters that they blanched,
and have been pale ever since. But Electra became a comet. Her hair
floating wildly, she still ranges inconsolably the expanse of heaven.

The prettiest notion in regard to the stars is that they are the souls of
the dead. In Germany, for example, they thought that when a child died,
God made a new star.

The North American Indians are particularly fond of star myths, and they
have invented some charming star stories. According to them, stars might
come down and talk to men, after the manner of one whose story is given
below. It came down and told a hunter where to find game.

Some of the animal constellations among the stars are evidently
metamorphosed totems, for there is a widespread belief that these star
animals or men were the ancestors of the people, and that ages ago they
had been lifted up to heaven. The Milky Way is described by the Indians
sometimes as the “path of spirits and the road of souls,” sometimes as
the “road of birds along which the souls of the good go flitting like
birds, to dwell at last in heaven in peace.”


(_Iowa Indian_)

Many years ago a child, when very young, observed a star in the heavens
that attracted him more than any others. As the child grew to manhood his
attachment increased. His thoughts dwelt continually on this beauty of
the night. One day, while hunting, as he sat down, travel-worn and weary
with his ill-success, his beloved star appeared to him and comforted him
with encouraging words, and then conducted him to a place where he found
a great plenty and variety of game. From this time the young man showed a
wonderful improvement in the art of hunting, and soon became celebrated
in this pursuit.


(_North American Indian_)

There once lived an Indian in the north who had ten daughters, all of
whom grew up to womanhood. They were noted for their beauty, especially
Oweenee, the youngest, who was very independent in her way of thinking.
She was a great admirer of romantic places, and spent much of her time
with the flowers and winds and clouds in the open air. Though the flower
were homely, if it was fragrant—though the wind were rough, if it was
healthful—and though the cloud were dark, if it embosomed the fruitful
rain, she knew how, in spite of appearances, to acknowledge the good
qualities concealed from the eye. She paid very little attention to the
many handsome young men who came to her father’s lodge for the purpose of
seeing her.

Her elder sisters were all sought in marriage, and one after the other
they went off to dwell in the lodges of their husbands; but Oweenee
was deaf to all proposals of the kind. At last she married an old man
called Osseo, who was scarcely able to walk, and who was too poor to
have things like others. The only property he owned in the world was the
walking-staff which he carried in his hand. Though thus poor and homely,
Osseo was a devout and good man; faithful in all his duties, and obedient
in all things to the Good Spirit. Of course they jeered and laughed at
Oweenee on all sides, but she seemed to be quite happy, and said to them,
“It is my choice and you will see in the end who has acted the wisest.”

They made a special mock of the walking-staff, and scarcely an hour in
the day passed that they did not make some disparaging reference to it.
Among themselves they spoke of Osseo of the walking-staff, in derision,
as the owner of the big woods, or the great timber-man.

“True,” said Oweenee, “it is but a simple stick; but as it supports the
steps of my husband, it is more precious to me than all the forests of
the north.”

A time came when the sisters, and their husbands, and their parents
were all invited to a feast. As the distance was considerable, they
doubted whether Osseo, so aged and feeble, would be able to undertake the
journey; but in spite of their friendly doubts, he joined them, and set
out with a good heart.

As they walked along the path they could not help pitying their young and
handsome sister who had such an unsuitable mate. She, however, smiled
upon Osseo, and kept with him by the way the same as if he had been the
comeliest bridegroom in all the company. Osseo often stopped and gazed
upward; but they could perceive nothing in the direction in which he
looked, unless it was the faint glimmering of the evening star. They
heard him muttering to himself as they went along, and one of the elder
sisters caught the words, “Pity me, my father!”

“Poor old man,” said she; “he is talking to his father. What a pity it is
that he would not fall and break his neck, that our sister might have a
young husband.”

Presently, as they came to a great rock where Osseo had been used to
breathe his morning and his evening prayer, the star emitted a brighter
ray, which shone directly in his face. Osseo, with a sharp cry, fell
trembling to the earth, where the others would have left him; but his
good wife raised him up, and he sprang forward on the path, and with
steps light as the reindeer he led the party, no longer decrepit and
infirm, but a beautiful young man. On turning around to look for his
wife, behold! she had become changed, at the same moment, into an aged
and feeble woman, bent almost double, and walking with the staff which he
had cast aside.

Osseo immediately joined her, and with looks of fondness and the
tenderest regard, bestowed on her every endearing attention, and
constantly addressed her by the term of ne-ne-moosh-a, or my sweetheart.

As they walked along, whenever they were not gazing fondly in each
other’s face, they bent their looks on heaven, and a light, as if of
far-off stars, was in their eyes.

On arriving at the lodge of the hunter with whom they were to feast, they
found the banquet ready, and as soon as their entertainer had finished
his harangue—in which he told them his feasting was in honor of the
Evening or Woman’s Star—they began to partake of the portion dealt out,
according to age and character, to each one of the guests. The food was
very delicious, and they were all happy but Osseo, who looked at his
wife, and then gazed upward, as if he was looking into the substance of
the sky. Sounds were soon heard, as if from far-off voices in the air,
and they became plainer and plainer, till he could clearly distinguish
some of the words.

“My son, my son,” said the voice, “I have seen your afflictions, and
pity your wants. I come to call you away from a scene that is stained
with blood and tears. The earth is full of sorrows. Wicked spirits, the
enemies of mankind, walk abroad, and lie in wait to ensnare the children
of the sky. Every night they are lifting their voices to the Power of
Evil, and every day they make themselves busy in casting mischief in the
hunter’s path. You have long been their victim, but you shall be their
victim no more. The spell you were under is broken. Your evil genius is
overcome. I have cast him down by my superior strength, and it is this
strength I now exert for your happiness. Ascend, my son; ascend into the
skies, and partake of the feast I have prepared for you in the stars, and
bring with you those you love.

“The food set before you is enchanted and blessed. Fear not to partake
of it. It is endowed with magic power to give immortality to mortals,
and to change men to spirits. Your bowls and kettles shall no longer be
wood and earth. The one shall become silver and the other pure gold. They
shall shine like fire, and glisten like the most beautiful scarlet. Every
female shall also change her state and looks, and no longer be doomed to
laborious tasks. She shall put on the beauty of the starlight, and become
a shining bird of the air. She shall dance, and not work. She shall sing,
and not cry.

“My beams,” continued the voice, “shine faintly on your lodge, but they
have power to transform it into the lightness of the skies, and decorate
it with the colors of the clouds. Come, Osseo, my son, and dwell no
longer on earth. Think strongly on my words, and look steadfastly at my
beams. My power is now at its height. Doubt not, delay not. It is the
voice of the Spirit of the Stars that calls you away to happiness and
celestial rest.”

The words were intelligible to Osseo, but his companions thought them
some far-off sounds of music, or birds singing in the woods. Very soon
the lodge began to shake and tremble, and they felt it rising into the
air. It was too late to run out, for they were already as high as the
tops of the trees. Osseo looked around him as the lodge passed through
the topmost boughs, and behold! their wooden dishes were changed into
shells of a scarlet color, the poles of the lodge to glittering rods of
silver, and the bark that covered them into the gorgeous wings of insects.

A moment more and his brothers and sisters, and their parents and
friends, were transformed into birds of various plumage. Some were jays,
some partridges and pigeons, and others gay singing birds, who hopped
about, displaying their many-colored feathers, and singing songs of
cheerful note.

But his wife, Oweenee, still kept her earthly garb, and exhibited all
the indications of extreme old age. He again cast his eyes in the
direction of the clouds, and uttered the peculiar cry which had given him
the victory at the rock. In a moment the youth and beauty of his wife
returned; her dingy garments assumed the shining appearance of green
silk, and her staff was changed into a silver feather.

The lodge again shook and trembled, for they were now passing through
the uppermost clouds, and they immediately after found themselves in the
Evening Star, the residence of Osseo’s father.

“My son,” said the old man, “hang that cage of birds which you have
brought along in your hand at the door, and I will inform you why you and
your wife have been sent for.”

Osseo obeyed, and then took his seat in the lodge.

“Pity was shown to you,” resumed the King of the Star, “on account of
the contempt of your wife’s sisters, who laughed at her ill fortune, and
ridiculed you while you were under the power of that wicked spirit whom
you overcame at the rock. That spirit lives in the next lodge, being the
small star you see on the left of mine, and he has always felt envious
of my family because we had greater power, and especially because we had
committed to us the care of the female world. He failed in many attempts
to destroy your brothers and sisters-in-law, but succeeded at last in
transforming yourself and your wife into decrepit old persons. You must
be careful and not let the light of his beams fall on you while you are
here, for therein lies the power of his enchantment. A ray of light is
the bow and arrow he uses.”

Osseo lived happy and contented in the parental lodge, and in due time
his wife presented him with a son, who grew up rapidly, and in the very
likeness of Osseo himself. He was very quick and ready in learning
everything that was done in his grandfather’s dominions, but he wished
also to learn the art of hunting, for he had heard that this was a
favorite pursuit below. To gratify him, his father made him a bow and
arrows, and he then let the birds out of the cage that he might practise
in shooting. In this pastime he soon became expert, and the very first
day he brought down a bird; but when he went to pick it up, to his
amazement it was a beautiful young woman, with the arrow sticking in her
breast. It was one of his younger aunts.

The moment her blood fell upon the surface of that pure and spotless
planet, the charm was dissolved. The boy immediately found himself
sinking, although he was partly upheld by something like wings until he
passed through the lower clouds, and he then suddenly dropped upon a
high, breezy island in a large lake. He was pleased, on looking up, to
see all his aunts and uncles following him in the form of birds, and he
soon discovered the silver lodge, with his father and mother, descending,
with its waving tassels fluttering like so many insects’ gilded wings.
It rested on the loftiest cliffs of the island, and there they fixed
their residence. They all resumed their natural shapes, but they were
diminished to the size of fairies; and as a mark of homage to the King of
the Evening Star, they never failed on every pleasant evening during the
summer season to join hands and dance upon the top of the rocks. These
rocks were quickly observed by the Indians to be covered, in moonlight
evenings, with a larger sort of Ininees, or little men, and were called
Mish-in-e-mok-in-ok-ong, or Little Spirits, and the island is named from
them to this day.

Their shining lodge can be seen in the summer evenings, when the moon
beams strongly on the pinnacles of the rocks; and the fishermen who go
near those high cliffs at night have even heard the voices of the happy
little dancers. And Osseo and his wife, as fondly attached to each other
as ever, always lead the dance.


(_A Chippewa Legend_)

A quarrel arose among the stars, when one of them was driven from its
home in the heavens, and descended to the earth. It wandered from one
path to another, and was seen hovering over the campfires when the people
were preparing to sleep. Among all the people in the world, only one
could be found who was not afraid of this star, and this was a daughter
of a Chippewa. She was not afraid of the star, but admired and loved it.
When she awoke in the night she always beheld it, for the star loved the
maiden. In midsummer the young girl, on going into the woods for berries,
lost her way, when a storm arose. Her cries for rescue were answered only
by the frogs. A lonely night came, when she looked for her star in vain;
the storm overcast the sky, and at length caught her in its fury and bore
her away. Many seasons passed, during which the star was seen, dimmed
and wandering, in the sky. At length, one autumn, it disappeared. Then a
hunter saw a small light hanging over the water within the marshland in
which he was hunting. He returned to announce the strange sight. “That,”
said the old wise man, “was the star driven from heaven, now wandering in
search of our lost maiden, our beautiful child of the Chippewas.”


(_North American Indian_)

Waupee, or the White Hawk, lived in a remote part of the forest, where
animals abounded. Every day he returned from the chase with a large
spoil, for he was one of the most skilful and lucky hunters of his tribe.
His form was like the cedar; the fire of youth beamed from his eye; there
was no forest too gloomy for him to penetrate, and no track made by bird
or beast of any kind which he could not readily follow.

One day he had gone beyond any point which he had ever before visited.
He travelled through an open wood, which enabled him to see a great
distance. At length he beheld a light breaking through the foliage of
the distant trees, which made him sure that he was on the borders of a
prairie. It was a wide plain, covered with long blue grass, and enamelled
with flowers of a thousand lovely tints.

After walking for some time without a path, musing upon the open country,
and enjoying the fragrant breeze, he suddenly came to a ring worn among
the grass and the flowers, as if it had been made by footsteps moving
lightly round and round. But it was strange—so strange as to cause the
White Hawk to pause and gaze long and fixedly upon the ground—there was
no path which led to this flowery circle. There was not even a crushed
leaf nor a broken twig, nor the least trace of a footstep, approaching or
retiring, to be found. He thought he would hide himself and lie in wait
to discover, if he could, what this strange circle meant.

Presently he heard the faint sounds of music in the air. He looked up in
the direction they came from, and as the magic notes died away he saw
a small object, like a little summer cloud that approaches the earth,
floating down from above. At first it was very small, and seemed as if it
could have been blown away by the first breeze that came along; but it
rapidly grew as he gazed upon it, and the music every moment came clearer
and more sweetly to his ear. As it neared the earth it appeared as a
basket, and it was filled with twelve sisters, of the most lovely forms
and enchanting beauty.

As soon as the basket touched the ground they leaped out, and began
straightway to dance, in the most joyous manner, around the magic
ring, striking, as they did so, a shining ball, which uttered the most
ravishing melodies, and kept time as they danced.

The White Hawk, from his concealment, entranced, gazed upon their
graceful forms and movements. He admired them all, but he was most
pleased with the youngest. He longed to be at her side, to embrace her,
to call her his own; and unable to remain longer a silent admirer, he
rushed out and endeavored to seize this twelfth beauty who so enchanted
him. But the sisters, with the quickness of birds, the moment they
descried the form of a man, leaped back into the basket, and were drawn
up into the sky.

Lamenting his ill-luck, Waupee gazed longingly upon the fairy basket as
it ascended and bore the lovely sisters from his view. “They are gone,”
he said, “and I shall see them no more.”

He returned to his solitary lodge, but he found no relief to his mind. He
walked abroad, but to look at the sky, which had withdrawn from his sight
the only being he had ever loved, was painful to him now.

The next day, selecting the same hour, the White Hawk went back to the
prairie, and took his station near the ring; in order to deceive the
sisters, he assumed the form of an opossum, and sat among the grass as
if he were there engaged in chewing the cud. He had not waited long when
he saw the cloudy basket descend, and heard the same sweet music falling
as before. He crept slowly toward the ring; but the instant the sisters
caught sight of him they were startled, and sprang into their car. It
rose a short distance when one of the elder sisters spoke.

“Perhaps,” she said, “it has come to show us how the game is played by

“Oh, no!” the youngest replied. “Quick, let us ascend.”

And all joining in a chant, they rose out of sight.

Waupee, casting off his disguise, walked sorrowfully back to his
lodge—but, ah! the night seemed very long to lonely White Hawk. His whole
soul was filled with the thought of the beautiful sister.

Betimes, the next day, he returned to the haunted spot, hoping and
fearing, and sighing as though his very soul would leave his body in its
anguish. He reflected upon the plan he should follow to secure success.
He had already failed twice; to fail a third time would be fatal. Near by
he found an old stump, much covered with moss, and just then in use as
the residence of a number of mice, who had stopped there on a pilgrimage
to some relatives on the other side of the prairie. The White Hawk was so
pleased with their tidy little forms that he thought he, too, would be
a mouse, especially as they were by no means formidable to look at, and
would not be at all likely to create alarm.

He accordingly, having first brought the stump and set it near the ring,
without further notice became a mouse, and peeped and sported about, and
kept his sharp little eyes busy with the others; but he did not forget
to keep one eye up toward the sky, and one ear wide open in the same

It was not long before the sisters, at their customary hour, came down
and resumed their sport.

“But see,” cried the younger sister, “that stump was not there before.”

She ran off, frightened, toward the basket. Her sisters only smiled, and
gathering round the old tree stump, they struck it, in jest, when out
ran the mice, and among them Waupee. They killed them all but one, which
was pursued by the younger sister. Just as she had raised a silver stick
which she held in her hand to put an end to it, too, the form of the
White Hawk arose, and he clasped his prize in his arms. The other eleven
sprang to their basket, and were drawn up to the skies.

Waupee exerted all his skill to please his bride and win her affections.
He wiped the tears from her eyes; he related his adventures in the
chase; he dwelt upon the charms of life on the earth. He was constant
in his attentions, keeping fondly by her side, and picking out the way
for her to walk as he led her gently toward his lodge. He felt his heart
glow with joy as he entered it, and from that moment he was one of the
happiest of men.

Winter and summer passed rapidly away, and as the spring drew near
with its balmy gales and its many-colored flowers, their happiness was
increased by the presence of a beautiful boy in their lodge. What more of
earthly blessing was there for them to enjoy?

Waupee’s wife was a daughter of one of the stars, and as the scenes of
earth began to pall upon her sight, she sighed to revisit her father. But
she was obliged to hide these feelings from her husband. She remembered
the charm that would carry her up, and while White Hawk was engaged in
the chase, she took occasion to construct a wicker basket, which she
kept concealed. In the meantime she collected such rarities from the
earth as she thought would please her father, as well as the most dainty
kinds of food.

One day when Waupee was absent, and all was in readiness, she went out
to the charmed ring, taking with her her little son. As they entered the
car she commenced her magical song, and the basket rose. The song was
sad, and of a lowly and mournful cadence, and as it was wafted far away
by the wind, it caught her husband’s ear. It was a voice which he well
knew, and he instantly ran to the prairie. Though he made breathless
speed, he could not reach the ring before his wife and child had ascended
beyond his reach. He lifted up his voice in loud appeals, but they were
unavailing. The basket still went up. He watched it till it became a
small speck, and finally it vanished in the sky. He then bent his head
down to the ground, and was miserable.

Through a long winter and a long summer Waupee bewailed his loss, but he
found no relief. The beautiful spirit had come and gone, and he should
see it no more!

He mourned his wife’s loss sorely, but his son’s still more; for the boy
had both the mother’s beauty and the father’s strength.

In the meantime his wife had reached her home in the stars, and in the
blissful employments of her father’s house she had almost forgotten that
she had left a husband upon the earth. But her son, as he grew up,
resembled more and more his father, and every day he was restless and
anxious to visit the scene of his birth. His grandfather said to his
daughter, one day:

“Go, my child, and take your son down to his father, and ask him to come
up and live with us. But tell him to bring along a specimen of each kind
of bird and animal he kills in the chase.”

She accordingly took the boy and descended. The White Hawk, who was ever
near the enchanted spot, heard her voice as she came down the sky. His
heart beat with impatience as he saw her form and that of his son, and
they were soon clasped in his arms.

He heard the message of the Star, and he began to hunt with the greatest
activity, that he might collect the presents with all dispatch. He
spent whole nights, as well as days, in searching for every curious and
beautiful animal and bird. He only preserved a foot, a wing, or a tail of

When all was ready, Waupee visited once more each favorite spot—the
hill-top whence he had been used to see the rising sun; the stream where
he had sported as a boy; the old lodge, now looking sad and solemn, which
he was to sit in no more; and, last of all, coming to the magic circle,
he gazed widely around him with tearful eyes, and, taking his wife and
child by the hand, they entered the car and were drawn up—into a country
far beyond the flight of birds, or the power of mortal eye to pierce.

Great joy was manifested upon their arrival at the starry plains.
The Star Chief invited all his people to a feast; and when they had
assembled, he proclaimed aloud that each one might continue as he was, an
inhabitant of his own dominions, or select of the earthly gifts such as
he liked best. A very strange confusion immediately arose; not one but
sprang forward. Some chose a foot, some a wing, some a tail, and some a
claw. Those who selected tails or claws were changed into animals, and
ran off; the others assumed the form of birds, and flew away. Waupee
chose a white hawk’s feather. His wife and son followed his example, and
each one became a white hawk. He spread his wings, and, followed by his
wife and son, descended with the other birds to the earth, where he is
still to be found, with the brightness of the starry plains in his eye
and the freedom of the heavenly breezes in his wings.



The sky and the air are identified with the highest conceptions of
divinity reached in the myths either of savage or more cultured races.
The Great Spirit of the North American Indians was the god of the sky.
Varuna, the all-seeing, merciful god of the Hindoos, was the god of the
vault of heaven. Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks, was the sky god;
also Odin, the great god in Norse mythology (although above him was
a mysterious, unnameable god), Ormuzd in Persian mythology, Rangi in
Polynesian, in Japan the Invisible Lord of the Middle Heaven. Closely
related in power to the gods of the sky are the gods of wind or storm.
Sometimes the god of the sky is himself the wielder of the thunder, as
in the case of Zeus, and sometimes there is a special god of storm or
thunder, as the Indra of the Hindoos or the Thor of the Norsemen. In
Indian myths, Manabozho often wielded the thunder and lightning, and he
has contests with another god of the air, Paup-puk-keewiss, the wind, a
personage full of mischief, as wind gods are apt to be, like the Greek
Hermes. The personification of wind and thunder as birds is very common,
and many a quaint tale results from this mythical idea. The Sioux
Indians believed in a god, Wah-keen-yan, in the form of a large bird,
whose flapping wings made the thunder. He lived in the far, far west, on
a mound rising from a mountain top. To his tent there are four openings,
in which there are sentinels clothed in red down. At the east is a
butterfly, at the west a bear; a fawn is at the south, and a reindeer is
at the north. He fashioned the first spear and tomahawk, and attempted
to kill the offspring of Oan-tay-hee, his bitter enemy. If Oan-tay-hee
came near the surface of the earth, then Wah-keen-yan would fire a hot
thunderbolt at him. Another of his enemies was Chaho-ter’dah, the god of
the forest. It was said that the god of thunder often came racing along,
hurling lightning at a tree, to kill the forest god, who, having been
warned, had taken refuge in the water. Then Chaho-ter’dah would ascend
a tree and hurl his lightning at his adversary to bring him down to

[Illustration: Aurora. _Guido Reni._]

Another thunder bird is Sootooch, believed in by the natives of
Vancouver’s Island. He is a mighty bird, dwelling aloft and far away,
the flap of whose wings makes the thunder, and his tongue is the forked
lightning. There were once four of these birds in the land, and they fed
on whales. But the great deity Quawteaht, entering into a whale, enticed
one thunder bird after another to swoop down and seize him with its
talons. Then he would plunge to the bottom of the sea and drown it. Thus
three of them perished, but the last one spread his wings and flew to
the distant height, where he has since remained.

