14.THE MAGICIAN OF LAKE HURON
The Manatoline, or Spirit, Islands were a favorite abode of the Manitous, or spirits. Perhaps that is why many strange things happened there. One night, as Masswaweinini, the magician, was lying asleep, the sound of voices woke him. “This is Masswaweinini,” said the first voice, “we must have his heart.”
“How shall we get it?” said the second voice.
“I shall put my hand into his mouth,” said the first, “and pull it out that way.”
The magician felt a hand being slipped between his teeth. He waited until the fingers were all in his mouth, then he bit them hard and they came off. He heard a cry, and then the strangers disappeared. In the morning he arose, but could find no trace of any one. But when he came down to the water’s edge, he saw a canoe with two people in it. They were sitting at each end of the canoe, with their arms stretched out. When he came close to them, he saw they were fairies, and that they had been turned to stone. One of them had lost the fingers of one hand, so he knew they were his enemies of the night before. The canoe was laden with bags of all kinds of treasures, and it was the most beautiful boat he had ever seen. He lifted out the stone figures and put them in the woods. As he turned away, one of the figures spoke to him.
“Masswaweinini,” it said, “the canoes of the Ottawa Indians will, after this, always be well laden like our canoe. Your tribe was driven from their land by their cruel enemies, but they shall be rewarded for their bravery. The Mighty Spirit will help them, and they shall be given many treasures in their new home.”
The magician then went back to the boat and lifted out the bags. He carried the boat and hid it among the trees. When he opened the bags, he found meat and fish and many other things, and took them to his camp.
As he rested in his cabin that night, he would have been very happy, if he had not been so sorry for his old father and mother. He thought of them many miles away with none of the comforts he had. “I shall go and bring them,” he said. He had only to think of going when at once he could move like the wind. So before morning he found himself at the poor, little camp of his parents. They were still asleep, so without making any noise, he took them in his arms and carried them back to his cabin. When they awakened in the morning, they were delighted to find themselves with their son. All day long they wandered through the fields and by the shore, and were as happy as children. As the days and weeks went by, they seemed to grow happier still. But one night the magician saw his old father look in his tobacco-pouch and then sigh.
“I know what it is you want, my father, it is tobacco; you have not had any for many moons. Now I shall get some.”
“How can you do that?” asked the father, in surprise. “You are surrounded by enemies and cut off from all supplies.”
“I shall make my enemies give me some,” said the magician.
That night he set out on a long journey across the frozen lake. So swiftly did he travel, that by morning he had reached the village of his enemies. They were surprised to see him, but invited him into their cabins. “I thank you,” he said, “but I shall not go into any cabin. I shall build a fire on the shore of the lake.”
He made himself a tent with the branches of trees, built a fire, and sat beside it.
“Why have you come to visit us?” asked the chief.
“I want some tobacco for my father,” replied the magician.
“Is that all?” said the Indian. “You shall have it;” and he opened his tobacco-pouch and gave some tobacco to Masswaweinini. The other Indians did the same, so now the magician had a large supply to take home. When it became dark, he lay down to sleep beside his fire. In the middle of the night, the chief and some Indians rushed in, shouting, “You are a dead man.”
“No, I am not,” said the magician, “but you are.” With his tomahawk he hit left and right. In a few minutes six lay dead beside him. Then he wrapped his blanket around him, gathered up his tobacco, and set off. By evening he had reached his father’s cabin, and spread out his gift before him. The old man was delighted with the present, and thanked him many times for his kindness. When spring came, the magician built a beautiful cabin for his parents on the edge of the wrestling ground, and all through the summer they watched the corn and pumpkins grow.