The Dakotahs say that thunder is a large bird flying through the air. Its
bright tracks are seen in the air before you hear the clapping of its
wings. The old bird begins the thunder, but its rumbling noise is caused
by an immense quantity of young birds or thunders that do the mischief.
They are like the young, mischievous men that will not listen to good
counsel. The old Thunder is wise and good, and does not kill anybody nor
do any kind of mischief.

The chief god of the Brazilians is a large bird who sweeps over the
heavens, watching his children and watering their crops. He warns them of
his presence by the mighty sound of his voice, the rushing of his wings,
and the flash of his eye. This interesting bird is worshipped in a way
befitting his nature. A dry gourd is filled with pebbles and decked with
feathers and arrows, which is rattled vigorously to symbolize the drama
of the storm. This curious implement has another element of interest in
the fact that it is one of the earliest forms of musical instrument.

An equally remarkable variety of bird is the wind bird, who wings his
way through all mythologies in one form or another. Although the wind
in Greece had risen to man’s estate, it was still represented as having
wings. Even the wind god Hermes, far removed as he is from the savage
idea of the wind, could not get along without wings for his feet and
head. Zeus, also, has a raven for his messenger, and Odin has the ravens
Hugin and Munin, who fly every day over the whole world and report to him
on their return what they have seen. Besides, there is a Norse god of
the winds—a giant who sits in the northern extremity of heaven, clad in
eagle’s plumes. When he spreads out his wings for flight the winds arise
from under them.

The thunder, however, like the wind, even among savages, is sometimes
personified as men, as in the following Algonquin stories:



_N’karnayoo._ Of old times. Once an Indian went forth to hunt. And he
departed from the east branch of the Penobscot, and came to the head of
another branch that leads into the east branch, and this he followed
even to the foot of Mount Katahdin. And there he hunted many a day
alone, and met none, till one morning in midwinter he found the track of
snowshoes. So he returned to his camp; but the next day he met with it
again in a far-distant place. And thus it was that, wherever he went,
this track came to him every day. Then noting this, as a sign to be
observed, he followed it, and it went up the mountain Katahdin, which,
being interpreted, means “the great mountain,” until at last it was lost
in a hard snowshoe road made by many travellers. And since it was hard
and even, he took off his _agahmook_ (P.), or snowshoes, and went ever
on and up with the road; and it was a strange path and strange was its
ending, for it stopped just before a high ledge, like an immense wall,
on a platform at its foot. And there were many signs there, as of many
people, yet he saw no one. And as he stayed it seemed to grow stranger
and stranger. At last he heard a sound as of footsteps coming, yet within
the wall, when lo! a girl stepped directly out of the precipice upon the
platform. But though she was beautiful beyond belief, he was afraid.
And to his every thought she answered in words, and that so sweetly
and kindly and cleverly that he was soon without fear, though he saw
that she had powerful _m’téoulin_, or great magic power. And they being
soon pleased one with the other, and wanting each other, she bade him
accompany her, and that by walking directly through the rock. “Have no
fear,” said she, “but advance boldly!” So he obeyed, and lo! the rock
was as the air, and it gave way as he went on. And ever as they went the
maiden talked to him, answering his thoughts, so that he spoke not aloud.

And anon they came to a great cavern far within, and there was an old man
seated by a fire, and the old man welcomed him. And he was very kindly
treated by the strange pair all day: in all his life he had never been
so happy. Now as the night drew near, the old man said to his daughter,
“Can you hear aught of your brothers?” Then she went out to the terrace,
and, returning, said, “No.” Then anon he asked her again, and she, going
and returning as before, replied, “Now I hear them coming.” Then they
listened, when lo! there came, as at the door without, a crash of thunder
with a flash of lightning, and out of the light stepped two young men of
great beauty, but like giants, stupendous and of awful mien. And, like
their father, their eyebrows were of stone, while their cheeks were as

And the hunter was told by their sister that when they went forth, which
was every few days, their father said to them: “Sons, arise! it is time
now for you to go forth over the world and save our friends. Go not too
near the trees, but if you see aught that is harmful to those whom we
love, strike, and spare not!” Then when they went forth they flew on
high, among the clouds: and thus it is that the Thunder and Lightning,
whose home is in the mighty Katahdin, are made. And when the thunder
strikes, the brothers are shooting at the enemies of their friends.

Now when the day was done the hunter returned to his home, and when there
found he had been gone seven years. All this I have heard from the old
people who are dead and gone.



This is truly an old Indian story of old time. Once an Indian was whirled
up by the roaring wind: he was taken up in a thunder-storm, and set down
again in the village of the Thunders. In after times he described them as
very like human beings: they used bows and arrows (_tah-bokque_), and had

But these wings can be laid aside, and kept for use. And from time to
time their chief gives these Thunders orders to put them on, and tells
them where to go. He also tells them how long they are to be gone, and
warns them not to go too low, for it is sure death for them to be caught
in the crotch of a tree.

The great chief of the Thunders, hearing of the stranger’s arrival,
sent for him, and received him very kindly, and told him that he would
do well to become one of them. To which the man being willing, the
chief soon after called all his people together to see the ceremony of
_thunderifying_ the Indian.

Then they bade him go into a square thing, or box, and while in it he
lost his senses and became a Thunder. Then they brought him a pair
of wings, and he put them on. So he flew about like the rest of the
Thunders; he became quite like them, and followed all their ways. And he
said that they always flew toward the _sou’ n’ snook_, or south, and that
the roar and crash of the thunder was the sound of their wings. Their
great amusement is to play at ball across the sky. When they return they
carefully put away their wings for their next flight. There is a big bird
in the south, and this they are always trying to kill, but never succeed
in doing so.

They made long journeys, and always took him with them. So it went on
for a long time, but it came to pass that the Indian began to tire of
his strange friends. Then he told the chief that he wished to see his
family on earth, and the sagamore listened to him and was very kind. Then
he called all his people together, and said that their brother from the
other world was very lonesome, and wished to return. They were all very
sorry indeed to lose him, but because they loved him they let him have
his own way, and decided to carry him back again. So bidding him close
his eyes till he should be on earth, they carried him down.

The Indians saw a great thunder-storm drawing near; they heard such
thunder as they never knew before, and then something in the shape of a
human being coming down with lightning; then they ran to the spot where
he sat, and it was their long-lost brother, who had been gone seven years.

He had been in the Thunder-world. He told them how he had been playing
ball with the Thunder-boys; yes, how he had been turned into a real
Thunder himself.



The Indians believe in a great bird called by them _Wochowsen_ or
_Wuchowsen_, meaning Wind-Blow or the Wind-Blower, who lives far to the
North, and sits upon a great rock at the end of the sky. And it is
because whenever he moves his wings the wind blows they of old times
called him that.

When Glooskap was among men he often went out in his canoe with bow and
arrows to kill sea-fowl. At one time it was every day very windy; it grew
worse; at last it blew a tempest, and he could not go out at all. Then he
said: “Wuchowsen, the Great Bird, has done this!”

He went to find him; it was long ere he reached his abode. He found
sitting on a high rock a large white Bird.

“Grandfather,” said Glooskap, “you take no compassion on your _Koosesek_,
your grandchildren. You have caused this wind and storm; it is too much.
Be easier with your wings!”

The Giant Bird replied: “I have been here since ancient times; in the
earliest days, ere aught else spoke, I first moved my wings; mine was the
first voice—and I will ever move my wings as I will.”

Then Glooskap rose in his might; he rose to the clouds; he took the Great
Bird-giant Wuchowsen as though he were a duck, and tied both his wings,
and threw him down into a chasm between deep rocks, and left him lying

The Indians could now go out in their canoes all day long, for there
was a dead calm for many weeks and months. And with that all the waters
became stagnant. They were so thick that Glooskap could not paddle his
canoe. Then he thought of the Great Bird, and went to see him.

As he had left him he found him, for Wuchowsen is immortal. So, raising
him, he put him on his rock again, and untied one of his wings. Since
then the winds have never been so terrible as in the old time.


A man of large stature found himself standing alone on a prairie. He
thought to himself: “How came I here? Are there no beings on this earth
but myself? I must travel and see. I must walk till I find the abodes of

So soon as his mind was made up he set out, he knew not whither, in
search of habitations. He was a resolute fellow, and no difficulties
could turn him from his purpose: neither prairies, rivers, woods, nor
storms had the effect to daunt his courage or turn him back. After
travelling a long time he came to a wood, in which he saw decayed stumps
of trees, as if they had been cut in ancient times, but no other trace
of men. Pursuing his journey, he found more recent marks of the same
kind; after this he came upon fresh traces of human beings; first their
footsteps, and then the wood they had felled, lying in heaps. Pushing on,
he emerged toward dusk from the forest, and beheld at a distance a large
village of high lodges standing on rising ground.

“I am tired of this dog-trot,” he said to himself. “I will arrive there
on a run.”

He started off with all his speed. On coming to the first lodge, without
any especial exertion, he jumped over it, and found himself standing by
the door on the other side. Those within saw something pass over the
opening in the roof, and then they heard a thump upon the ground. “What
is that?” they all said, and one ran out to see and invited him in. He
found himself in company with an old chief and several men who were
seated in the lodge. Meat was set before him, after which the old chief
asked him whither he was going, and what was his name. He answered that
he was in search of adventures, and that his name was “Paup-puk-keewiss.”

They all opened their eyes upon the stranger with a broad stare.

“Paup-puk-keewiss!” whispered one to another, and a general titter went

They invited him to stay with them, which he was inclined to do, for
it was a pleasant village, but so small as constantly to embarrass
Paup-puk-keewiss. He was in perpetual trouble; whenever he shook hands
with a stranger to whom he might be introduced, such was the abundance of
his strength, without meaning it, he wrung his arm off at the shoulder.
Once or twice, in mere sport, he cuffed the boys about the lodge by the
side of the head, and they flew out of sight as though they had been shot
from a bow; nor could they ever be found again, though they were searched
for in all the country round, far and wide. If Paup-puk-keewiss proposed
to himself a short stroll in the morning, he was at once miles out of
town. When he entered a lodge, if he happened for a moment to forget
himself, he walked straight through the leathern, or wooden, or earthen
walls as if he had been merely passing through a bush. At his meals he
broke in pieces all the dishes, set them down as lightly as he would;
and, putting a leg out of bed when he rose, it was a common thing for him
to push off the top of the lodge.

He wanted more elbow-room, and after a short stay, in which, by the
accidental letting go of his strength, he had nearly laid waste the
whole place, and filled it with demolished lodges and broken pottery
and one-armed men, he made up his mind to go farther, taking with him
a young man who had formed a strong attachment for him, and who might
serve him as his pipe-bearer; for Paup-puk-keewiss was a huge smoker,
and vast clouds followed him wherever he went, so that people could say,
“Paup-puk-keewiss is coming!” by the mighty smoke he raised.

They set out together, and when his companion was fatigued with walking,
Paup-puk-keewiss would put him forward on his journey a mile or two by
giving him a cast in the air and lighting him in a soft place among
the trees, or in a cool spot in a water-pond, among the sedges and
water-lilies. At other times he would lighten the way by showing off
a few tricks, such as leaping over trees, and turning round on one
leg till he made the dust fly; at which the pipe-bearer was mightily
pleased, although it sometimes happened that the character of these
gambols frightened him. For Paup-puk-keewiss would, without the least
hint of such an intention, jump into the air far ahead, and it would
cost the little pipe-bearer half a day’s hard travel to come up with
him; and then the dust Paup-puk-keewiss raised was often so thick and
heavy as completely to bury the poor little pipe-bearer, and compel
Paup-puk-keewiss to dig diligently and with might and main to get him out

One day they came to a very large village, where they were well received.
After staying in it some time (in the course of which Paup-puk-keewiss,
in a fit of abstraction, walked straight through the sides of three
lodges without stopping to look for the door), they were informed of a
number of wicked spirits, who lived at a distance, and who made it a
practice to kill all who came to their lodge. Attempts had been made to
destroy them, but they had always proved more than a match for such as
had come out against them.

Paup-puk-keewiss determined to pay them a visit, although he was strongly
advised not to do so. The chief of the village warned him of the great
danger he would incur, but finding Paup-puk-keewiss resolved, he said:

“Well, if you will go, being my guest I will send twenty warriors to
serve you.”

Paup-puk-keewiss thanked him for the offer, although he suggested that he
thought he could get along without them, at which the little pipe-bearer
grinned, for his master had never shown in that village what he could
do, and the chief thought that he, Paup-puk-keewiss, would be likely to
need twenty warriors, at the least, to encounter the wicked spirits with
any chance of success. Twenty young men made their appearance. They set
forward, and after about a day’s journey they descried the lodge of the

Paup-puk-keewiss placed his friend, Pipe-bearer, and the warriors near
enough to see all that passed, while he went alone to the lodge.

As he entered, Paup-puk-keewiss saw five horrid-looking Manitoes in
the act of eating. It was the father and his four sons. They were
really hideous to look upon. Their eyes were swimming low in their
heads, and they glared about as if they were half starved. They offered
Paup-puk-keewiss something to eat, which he politely refused, for he had
a strong suspicion that it was the thigh-bone of a man.

“What have you come for?” said the old one.

“Nothing,” answered Paup-puk-keewiss.

They all stared at him.

“Do you not wish to wrestle?” they all asked.

“Yes,” replied Paup-puk-keewiss, “I don’t mind if I do take a turn.”

Pipe-bearer, who stood near enough to overhear the conversation, grinned
from ear to ear when he caught this remark. A hideous smile came over the
faces of the Manitoes.

“You go,” they said to the eldest brother.

The two got ready—the Manito and Paup-puk-keewiss—and they were soon
clinched in each other’s arms for a deadly throw. Paup-puk-keewiss knew
their object—his death; they wanted a taste of his body, and he was
determined they should have it, perhaps in a different sense from that
they intended.

“Haw! haw!” they cried, and soon the dust and dry leaves flew about as
if driven by a strong wind. The Manito was strong, but Paup-puk-keewiss
thought he could master him; and all at once, giving him a sly trip as
the wicked spirit was trying to finish his breakfast with a piece out
of his shoulder, he sent the Manito headforemost against a stone, and,
calling aloud to the three others, he bade them come and take the body

The brothers now stepped forth in quick succession, but Paup-puk-keewiss,
having got his blood up and limbered himself by exercise, soon dispatched
the three—sending one this way, another that, and the third straight up
into the air so high that he never came down again.

It was time for the old Manito to be frightened, and dreadfully
frightened he got, and ran for his life, which was the very worst thing
he could have done; for Paup-puk-keewiss, of all his gifts of strength,
was most noted for his speed of foot. The old Manito set off, and for
mere sport’s sake Paup-puk-keewiss pursued him. Sometimes he was before
the wicked old spirit, sometimes he was flying over his head, and then
he would keep along at a steady trot just at his heels, till he had blown
all the breath out of the old knave’s body.

Meantime his friend, Pipe-bearer, and the twenty young warriors cried out:

“Ha, ha, ah! ha, ha, ah! Paup-puk-keewiss is driving him before him!”

The Manito only turned his head now and then to look back. At length,
when he was tired of the sport, to be rid of him, Paup-puk-keewiss, with
a gentle application of his foot, sent the wicked old Manito whirling
away through the air, in which he made a great number of the most curious
turnovers in the world, till he came to alight, when it so happened that
he fell astride of an old bull buffalo, grazing in a distant pasture, who
straightway set off with him at a long gallop, and the old Manito has not
been heard of to this day.

The warriors and Pipe-bearer and Paup-puk-keewiss set to work and burned
down the lodge of the wicked spirits, and then when they came to look
about, they saw that the ground was strewn on all sides with human bones
bleaching in the sun; these were the unhappy victims of the Manitoes.
Paup-puk-keewiss then took three arrows from his girdle, and, after
having performed a ceremony to the Great Spirit, he shot one into the
air, crying: “You are lying down; rise up or you will be hit!”

The bones all moved to one place. He shot the second arrow, repeating the
same words, when each bone drew toward its fellow-bone; the third arrow
brought forth to life the whole multitude of people who had been killed
by the Manitoes. Paup-puk-keewiss conducted the crowd to the chief of the
village, who had proved his friend, and gave them into his hands. The
chief was there with his counsellors, to whom he spoke apart.

“Who is more worthy,” said the chief to Paup-puk-keewiss, “to rule than
you? _You_ alone can defend them.”

Paup-puk-keewiss thanked him, and told him that he was in search of more
adventures. “I have done some things,” said Paup-puk-keewiss, rather
boastfully, “and I think I can do some more.”

The chief still urged him, but he was eager to go, and, naming
Pipe-bearer to tarry and take his place, he set out again on his travels,
promising that he would some time or other come back and see them.

“Ho! ho! ho!” they all cried. “Come back again and see us!” He renewed
his promise that he would, and then set out alone.

After travelling some time he came to a great lake, and on looking about
he discovered a very large otter on an island. He thought to himself:
“His skin will make me a fine pouch.” And he immediately drew up at long
shots and drove an arrow into his side. He waded into the lake, and with
some difficulty dragged him ashore, and up a hill overlooking the lake.

As soon as Paup-puk-keewiss got the otter into the sunshine where it was
warm, he skinned him, and threw the carcass some distance off, thinking
the war-eagle would come, and that he should have a chance to secure his
feathers as ornaments for the head; for Paup-puk-keewiss began to be
proud, and was disposed to display himself.

He soon heard a rushing noise as of a loud wind, but could see nothing.
Presently a large eagle dropped, as if from the air, upon the otter’s
carcass. Paup-puk-keewiss drew his bow, and the arrow passed through
under both of his wings. The bird made a convulsive flight upward, with
such force that the cumbrous body was borne up several feet from the
ground; but, with its claws deeply fixed, the heavy otter brought the
eagle back to the earth. Paup-puk-keewiss possessed himself of a handful
of the prime feathers, crowned his head with the trophy, and set off in
high spirits on the lookout for something new.

After walking awhile, he came to a body of water which flooded the trees
on its banks—it was a lake made by beavers. Taking his station on the
raised dam where the stream escaped, he watched to see whether any of the
beavers would show themselves. A head presently peeped out of the water
to see who it was that disturbed them.

“My friend,” said Paup-puk-keewiss, in his most persuasive manner, “could
you not oblige me by turning me into a beaver like yourself. Nothing
would please me so much as to make your acquaintance, I can assure you,”
for Paup-puk-keewiss was curious to know how these watery creatures
lived, and what kind of notions they had.

“I do not know,” replied the beaver, who was rather short-nosed and
surly. “I will go and ask the others. Meanwhile stay where you are, if
you please.”

“To be sure,” answered Paup-puk-keewiss, stealing down the bank several
paces as soon as the beaver’s back was turned.

Presently there was a great splashing of the water, and all the beavers
showed their heads and looked warily to where he stood, to see if he was
armed; but he had knowingly left his bow and arrows in a hollow tree at a
short distance.

After a long conversation, which they conducted in a whisper so that
Paup-puk-keewiss could not catch a word, strain his ears as he would,
they all advanced in a body toward the spot where he stood, the chief
approaching the nearest, and lifting his head highest out of the water.

“Can you not,” said Paup-puk-keewiss, noticing that they waited for him
to speak first, “turn me into a beaver? I wish to live among you.”

“Yes,” answered their chief; “lie down.” And Paup-puk-keewiss in a moment
found himself a beaver, and was gliding into the water, when a thought
seemed to strike him, and he paused at the edge of the lake. “I am very
small,” he said to the beaver, in a sorrowful tone. “You must make me
large,” he said; for Paup-puk-keewiss was terribly ambitious, and wanted
always to be the first person in every company. “Larger than any of you;
in my present size it’s hardly worth my while to go into the water.”

“Yes, yes!” said they. “By and by, when we get into the lodge, it shall
be done.”

They all dived into the lake, and in passing great heaps of limbs and
logs at the bottom, he asked the use of them. They answered, “It is for
our winter’s provisions.”

When they all got into the lodge their number was about one hundred. The
lodge was large and warm.

“Now we will make you large,” said they. “Will _that_ do?”

“Yes,” he answered; for he found that he was ten times the size of the

“You need not go out,” said the others; “we will bring you food into the
lodge, and you will be our chief.”

“Very well,” Paup-puk-keewiss answered. He thought, “I will stay here and
grow fat at their expense.” But, soon after, one ran into the lodge, out
of breath, crying out, “We are visited by the Indians!”

All huddled together in great fear. The water began to lower, for the
hunters had broken down the dam, and they soon heard them on the roof of
the lodge, breaking it up. Out jumped all the beavers into the water, and
so escaped.

Paup-puk-keewiss tried to follow them, but, unfortunately, to gratify his
ambition they had made him so large that he could not creep out at the
hole. He tried to call them back, but either they did not hear or would
not attend to him; he worried himself so much in searching for a door to
let him out that he looked like a great bladder, swollen and blistering
in the sun, and the sweat stood out upon his forehead in knobs and huge

Although he heard and understood every word that the hunters spoke—and
some of their expressions suggested terrible ideas—he could not turn
himself back into a man. He had chosen to be a beaver, and a beaver
he must be. One of the hunters, a prying little man, with a single
lock dangling over one eye, put his head in at the top of the lodge.
“_Ty-au!_” cried he. “_Tut ty-au!_ Me-shau-mik—king of beavers—is in.”
Whereupon the whole crowd of hunters began upon him with their clubs,
and knocked his skull about until it was no harder than a morass in
the middle of summer. Paup-puk-keewiss thought as well as ever he did,
although he was a beaver; and he felt that he was in a rather foolish
scrape, inhabiting the carcass of a beaver.

Presently seven or eight of the hunters hoisted his body upon long poles,
and marched away home with him. As they went, he reflected in this
manner: “What will become of me? My ghost or shadow will not die after
they get me to their lodges.”

Invitations were immediately sent out for a grand feast; but as soon as
his body got cold, his soul, being uncomfortable in a house without
heat, flew off.

Having reassumed his mortal shape, Paup-puk-keewiss found himself
standing near a prairie. After walking a distance, he saw a herd of
elk feeding. He admired their apparent ease and enjoyment of life, and
thought there could be nothing more pleasant than the liberty of running
about and feeding on the prairies. He had been a water animal, and now
he wished to become a land animal, to learn what passed in an elk’s head
as he roved about. He asked them if they could not turn him into one of

“Yes,” they answered, after a pause. “Get down on your hands and feet.”

He obeyed their directions, and forthwith found himself to be an elk.

“I want big horns, big feet,” said he; “I wish to be very large,” for all
the conceit and vainglory had not been knocked out of Paup-puk-keewiss,
even by the sturdy thwacks of the hunters’ clubs.

“Yes, yes,” they answered. “There,” exerting their power, “are you big

“That will do,” he replied, for, looking into a lake hard by,
Paup-puk-keewiss saw that he was very large. They spent their time in
grazing and running to and fro; but what astonished Paup-puk-keewiss,
although he often lifted up his head and directed his eyes that way, he
could never see the stars, which he had so admired as a human being.

Being rather cold one day, Paup-puk-keewiss went into a thick wood for
shelter, whither he was followed by most of the herd. They had not been
long there when some elks from behind passed the others like a strong
wind, calling out:

“The hunters are after us!”

All took the alarm, and off they ran, Paup-puk-keewiss with the rest.

“Keep out on the plains,” they said. But it was too late to profit by
this advice, for they had already got entangled in the thick woods.
Paup-puk-keewiss soon scented the hunters, who were closely following his
trail, for they had left all the others and were making after him in full
cry. He jumped furiously, dashed through the underwood, and broke down
whole groves of saplings in his flight. But this only made it the harder
for him to get on, such a huge and lusty elk was he by his own request.

Presently, as he dashed past an open space, he felt an arrow in his side.
They could not well miss it, he presented so wide a mark to the shot. He
bounded over trees under the smart, but the shafts clattered thicker and
thicker at his ribs, and at last one entered his heart. He fell to the
ground, and heard the whoop of triumph sounded by the hunters. On coming
up, they looked on the carcass with astonishment, and with their hands up
to their mouths, exclaimed: “_Ty-au! ty-au!_”

There were about sixty in the party, who had come out on a special hunt,
as one of their number had, the day before, observed his large tracks on
the plains. When they had skinned him his flesh grew cold and his spirit
took its flight from the dead body, and Paup-puk-keewiss found himself in
human shape, with a bow and arrows.

But his passion for adventure was not yet cooled; for, on coming to
a large lake with a sandy beach, he saw a large flock of brant, and
speaking to them in the brant language, he requested them to make a brant
of him.

“Yes,” they replied at once, for the brant is a bird of a very obliging

“But I want to be very large,” he said. There was no end to the ambition
of Paup-puk-keewiss.

“Very well,” they answered; and he soon found himself a large brant, all
the others standing gazing in astonishment at his great size.

“You must fly as leader,” they said.

“No,” answered Paup-puk-keewiss; “I will fly behind.”

“Very well,” rejoined the brant. “One thing more we have to say to you
Brother Paup-puk-keewiss” (for he had told them his name); “you must be
careful, in flying, not to look down, for something may happen to you.”

“Well, it is so,” said he; and soon the flock rose up into the air, for
they were bound north. They flew very fast—he behind. One day, while
going with a strong wind, and as swift as their wings could flap, as they
passed over a large village the Indians raised a great shout on seeing
them, particularly on Paup-puk-keewiss’s account, for his wings were
broader than two large mats. The village people made such a frightful
noise that he forgot what had been told him about looking down. They were
now scudding along as swift as arrows, and as soon as he brought his
neck in and stretched it down to look at the shouters, his huge tail was
caught by the wind, and over and over he was blown. He tried to right
himself, but without success, for he had no sooner got out of one heavy
air-current than he fell into another, which treated him even more rudely
than that he had escaped from. Down, down he went, making more turns than
he wished for, from a height of several miles.

The first moment he had to look about him, Paup-puk-keewiss, in the shape
of a big brant, was aware that he was jammed into a large, hollow tree.
To get backward or forward was out of the question, and there, in spite
of himself, was Paup-puk-keewiss forced to tarry till his brant life was
ended by starvation, when, his spirit being at liberty, he was once more
a human being.

As he journeyed on in search of further adventures, Paup-puk-keewiss
came to a lodge in which were two old men, with heads white from extreme
age. They were very fine old men to look at. There was such sweetness
and innocence in their features that Paup-puk-keewiss would have enjoyed
himself very much at their lodge if he had had no other entertainment
than such as the gazing upon the serene and happy faces of the two
innocent old men, with heads white from extreme age, afforded.

They treated him well, and he made known to them that he was going back
to his village, his friends and people, whereupon the two white-headed
old men very heartily wished him a good journey and abundance of comfort
in seeing his friends once more. They even arose, old and infirm as they
were, and, tottering with exceeding difficulty to the door, were at great
pains to point out to him the exact course he should take; and they
called his attention to the circumstance that it was much shorter and
more direct than he would have taken himself. Ah! what merry deceivers
were these two old men with very white heads.

Paup-puk-keewiss, with blessings showered on him until he was fairly out
of sight, set forth with good heart. He thought he heard loud laughter
resounding after him in the direction of the lodge of the two old men;
but it could not have been the two old men, for they were certainly too
old to laugh.

He walked briskly all day, and at night he had the satisfaction of
reaching a lodge in all respects like that which he had left in the
morning. There were two fine old men, and his treatment was in every
particular the same, even down to the parting blessing and the laughter
that followed him as he went his way.

After walking the third day, and coming to a lodge the same as before,
he was satisfied from the bearings of the course he had taken that he
had been journeying in a circle, and by a notch which he had cut in the
door-post that these were the same two old men all along; and that,
despite their innocent faces and their very white heads, they had been
playing him a sorry trick.

“Who are you,” said Paup-puk-keewiss, “to treat me so? Come forth, I say!”

They were compelled to obey his summons lest, in his anger, he should
take their lives, and they appeared on the outside of the lodge.

“We must have a little trial of speed now,” said Paup-puk-keewiss.

“A race?” they asked. “We are very old; we cannot run.”

“We will see,” said Paup-puk-keewiss; whereupon he set them out upon the
road, and then he gave them a gentle push, which put them in motion. Then
he pushed them again—harder—harder—until they got under fine headway,
when he gave each of them an astounding shock with his foot, and off
they flew at a great rate, round and round the course; and such was the
magic virtue of the foot of Paup-puk-keewiss that no object once set
going by it could by any possibility stop; so that, for aught we know to
the contrary, the two innocent, white-headed, merry old men are trotting
with all their might and main around the circle in which they beguiled
Paup-puk-keewiss to this day.

Continuing his journey, Paup-puk-keewiss, although his head was warm
and buzzing with all sorts of schemes, did not know exactly what to do
until he came to a big lake. He mounted a high hill to try and see to the
other side, but he could not. He then made a canoe, and sailed forth.
The water was very clear—a transparent blue—and he saw that it abounded
with fish of a rare and delicate complexion. This circumstance inspired
him with a wish to return to his village, and to bring his people to live
near this beautiful lake.

Toward evening, coming to a woody island, he encamped and ate the fish he
had speared, and they proved to be as comforting to the stomach as they
were pleasing to the eye. The next day Paup-puk-keewiss returned to the
mainland, and as he wandered along the shore he espied at a distance the
celebrated giant, Manabozho, who is a bitter enemy of Paup-puk-keewiss,
and loses no opportunity to stop him on his journeyings and to thwart his

At first it occurred to Paup-puk-keewiss to have a trial of wits with the
giant, but on second thoughts he said to himself: “I am in a hurry now; I
will see him another time.”

With no further mischief than raising a great whirlwind of dust, which
caused Manabozho to rub his eyes severely, Paup-puk-keewiss quietly
slipped out of the way; and he made good speed withal, for in much less
time than you could count half the stars in the sky of a winter night, he
had reached home.

His return was welcomed with a great hubbub of feasting and songs; and he
had scarcely set foot in the village before he had invitations to take
potluck at different lodges, which would have lasted him the rest of his
natural life. Pipe-bearer, who had some time before given up the cares
of a ruler, and fallen back upon his native place, fairly danced with joy
at the sight of Paup-puk-keewiss, who, not to be outdone, dandled him
affectionately in his arms by casting him up and down in the air half a
mile or so, till little Pipe-bearer had no breath left in his body to say
that he was happy to see Paup-puk-keewiss home again.

Paup-puk-keewiss gave the village folks a lively account of his
adventures, and when he came to the blue lake and the abundant fish,
he dwelt upon their charms with such effect that they agreed, with one
voice, that it must be a glorious place to live in, and if he would show
them the way they would shift camp and settle there at once.

He not only showed them the way, but, bringing his wonderful strength and
speed of foot to bear, in less than half a day he had transported the
whole village, with its children, women, tents, and implements of war, to
the new water-side.

Here, for a time, Paup-puk-keewiss appeared to be content, until one
day a message came for him in the shape of a bear, who said that their
king wished to see him immediately at his village. Paup-puk-keewiss was
ready in an instant, and, mounting upon the messenger’s back, off he ran.
Toward evening they climbed a high mountain, and came to a cave where the
bear-king lived. He was a very large person, and, puffing with fat and a
sense of his own importance, he made Paup-puk-keewiss welcome by inviting
him into his lodge.

As soon as it was proper, he spoke, and said that he had sent for him on
hearing that he was the chief who was moving a large party toward his

“You must know,” said the bear-king with a terrible growl, “that you have
no right there, and I wish you would leave the country with your party,
or else the strongest force will take possession. Take notice.”

“Very well,” replied Paup-puk-keewiss, going toward the door, for he
suspected that the king of the bears was preparing to give him a hug, “so
be it.”

He wished to gain time and to consult his people, for he had seen, as he
came along, that the bears were gathering in great force on the side of
the mountain. He also made known to the bear-king that he would go back
that night, that his people might be put in immediate possession of his
royal behest.

The bear-king replied that Paup-puk-keewiss might do as he pleased, but
that one of his young men was at his command; and, jumping nimbly on his
back, Paup-puk-keewiss rode home.

He assembled the people, and ordered the bear’s head off, to be hung
outside of the village, that the bear-spies, who were lurking in the
neighborhood, might see it and carry the news to their chief.

The next morning, by break of day, Paup-puk-keewiss had all of his young
warriors under arms and ready for a fight. About the middle of the
afternoon the bear war-party came in sight, led on by the pursy king, and
making a tremendous noise. They advanced on their hind-legs, and made a
very imposing display of their teeth and eyeballs.

The bear-chief himself came forward, and, with a majestic wave of his
right hand, said that he did not wish to shed the blood of the young
warriors, but that if Paup-puk-keewiss, who appeared to be the head of
the war-party, consented, they two would have a race, and the winner
should kill the losing chief, and all his young men should be servants to
the other.

Paup-puk-keewiss agreed, of course—how little Pipe-bearer, who stood by,
grinned as they came to terms!—and they started to run before the whole
company of warriors, who stood in a circle looking on.

At first there was a prospect that Paup-puk-keewiss would be badly
beaten; for, although he kept crowding the great fat bear-king till
the sweat trickled from his shaggy ears, he never seemed to be able to
push past him. By and by, Paup-puk-keewiss, going through a number of
the most extraordinary maneuvers in the world, raised about the great
fat bear-king such eddies and whirlwinds with the sand, and so danced
about before and after him, that he at last got fairly bewildered, and
cried out for them to come and take him off. Out of sight before him in
reaching the goal, Paup-puk-keewiss only waited for the bear-king to come
up, when he drove an arrow straight through him and ordered them to take
the body away and make it ready for supper, as he was getting hungry.

He then directed all of the other bears to fall to and help prepare the
feast, for in fulfilment of the agreement they had become servants. With
many wry faces the bears, although bound to act becomingly in their new
character, according to the forfeit, served up the body of their late
royal master; and in doing this they fell, either by accident or design,
into many curious mistakes.

When the feast came to be served up and they were summoned to be in
attendance, one of them, a sprightly young fellow of an inquisitive turn
of mind, was found upon the roof of the lodge, with his head half way
down the smoke-hole, with a view to learn what they were to have for
dinner. Another, a middle-aged bear with very long arms, who was put in
charge of the children in the character of nurse, squeezed three or four
of the most promising young pappooses to death, while the mothers were
outside to look after the preparations; and another, when he should have
been waiting at the back of his master, had climbed a shady tree and was
indulging in his afternoon nap. And when, at last, the dinner was ready
to be served, they came tumbling in with the dishes, heels over head, one
after the other, so that one half of the feast was spread upon the ground
and the other half deposited out of doors, on the other side of the lodge.

After a while, however, by strict discipline and threatening to cut off
their provisions, the bear-servants were brought into tolerable control.

Yet Paup-puk-keewiss, with his ever-restless disposition, was uneasy;
and, having done so many wonderful things, he resolved upon a strict and
thorough reform in all the affairs of the village. To prevent future
difficulty he determined to adopt new regulations between the bears and
their masters.

With this view, he issued an edict that henceforward the bears should eat
at the first table, and that the Indians were to wait upon them; that
in all public processions of an honorable character the bears should go
first; and that when any fighting was to be done, the Indians should have
the privilege reserved of receiving the first shots. A special exemption
was made in behalf of Paup-puk-keewiss’s favorite and confidential
adviser, Pipe-bearer (who had been very busy in private recommending the
new order of things), who was to be allowed to sit at the head of the
feast, and to stay at home with the old women in the event of battle.

Having seen his orders strictly enforced, and the rights of the bears
over the Indians fairly established, Paup-puk-keewiss fixed his mind upon
further adventures. He determined to go abroad for a time, and having
an old score to settle with Manabozho, he set out with a hope of soon
falling in with that famous giant. Paup-puk-keewiss was a blood relation
of Dais Imid, or He of the Little Shell, and had heard of what had passed
between that giant and his kinsman.

After wandering a long time he came to the lodge of Manabozho, who was
absent. He thought he must play him a trick, and so he turned everything
in the lodge upside down and killed his birds, of which there was an
extraordinary attendance, for Manabozho is master of the fowls of the
air, and this was the appointed morning for them to call and pay their
court to him. Among the number was a raven, accounted the meanest of
birds, which Paup-puk-keewiss killed and hung up by the neck, to insult

He then went on till he came to a very high point of rocks running out
into the lake, from the top of which he could see the country back as
far as the eye could reach. While sitting there, Manabozho’s mountain
chickens flew round and past him in great numbers. Out of mere spite to
their master, Paup-puk-keewiss shot them by the score, for his arrows
were very sure and the birds very plenty, and he amused himself by
throwing the birds down the rocks. At length a wary bird cried out:

“Paup-puk-keewiss is killing us; go and tell our father.”

Away sped a delegation of the birds which were the quickest of wing, and
Manabozho soon made his appearance on the plain below. Paup-puk-keewiss,
who when he is in the wrong is no match for Manabozho, made his escape on
the other side. Manabozho, who had in two or three strides reached the
top of the mountain, cried out:

“You are a rogue. The earth is not so large but I can get up to you.”

Off ran Paup-puk-keewiss, and Manabozho after him. The race was sharp,
and such leaps and strides as they made! Over hills and prairies, with
all his speed, went Paup-puk-keewiss, and Manabozho hard upon him.
Paup-puk-keewiss had some mischievous notions still left in his head
which he thought might befriend him. He knew that Manabozho was under a
spell to restore whatever he, Paup-puk-keewiss, destroyed. Forthwith he
stopped and climbed a large pine-tree, stripped off its beautiful green
foliage, threw it to the winds, and then went on.

When Manabozho reached the spot, the tree addressed him. “Great chief,”
said the tree, “will you give me my life again? Paup-puk-keewiss has
killed me.”

“Yes,” replied Manabozho, who as quickly as he could gathered the
scattered leaves and branches, renewed its beauty with his breath, and
set off. Although Paup-puk-keewiss in the same way compelled Manabozho to
lose time in repairing the hemlock, the sycamore, cedar, and many other
trees, the giant did not falter, but pushing briskly forward, was fast
overtaking him when Paup-puk-keewiss happened to see an elk. And asking
him, for old acquaintance’ sake, to take him on his back, the elk did so,
and for some time he made good headway; but still Manabozho was in sight.

He was fast gaining upon him when Paup-puk-keewiss threw himself off the
elk’s back, and, striking a great sandstone rock near the path, he broke
it into pieces, and scattered the grains in a thousand directions; for
this was nearly his last hope of escape. Manabozho was so close upon him
at this place that he had almost caught him; but the foundation of the
rock cried out:

“Haye! Ne-me-sho, Paup-puk-keewiss has spoiled me. Will you not restore
me to life?”

“Yes,” replied Manabozho. He re-established the rock in all its strength.

He then pushed on in pursuit, and had got so near to Paup-puk-keewiss as
to put out his arm to seize him; but Paup-puk-keewiss dodged him and,
as his last chance, he immediately raised such a dust and commotion by
whirlwinds as made the trees break and the sand and leaves dance in the
air. Again and again Manabozho stretched his arm, but he escaped him
at every turn, and kept up such a tumult of dust that he dashed into a
hollow tree which had been blown down, changed himself into a snake, and
crept out at the roots just in time to save his life; for at that moment
Manabozho, who had the power of lightning, struck it, and it was strewn
about in little pieces.

Again Paup-puk-keewiss was in human shape, and Manabozho was pressing him
hard. At a distance he saw a very high bluff of rocks jutting out into
a lake, and he ran for the foot of the precipice, which was abrupt and
elevated. As he came near, to his surprise and great relief, the Manito
of the rock opened his door and told Paup-puk-keewiss to come in. The
door was no sooner closed than Manabozho knocked.

“Open it!” he cried, with a loud voice. The Manito was afraid of him, but
he said to Paup-puk-keewiss: “Since I have taken you as my guest, I would
sooner die with you than open the door.”

“Open it!” Manabozho again cried, in a louder voice than before.

The Manito kept silent.

“Very well,” said Manabozho; “I give you till morning to live.”

Paup-puk-keewiss trembled, for he thought his last hour had come.

When the night came on the clouds were thick and black, and as they
were torn open by the lightning, such discharges of thunder were never
heard as bellowed forth. The clouds advanced slowly and wrapped the
earth about with their vast shadows as in a huge cloak. All night long
the clouds gathered, and the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared,
and above all could be heard Manabozho muttering vengeance upon poor

“You have led a very foolish kind of life, Paup-puk-keewiss,” said his
friend the Manito.

“I know it—I know it!” Paup-puk-keewiss answered.

“You had great gifts of strength awarded to you,” said the Manito.

“I am aware of it,” replied Paup-puk-keewiss.

“Instead of employing it for useful purposes, and for the good of your
fellow-creatures, you have done nothing since you became a man but raise
whirlwinds on the highways, leap over trees, break whatever you met in
pieces, and perform a thousand idle pranks.”

Paup-puk-keewiss, with great penitence, confessed that his friend the
Manito spoke but too truly. Then Manabozho as Animiki, the Spirit of
Lightning, in a cloud of heavy blackness, floated over the bluff of rocks
that protected Paup-puk-keewiss. The threatening roar of his voice was
heard rending the air, and Paup-puk-keewiss, with his companion, the
Manito of the Rocks, trembled with fear. Mighty arrows of fire darted
through the air from Manabozho’s bow; the mountains themselves gave
way; the solid rocks were broken, and, tottering apart, fell, crushing
Paup-puk-keewiss and the Manito into fragments. For the first time
Paup-puk-keewiss experienced death, for he was incapable of entering by
his own will a new form, as he was in the human form when crushed between
the rocks of the mountain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Norse god of the sky,[7] Odin, was depicted in a most picturesque
fashion. He is said to look like an old, tall, one-eyed man, with a long
beard, a broad-brimmed hat, a striped cloak of many colors, and a spear
in his hand. On his arm he wears the gold ring Draupner and carries a
spear called Gungner; two ravens sit on his shoulders, two wolves lie
at his feet, and a huge chariot rolls over his head. He sits upon a
high throne and looks out upon the world, or he rides on the winds upon
his horse Sleipner. There is a deep speculative expression upon his
countenance. Odin’s hat symbolizes the arched vault of heaven, and his
blue or variegated cloak is the blue sky or atmosphere. His horse with
eight legs, as we learned before, symbolizes the eight winds of heaven,
and his ring the fruitfulness of nature. His spear produces violent
trembling or shaking. He is regarded as the all-pervading spirit of the
world, and produces life and spirit, though he did not create the world.
In whatever creative work he does he is helped by others. All knowledge
comes from him—the arts of war and the arts of peace; even poetry was
invented by him. He is the ruler over all things, and, although other
deities may have power, they all serve and obey him as children do their

He frequently appeared to men. One of the most interesting of these
revelations of himself is told in the Norse epic, the “Volsung Saga.”


King Volsung had made preparations for an entertainment. Blazing fires
burned along the hall, and in the middle of the hall stood a large tree,
whose green and fair foliage covered the roof. King Volsung had placed
it there, and it was called Odin’s tree. Now, as the guests sat around
the fire in the evening, a man entered the hall whose countenance they
did not know. He wore a variegated cloak, was barefooted, his breeches
were of linen, and a wide-brimmed hat hung down over his face. He was
very tall, looked old, and was one-eyed. He had a sword in his hand. The
man went to the tree, and struck his sword into it with so powerful a
blow that it sunk into it even to the hilt. No one dared greet this man.
Then said he: “He who draws this sword out of the trunk of the tree shall
have it as a gift from me, and shall find it true that he never wielded
a better sword.” Then went the old man out of the hall again, and no one
knew who he was or whither he went. Now all tried to draw the sword out,
but it would not move before Volsung’s son, Sigmund, came; for him it
seemed to be quite loose.

When Odin went forth to battle, he was resplendent in armor and a golden
helmet; with him were his messengers, the Valkyries—giant, warlike
maids who, when in Valhalla, the home of Odin, brought in the drink and
waited upon the table, but in time of battle were sent forth by Odin to
every battle-field, carrying the message of death to the brave hero, and
inviting him home to Odin’s hall, a message he received with joy and
gladness. To bear away to heaven the souls of the dead is often an office
of a wind god, and in this case of wind goddesses, for there can be
little doubt that the Valkyries had some of the attributes of the wind.

The Norse god next in importance to Odin was Thor. He wears a red beard.
He has a fiery nature, is girded with a belt of strength, and swings a
hammer in his hand. He rides in a chariot drawn by two goats, from whose
hoofs and teeth sparks of fire flash, and the scarlet cloud reflects
his fiery eyes. Over his head he wears a crown of stars, under his feet
rests the earth, and it shows the footprints of his mighty steps. He is
enormously strong, and very terrible when angry, which is not supposed
to be often, for he has, on the whole, a good-natured disposition. The
region in which he lives is called Thrudvaug and his mansion Bilskiner,
in which there are five hundred and forty halls. His hammer, his belt,
and his gauntlet are all possessed of remarkable qualities. The first is
called Mjolner, and woe be to the frost or mountain giant against whom
Thor hurls it. His iron gauntlet he wears when he is laying about him
with his hammer, and when he puts on his belt of strength his power is
redoubled. This mighty god has many and wonderful adventures.

There is no better description of the god Thor to be found than that by
our own poet Longfellow, in his “Tales of a Wayside Inn”:

    “I am the god Thor,
    I am the war god,
    I am the Thunderer!
    Here in my Northland,
    My fastness and fortress,
    Reign I forever!

    Here amid icebergs
    Rule I the nations;
    This is my hammer,
    Mjolner, the mighty
    Giants and sorcerers
    Cannot withstand it!

    These are the gauntlets
    Wherewith I wield it
    And hurl it afar off;
    This is my girdle;
    Whenever I brace it
    Strength is redoubled!

    The light thou beholdest
    Stream through the heavens,
    In flashes of crimson,
    Is but my red beard
    Blown by the night wind,
    Affrighting the nations.

    Jove is my brother;
    Mine eyes are the lightning;
    The wheels of my chariot
    Roll in the thunder;
    The blows of my hammer
    Ring in the earthquake!”


Thor had once gone eastward to crush trolls, but Odin rode on his horse
Sleipner to Jotunheim, the land of giants, and came to a giant by name
Hrungner. Then he asked Hrungner what man that was, who with a helmet
of gold rode through the air and over the sea, and added that it was
an extraordinarily good horse he had. Odin replied that he would wager
his head that so good a horse could not be found in Jotunheim. Hrungner
said that it was indeed a very excellent horse, but he had one called
Goldfax that could take much longer paces, and he immediately sprang upon
his horse and galloped away after Odin. Odin constantly kept ahead, but
Hrungner’s giant nature had become so excited that before he was himself
aware of it he had come within the gates of Asgard. When he came to the
door of the hall the gods invited him in to drink. They set before him
the bowls out of which Thor was accustomed to drink, and he emptied them
each in one draught, and so he became drunk and began to boast in a most
conceited fashion. He was going to take Valhal, he said, and carry it off
to Jotunheim; he would demolish Asgard and kill the gods, except Freyja
and Lif, whom he would take home with him; and while Freyja was pouring
the celestial beverage into bowls for him he remarked that he was going
to drink up all the ale of the gods. At last the gods grew very tired of
his arrogance. They, therefore, called Thor, who came at once. He was
very much enraged and, swinging his hammer about, he fiercely asked who
was to blame that dogwise giants should be permitted to drink there, or
who had given safety to Hrungner in Valhal, and why Freyja should pour
ale for him as she did at the feasts of the gods. Hrungner, looking at
Thor with anything but a friendly eye, answered that Odin had invited
him and that he was under his protection. Thor said that Hrungner should
come to rue that invitation before he came out; but the giant answered
that it would be but little honor to Thor to kill him, unarmed, as he
was; it would be a better proof of his valor if he dared contend with
him at the boundaries of his territory. “It was foolish, indeed, of me
to leave my weapons at home. Had I my shield and my flint stone with me,
we would now try a duel. But I declare you to be a coward if you kill me
unarmed.” Thor would not excuse himself from such a challenge the like
of which no one had ever offered him before. Hrungner now went his way
and hastened home. This journey of Hrungner was much talked of by the
giants, and especially did his challenge of Thor awaken their interest,
and it was of great importance to them which of the two should come out
from the combat victorious. For if Hrungner, who was the most powerful
among the giants, should be conquered, they might look for nothing but
evil from Thor. They, therefore, made a man of clay, nine miles high
and three miles broad between the shoulders. They could not find a
heart corresponding to his size and therefore took one out of a mare;
but this fluttered and trembled when Thor came. Hrungner had a heart
of hard stone, sharp and three-cornered; his head was also of stone,
and likewise his shield, which was broad and thick, and this shield he
held before him when he stood waiting for Thor. His weapon was a flint
stone, which he swung over his shoulders, so that it was no trifle to
join in combat with him. By his side stood the clay giant, who was so
extremely terrified that the sweat poured from off him. Thor went to the
duel together with Thjalfe, a servant, whom he had got from a peasant
by the sea. Thjalfe ran to the place where Hrungner was standing, and
said to him: “You stand unguarded, giant; you hold the shield before
you, but Thor has seen you; he comes with violence from beneath the
earth and attacks you.” Then Hrungner hastily put the shield beneath
his feet and stood upon it, but he seized his flint stone with both
hands. Presently he saw flashes of lightning and heard loud crashings,
and then he saw Thor in his might rushing forward with impetuous speed,
swinging his hammer and throwing it from the distance against Hrungner.
The latter lifted the flint stone with both his hands and threw it with
all his might against the hammer; the two met in the air and the flint
stone broke into two pieces, one piece of which fell on the ground (and
hence the flint mountains), while the other flew with such force against
the head of Thor that he fell forward to the ground; but the hammer
Mjolner hit Hrungner right in the head and crushed his skull into small
pieces, he himself falling over Thor, so that his foot lay across Thor’s
neck. Thor could only be released from the giant’s foot by his own son
Magne (strength), and to this day the flint stone sticks fast in Thor’s

       *       *       *       *       *

Longfellow calls Thor the brother of Zeus. Zeus is, however, only like
Thor in his character of the thunderer. As the All-father of the Greeks
he is like Odin.

Zeus, or Jupiter,[8] as he was called by the Romans, was regarded as the
supreme ruler of the universe. Sometimes he was pictured as a god of war.
Then he rode in his thunder car, hurling the thunderbolt or lashing his
enemies with a scourge of lightning. He wore a breastplate or shield of
storm-cloud like the skin of a gray goat fearful to behold and made by
the God of Fire. His special messenger was the eagle.

In his peaceful guise, he sat throned in the high clear heavens. There he
was the gatherer of clouds and snows, the dispenser of gentle rains and
winds, the moderator of light and heat and the seasons. He was worshipped
with various rites in different places, but everywhere the loftiest trees
and the highest mountain peaks were sacred to him.


The story told of Zeus is that he had not always been the supreme god.
Before him reigned his father, Cronus, and before Cronus his grandfather,
Uranus. Cronus deposed Uranus, and having heard that he was destined to
be deposed by one of his own children, he indulged in the queer habit
of swallowing them all. His wife, Rhea, however, when Zeus was born
thought of the happy expedient of giving Cronus a stone to swallow,
which he, unsuspecting, did. The little Zeus was hidden in the island
of Crete, where he was tended by nymphs and brought up on goat’s milk.
When he became a full-grown god, he made his father disgorge the brothers
and sisters he had swallowed—namely, Vesta, Ceres, Juno, Pluto, and
Neptune—and then went to war against his cruel father. This war is a
battle of the powers of light against the powers of darkness. Cronus is
helped by his brothers the Titans, and Zeus is helped by the Cyclopes,
one-eyed giants, and the Hecatonchires, hundred-handed monsters who
had been confined for ages in Tartarus. Zeus and his hosts held Mount
Olympus. For ages victory wavered in the balance, until by the advice of
Rhea, Zeus released the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires. Instantly they
hastened to the battle-field of Thessaly, the Cyclopes to support Zeus
with their thunders and lightnings, the hundred-handed monsters with the
shock of the earthquake. Provided with such artillery, shaking earth
and sea, Zeus issued to the onslaught. With the gleam of the lightning
the Titans were blinded, by the earthquake they were laid low, with the
flames they were well-nigh consumed; overpowered and fettered by the
hands of the Hecatonchires, they were consigned to the yawning cave of
Tartarus. In the council of the gods following this great battle Zeus was
chosen Sovereign of the World. He delegated to his brother Posidon or
Neptune the kingdom of the sea and all the waters, to his brother Hades
or Pluto the government of the underworld, dark, unseen, mysterious,
where the spirits of the dead should dwell, and of Tartarus the prison
of the subdued Titans. For himself Zeus retained heaven and earth. His
dwelling and that of the gods was on the summit of an ideal mountain
called Olympus. The gods all had their separate dwellings, but all when
summoned assembled in the palace of Zeus, there to feast upon ambrosia
and nectar. Their duties consisted in discussing the affairs of heaven
and earth, while for amusement they had the melodies of Apollo’s lyre,
and the songs of the muses. There was a gate of clouds to this heavenly
city kept by goddesses, the Hours or Seasons, and through these gates the
celestials passed when bent upon any errand to earth.

[Illustration: The Flying Mercury or Hermes. _Giovanni di Bologna._]

Hermes (Roman name, Mercury) was the personification of the wind and
the messenger of Zeus, and, like the Valkyries, he had the office of
conducting the souls of the dead to Hades. His summoning of the souls
of the dead is beautifully described in this passage from the Odyssey,
translated by the poet Bryant:

                        “In his hand he bore
    The beautiful golden wand, with which at will
    He shuts the eyes of men, or opens them
    From sleep. With this he guided on their way
    The ghostly rout; they followed, uttering
    A shrilly wail. As when a flock of bats,
    Deep in a dismal cavern, fly about
    And squeak, if one have fallen from the place
    Where, clinging to each other and the rock,
    They rested, so that crowd of ghosts went forth
    With shrill and plaintive cries. Before them moved
    Beneficent Hermes through those dreary ways,
    And past the ocean stream they went, and past
    Leucadia’s rock, the portals of the Sun,
    And people of the land of dreams, until
    They reached the fields of asphodel, where dwell
    The souls, the bodiless forms of those who die.”

Among the loveliest of the sky deities are the goddesses of the dawn.
Besides bringing light and joy to mankind, they are his kind helpers when
he is in trouble, and the givers of all good things. We have already made
the acquaintance of the Hindoo Dawn Goddess Ushas, and give here another
Vedic hymn in her praise. The counterpart of Ushas in Greek mythology is
Aurora, the Goddess of the Dawn, who is pictured flying before the car
of Apollo. A more developed Dawn Goddess is Pallas Athēne (Roman name
Minerva.) She is represented as having sprung fully armed from the head
of her father Zeus, as the Dawn springs up in the morning sky. But she
has a warlike, as well as a beneficent side when she wields the lightning
and the thunderbolts. When Pallas Athēne decided to give her aid to
any human being, she sometimes took the form of Mentes, or of a young
shepherd, as she does in different scenes in the “Odyssey.” When she
descends to earth she is described as fastening underneath her feet

    “The fair, ambrosial golden sandals worn
    To bear her over ocean like the wind,
    And o’er the boundless land. In hand she took,
    Well tipped with trenchant brass, the mighty spear,
    Heavy and huge and strong, with which she bears
    Whole phalanxes of heroes to earth,
    When she, the daughter of a mighty sire,
    Is angered. From the Olympian heights she plunged
    And stood among the men of Ithaca.
    ... In her hand she bore the spear,
    And seemed the stranger Mentes.”

When Pallas returned to heaven she

    “Passed like an eagle out of sight and all
    Were seized with deep amazement as they saw.”

Another time Pallas appears to Odysseus or Ulysses in the shape

    “Of a young shepherd, delicately formed,
    As are the sons of kings. A mantle lay
    Upon her shoulder in rich folds, her feet
    Shone in their sandals: in her hand she bore
    A javelin. As Ulysses saw, his heart
    Was glad within him, and he hastened on
    And thus accosted her with wingèd words,
    ‘Fair youth, who art the first whom I have met
    Upon this shore, I bid thee hail, and hope
    Thou meetest me with no unkind intent.
    Protect what thou beholdest here and me;
    I make my suit to thee as to a god,
    And come to thy dear knees.’”

After a little talk with Odysseus

                  “the blue-eyed goddess, Pallas, smiled
    And touched the chief caressingly. She seemed
    A beautiful and stately woman now,
    Such as are skilled in works of rare device.”

She advises Odysseus and says to him:

    “Hither am I come to frame for thee
    Wise counsels, and to hide away the stores
    Given by the opulent Phæacian chiefs
    At thy departure. I shall also tell
    What thou must yet endure beneath the roof
    Of thine own palace, by the will of fate.
    Yet bear it bravely, since thou must, nor speak
    To any man or woman of thyself
    And of thy wandering hither, but submit
    To many things that grieve thee, silently,
    And bear indignities from violent men.”

Thus this beneficent Dawn Goddess is always helping mankind in their
troubles, and scattering abroad so much wisdom that she came to be called
in Greek mythology the Goddess of Wisdom.

The Indian and the Japanese stories following show other fancies about
gods of the sky and air. “The Lover’s Vision of the Happy Land” gives a
picture of the home of departed spirits in the sky. “The Message-Bearers”
is related to the idea that the wind is a messenger of the gods, but it
is the wind in the form of the repeated sounds in echoes.

The Indians[9] were in the habit of frequenting rivers with high, wooded
banks, or ravines with precipitous sides where reverberations could be
heard for miles, until they would die away in the distance. There they
would stand for hours shouting and listening to the echoing shouts as
they leaped from shore to shore, or from hill to mountain, and from
mountain to valley—on and on into silence; always firmly believing that
the words were called from one to another of the faithful spirits until
they reached the ears of their loved ones, and finally the Great Spirit

“The Way of the Gods” describes a god of the infinite sky as the
beginning of all things.


(_From the “Rig Veda”_)

    The radiant Dawns have risen up for glory, in their white splendor
         live the waves of waters.
    She maketh paths all easy, fair to travel, and rich hath shown
         herself, benign and friendly.
    We see that thou art good: far shines thy lustre; thy beams, thy
         splendors have flown up to heaven.
    Decking thyself, thou makest bare thy bosom, shining in majesty,
         thou goddess Morning.
    Red are the kine and luminous that bear her, the blessèd one who
         spreadeth through the distance.
    The foes she chaseth like a valiant archer, like a swift warrior
         she repelleth darkness.
    Thy ways are easy on the hills: thou passest in windless calm,
         self-luminous! through waters.
    So lofty goddess with thine ample pathway, daughter of Heaven,
         bring wealth to give us courage.
    Dawn, bring me wealth: untroubled, with thine oxen thou bearest
         riches at thy will and pleasure;
    Thou who, a goddess, child of Heaven, hast shown thee lovely through
         bounty when we called thee early.
    As the birds fly forth from their resting-places, so men with store
         of food rise at thy dawning.
    Yea, to the liberal mortal who remaineth at home, O goddess Dawn,
         much good thou bringest.

[Illustration: Athēne: Brandisher of the Spear. _Capitol, Rome._]


There was once a very beautiful girl, more beautiful than all the Indian
maidens of her tribe, who died suddenly, on the eve of her marriage to a
handsome young chief; and, although her lover was brave, his heart was
not proof against his loss. He mourned as one without hope. After her
burial he sat near the spot where her remains were deposited, without
speaking, musing and dreaming of her he had lost. War and hunting had no
charms for him. He pushed aside his bow and arrows, for his heart was
dead within him. He had heard the old people say that there was a path
that led to the Land of Souls, and he determined to follow it. With this
resolution he left the remains of his beloved, and, after making some
preparation for the journey, set out at an early hour of the morning.

At first he hardly knew which direction to take, for he was guided only
by the tradition that he must go southward. For a while he could discover
no change in the appearance of the country; forests, hills, valleys, and
streams had the same familiar look that they wore around his native home.
There was snow upon the ground, however, when he set out; and it was
sometimes seen clinging in thick mats upon the trees and bushes, but at
length it began to diminish, and finally, as he travelled swiftly along,
totally disappeared, when the forest assumed a more cheerful appearance.
The trees appeared to be putting forth their leaves, and suddenly, as
if by enchantment, as he walked onward, he found himself surrounded by
the budding flowers of spring; the air seemed warm upon his cheek, while
overhead, instead of wintry clouds, the sky was clear, and his ears were
saluted with songs of birds.

The lover’s heart beat quickly at these changes, for he knew he was
in the right path, as appearances agreed with the traditions of his
tribe. As he sped along, he discovered a footpath, which he followed,
and was led through a dark grove, then up a long precipitous ridge, on
the extreme summit of which he came to a lodge. In the doorway of this
lodge stood an old man, whose hair was white as snow, and whose eyes,
though deeply sunken, had a wonderful brilliancy. He had a long robe of
skins thrown loosely around his shoulders, and a staff in his hand. The
young lover accosted him and began to tell his story, when the old man
interrupted him by saying: “I have expected you, and had just risen to
bid you welcome. She whom you seek passed here a few days since. Enter my
lodge, for therein she rested, being fatigued, and I will answer all your
inquiries, and give you direction for your journey from this point.”

Having entered and rested within the lodge, according to the old man’s
invitation, the young lover, impatient of delay, soon issued forth from
the lodge-door, accompanied by the venerable chief. “You see yonder
gulf,” said the chief, “and the wide-stretching blue plains beyond. It is
the Land of Souls. You stand upon its borders, and my lodge is its gate
of entrance; but you cannot take your body along with you; leave it here
with your bow and arrows, your bundle and your dog; you will find it safe
on your return.”

So saying, he turned and reëntered his lodge, and the freed traveller
bounded forward as if his feet were winged. He found, as he thus sped
forward, that all things retained their natural colors and shapes,
except that they seemed more beautiful—the colors being richer and
shapes more comely; and he would have thought that everything was the
same as heretofore, had he not seen that the animals bounded across his
path with the utmost freedom and confidence, and birds of beautiful
plumage inhabited the groves, and sported in the waters in fearless and
undisturbed enjoyment. As he passed on, however, he noticed that his
passage was not impeded by trees or other objects; he appeared to walk
directly through them. They were, in fact, but the souls of trees, and he
then became sensible that he was in the Land of Shadows.

When he had travelled some distance through the country, which
continually became more and more attractive, he came to the banks of a
broad lake, in the center of which was a beautiful island; and tied upon
the shore of this lake he found a canoe of white, shining stone, within
which were white paddles that seemed to be of the same shining material.

He immediately entered the canoe and took the paddles in his hands, when,
to his joy and surprise, on turning around, he discovered the object of
his search, the young maiden, in another canoe exactly the counterpart
of his; who, having imitated his motions in gathering up the paddles and
making preparations for embarking, followed him as he pushed off from

The waves of the lake soon began to rise, and, at a distance, looked
ready to submerge them in their watery embrace; but yet, on approaching
their white edges, they seemed to melt away. Still, as these enormous
waves followed each other in quick succession, it kept them in continual
fear; for they felt no certainty but that some one of them might break
upon their canoes and bring them to destruction; while, added to this
perpetual fear, the water of the lake was so clear that it disclosed
to their affrighted gaze large heaps of bones of human beings who had
perished before. And, as they moved on, they saw many persons struggling
and sinking in the waves. Old men and women, and young men and maidens,
were there; and but few were able to pass over. The children alone were
seen to glide on without fear. However, notwithstanding their terror, the
young man and maiden moved unharmed along, for their deeds in life had
been free from evil, and the Master of Life had decreed their safety;
and, at length, they leaped out upon the shore of the Happy Island, the
place of their destination, and wandered together over the blissful
fields, where everything was formed to delight the eye and please the
ear. The air itself was like food, and nourished and strengthened them.
There were no tempests. No one shivered for the want of warm clothes.
No one suffered from hunger. No one mourned for the dead. They saw no
graves. They heard of no wars. There was no hunting of animals. Gladly
the young lover would have remained forever with his beloved in this
beautiful land, but this was not permitted; for, although he did not see
the Master of Life, he heard his voice in a soft breeze which commanded
his return: “Go back,” said the voice, “to the land from whence you
came. Your time has not yet come; your work is not finished, and the
duties for which I made you are not completed. Return to your people and
accomplish all the duties of a brave man. You will be the ruler of your
tribe for many years. My messenger at the gate shall instruct you in
your future work, when he surrenders your body. Listen to him, and you
shall afterwards rejoin the spirit which you must now leave behind. She
is accepted, and will dwell here forever, as young and as happy as when
I called her from the Land of Snows.” And with this the lover’s vision


When the Great Spirit brought the Redmen from the Happy Hunting Grounds
and left them upon the earth, they were filled with fear lest they could
never make him hear their wants, and could not reach his ears when they
desired to tell him of their joys and sorrows. The sachems went before
him and said: “O our Father, how will thy children tell thee of the deeds
they have performed that will please thine ear? How will they ask thee
to their homes to help them drive away the bad spirits; and how will they
invite thee to their feasts and dances? O our Father, thou canst not at
all times be awake and watching thy children, and they will not know
when thou art sleeping. Thy children do not know the trail to the Happy
Hunting Grounds by which to send their wise men and sachems to talk with
thee, for thou hast covered it with thy hands and thy children cannot
discover it. How will the words of thy children reach thee, O our Father,
the Manito; how will what they say come to thine ears?”

Then the Great Spirit created for each one of the Redmen a second self,
to whom he gave a home in the air. He provided these beings with wings
and swift feet, so they could move very rapidly. To them he imparted
the secrets of the entrance to his home, and made them guides to his
children whom he had called on the long journey, so that they should not
lose the paths leading to their future home. Finally, the Great Spirit
told these creatures of the air that they should be message-bearers for
his children, and convey their words exactly as spoken from one point
to another until they reached the ears of his sachems in the big wigwam
by the side of the council-fire that never lost its light. They must be
ready at all times to answer the calls of the Redmen, so that none of
their words might be lost. Messages to the loved ones who had left the
earth and gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds must be transmitted with
the same watchful care as were those intended for his ears alone. If
any of his children spoke idle and untruthful words, they, too, must be
repeated, that their father might know whether they were worthy to be
admitted to the grand council-fire.

When he had finished his instructions, the Great Spirit told the sachems
that he would return to his home, and that they could go with his
children to the bank of a beautiful river near which they dwelt, and
there talk to him.

Slowly and with a loud voice the chief sachem began to speak. From the
opposite bank of the river the waiting message-bearer caught up the
sachem’s words as they were spoken, and with a strong voice shouted
them to another dweller of the air, who crouched in the tree-tops far
down the river, ready and alert to do the Great Spirit’s bidding. On
and on, rolling along the ravines and valleys, leaping from hill-top to
mountainside and from mountainside to lake, striding over the forests at
a bound—fainter and yet fainter, until lost in the blue distance of the
plain—the message of thankfulness and love was borne from the lips of
the grateful sachem until it reached the ears of the ever-listening and
loving father, and was told to the chiefs who sat in the light of the
council-fire that never grows dim.



Listen, my children, to the true story of the Beginning of the World.

When there was neither Heaven nor Earth, nor Sun nor Moon, nor anything
that is, there existed in Infinite Space the Invisible Lord of the Middle
Heaven. With him were two other Gods.

By their miraculous power, a Thing whose shape cannot be described came
into existence in the midst of Space, in appearance like a Floating
Cloud. Forth from it sprang, as it were, a Flowering Rushsprout, rising
from the water—pure, translucent, and bright—which grew and grew and
widened and widened infinitely, till it spread over all things and became
the Canopy of Heaven. Then downward from the Floating Cloud grew the
Under-region—the Realm of Night—which is the Root-region of the World and
the abode of Departed Spirits.

And the center of the Floating Cloud became the Earth, which was still
liquid and formless and without life.

After this were born in Heaven seven generations of Gods, and the last
and most perfect of these were Izanagi and Izanami. Now, Izanagi and
Izanami were the Parents of the World and all that is in it. And it
happened in this wise: the Gods of the High Plain of Heaven said to
Izanagi and Izanami:

“Descend and make of this drifting mud and ocean a firm and beautiful
Land, and fill it with living things.” And the Gods placed in their
hands a mystic jewelled Spear.

Now, in these days the heavens were near to the earth, and the space
between was spanned by a Heavenly Floating Bridge. So they set forth
bravely on their journey, and, looking down into the space beneath them,
they saw in the depths the green plain of the Sea. They held counsel
together and said, “Is there not a country beneath?”

And Izanagi pushed the jewelled Spear down from the Floating Bridge and
stirred the green sea round and round, and some say that is why the earth
turns round and round to this day. Then the brine went curdle-curdle, and
they drew up the Spear, and the brine that fell from the end of the Spear
dropped down and became an island. This island was called Onogoro, and
is one of the Everlasting Islands of the Land of Sunrise, of the Land of
Fertile Reed-plains, which is Japan.

Now, the Gods stepped down on to the Earth, and it was strange and
desolate, and they shivered, and felt lonely and afraid.

Suddenly sounded a whirring of wings; two tiny Sekirei—wagtails—swept
by and fluttered to the ground. It was early springtime; the living air
thrilled warm and sweet. With little pecks and cheeps, full of busy
pride, the pair sought twigs and grasses and wove them deftly into a
downy nest. Quivering with rapture, the lover-bird hovered round his
mate, and sang of love and joy and happy days to come.

While the Great Gods watched, a warmth crept round the heart of Izanagi,
and in Izanami’s eyes was a mist of tears. She whispered softly, “Let us,
too, make a house to dwell in!” Then Izanagi plunged his spear into the
ground, and round them rose a great and glorious Palace, and the Spear
was the Heart-Pillar thereof. And they were hidden from the sight of
Heaven and Earth.

Then, moving round this Pillar, they met and gazed on one another with
charmed eyes. The Mother of Mankind cried joyfully: “Behold! I have met
with a lovely Youth!” And Izanagi cried back: “Behold! I have met with a
lovely Maiden!”

So the Sekirei first taught the Gods the ways of Love, and are honored
and cherished in Japan to this day.

But Izanagi remembered how Izanami had been the first to speak, and in
his displeasure said wrathfully: “I am a Man, and should by right have
spoken first!”

When the first child born to them was ugly and deformed, they put him in
a boat made of camphor-wood, and he sailed away to sea and became the God
of the fisherfolk. His children are the hairy men who live in some of the
islands of Japan to this day.

Then the Gods passed round the Pillar a second time, and Izanagi spoke
first. So his anger was appeased, and they lived greatly content.

Together they made the eight islands of Japan, and placed them at the
summit of the globe. But the land was hidden—becovered with mists—so
Izanagi sent forth the God of the Winds. He, blowing lustily, rent the
clouds, and the earth lay as a bride unveiled, shimmering with silver dew
on her green pastures.

Next came the Food-Spirit to comfort mankind, the Sea Gods, the Mountain
Gods, the Gods of the River-mouths, the Tree Gods, and the Earth Goddess.
Last of all was born the fierce Fire God, Kagu-tsuchi. Now, this God was
of such a hot and fiery temper that he burned his Great Mother, and she
suffered change and departed to the Lower World.

Then Izanagi was wroth, and cried aloud: “Oh, that I should have given my
Beloved in return for a single child!”

And his sorrow was so great that he crawled round her head and her feet,
and from the tears that he shed sprang up the Goddess of Weeping. Then he
took his ten-span sword and hewed Kagu-tsuchi in three pieces, and each
piece sprang into life as the Spirit of Thunder, the Spirit of Mountains,
and the Spirit of Rain.

Now, Izanagi loved his wife so greatly that he could find no rest or
peace on earth; and, after wandering long in search of comfort and
finding none, he determined to seek her, even in the realm of Departed
Spirits. His way lay through a long and gloomy passage where few have
trod, right through the center of the earth, till he came at length to
the Gate of Everlasting Night, to the Kingdom of Yomi, the Ruler of the
Under World. He knocked at the Gate and cried aloud:

“O my beloved Sister! come back to me!” And she answered him:

“O beloved Elder Brother! gladly would I come, but, alas! I have eaten of
Yomi’s cooking and am bewitched. Let me return and speak to him, but do
not thou follow me!”

So Izanagi waited anxiously without, till, growing impatient at her long
delay, he broke a tooth off his comb, lighting it as a torch, and so
dared to enter those terrible shades. Through dark and dreadful ways he
wandered, and his heart quailed within him.

But Yomi was wroth with him for his daring, and smote Izanami so that
when he found her she lay as one altered in death, with Eight Witches at
her head and her feet. Then a great horror fell upon Izanagi; he turned
and fled swiftly, and the Eight Ugly Women rose and pursued him. On he
ran, through winding ways where icy blasts fly shrieking; and the Witches
swept after him and would have caught him, but he seized the wreath from
his head and flung it down, and it was changed into bunches of grapes.
When the Witches saw these they stopped and greedily devoured them; then,
gathering up their robes, rose and pursued again.

Izanagi felt the chill of their coming, and drew out a many-toothed comb
from the right bunch of his hair and threw it behind him. Behold! as it
touched the ground, there sprang up a hedge of young bamboo shoots across
the path. The Witches swooped down, pulled up the young shoots, and ate
them to the last one; then again gave chase.

Now, Izanami, too, was angered against him, for she had been put to
shame; and she sent five hundred warriors from Yomi to pursue him. When
the rush and the tramping drew nearer, Izanagi unsheathed his ten-span
sword, and in his despair his breath failed as at the approach of Death.
Then suddenly appeared before him the Gate of the Pass of Yomi; and
hastily plucking some peaches which grew by the gate, he threw them, and
scattered his pursuers, and himself passed through into the light. And
he rolled a mighty stone across the mouth of the opening, so that none
hereafter could move it.

The peaches that had saved him he named Their Augustness the Great Divine
Fruit, and they are honored in some parts of Japan to this day.

Now, when he came back into the world again, Izanagi felt very weary,
and searched for a clear stream to wash away the foulness of the Lower
Regions which clung to him. When he had found one he bathed therein, and
of this washing many evil gods were born; among them were the Gods of
Crookedness, who love to plague mankind. Seeing this evil, he made the
Gods of Straightening, to make crooked things straight.

Now, when he had rested and accomplished his purification, he created
the greatest of his children in this wise:

Descending once more into the clear stream, he bathed his left eye, and
forth sprang Amaterasu, the great Sun Goddess.

Sparkling with light, she rose from the waters as the Sun rises in the
East, and her brightness was wonderful, and shone through Heaven and
Earth; never was seen such radiant glory.

Izanagi rejoiced greatly, and said, “There is none like this Miraculous

Taking a necklace of jewels, he put it round her neck and said, “Rule
Thou over the Plain of High Heaven!”

Thus Amaterasu became the source of all life and light; the glory of her
shining has warmed and comforted all mankind, and she is worshipped by
them unto this day.

Then he bathed his right eye, and there appeared her brother, the Moon
God. Izanagi said: “Thy beauty and radiance are next to the Sun in
splendor; rule thou over the Dominion of Night!”

When the two beautiful ones had departed, a third God came forth, whose
name was Susa-wo. He was a god with a strange destiny, and could never be
at peace, sweeping ceaselessly over hills and valleys with his long beard
floating behind him. Izanagi gave him dominion over the sea.

But he was not content and neglected his kingdom, restlessly roaming over
the earth, so that the green mountains withered and the rivers dried up.
The murmuring of spirits he woke with his moaning was as the sound of
innumerable bees.

So Izanagi in his wrath banished him to the Nether Regions, and, having
accomplished his work, withdrew into an Island Cave, and abode there till
the End.



In all the myths we have learned about so far there has been very little
of the purely human element of affection, yet it is true that reverence
and love for the mother of all things was one of the earliest instincts
in the mind of primitive man, as well as love and even reverence for

The idea of the earth as a mother is a very simple and natural one, and
so we find everywhere that the earth has been personified as a mother.

Among the primitive people of America the Earth-Mother is a personage of
much importance. The Peruvians worshipped her as Mama-Pacha or Mother
Earth. The Caribs, when there was an earthquake said it was their Mother
Earth dancing and signifying to them to dance and make merry likewise,
which accordingly they did. Among the North American Indians, the
Comanches call on the earth as their mother, while they regard the Great
Spirit as their father.

In the mythology of the Finns, Lapps and Esths, the Earth-Mother is
a divinely honored personage. One of the most primitive forms of the
Earth-Mother is that of the Zulus. She is described as a very little
animal about as large as a pole-cat, and is marked with little white and
black stripes. The Zulus say of her that she is not commonly seen. We
hear it said that primitive men knew her. No one existing at the present
time ever saw her. In spite of this fact, however, they seem to have very
definite ideas of her appearance, for upon one side of this little black
and white animal there grow a bed of reeds, a forest, and grass. She
always goes about followed by a large troop of children which resemble
her, and in whose welfare she takes a great interest. The name of this
goddess is Inkosa-za-na.

The oldest of all their gods in Polynesian mythology is a mother-goddess
called Vari. She is the very beginning of things in the abyss. She is
celebrated as the source of all from whom all beings claim descent. She
sheltered the Earth-Mother, who in Polynesian mythology is called Papa,
whose husband was Rangi, the Heaven. How these two came to be separated
is told in the story of the “Children of Heaven and Earth.”

We see from this myth of Vari that the earth is not the only

The very beginnings of things in night and chaos were frequently
represented as mother goddesses. For example, the Egyptian Mother-goddess
was Neith, the goddess of night. She is celebrated as the “Only One.”
“Glory to thee! Thou art mightier than the Gods! The forms of the living
souls which are in their places give glory to the terrors of thee, their
mother; thou art their origin.” She is represented as self-existing. “I
am all that was and is and is to be; no mortal hath lifted my veil.” In
the Public Library in Boston the artist Sargent has made the vague, black
figure of this goddess the background in his fresco, giving a symbolic
representation of Egyptian religion. The face of Neith shows inscrutable
calm, and she wears as a necklace the constellations of the Zodiac, and
on her head the winged globe of the sun. She was said also to have been
the mother of the sun.

The Hindoo, Aditi, mother of the gods, seems to have been a goddess of
the same kind. She is said to represent free, unbounded infinity, and
is the mother of twelve heavenly beings—sun-gods, called Adityas. Her
kinship with other mother-goddesses is shown by the fact that she was
invoked as the bestower of blessings on children and cattle.

In the naïve and poetical little myth of the Malayan Peninsula given
later, the sun and moon both figure as mother-goddesses.

The worship of mother-goddesses among the ancient Mexican Indians was
prominent. Hymns descriptive of two are given here. The first is to the
goddess Teteoinan, the “Mother of the Gods.” She was also called Soci,
“Our Mother,” and also by another name which signified “The Heart of
the Earth.” This last name was given to her because she was believed to
be the cause of earthquakes. She presided over the vegetable and animal
world and her chief temple at Tepeyacac was one of the most renowned in
ancient Mexico. The other goddess, Cihuacoatl, was the mythical mother
of the human race, and was regarded with veneration on account of her
antiquity. As well as being an Earth-Goddess, she was the Goddess of War.

It would be possible to give many illustrations of mother-tree goddesses,
but we have space for only one, that of the Persian world-tree in whose
midst dwelt the mother of all. “In Eridu a dark pine grew. It was planted
in a holy place. Its crown was crystal white, which spread toward the
deep vault above. The Abyss of Hea was its pasturage in Eridu, a canal
full of waters. Its station was the center of the earth. Its shrine was
the couch of Mother Zicam. The roof of its holy house like a forest
spread its shade; there were none who entered within. It was the seat of
the mighty mother, who passes athwart the heavens.”

The Norse earth-goddess, consort of Odin, appears in three forms—Jord,
Frigg, and Rind. Jord is the original uninhabited earth, Frigg is the
inhabited, cultivated earth, and Rind is the frozen earth of winter. The
child of the first is Thor, the thunderer; of the second is Balder, the
good or the beautiful; and of the third is Vale, who revenged the death
of Balder. Of these, Frigg is more nearly like other mother-goddesses,
though she seems to be somewhat withdrawn from active participation
in the duties of the mother-goddess. These are handed over to her
maid-servants, of whom she had seven—Fulla, Hlyn, Guaa, Snotra, Var,
Lofu, and Syn. Fulla, with golden hair adorned with a ribbon, looks
after harvests. Hlyn is the protectress who delivers people from peril.
Guaa is the messenger who runs errands for Frigg. Var has charge of
marriage, Lofu of love, and Syn of justice. The counterpart of Frigg in
Greek mythology is Demeter (Roman name, Ceres), the daughter of another
earth-goddess, Rhea. Like Frigg, she represents the bountiful life-giving
aspects of nature. She is best described in the hymn written in her honor
by Callimachus given later, and in which you will recognize another
version of the story of Erisichthon.


The Moon is a woman, and the Sun also. The stars are the Moon’s children,
and the Sun had in olden times as many. Fearing, however, that mankind
could not bear so much brightness and heat, they agreed each to devour
her children. But the Moon instead of eating up her stars hid them from
the Sun’s sight, who, believing them all devoured, ate up her own; no
sooner had she done it than the Moon brought her family out of their
hiding-place. When the Sun saw them, filled with rage, she chased the
Moon to kill her. The chase has lasted ever since, and sometimes the Sun
even comes near enough to bite the Moon, and that is an eclipse. The Sun,
as men may see, still devours her stars at dawn, and the Moon hides hers
all day while the Sun is near, and only brings them out at night when her
pursuer is far away.

[Illustration: Demeter or Ceres. _The Vatican._]


(_Mexican Indian_)

Hail to our mother, who caused the yellow flowers to blossom, she who
scattered the seeds of the maguey, as she came forth from Paradise.

Hail to our mother, who poured forth white flowers in abundance, who
scattered the seeds of the maguey, as she came forth from Paradise.

Hail to the goddess who shines in the thorn-bush like a bright butterfly.

Ho! she is our mother, goddess of the earth; she supplies food in the
desert to the wild beasts, and causes them to live.

Thus, thus, you see her to be an ever-fresh model of liberality toward
all flesh.

And as you see the goddess of the earth do to the wild beasts, so also
does she toward the green herbs and the fishes.


(_Mexican Indian_)

Quilaztli, plumed with eagle feathers, with the crest of eagles, painted
with serpents’ blood, comes with her hoe, beating her drum, from

She alone, who is our flesh, goddess of the fields and shrubs, is strong
to support us.

With the hoe, with the hoe, with hands full, with the hoe, with hands
full, the goddess of the fields is strong to support us.

With a broom in her hands the goddess of the fields strongly supports us.

Our mother is as twelve eagles, goddess of drum-beating, filling the
fields of tzioac and maguey like our lord Mixcoatl.

She is our mother, a goddess of war, our mother, a goddess of war, an
example and a companion from the home of our ancestors.

She comes forth, she appears when war is waged, she protects us in war
that we shall not be destroyed, an example and companion from the home of
our ancestors.

She comes adorned in the ancient manner with the eagle crest, in the
ancient manner with the eagle crest.



Men had but one pair of primitive ancestors; they sprang from the vast
Heaven that exists above us, and from the Earth which lies beneath us.
According to the traditions of our race, Rangi and Papa, or Heaven
and Earth, were the source from which, in the beginning, all things
originated. Darkness then rested upon the Heaven and upon the Earth, and
they still both clave together, for they had not yet been rent apart,
and their children were ever thinking among themselves what might be the
difference between darkness and light.

At last, worn out by the continued darkness, the children of Heaven and
Earth consulted amongst themselves, saying: “Let us now determine what we
should do with Rangi and Papa, whether it would be better to slay them
or to rend them apart.” Then spoke Tu-Matauenga, the fiercest of the
children of Heaven and Earth: “It is well, let us slay them.”

Then spoke Tane-Mahuta, the father of forests and of all things that
inhabit them, or that are constructed from trees: “Nay, not so. It is
better to rend them apart, and to let the Heaven stand far above us, and
the Earth lie under our feet. Let the Sky become as a stranger to us, but
the Earth remain close to us as our nursing mother.”

The brothers all consented to this proposal, with the exception of
Tawhiri-ma-tea, the father of winds and storms, and he, fearing that his
kingdom was about to be overthrown, grieved greatly at the thought of his
parents being torn apart.

Finally, however, having come to an agreement as to their plans, lo,
Rongo-matane, the god and father of the cultivated food of man, rises up
that he may rend apart Heaven and Earth; he struggles, but he cannot rend
them apart. Lo, next, Tangawa, the god and father of fish and reptiles,
rises up, that he may rend apart Heaven and Earth; he also struggles,
but he cannot rend them apart. Lo, next, Haumia-tikitiki, the god and
father of the food of man which springs without cultivation, rises up and
struggles, but ineffectually. Lo, then, Tu-Matauenga, the god and father
of fierce human beings, rises up and struggles, but he, too, fails in his
efforts. Then, at last, slowly uprises Tane-Mahuta, the god and father
of forests, of birds, and of insects, and he struggles with his parents;
in vain he strives to rend them apart with his hands and arms. Lo, he
pauses; his head is now firmly planted on his mother the Earth, his feet
he raises up and rests against his father the Heaven, he strains his back
and limbs with mighty effort. Now are rent apart Rangi and Papa, and with
cries and groans of woe they shriek aloud: “Wherefore slay you thus your
parents? Why commit you so dreadful a crime as to slay us, as to rend
your parents apart?” But Tane-Mahuta pauses not; he regards not their
shrieks and cries; far, far beneath him he presses down the Earth; far,
far above him he thrusts up the Sky.

Then, also, there arose in the breast of Tawhiri-ma-tea, the god and
father of winds and storms, a fierce desire to wage war with his
brothers, because they had rent apart their common parents.

The god of hurricanes and storms dreads also that the world should become
too fair and beautiful, so he rises, follows his father to the realms
above, and hurries to the sheltered hollows in the boundless skies; there
he hides and clings, and nestling in this place of rest he consults
long with his parent, and as the vast Heaven listens to the suggestions
of Tawhiri-ma-tea, thoughts and plans are formed in his breast, and
Tawhiri-ma-tea also understands what he must do.

He sends forth fierce squalls, whirlwinds, dense clouds, massy clouds,
dark clouds, gloomy thick clouds, fiery clouds, clouds which precede
hurricanes, clouds of fiery black, clouds reflecting glowing red light,
clouds wildly drifting from all quarters and wildly bursting, clouds
of thunder-storms, and clouds hurriedly flying. In the midst of these
Tawhiri-ma-tea himself sweeps wildly on. Alas! Alas! then rages the
fierce hurricane; and whilst Tane-Mahuta and his gigantic forests still
stand, unconscious and unsuspecting, the blast of the breath of the mouth
of Tawhiri-ma-tea smites them, the gigantic trees are snapped off right
in the middle; alas! alas! they are rent to atoms, dashed to the earth,
with boughs and branches torn and scattered, and lying on the earth,
trees and branches all alike left for the insect, for the grub, and for
loathsome rottenness.

From the forests and their inhabitants Tawhiri-ma-tea next swoops down
upon the seas, and lashes in his wrath the ocean. Ah! ah! waves steep as
cliffs arise, whose summits are so lofty that to look from them would
make the beholder giddy; these soon eddy in whirlpools, and Tangawa, the
god of ocean, and father of all that dwell therein, flies affrighted
through his seas.

Tawhiri-ma-tea next rushed on to attack his brothers Rongo-matane and
Haumia-tikitiki, the gods and progenitors of cultivated and uncultivated
food; but Papa, to save these for her other children, caught them up, and
hid them in a place of safety; and so well were these children of hers
concealed by their Mother Earth, that Tawhiri-ma-tea sought for them in

Tawhiri-ma-tea having thus vanquished all his other brothers, next rushed
against Tu-Matauenga, to try his strength against his; he exerted all his
force against him, but he could neither shake him nor prevail against
him. What did Tu-Matauenga care for his brother’s wrath? he was the
only one of the whole party of brothers who had planned the destruction
of their parents, and had shown himself brave and fierce in war.
Tu-Matauenga, or man, still stood erect and unshaken upon the breast of
his Mother Earth; and now at length the hearts of Heaven and of the god
of storms became tranquil, and their passions were assuaged.

Up to this time the vast Heaven has still ever remained separated from
his spouse the Earth. Yet their mutual love still continues—the soft
warm sighs of her loving bosom still ever rise up to him, ascending from
the woody mountains and valleys, and men call these mists; and the vast
Heaven, as he mourns through the long nights his separation from his
beloved, drops frequent tears upon her bosom, and men seeing these, term
them dewdrops.


(_Greek: From the Hymn of Callimachus_)

He sings how Demeter was the first to cut off wheat, straw, and handfuls
of ears, and introduced oxen to tread out the corn. He tells also how
she punishes those who are guilty of disrespect to her power. She made
the son of Triopus pitiable by hunger. Not yet were the Pelasgians
inhabiting the Cnidian land, but sacred Dotium; but to thyself had raised
a beautiful enclosure, thickly grown with trees; scarce would an arrow
have penetrated it. In it was the pine, in it tall elms, and pear-trees
also, and beautiful, sweet apples, whilst the water, like as amber, was
bursting forth from springs. Then the son of Triopus hastened forth with
twenty servants, all in their prime, all giant men, having armed them in
both respects with hatchets and axes, so they rushed without shame into
the grove of Demeter.

Now there was a poplar, a large tree reaching to heaven, and under it the
nymphs were wont to disport themselves in the noontide, which, stricken
first, sounded an evil melody for the rest. Demeter became aware that her
sacred grove was in danger, and said in anger, “Who is hewing down my
beautiful trees?”

Forthwith she likened herself to Nicippe, whom the state had appointed as
her public priestess, and she grasped in her hand the fillets and poppies
and kept her key on her shoulders. Then said she, soothing the sad and
shameless man: “My son who fellest the sacred trees which are consecrated
to gods, stay, my son, child, much beloved by thy parents, forbear and
turn away thy servants, lest anywise our Lady Demeter be wroth with thee;
Demeter, whose holy precinct thou art pillaging.”

At her then, looking askance more fiercely than a lioness with savage
brood: “Give way, lest I fasten this great axe in thy flesh. These trees
thou shalt behold my well-roofed house, wherein I shall ever and anon
hold pleasant banquets to my heart’s content with my companions.” So
spake the youth, and Nemesis recorded the wicked speech.

Demeter was wroth in an unspeakable degree, and she became the goddess.
Her steps, indeed, trod the ground, but her head touched Olympus. Then
were they half dead, I wot, when they had seen the awful goddess, and on
a sudden rushed away, having left the axe among the oaks. The rest she
left alone, for by constraint they followed beneath their lord’s hands,
but she replied to the king that vexed her: “So, so; build thy hall, thou
dog, thou dog, wherein thou mayst hold banquets, for frequent festivals
thou shalt have hereafter.” Forthwith she sent upon him a grievous,
fierce hunger, burning and violent. So terrible was his appetite that he
ate up everything his mother had, causing her to call on Neptune:

“Either remove thou from him his sad disorder or thyself take and
maintain him, for my tables have fallen short. Reft are my folds, and my
stalls now void of beasts; and at length my cooks have declined the task.
Nay, more, they have unyoked the mules from the great wains, and he ate
the heifer which his mother was feeding for Vesta, and the prize-gaining
steed and war horse, and the cat which lesser animals dread.”

O Demeter, may he be no friend to me who is hated by you.... Sing ye
virgins, and ye mothers join the acclaim. All hail, Demeter, many
nurturing of many measures. And as the four white-maned steeds carry the
basket, so shall the great goddess, wide ruling, come, bringing to us
fair spring, fair summer, winter and autumn, and shall keep them for us
to another year.

Hail, goddess, and preserve this city in harmony and prosperity, and
bring all things home ripe from the fields. Feed our cattle; support our
fruit trees; bring forth the ear, produce the harvest; nurse also peace;
that he who has sowed, that same may reap. Be propitious at my bidding, O
thou, thrice-prayed-for, widely ruling among goddesses.



Once upon a time, when the giants had all been imprisoned by Zeus under
Mount Ætna, Pluto, the ruler over the lower regions, or Hades, became
very much alarmed lest the shock of their fall might expose his kingdom
to the light of day. Under this apprehension, he mounted his chariot,
drawn by black horses, and made a journey of inspection to satisfy
himself of the extent of the damage. While he was thus engaged, he was
espied by the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite (Venus), who was sitting on
Mount Eryx, playing with her little boy Eros (Cupid).

He is one of the children in mythology who never grows up and never grows
any wiser. He carries about with him always a bow and a quiver full of
arrows, which he shoots right into the hearts of people and fills them
with a love so overwhelming for some one they have seen that they will
even carry that person off against his or her will, as this present story
shows. As soon as Aphrodite saw Pluto, she exclaimed: “My son, take thy
darts which subdue all, even Zeus himself, and send one into the breast
of yonder dark monarch, who rules the realm of Tartarus. Dost thou not
see that even in heaven some despise our power? Athēne and Artemis defy
us; and there is that daughter of Demeter, who threatens to follow their
example. Now, if thou regardest thine own interest or mine, join these
two in one.” The boy selected his sharpest and truest arrow, and sped it
right to the heart of Pluto.

Now in the vale of Enna is a lake embowered in woods, where Spring
reigns perpetual. Here Persephone (Roman, Proserpina) was playing with
her companions, gathering lilies and violets, when the god Pluto saw
her. He immediately loved her, and, without waiting to find out whether
she returned his love or not, he caught her up and carried her off. She
screamed for help to her mother and her companions, but Pluto urged on
his steeds and outdistanced pursuit. When he reached the river Cyane, it
opposed his passage; whereupon he struck the bank with his trident, and
the earth opened and gave him a passage to Tartarus.

Then Demeter, overwhelmed with grief, sought her daughter through the
whole world. Bright-haired Aurora, when she came forth in the morning,
and Hesperus, when he led out the stars in the evening, found her still
busy in the search. At length, weary and sad, she sat down upon a stone,
and remained nine days and nine nights, in the open air, under the
sunlight and moonlight and falling showers. It was where the city of
Eleusis now stands, near the home of an old man named Celeus. His little
girl, pitying the old woman, said to her: “Mother”—and the name was sweet
to the ears of Demeter—“why sittest thou here alone upon the rocks?” The
old man begged her to come into his cottage. She declined. He urged her.
“Go in peace,” she replied, “and be happy in thy daughter; I have lost
mine.” But their compassion finally prevailed. Demeter rose from the
stone and went with them. As they walked, Celeus said that his only son
lay sick of a fever. The goddess stooped and gathered some poppies. Then,
entering the cottage where all was in distress—for the boy, Triptolemus,
seemed past recovery—she restored the child to life and health with a
kiss. In grateful happiness the family spread the table, and put upon it
curds and cream, apples, and honey in the comb. While they ate, Demeter
mingled poppy juice in the milk of the boy. When night came, she arose
and, taking the sleeping boy, moulded his limbs with her hands, and
uttered over him three times a solemn charm, then went and laid him in
the ashes. His mother, who had been watching what her guest was doing,
sprang forward with a cry and snatched the child from the fire. Then
Demeter assumed her own form, and a divine splendor shone all around.
While they were overcome with astonishment, she said: “Mother, thou hast
been cruel in thy fondness; for I would have made thy son immortal.
Nevertheless, he shall be great and useful. He shall teach men the use
of the plough, and the rewards which labor can win from the soil.” So
saying, she wrapped a cloud about her, and, mounting her chariot, rode

Demeter continued her search for her daughter, until at last she returned
to Sicily, whence she had at first set out, and stood by the banks of
the river Cyane. The river nymph would have told the goddess all she had
witnessed, but dared not for fear of Pluto; so she ventured merely to
take up the girdle which Persephone had dropped in her flight, and float
it to the feet of her mother. Demeter, seeing this, laid her curse upon
the innocent earth in which her daughter had disappeared. Then succeeded
drought and famine, flood and plague, until at last the fountain Arethusa
made intercession for the land. For she had observed that it had opened
all unwillingly to the might of Pluto, and she had also, in her flight
from Alpheus through the lower regions of the earth, beheld the missing
Persephone. She reported that the daughter of Demeter seemed sad, but no
longer showed alarm in her countenance. Her look was such as became a
queen—the queen of Erebus, the powerful bride of the monarch of the realm
of the dead.

When Demeter heard this she stood a while like one stupefied; then she
implored Zeus to interfere to procure the restitution of her daughter.
Zeus consented on condition that Persephone should not, during her stay
in the lower world, have taken any food; otherwise, the Fates forbade her
release. Accordingly, Hermes was sent, accompanied by Spring, to demand
Persephone of Pluto. The wily monarch consented; but, alas! the maiden
had taken a pomegranate which Pluto offered her, and had sucked the sweet
pulp from a few of the seeds. A compromise, however, was effected by
which she was to pass half the time with her mother and the rest with the
lord of Hades—so the flowers bloom upon the earth for half the year, and
for the other half are buried underground, out of sight.

Demeter, pacified with this arrangement, restored the earth to her favor.
She remembered, also, about Celeus and his family, and her promise to
his infant son, Triptolemus. She taught the boy the use of the plough
and how to sow the seed. She took him in her chariot, drawn by winged
dragons, through all the countries of the earth; and under her guidance
he imparted to mankind valuable grains, and the knowledge of agriculture.
After his return, Triptolemus built a temple to Demeter in Eleusis, and
established the worship of the goddess under the name of the Eleusinian
mysteries, which, in the splendor and solemnity of their observance,
surpassed all other religious celebrations among the Greeks.

       *       *       *       *       *

Myths in which children figure are so numerous that it will be possible
to give but a few of the most important ones. There are sun and moon
children, and star children, and children of the wind; strong children
and clever children and tricksy children, and even children who are
worshipped as ancestors. A charming tale of the Zuni Indians tells how
they came to worship children. Once some mothers were crossing a river
with their children. By some magical means the children were changed
into such ugly and mischievous shapes that many of the mothers, in their
fright, let them fall into the water. Some of them held fast to their
children, and these were restored to their natural shapes on the other
side of the river, but those who had lost their children grieved deeply,
and nothing could comfort them. Thereupon, two little twin brothers,
who were called Sons of the Sun, went downward beneath the waters of a
lake to the dwelling of the children, who as soon as they saw the twins
inquired lovingly how it fared with their mothers. Their visitors told
them of the grief and sorrow of their parents, whereupon the children
said: “Tell our mothers we are not dead, but live and sing in this
beautiful place, which is the home for them when they sleep. One day they
will wake here and be happy always. And we are here to intercede with the
Sun, our father, that he may give to our people rain and the fruits of
the earth, and all that is good for them.” Ever since these children have
been worshipped as ancestral gods.

We have already had a little story in which the stars appear as the
children of the sun and moon. In another one, of the Indians of British
Columbia, the dark spots which we see on the moon are supposed to be
a child and her little basket. According to this legend, one night a
child of the chief class awoke and cried for water. Its cries were very
affecting—“Mother, give me a drink!”—but the mother heeded not. The Moon
was touched, and came down, entered the house, and approached the child,
saying: “Here is water from heaven; drink.” The child eagerly took hold
of the jar and drank the water, and was then enticed to go away with its
benefactor, the Moon. They took an underground passage until they got
quite clear of the village, and then ascended to heaven. And still we
see in the moon the figure of that very child, carrying the little round
basket it had in its hand when it went to sleep.

The Indians of Mt. Shasta have a little wind child, who also became the
ancestress of the grizzly-bear people. They tell how once a terrific
storm came up from the sea and shook to its base the wigwam—Mt. Shasta
itself—in which lived the Great Spirit and his family. Then the Great
Spirit commanded his daughter, little more than an infant, to go up and
command the wind to be still; but he cautioned her at the same time, in
a tender, fatherly manner, to be sure and not put her head out into the
blast, but to thrust out her little red arm and make a sign before she
delivered her message. But she could not withstand the temptation to look
out upon the world, and of course, being such a little thing, she was
caught up by the storm and blown down the mountain into the land of the
grizzly-bear people. She married one of them, and became the ancestress
of a new race of men. When the Great Spirit heard that his daughter
still lived, he ran down the mountain for joy, but when he found out
that his daughter had married one of the grizzly-bear people, he was so
angry that he cursed the grizzly people and turned them into the present
race of bears of that name. Then he drove them and the new race of men
out of their wigwam, shut to the door, and passed away to his mountains,
carrying his daughter with him; and her or him no eye has since seen.

A very important mythical being in Polynesian mythology is a little boy
called Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga, and how he caught the Sun is told in the
story of him in this chapter.

The Egyptians called the sun itself a child when it was rising. The name
of this Child-Sun was Horus, and he was sometimes regarded as the god
of silence and represented as a child with his finger held up to his
lip. The principal children in Greek myths are Heracles and Hermes, who,
although they figure in many stories after they had become full-grown
gods, were both very remarkable when they were babies. Heracles was the
God of Strength, but it is very probable that there are some cosmic
elements in the conception of this god. His struggle with the serpents in
his babyhood resembles very closely other battles in mythology between
the sun and the powers of darkness, Ra and Anapef or Apollo and the
Python. Hermes, who is a roguish little imp, is full of such tricks as
the wind plays, and he has become the model of many a mediæval tale of
tricksy thieves and wonder-workers.

Other stories to be given in this chapter show how important little human
children were among primitive people—so important in one story that all
the animals in the world assembled and tried to save two little boys who
went sound asleep upon a rock that gradually rose higher and higher until
their faces touched the moon; and so important in another that even the
great god of the Algonquins, Glooskap himself, was conquered by the baby;
and in still another Indian myth so important that if it had not been for
the wishes of the little son of a Manito, there would never have been any
summer; but this last, if he really were the son of a Manito, was, of
course, a little more than human.


(_Indians of the Yosemite Valley_)

There were once two little boys living in the valley, who went down
to the river to swim. After paddling and splashing about to their
hearts’ content, they went on shore and crept upon a huge bowlder that
stood beside the water, on which they lay down in the warm sunshine
to dry themselves. Very soon they fell asleep, and slept so soundly
that they never wakened more. Through moons and snows, winter and
summer, they slumbered on. Meantime the great rock whereon they slept
was treacherously rising day and night, little by little, until it
soon lifted them up beyond the sight of their friends, who sought them
everywhere, weeping. Thus they were borne up at last beyond all human
help or reach of human voice; lifted up into the blue heavens, far up,
far up, until their faces touched the moon; and still they slumbered and
slept, year after year, safe among the clouds.

Then, upon a time, all the animals assembled together to bring down the
little boys from the top of the great rock. Every animal made a spring up
the face of the wall as far as he could leap. The little mouse could only
jump up a hand-breadth; the rat, two hand-breadths; the raccoon, a little
farther; and so on—the grizzly bear making a mighty leap far up the wall,
but falling back like all the others. Last of all the lion tried, and he
jumped up farther than any other animal, but he, too, fell down flat on
his back.

Then came along an insignificant measuring-worm, which even the mouse
could have crushed by treading on it, and began to creep up the rock.
Step by step, a little at a time, he measured his way up, until he
presently was above the lion’s jump, then pretty soon out of sight. So he
crawled up and up, through many sleeps, for about one whole snow, and at
last he reached the top. Then he took the little boys and came downward
as he went up, so bringing them safely to ground.

And the rock is called the measuring-worm—Tutokanula.



A little orphan boy, who had no one to care for him, was once living
with his uncle, who treated him very badly, making him do hard things
and giving him very little to eat; so that the boy pined away, he never
grew much, and became, through hard usage, very thin and light. At last
the uncle felt ashamed of this treatment, and determined to make amends
for it by fattening him up, but his real object was to kill him by
over-feeding. He told his wife to give the boy plenty of bear’s meat, and
let him have the fat, which is thought to be the best part. They were
both very assiduous in cramming him, and one day came near choking him to
death by forcing the fat down his throat. The boy escaped and fled from
the lodge. He knew not where to go, but wandered about. When night came
on, he was afraid the wild beasts would eat him; so he climbed up into
the forks of a huge pine tree, and there he fell asleep in the branches,
and had an _aupoway_, or ominous dream.

A person appeared to him from the upper sky and said: “My poor little
lad, I pity you, and the bad usage you have received from your uncle has
led me to visit you; follow me, and step in my tracks.” Immediately his
sleep left him, and he rose up and followed his guide, mounting up higher
and higher into the air, until he reached the upper sky. Here twelve
arrows were put into his hands, and he was told that there were a great
many Manitoes in the northern sky, against whom he must go to war, and
try to waylay and shoot them. Accordingly, he went to that part of the
sky, and at long intervals shot arrow after arrow until he had expended
eleven, in vain attempts to kill the Manitoes. At the flight of each
arrow there was a long and solitary streak of lightning in the sky—then
all was clear again, and not a cloud or spot could be seen. The twelfth
arrow he held a long time in his hands, and looked around keenly on every
side to spy the Manitoes he was after. But these Manitoes were very
cunning, and could change their form in a moment. All they feared was the
boy’s arrows, for these were magic arrows, which had been given to him
by a good spirit, and had power to kill them if aimed aright. At length
the boy drew up his last arrow, settled in his aim, and let fly, as he
thought, into the very heart of the chief of the Manitoes; but before the
arrow reached him, the Manito changed himself into a rock. Into this rock
the head of the arrow sank deep and stuck fast.

“Now your gifts are all expended,” cried the enraged Manito, “and I
will make an example of your audacity and pride of heart for lifting
your bow against me.” And so saying, he transformed the boy into the
Nezhik-e-wa-wa-sun, or Lone Lightning, which may be observed in the
northern sky to this day.




Now it came to pass when Glooskap had conquered all his enemies, even
the Kewahqu’, who were giants and sorcerers, and the M’téoulin, who were
magicians, and the Pamola, who is the evil spirit of the night air, and
all manner of ghosts, witches, devils, cannibals, and goblins, that he
thought upon what he had done, and wondered if his work was at an end.

And he said this to a certain woman. But she replied: “Not so fast,
Master, for there yet remains One whom no one has ever conquered or got
the better of in any way, and who will remain unconquered to the end of

“And who is he?” inquired the Master.

“It is the mighty Wasis,” she replied, “and there he sits; and I warn you
that if you meddle with him you will be in sore trouble.”

Now Wasis was the Baby. And he sat on the floor sucking a piece of
maple-sugar, greatly contented, troubling no one.

As the Lord of Men and Beasts had never married or had a child, he knew
naught of the way of managing children. Therefore he was quite certain,
as is the wont of such people, that he knew all about it. So he turned to
Baby with a bewitching smile and bade him come to him.

Then Baby smiled again, but did not budge. And the Master spake sweetly
and made his voice like that of the summer bird, but it was of no avail,
for Wasis sat still and sucked his maple-sugar.

Then the Master frowned and spoke terribly, and ordered Wasis to come
crawling to him immediately. And Baby burst out into crying and yelling,
but did not move for all that.

Then, since he could do but one thing more, the Master had recourse to
magic. He used his most awful spells, and sang the songs which raise the
dead and scare the devils. And Wasis sat and looked on admiringly, and
seemed to find it very interesting, but all the same he never moved an

So Glooskap gave it up in despair, and Wasis, sitting on the floor in the
sunshine, went _goo! goo!_ and crowed.

And to this day when you see a babe well contented, going _goo! goo!_ and
crowing, and no one can tell why, know that it is because he remembers
the time when he overcame the Master who had conquered all the world. For
of all the beings that have ever been since the beginning, Baby is alone
the only invincible one.


(_North American Indian_)

There lived a celebrated hunter on the southern shores of Lake Superior,
who was considered a Manito by some, for there was nothing but what he
could accomplish. He lived off the path, in a wild, lonesome place, with
a wife whom he loved, and they were blessed with a son, who had attained
his thirteenth year. The hunter’s name was Ojeeg, or the Fisher, which is
the name of an expert, sprightly little animal common to the region. He
was so successful in the chase that he seldom returned without bringing
his wife and son a plentiful supply of venison, or other dainties of the
woods. As hunting formed his constant occupation, his son began early to
emulate his father in the same employment, and would take his bow and
arrows, and exert his skill in trying to kill birds and squirrels. The
greatest impediment he met with was the coldness and severity of the
climate. He often returned home, his little fingers benumbed with cold,
and crying with vexation at his disappointment. Days and months and
years passed away, but still the same perpetual depth of snow was seen,
covering all the country as with a white cloak.

One day, after a fruitless trial of his forest skill, the little boy was
returning homeward with a heavy heart, when he saw a small red squirrel
gnawing the top of a pine bur. He had approached within a proper distance
to shoot, when the squirrel sat up on its hind legs and thus addressed

“My grandchild, put up your arrows, and listen to what I have to tell
you.” The boy complied rather reluctantly, when the squirrel continued:
“My son, I see you pass frequently, with your fingers benumbed with cold,
and crying with vexation for not having killed any birds. Now, if you
will follow my advice we will see if you cannot accomplish your wishes.
If you will strictly pursue my advice, we will have perpetual summer, and
you will then have the pleasure of killing as many birds as you please;
and I will also have something to eat, as I am now myself on the point of

“Listen to me. As soon as you get home you must commence crying. You
must throw away your bow and arrows in discontent. If your mother asks
you what is the matter, you must not answer her, but continue crying
and sobbing. If she offers you anything to eat, you must push it away
with apparent discontent, and continue crying. In the evening, when your
father returns from hunting, he will inquire of your mother what is the
matter with you. She will answer that you came home crying, and would
not so much as mention the cause to her. All this while you must not
leave off sobbing. At last your father will say: ‘My son, why is this
unnecessary grief? Tell me the cause. You know I am a spirit, and that
nothing is impossible for me to perform.’ You must then answer him, and
say that you are sorry to see the snow continually on the ground, and ask
him if he could not cause it to melt, so that we might have perpetual
summer. Say it in a supplicating way and tell him this is the cause of
your grief. Your father will reply: ‘It is very hard to accomplish your
request, but for your sake, and on account of my love for you, I will use
my utmost endeavors.’ He will tell you to be still, and cease crying. He
will try to bring summer with all its loveliness. You must then be quiet,
and eat that which is set before you.”

The squirrel ceased. The boy promised obedience to his advice, and
departed. When he reached home, he did as he had been instructed, and all
was exactly fulfilled, as it had been predicted by the squirrel.

Ojeeg told him that it was a great undertaking. He must first make a
feast, and invite some of his friends to accompany him on a journey.
Next day he had a bear roasted whole. All who had been invited to the
feast came punctually to the appointment. There were the Otter, Beaver,
Lynx, Badger, and Wolverine. After the feast, they arranged it among
themselves to set out on the contemplated journey in three days. When the
time arrived, the Fisher took leave of his wife and son, as he foresaw
that it was for the last time. He and his companions travelled in company
day after day, meeting with nothing but the ordinary incidents. On the
twentieth day they arrived at the foot of a high mountain, where they
saw the tracks of some person who had recently killed an animal, which
they knew by the blood that marked the way. The Fisher told his friends
that they ought to follow the track, and see if they could not procure
something to eat. They followed it for some time; at last they arrived
at a lodge, which had been hidden from their view by a hollow in the
mountain. Ojeeg told his friends to be very sedate, and not to laugh
on any account. The first object that they saw was a man standing at
the door of the lodge, but of so deformed a shape that they could not
possibly make out who or what sort of a man it could be. His head was
enormously large; he had such a queer set of teeth, and no arms. They
wondered how he could kill animals. But the secret was soon revealed.
He was a great Manito. He invited them to pass the night, to which they

He boiled his meat in a hollow vessel made of wood, and took it out of
this singular kettle in some way unknown to his guests. He carefully gave
each their portion to eat, but made so many odd movements that the Otter
could not refrain from laughing, for he is the only one who is spoken of
as a jester. The Manito looked at him with a terrible look, and then made
a spring at him, and got on him to smother him, for that was his mode of
killing animals. But the Otter, when he felt him on his neck, slipped
his head back and made for the door, which he passed in safety; but went
out with the curse of the Manito. The others passed the night, and they
conversed on different subjects. The Manito told the Fisher that he would
accomplish his object, but that it would probably cost him his life. He
gave them his advice, directed them how to act, and described a certain
road which they must follow, and they would thereby be led to the place
of action.

They set off in the morning, and met their friend, the Otter, shivering
with cold; but Ojeeg had taken care to bring along some of the meat that
had been given him, which he presented to his friend. They pursued their
way, and travelled twenty days more before they got to the place of
which the Manito had told them. It was a most lofty mountain. They rested
on its highest peak to fill their pipes and refresh themselves. Before
smoking, they made the customary ceremony, pointing to the heavens, the
four winds, the earth, and the zenith; in the meantime, speaking in a
loud voice, they addressed the Great Spirit, hoping that their object
would be accomplished. They then commenced smoking.

They gazed on the sky in silent admiration and astonishment, for they
were on so elevated a point that it appeared to be only a short distance
above their heads. After they had finished smoking, they prepared
themselves. Ojeeg told the Otter to make the first attempt to try and
make a hole in the sky. He consented with a grin. He made a leap, but
fell down the hill stunned by the force of his fall; and the snow being
moist, and falling on his back, he slid with velocity down the side of
the mountain. When he found himself at the bottom, he thought to himself:
“It is the last time I shall attempt such a jump, so I will make the
best of my way home.” Then it was the turn of the Beaver, who made the
attempt, but fell down senseless; then of the Lynx and Badger, who had no
better success.

“Now,” says Fisher to the Wolverine, “try your skill; your ancestors were
celebrated for their activity, hardihood, and perseverance, and I depend
on you for success. Now make the attempt.” He did so, but also without
success. He leaped the second time, but now they could see that the sky
was giving way to their repeated attempts. Mustering strength, he made
the third leap, and went in. The Fisher nimbly followed him.

They found themselves in a beautiful plain, extending as far as the
eye could reach, covered with flowers of a thousand different hues and
fragrance. Here and there were clusters of tall, shady trees, separated
by innumerable streams of the purest water, which wound around their
courses under the cooling shades, and filled the plain with countless
beautiful lakes, whose banks and bosom were covered with water-fowl,
basking and sporting in the sun. The trees were alive with birds of
different plumage, warbling their sweet notes, and delighted with
perpetual spring.

The Fisher and his friend beheld very long lodges, and the celestial
inhabitants amusing themselves at a distance. Words cannot express the
beauty and charm of the place. The lodges were empty of inhabitants,
but they saw them lined with _mocuks_, of different sizes, filled with
birds and fowls of different plumage. Ojeeg thought of his son, and
immediately commenced cutting open the mocuks and letting out the birds,
who descended in whole flocks through the opening which they had made.
The warm air of those regions also rushed down through the opening, and
spread its genial influence over the north.

When the celestial inhabitants saw the birds let loose, and the warm
gales descending, they raised a shout like thunder, and ran for their
lodges. But it was too late. Spring, summer, and autumn had gone; even
perpetual summer had almost all gone; but they separated it with a blow,
and only a part descended; but the ends were so mangled that, wherever it
prevails among the lower inhabitants, it is always sickly.

When the Wolverine heard the noise, he made for the opening and safely
descended. Not so the Fisher. Anxious to fulfil his son’s wishes, he
continued to break open the _mocuks_. He was, at last, obliged to run
also, but the opening was now closed by the inhabitants. He ran with
all his might over the plains of heaven, and, it would appear, took a
northerly direction. He saw his pursuers so close that he had to climb
the first large tree that he came to. They commenced shooting at him
with their arrows, but without effect, for all his body was invulnerable
except the space of about an inch near the tip of his tail. At last one
of the arrows hit the spot, for he had in this chase assumed the shape of
the Fisher after whom he was named.

He looked down from the tree, and saw some among his assailants with
the totems of his ancestors. He claimed relationship, and told them to
desist, which they only did at the approach of night. He then came down
to try and find an opening in the celestial plain, by which he might
descend to the earth. But he could find none. At last, becoming faint
from the loss of blood from the wound on his tail, he laid himself down
toward the north of the plain, and, stretching out his limbs, said: “I
have fulfilled my promise to my son, though it has cost me my life;
but I die satisfied in the idea that I have done so much good, not only
for him, but for my fellow-beings. Hereafter I will be a sign to the
inhabitants below for ages to come, who will venerate my name for having
succeeded in procuring the varying seasons. They will now have from eight
to ten moons without snow.”

He was found dead next morning, but they left him as they found him, with
the arrow sticking in his tail, as it can be plainly seen, at this time,
in the heavens.



Once when his relations were all dancing in the great House of Assembly
they found out who he was. For little Maui, the infant, crept into the
house, and went and sat behind one of his brothers, and hid himself, so
when their mother counted her children that they might stand up ready
for the dance, she said: “One, that’s Maui-taha; two, that’s Maui-roto;
three, that’s Maui-pae; four, that’s Maui-waho”; and then she saw
another, and cried out: “Hollo, where did this fifth come from?” Then
little Maui, the infant, answered: “Ah, I’m your child, too.” Then the
mother counted them all over again, and said: “Oh, no, there ought to be
only four of you; now for the first time I’ve seen you.” Then little Maui
and his mother stood for a long time disputing about this in the very
middle of the ranks of all the dancers.

At last she got angry, and cried out: “Come, you, be off now, out of
the house at once; you are no child of mine, you belong to some one
else.” Then little Maui spoke out quite boldly, and said: “Very well,
I’d better be off, then, for I suppose, as you say it, I must be the
child of some other person; but indeed I did think I was your child when
I said so, because I knew I was born by the side of the sea, and was
thrown by you into the foam of the surf, after you had wrapped me up in
a long tress of your hair, which you cut off for the purpose; then the
seaweed formed and fashioned me, as, caught in its long tangles, the
ever-heaving surges of the sea rolled me, folded as I was in them, from
side to side; at length the breezes and squalls which blew from the ocean
drifted me on shore again, and the soft jelly-fish of the long, sandy
beaches rolled themselves round me to protect me; then again myriads of
flies buzzed about me, and flocks of birds collected round me to tear
me to pieces, but at that moment appeared there also my great ancestor,
Tama-nui-ki-te-Rangi, and he saw the flies and birds collected in
clusters and flocks above the jelly-fish, and behold, within there lay
a human being; then he caught me up and carried me to his house, and he
hung me up in the roof that I might feel the warm smoke and the heat of
the fire, so I was saved alive by the kindness of that old man. At last
I grew, and then I heard of the fame of the dancing of this great House
of Assembly. It was that which brought me here. But ever since I can
remember I have heard the names of these your first-born children, as
you have been calling them over until this very night, when I again heard
you repeating them. In proof of this I will now recite your names to
you, my brothers. You are Maui-taha, and you are Maui-roto, and you are
Maui-pae, and you are Maui-waho, and as for me, I’m little Maui-the-baby,
and here I am sitting before you.”

When his mother, Taranga, heard all this, she cried out: “You dear little
child, you are indeed my last-born, therefore I now tell you your name
shall be Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga,” and he was called by that name.

It was now night; but early in the morning Taranga rose up, and suddenly,
in a moment of time, she was gone from the house where her children were.
As soon as they woke up they looked all about to no purpose, as they
could not see her; the elder brothers knew she had left them, and were
accustomed to it; but the little child was exceedingly vexed; yet he
thought: “I cannot see her, ’tis true, but perhaps she has only gone to
prepare some food for us.” No-no—she was off, far, far away.

Now, at nightfall when their mother came back to them, her children were
dancing and singing as usual. As soon as they had finished, she called
to her last-born, “Come here, my child, let us sleep together”; so they
slept together; but as soon as day dawned, she disappeared. The little
fellow now felt quite suspicious at such strange proceedings on the part
of his mother every morning. So, at length, another night, he crept out
of bed in the night and stole his mother’s apron, her belt, and clothes,
and hid them; then he went and stopped up every crevice in the wooden
window, and in the doorway, so that the light of the dawn might not shine
into the house, and make his mother hurry to get up. But after he had
done this his little heart still felt very anxious and uneasy, lest his
mother should, in her impatience, rise in the darkness, and defeat his
plans. But the night dragged its slow length along without his mother
moving; at last there came the faint light of early morn, but his mother
still slept on; then the sun rose up, and mounted far up above the
horizon; now at last his mother moved, and began to think to herself,
“What kind of night can this be, to last so long?” and having thought
thus, she dropped asleep again. Again she awoke, and began to think to
herself, but could not tell that it was broad daylight outside, as the
window and every chink in the house were stopped up closely.

At last up she jumped; and finding herself without her clothes or her
belt or her apron, she ran and pulled out the things with which the
windows and chinks in the doors were stopped up, and whilst doing so, oh,
dear! oh, dear! there she saw the sun high up in the heavens; then she
snatched up, as she ran off, the old flax cloak, with which the door of
the house had been stopped up, and carried it off as her only covering;
getting, at last, outside the house, she hurried away, and ran crying at
the thought of having been so badly treated by her own children.

As soon as his mother got outside the house, little Maui jumped up, and
kneeling upon his hands and knees peeped after her through the doorway
into the bright light. Whilst he was watching her, she reached down to
a clump of rushes, and snatching it up from the ground, dropped into a
hole underneath it, and clapping the rushes into the hole again as if it
were its covering, so disappeared. Then little Maui jumped on his feet,
and, as hard as he could go, ran out of the house, pulled up the clump of
rushes, and peeping down, discovered a beautiful open cave running quite
deep into the earth.

He covered up the hole again and returned to the house, and waking up his
brothers who were still sleeping, said: “Come, come, my brothers, rouse
up, you have slept long enough; come, get up; here we are again cajoled
by our mother.” Then his brothers made haste and got up; alas! alas! the
sun was quite high up in the heavens.

The little Maui now asked his brothers again, “Where do you think the
place is where our father and mother dwell?” and they answered: “How
should we know, we have never seen it; although we are Maui-taha, and
Maui-roto, and Maui-pae, and Maui-waho, we have never seen the place; and
do you think you can find that place which you are so anxious to see?
What does it signify to you? Cannot you stop quietly with us? What do we
care about our father, or about our mother? Did she feed us with food
till we grew up to be men? not a bit of it. Why, without doubt, Rangi,
or the Heaven, is our father, who kindly sent his offspring down to us:
Hau-whenna, or gentle breezes, to cool the earth and young plants; and
Hau-ma-ringiringi, or mists, to moisten them; and Hau-ma-roto-roto, or
fine weather, to make them grow; and Tonarangi, or rain, to water them;
and Tomairangi, or dews, to nourish them. He gave these his offspring to
cause our food to grow, and then Papa-tu-a-nuku, or the Earth, made her
seeds to spring, and grow forth, and provide sustenance for her children
in this long-continuing world.”

Little Maui then answered: “What you say is truly quite correct; but such
thoughts and sayings would better become me than you, for in the foaming
bubbles of the sea I was nursed and fed: it would please me better if
you would think over and remember the time when you were nursed at your
mother’s breast; it could not have been until after you had ceased to
be nourished by her milk that you could have eaten the kinds of food
you have mentioned; as for me, oh! my brothers, I have never partaken
either of her milk or of her food; yet I love her, for this single reason
alone—that she is my mother; and because I love her, I wish to know the
place where she and my father dwell.”

His brothers felt quite surprised and pleased with their little brother
when they heard him talk in this way, and when, after a little time,
they had recovered from their amazement, they told him to try and find
their father and mother. So he said he would go. It was a long time ago
that he had finished his first labor, for when he first appeared to his
relatives in their house of singing and dancing, he had on that occasion
transformed himself into the likeness of all manner of birds, of every
bird in the world, and yet no single form that he then assumed had
pleased his brothers; but now when he showed himself to them, transformed
into the semblance of a pigeon, his brothers said: “Ah! now indeed, oh,
brother, you do look very well indeed, very beautiful, very beautiful,
much more beautiful than you looked in any of the other forms you
assumed, when you first discovered yourself to us.” What made him look
so beautiful now were the belt and apron he had stolen from his mother.
The shining white upon his breast was her belt, the glossy black feathers
at his throat, the fastening to the belt. Then off he flew until he came
to the clump of rushes, closing the opening of the cave into which his
mother had disappeared. Then down he went into the cave, shutting up its
mouth with the rushes so as to hide the entrance. Away he flew, very
fast indeed, and twice he dipped his wing, because the cave was narrow;
soon he reached nearly to the bottom of the cave, and flew along it; and
again, because the cave was so narrow, he dipped first one wing and then
the other, but the cave now widened, and he dashed straight on.

At last he saw a party of people coming along under a grove of trees;
they were a special kind of tree, called manapan trees, that belonged
to the country. Maui flying on, perched upon the top of one of these
trees, under which the people had seated themselves; and when he saw his
mother lying down on the grass by the side of her husband, he guessed at
once who they were, and he thought, “Ah! there sit my father and mother
right under me”; and he soon heard their names, as they were called to by
their friends who were sitting with them; then the pigeon hopped down,
and perched on another spray a little lower, and it pecked off one of
the berries of the tree and dropped it gently down, and hit the father
with it on the forehead; and some of the party said, “Was it a bird which
threw that down?” but the father said, “Oh, no, it was only a berry that
fell by chance.”

Then the pigeon again pecked off some of the berries from the tree, and
threw them down with all its force, and struck both father and mother,
so that he really hurt them; then they cried out, and the whole party
jumped up and looked into the tree, and as the pigeon began to coo, they
soon found out from the noise where it was sitting amongst the leaves
and branches, and the whole of them, the chiefs and common people alike,
caught up stones to pelt the pigeon with, but they threw for a very long
time without hitting it; at last the father tried to throw a stone at it;
ah, he struck it, but Maui had himself contrived that he should be struck
by the stone which his father threw; for, but by his choice no one could
hit him; he was struck exactly upon his left leg, and down he fell, and
as he lay fluttering and struggling upon the ground, they all ran to
catch him, but lo! the pigeon had turned into a man.

Then all those who saw him were frightened at his fierce glaring eyes,
which were red as if painted with red ochre, and they said: “Oh, it is
now no wonder that he so long sat still up in the tree; had he been
a bird he would have flown off long before, but he is a man.” And
some of them said: “No, indeed, rather a god—just look at his form
and appearance; the like has never been seen before since Rangi and
Papa-tu-a-nuku were torn apart.” Then Taranga said: “I used to see one
who looked like this person every night when I went to visit my children,
but what I saw then excelled what I see now; just listen to me.” Then she
told the story of Maui as he had told it to her and his brothers himself.

Then Taranga asked Maui, who was sitting near her, “Where do you come
from? from the west?” and he answered, “No.” “From the north-east,
then?” “No.” “From the south-east then?” “No.” “From the south then?”
“No.” “Was it the wind which blows upon me—the wind that brought you
here to me?” When she asked this, he opened his mouth and answered,
“Yes.” And she cried out, “Oh, this then is indeed my child”; and she
said, “Are you Maui-taha?” He answered, “No.” Then said she, “Are you
Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga?” and he answered, “Yes.” And she cried aloud:
“This is, indeed, my child. By the winds and storms and wave-uplifting
gales he was fashioned and became a human being; welcome, oh, my child,
welcome! By you shall hereafter be climbed the threshold of the house of
your great ancestor Hine-nui-te-po, and death shall thenceforth have no
power over man.” This prophecy, however, was not fulfilled, for when the
time came for him to encounter Hine-nui-te-po, he was himself killed.

Maui, after these things, returned to his brothers to tell them that he
had found his parents, and to explain where they dwelt.

The young hero, Maui, had not been long at home with his brothers when he
began to think that it was too soon after the rising of the sun that it
became night again, and that the sun again sank down below the horizon,
every day, every day; in the same manner the days appeared too short to
him. So at last one day he said to his brothers, “Let us now catch the
sun in a noose, so that we may compel him to move more slowly, in order
that mankind may have long days to labor in to procure subsistence for
themselves”; but they answered him, “Why, no man could approach it on
account of its warmth, and the fierceness of its heat”; but the young
hero said to them: “Have you not seen the multitude of things I have
already achieved? Did I not by degrees transform myself into every bird
in the world, small or great; and did I not after all this again assume
the form of a man? As for that feat, I accomplished it by enchantments,
and I will by the same means accomplish also this other thing which I
have in mind.” When his brothers heard this they consented to aid him in
his conquest of the sun.

Then they began to spin and twist ropes to form a noose to catch the
sun in, and in doing this they discovered the mode of plaiting flax
into stout, square-shaped ropes, and the manner of plaiting flat ropes,
and of spinning round ropes; at last they finished making all the ropes
they required. Then Maui took up his enchanted weapon, and he took his
brothers with him, and they carried their provisions, ropes, and other
things with them in their hands. They travelled all night, and as soon as
day broke, they halted in the desert, and hid themselves that they might
not be seen by the sun; and at night they renewed their journey, and
before dawn they halted and hid themselves again; at length they got very
far, very far to the eastward, and came to the very edge of the place out
of which the sun rises.

Then they set to work and built on each side of this place a long high
wall of clay, with huts of boughs of trees at each end to hide themselves
in; when these were finished, they made the loops of the noose, and the
brothers of Maui then lay in wait on one side of the place out of which
the sun rises, and Maui himself lay in wait upon the other side. The
young hero held in his hand his enchanted weapon, the jaw-bone of his
ancestress, and said to his brothers: “Mind now, keep yourselves hid, and
do not go showing yourselves foolishly to the sun; if you do, you will
frighten him; but wait patiently until his head and fore-legs have got
well into the snare, then I will shout; you haul away as hard as you can
on the ropes on both sides, and then I’ll rush out and attack him, but do
you keep your ropes tight for a good long time, until he is nearly dead,
when we will let him go; but mind now, my brothers, do not let him move
you to pity with his shrieks and screams.”

At last the sun came rising up out of his place, like a fire spreading
far and wide over the mountains and forests; he rises up, his head passes
through the noose, and it takes in more and more of his body, until
his fore-paws pass through; then the ropes are pulled tight, and the
monster begins to struggle and roll himself about, whilst the snare jerks
backward and forward as he struggles. Ah! is he not held fast in the
ropes of his enemies!

Then forth rushes that bold hero, Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga, with his
enchanted weapon. Alas! the sun screams aloud; he roars; Maui strikes him
fiercely with many blows; they hold him for a long time; at last they let
him go, and then weak from wounds the sun creeps slowly along its course.
Then men learned the second name of the sun, for in its agony the sun
screamed out: “Why am I thus smitten by you! oh, man! do you know what
you are doing? Why should you wish to kill Tama-nui-te-Ra?” At last they
let him go. Oh, then, Tama-nui-te-Ra went very slowly and feebly on his



When Heracles (Roman, Hercules) was a very wee child, not more than ten
months old, he performed a marvellous feat which was a worthy sample
of the vast labors he was to accomplish during his life. His mother,
Alcmena, took him and his younger brother, Iphicles, gave them both
their bath and their evening feast of milk, and then tucked them safely
away in their cradle, which was not an ordinary one by any means, but
a magnificent bronze shield which their father, Amphitryon, had taken
from his fallen enemy, Pterelaus. Then the mother stroked her little
children’s heads, and said to them:

“Sleep, my little ones, a light delicious sleep; sleep, soul of mine, two
brothers, babes unharmed; blessed be your sleep, and blessed may ye come
to the dawn.”[10]

And as she spoke she rocked the huge shield back and forth, and soon they
both fell asleep.

But just at midnight, when the constellation of the Great Bear wheeled
round toward the constellation of Orion that shows his mighty shoulder,
Hera (Roman, Juno) sent forth two horrible monsters, two snakes with
bristling coils of azure—she urged them against the broad threshold
of the house door, intending that they should devour the young child
Heracles. Then the serpents crawled, writhing along the ground, and
ever from their eyes shone a baleful fire as they came, and they spat
out their deadly venom. But when with their flickering tongues they were
drawing near the children, then Alcmena’s dear babes wakened, by the
will of Zeus that knows all things, and there was a bright light in the

Then one of the children, Iphicles, straightway screamed out, when he
beheld the hideous monsters above the hollow shield, and saw their
pitiless fangs, and eager to flee from them he kicked off the woollen
coverlet with his feet. But Heracles set his force against them, and
grasped them with his hands, holding them as in a bond, having got them
by the throat, wherein lies the evil venom, detested even by the gods, of
baleful snakes. Then the serpents, in their turn, wound their coils about
the young child, the child unweaned, who never wept in his nursling days;
but again they relaxed their spines on account of the pain, and strove to
find some issue from the grasp of iron. Alcmena awoke first, hearing the

“Arise, Amphitryon, for numbing fear lays hold of me: arise, nor stay
to put on thy shoes! Dost thou not hear how loud the younger child is
wailing? and though it is the depth of night, the walls are all plain to
see as in the clear dawn? I know there is some strange thing within the
house, my dearest lord!”

Thus she spoke, and at his wife’s bidding Amphitryon stepped down out of
his bed of cedar, making for his richly ornamented sword which he always
kept hanging on a pin above his bed. Just as he was reaching out for his
new woven belt, and lifting with his other hand the mighty sheath of
lotus wood, lo! the wide chamber was filled again with night. Then he
called aloud to his servants, who were sleeping soundly. “Lights! Bring
lights as quick as may be from the hearth, my servants, and thrust back
the strong bolts of the doors. Arise, serving-men, stout of heart. Your
master calls you.”

Then quickly came the serving-men with burning torches, filling the whole
house. When they saw the young child Heracles clutching the two snakes
in his tender grasp, they all cried out and smote their hands together.
But Heracles displayed the creeping things to his father, Amphitryon, and
leaped on high in his childish glee, and laughing, at his father’s feet
he laid them down, the dread monsters fallen on the sleep of death. Then
Alcmena took Iphicles, dry-eyed and wan with fear, and laid him in her
own bosom; but Amphitryon placed the other child beneath a lamb’s wool
coverlet, and betook himself again to his rest.

The cocks had barely sung their third welcome to the earliest dawn, when
Alcmena called forth the seer Tiresias, who cannot lie, and told him of
the new portent, and bade him declare what things should come to pass.

“Nay, even if the gods devise some mischief, do not in pity conceal it
from me; let me remind thee what thou well knowest, that mortals may not
escape the doom that Fate speeds from her spindle.”

Thus the Queen spoke, and he answered:

“Be of good cheer, daughter of Perseus, woman that hast borne the noblest
of children. For by the sweet light that long hath left mine eyes, I
swear that many Achæan women, as they card the soft wool about their
knees, shall sing at eventide of Alcmena’s name, and thou shalt be
honorable among the women of Argos. Such a man, even this thy son, shall
mount to the starry firmament, the hero, broad of breast, the master
of all wild beasts, and of all mankind. Twelve labors is he fated to
accomplish, and thereafter to dwell in the house of Zeus.”

[Illustration: The Infant Hercules. _Louvre._]



The little child-god Hermes was born at the first peep of day in a rocky
cavern overshadowed by a beautiful grove of ancient trees. He was so
remarkable a child that he began playing on the lyre at noon, and the
very same evening he stole away the herds of Phœbus Apollo. He sprang
from the arms of his mother, Maia, nor could she keep him in his sacred
cradle, nor from creeping forth to seek the herds of Apollo.

Wandering forth from the lofty cavern, he found a tortoise, and cried
out, “What a treasure!” Before the portal, the little beast was
depasturing the flowery herbage at his leisure, moving his feet in a
deliberate measure over the turf. Hermes, eyeing him and laughing,
exclaimed: “You are a useful godsend indeed to me, king of the dance,
companion of the feast, lovely in all your nature! Welcome, you excellent
plaything! Where, sweet mountain beast, did you get that speckled shell?
Thus much I know, you must come home with me and be my guest; you will
give joy to me, and I will do all that is in my power to honor you.
Better to be at home than out-of-doors; so come with me, and though it
has been said that when alive you defend from magic power, I know you
will sing sweetly when you are dead.” Having spoken, this quaint infant
lifted the tortoise up from the grass upon which it was feeding, and
grasping it tightly in his delighted hold, carried off his treasured
prize into the cavern. He then scooped out all the inside of the
tortoise, leaving only the shell. Then, through the shell he bored small
holes at proper distances, and fastened within, the cut stems of reeds,
and a bridge, over which he stretched the strings.

When he had made this lovely instrument, he tried the chords, and brought
forth beautiful music. He hit the strings with a little instrument called
the plectrum, and lo! up from beneath his hand there went a tumult sweet
of mighty sounds and from his lips he sent a strain of unpremeditated
wit, joyous and wild and wanton—such as you may hear among revellers
on a holiday. He sang a lovely song in honor of his mother Maia, but
while he was singing, he was suddenly seized with a new fancy. So he
deposited in his sacred crib the hollow lyre, and from the sweet cavern
rushed with great leaps up to the mountain’s head, revolving in his
mind some subtle feat of thievish craft, such as a swindler might devise
in the lone season of dim night. The great Sun had driven his steeds
and chariot under the ocean’s bed. Meanwhile the child strode over the
Pierian mountains clothed in shadows, where the immortal oxen of the
God are pastured in the flowering unmown meadows, and safely stalled
in a remote abode—elate and proud he drove fifty from the herd, lowing
aloud. He drove them wandering over the sandy way, but being of a crafty
disposition, he drove them backward and forward astray, so that the
tracks which seemed before were aft; then he threw his sandals into the
ocean spray, and for each foot he wrought a kind of raft of tamarisk,
and tamarisk-like sprigs, and bound them in a lump with withy twigs.
And on his feet he tied these sandals light, so that the trail of the
wide leaves might confuse his tracks; and then, a self-sufficing wight,
like a man hastening on some distant way, he from Piera’s mountain
bent his flight; but an old man perceived the infant pass down green
Onchestus heaped like beds with grass. The old man stood, dressing his
sunny vine: “Halloo! old fellow with the crooked shoulder! You grub
those stumps? Before they will bear wine methinks even you must grow a
little older: attend, I pray, to this advice of mine if you would escape
something which might appall a bolder man. Seeing, see not—and hearing,
hear not—and—if you have understanding—understand.” So saying, Hermes
roused the oxen vast; over shadowy mountain and resounding dell, and
flower-paven plains, great Hermes passed; till the black night divine,
which favoring fell around his steps, grew gray, and morning fast wakened
the world to work, and from her sea-strewn cell, the sublime Morn had
just begun to climb into her watch-tower. Now to Alpheus he drove all the
broad foreheaded oxen of the Sun. They came unwearied to the lofty stall
and to the water-troughs which ever run through the fresh fields—and when
everyone had been pastured with rush-grass tall, lotus and all sweet
herbage, the great God drove them into the stall.

Hermes then heaped a mighty pile of wood, and then bethought him how to
produce fire. He took two smooth laurel branches, stripped off the bark
and rubbed them in his palms. Suddenly the burning vapor leaped forth
on high, which the divine child saw with delight. And fine dry logs
and numerous roots he gathered in a delve upon the ground and kindled
them, and instantaneously the strength of the fierce flames was breathed
around, and while the might of the glorious fire thus wrapped the great
pile with glare and roaring sound, Hermes dragged forth two heifers,
lowing loud, close to the fire—such might was in the God. He threw them
on their backs upon the earth and rolled them over and over and bored
their lives out. Then he cut up the fat and flesh and placed the two on
spits of wood before the fire, toasting their flesh and ribs, and while
this was being done he stretched their hides over a craggy stone. This
was a burnt offering to the gods, but the savor of the roasted meat
tempted him sorely though immortal, but he repressed the desire to taste
it and put not a single morsel into his mouth.

Then he removed every trace of the fresh butchery and cooking, so that
it seemed all to have vanished through the sky. He burned the hoofs and
horns and head and hair; the insatiate fire devoured them hungrily. And
when he saw that everything was clear, he quenched the coals and trampled
the black dust, and tossed into the stream his bloody sandals. All night
he worked in the serene moonshine, but when the light of day was spread
abroad, he sought his natal mountain-peaks. On his long wandering,
neither man nor god had met him, since he killed Apollo’s kine, nor had
a single house-dog barked at him on his road. Now he passed obliquely
through the keyhole, like a thin mist or an autumnal blast. Right through
the temple of the spacious cave he went with soft light feet, as if his
tread fell not on earth. Then he crept quickly to his cradle and spread
the swaddling clothes about him; and the knave lay playing with the
covering of the bed, with his left hand about his knees and the right
hand holding his beloved tortoise-lyre tight. There he lay, innocent as a
new-born child, as gossips say.

But though he was a god, the goddess, his fair mother, was not deceived,
and knew all that he had been doing while away. So she said to him:
“Whence come you and what wild adventures have you had, you cunning
rogue. Where have you been all night long, clothed in your impudence?
What have you done since you departed hence? Apollo will soon pass
within this gate and bind your tender body in a chain inextricably tight
and fast as fate, unless you can delude the god again. A pretty torment
are you for gods and men.” “Dear mother,” the sly Hermes replied, “why
scold and bother as if I were like other babes of my age, and understood
nothing. I have hatched a scheme in my subtle brain which, while the
sacred stars round heaven are rolled, will profit you and me, nor shall
our lot be as you counsel, without gifts or food, to spend our lives
in this obscure abode. We will leave this shadow-peopled cave and live
among the gods, and pass each day in high communion, sharing their great
wealth, and from the portion which Jove gave to Phœbus I will snatch my
share away, and if he should find me out I’ll countermine him by a deeper
plan. I’ll pierce the Pythian temple walls, though stout, and sack the
fane of everything I can—cauldrons and tripods, each golden cup and every
brazen pan, all the wrought tapestries and the gay garments.” So they
talked together.

Meanwhile the Day, ethereal-born, arose out of the flood of flowing
Ocean, bearing light to men. Apollo passed toward the sacred wood, which
from the inmost depths of its green glen echoes the voice of Neptune,
and there stood on the same spot in green Onchestus that same old man,
the vine-dresser, who was employed hedging his vineyard there. Latona’s
glorious son began: “Pray tell me, ancient hedger of Onchestus green,
whether a drove of kine has passed this way, all heifers with crooked
horns? For they have been stolen from the herd in high Pieria, where a
black bull was fed apart, between two woody mountains in a neighboring
glen, though four fierce dogs guarded them. And what is strange, the
author of this theft has stolen all the fatted heifers, but the four
dogs and the black bull are left. They were stolen last night at set
of sun, of their soft beds and their sweet food bereft. Now tell me,
old man, born before the world began, have you seen any one pass with
the cows?” The old man replied: “My friend, it would require no common
skill justly to speak of everything I see. On various purposes of good
or ill many pass by my vineyard, and for me it is difficult to know the
invisible thoughts which may be in all those many minds. Thus much alone
I can certainly say. I tilled these vines until the decline of day,
and then I thought I saw, but dare not speak with certainty of such a
wondrous thing, a child who could scarcely have been born a week, closely
following those fair-horned cattle. And in his hand he held a polished
stick, and, as on purpose, he walked wavering from one side to the other
of the road, and with his face turned in the opposite direction from his
steps.” Apollo, hearing this, passed quickly on. No winged omen could
have shown more clearly who it was. So Apollo wrapped a purple atmosphere
around his shoulders, and like fire went to famous Pylos, seeking his
kine there. He found their tracks, yet hardly cold, and cried: “What
wonder do mine eyes behold. Here are the footsteps of the horned herd
turned back toward their fields of asphodel; but these are not the
tracks of beast or bird, gray wolf or bear, or lion of the dell, or maned
Centaur. Sand was never stirred by man or woman thus! Inexplicable!
Who with unwearied feet ever could impress the sand with such enormous

Having spoken thus, Phœbus impetuously sought high Cyllene’s
forest-cinctured hill, and the deep cavern where dark shadows lie,
the home of Hermes. A delightful odor from the dew was all about. And
Phœbus stooped under the craggy roof arched over the dark cavern. Maia’s
child perceived from afar that he came angry about the cows that had
been stolen. Then Hermes piled over him his fine and fragrant swaddling
clothes. There he lay like a burning spark covered, beneath the ashes
cold and dark, an infant who had sucked his fill and now was newly washed
and put to bed, awake but courting sleep with weary will. And gathered
in a lump, hands, feet and head, he lay, and his beloved tortoise still
he grasped and held under his shoulder blade. Phœbus knew the lovely
mountain goddess, not less her subtle, swindling baby, who lay swathed in
his sly wiles. He looked sharp round every crook of the ample cavern for
his kine, and when he saw them not he took the glittering key and opened
three great hollow recesses in the rock, where many a nook was filled
with sweet food immortals swallow, and mighty heaps of silver and of gold
were piled within—a wonder to behold, and white and silver robes, all
overwrought with cunning workmanship. Except among the gods there can
be naught in the wide world to be compared with it. Latona’s offspring,
after having sought his herds in every corner, thus greeted great Hermes:
“Little cradled rogue, tell me about my illustrious heifers, where are
they? Speak quickly, or a quarrel between us must rise, and the event
will be that I shall haul you into dismal Tartarus, in fiery gloom to
dwell eternally. Nor shall your father nor your mother loose the bars of
that black dungeon. Utterly you shall be cast out from the light of day,
unblest as they to rule the ghosts of men.” Hermes slyly answered: “Son
of great Latona, what a speech is this! Why come you here to ask me what
has been done with the wild oxen which it seems you miss? I have not seen
them, nor from any one have I heard a word of the whole business. If you
should promise an immense reward I could not tell you more. A stealer of
oxen should be both tall and strong, and I am but a little new-born thing
who, yet at least, can think of nothing wrong. My business is to suck
and sleep and fling the cradle clothes about me all day long; or half
asleep, hear my sweet mother sing, and to be washed in water clean and
warm, and hushed and kissed and kept secure from harm. Oh, let not this
quarrel ever be heard of, for the astounded gods would laugh at you for
telling a story so absurd as that a new-born infant could fare forth out
of his home after a savage herd. I was born yesterday. My small feet are
too tender for the roads so hard and rough, and if you think that this is
not enough, I swear a great oath that I stole not your cows, and that
I know of no one else who might or could or did. Whatever things cows
are I do not know, for I have only heard the name.” This said, he winked
as fast as could be, and his brow was all wrinkled, and he gave a loud
whistle like one who hears some strange absurdity. Apollo gently smiled
and said: “Ay, ay, you cunning little rascal, you will bore many a rich
man’s house, and your array of thieves will lay their siege before his
door, silent as night, in night, and many a day in the wild glens rough
shepherds will deplore that you or yours, having an appetite, met with
their cattle. And this among the gods shall be your gift, to be the lord
of those who steal and swindle.”

Apollo seized him then. “What do you mean to do with me, you unkind God?”
said Hermes. “Is it about these cows you tease me so? I wish the race of
cows were perished. I did not steal your cows, I do not even know what
things cows are. Alas! I well may sigh that since I came into this world
of woe I should ever have heard of one.” Thus Phœbus and the vagrant
Hermes talked without coming to an explanation. Hermes continued to try
and cheat Apollo with lies and roguery, but when no evasion served, he
proposed to appeal to Jove to judge between them. Hermes paced first over
the sandy ground and he of the silver bow followed, and from Jove’s equal
balance they did require a judgment in the cause wherein they strove. As
they came over odorous Olympus and its snows a murmuring tumult arose.
And from the folded depths of the great hill, while Hermes and Apollo
reverent stood before Jove’s throne, the indestructible immortals rushed
in mighty multitude, and while their seats in order due they filled the
lofty Thunderer in a careless mood to Phœbus said: “Whence drive you
this sweet prey, this herald-baby, born but yesterday? A most important
subject, trifler, this to lay before the Gods!” “Nay, father, nay. When
you have understood the business, say not that I alone am fond of prey.
I found this little boy in a recess in Cyllene’s mountains far away—a
manifest and most apparent thief, a scandal-monger beyond all belief. I
never saw his like either in heaven or earth for knavery or craft. Out of
the field yester-even, by the low shore on which the loud sea laughed, he
had driven my cattle right down to the river ford. The cattle’s track on
the black dust is fully evident, as if they went toward the place from
which they came—that asphodel meadow in which I feed my many herds. The
child’s steps were most incomprehensible. I know not how I can describe
in words those tracks. He could not have gone either upon his feet or his
hands. He must have had some strange mode of moving on. Those immense
vestiges, as I traced them on the sandy road, seemed like the trail of
oak toppings, but thence the hard ground gave no mark or track denoting
where they trod; but, working at his fence an old man saw him as he
passed to Pylos with the cows in fiery haste. I found that in the dark he
had quietly sacrificed some cows, and before light had thrown the ashes
all dispersedly about the road; then, still as gloomy night, he crept
into his cradle, rubbing either eye and cogitating some new trick. No
eagle could have seen him as he lay hid in his cavern. I taxed him with
the fact, when he declared most solemnly that he had neither seen nor in
any manner heard of my lost cows, whatever things cows be; nor could he
tell, though offered a reward of any one who could tell me about them.”

Then Phœbus sat down and Hermes addressed the Supreme Lord of Gods and
Men. “Great Father, you know well beforehand that all I shall say is
truth, for I am totally unacquainted with untruth. At sunrise Phœbus
came, but with no band of gods to bear him witness, in great wrath to
my abode, seeking his heifers there and declaring that I must show him
where they are or he would hurl me down the dark abyss. I know that
every limb of Apollo is clothed with speed and might and manliness, as
a green bank with flowers, but unlike him I was born yesterday, and you
may guess he knew this well when he indulged the whim of bullying a poor
little new-born thing that slept and never thought of cow-driving. Am I
like a strong fellow who steals kine? This driving of herds is none of
mine. I have never wandered across my threshold! I reverence the divine
Sun and the gods and you, and care even for this hard accuser, who must
know I am as innocent as they or you. I swear by these most gloriously
wrought portals through which the multitude of the Immortals pass and
repass forever, day and night, devising schemes for the affairs of
mortals, that I am guiltless,” and Hermes winked as if now his adversary
was silenced, and Jove, according to his wont, laughed heartily to hear
the subtle-witted infant give such a plausible account. But he remitted
judgment for the time and sent them forth to seek the stolen cows. Hermes
was truthfully to lead the way and show where he had hidden the mighty

Then they hastened to Pylos and the wide pastures and lofty stalls by the
Alphean ford, where wealth in the mute night is multiplied with silent
growth. While Hermes drove the herd out of the stony cavern, Phœbus spied
the hides of those the little babe had slain, stretched high upon the
precipice. “How was it possible,” then Phœbus asked, “that you, a little
child born yesterday, a thing on mother’s milk and kisses fed, could
have slain these two prodigious heifers? Ever I may well dread hereafter
your prowess, when you grow strong and tall.” He spoke, and bound stiff
withy bands around the infant’s wrists. He might as well have bound the
wild oxen. The withy bands, though starkly interknit, fell at the feet of
the immortal child, loosened by some device of his quick wit. Phœbus was
again deceived, and stared while Hermes sought some hole, looking askance
and winking fast, as though where he might hide himself. But suddenly he
changed his plans, and with strange skill subdued Apollo by the might of
winning music. His left hand held the lyre, and in his right the plectrum
struck the chords; unconquerable, up from beneath his hands in circling
flight the gathering music rose, and sweet as Love the penetrating notes
did live and move within the heart of great Apollo. He listened with
all his soul and laughed for pleasure. The unabashed boy stood close to
his side harping fearlessly, and to the measure of the sweet lyre there
followed loud and free his joyous voice, for he unlocked the treasure
of his deep song illustrating the birth of the bright gods and the dark
desert Earth, and how to the Immortals every one, a portion was assigned
of all that is; but chief did clothe Maia’s son Mnemosyne in the light
of his loud melodies, and as each god was born or had begun he in their
order due and fit degrees sang of his birth and being, and did move
Apollo to unutterable love. These words he spoke: “You heifer-stealing
schemer, well do you deserve that fifty oxen should requite such
minstrelsies as I have heard even now. Comrade of feasts, little
contriving wight, one of your secrets I would gladly know—whether the
glorious power you now show forth was folded up within you at your birth,
or whether mortal taught or God inspired your skill in song?” And Hermes
replied: “Wisely hast thou enquired of my skill. Jove has given to thee
also divinest gifts. By thee the depths of his far voice are understood,
by thee the mystery of all oracular fates. Even I, a child, perceive thy
might and majesty. Thou canst seek out and compass all that wit can find
or teach, yet if thou wilt, come take the lyre—be mine the glory giving
it. Strike the sweet chords and sing aloud, and wake thy joyous pleasure
out of many a fit of tranced sound.” The shell he proffered Apollo took,
and gave him in return the glittering lash, installing him as herdsman.
Hermes flashed a joyous look at him, and then Apollo with the plectrum
struck the chords, and from beneath his hands a crash of mighty sounds
rushed up whose music shook the soul with sweetness, and with the lyre
his sweeter voice a just accordance kept.


[1] See Schoolcraft.

[2] Leland, “Algonquin Legends.”

[3] See Gubernatis “Zoological Mythology.”

[4] Andrew Lang’s translation.

[5] See Anderson’s “Norse Mythology.”

[6] See Gayley’s “Classic Myths in English Literature.”

[7] See Anderson’s “Norse Mythology.”

[8] Gayley’s “Classic Myths in English Literature.”

[9] See Canfield’s “Legends of the Iroquois.”

[10] Andrew Lang’s translation.




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