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INDIAN WHY STORIES




OLD-MAN REMAKES THE WORLD

The sun was just sinking behind the hills
when we started for War Eagle's lodge.

"To-morrow will be a fine day," said Other-
person, "for grandfather says that a red sky
is always the sun's promise of fine weather,
and the sun cannot lie."

"Yes," said Bluebird, "and he said that
when this moon was new it travelled well
south for this time of year and its points were
up. That means fine, warm weather."

"I wish I knew as much as grandfather,"
said Fine-bow with pride.

The pipe was laid aside at once upon our
entering the lodge and the old warrior said:

"I have told you that OLD-man taught the
animals and the birds all they know. He
made them and therefore knew just what
each would have to understand in order to
make his living. They have never forgotten
anything he told them--even to this day.
Their grandfathers told the young ones what
they had been told, just as I am telling you
the things you should know. Be like the
birds and animals--tell your children and
grandchildren what I have told you, that
our people may always know how things were
made, and why strange things are true.

"Yes--OLD-man taught the Beaver how to
build his dams to make the water deeper;
taught the Squirrel to plant the pine-nut so
that another tree might grow and have nuts
for his children; told the Bear to go to sleep
in the winter, when the snow made hard travel-
ling for his short legs--told him to sleep, and
promised him that he would need no meat
while he slept. All winter long the Bear
sleeps and eats nothing, because OLD-
man told him that he could. He sleeps so much in the
winter that he spends most of his time in
summer hunting.

"It was OLD-man who showed the Owl how
to hunt at night and it was OLD-man that
taught the Weasel all his wonderful ways--
his bloodthirsty ways--for the Weasel is
the bravest of the animal-people, considering
his size. He taught the Beaver one strange
thing that you have noticed, and that is to
lay sticks on the creek-bottoms, so that they
will stay there as long as he wants them to.

"Whenever the animal-people got into
trouble they always sought OLD-man and told
him about it. All were busy working and
making a living, when one day it commenced
to rain. That was nothing, of course, but it
didn't stop as it had always done before. No,
it kept right on raining until the rivers over-
ran their banks, and the water chased the
Weasel out of his hole in the ground. Yes,
and it found the Rabbit's hiding-place and
made him leave it. It crept into the lodge
of the Wolf at night and frightened his wife
and children. It poured into the den of the
Bear among the rocks and he had to move. It
crawled under the logs in the forest and
found the Mice-people. Out it went to the
plains and chased them out of their homes in
the buffalo skulls. At last the Beavers' dams
broke under the strain and that made every-
thing worse. It was bad--very bad, indeed.
Everybody except the fish-people were fright-
ened and all went to find OLD-man that they
might tell him what had happened. Finally
they found his fire, far up on a timbered bench,
and they said that they wanted a council
right away.

"It was a strange sight to see the Eagle
sitting next to the Grouse; the Rabbit sitting
close to the Lynx; the Mouse right under the
very nose of the Bobcat, and the tiny Hum-
ming-bird talking to the Hawk in a whisper,
as though they had always been great friends.
All about OLD-man's fire they sat and whispered
or talked in signs. Even the Deer spoke to
the Mountain-lion, and the Antelope told the
Wolf that he was glad to see him, because fear
had made them all friends.

"The whispering and the sign-making stopped
when OLD-man raised his hand-like that"
(here War Eagle raised his hand with the palm
outward)--"and asked them what was troubling
them.

"The Bear spoke first, of course, and told
how the water had made him move his camp.
He said all the animal-people were moving
their homes, and he was afraid they would be
unable to find good camping-places, because
of the water. Then the Beaver spoke, be-
cause he is wise and all the forest-people know
it. He said his dams would not hold back the
water that came against them; that the whole
world was a lake, and that he thought they
were on an island. He said he could live in
the water longer than most people, but that
as far as he could see they would all die except,
perhaps, the fish-people, who stayed in the
water all the time, anyhow. He said he
couldn't think of a thing to do--then he
sat down and the sign-talking and whispering
commenced again.

"OLD-man smoked a long time--smoked
and thought hard. Finally he grabbed his
magic stone axe, and began to sing his war-
song. Then the rest knew he had made up his
mind and knew what he would do. Swow!
he struck a mighty pine-tree a blow, and it
fell down. Swow! down went another and
another, until he had ten times ten of the
longest, straightest, and largest trees in all
the world lying side by side before him. Then
OLD-man chopped off the limbs, and with the aid
of magic rolled the great logs tight together.
With withes of willow that he told the Beaver
to cut for him, he bound the logs fast together
until they were all as one. It was a monstrous
raft that OLD-man had built, as he sang his song
in the darkness. At last he cried, 'Ho! every-
body hurry and sit on this raft I have made';
and they did hurry.

"It was not long till the water had reached
the logs; then it crept in between them, and
finally it went on past the raft and off into the
forest, looking for more trouble.

"By and by the raft began to groan, and the
willow withes squeaked and cried out as though
ghost-people were crying in the night. That
was when the great logs began to tremble as
the water lifted them from the ground. Rain
was falling--night was there, and fear made
cowards of the bravest on the raft. All through
the forest there were bad noises--noises that
make the heart cold--as the raft bumped against
great trees rising from the earth that they
were leaving forever.

"Higher and higher went the raft; higher
than the bushes; higher than the limbs on the
trees; higher than the Woodpecker's nest;
higher than the tree tops, and even higher
than the mountains. Then the world was no
more, for the water had whipped the land in
the war it made against it.

"Day came, and still the rain was falling.
Night returned, and yet the rain came down.
For many days and nights they drifted in the
falling rain; whirling and twisting about while
the water played with the great raft, as a Bear
would play with a Mouse. It was bad, and
they were all afraid--even OLD-man himself
was scared.

"At last the sun came but there was no
land. All was water. The water was the
world. It reached even to the sky and touched
it all about the edges. All were hungry, and
some of them were grumbling, too. There
are always grumblers when there is great
trouble, but they are not the ones who become
great chiefs--ever.

"OLD-man sat in the middle of the raft and
thought. He knew that something must be
done, but he didn't know what. Finally he
said: 'Ho! Chipmunk, bring me the Spotted
Loon. Tell him I want him.'

"The Chipmunk found the Spotted Loon
and told him that OLD-man wanted him, so the
Loon went to where OLD-man sat. When he
got there, OLD-man said:

"'Spotted Loon you are a great diver. No-
body can dive as you can. I made you that
way and I know. If you will dive and swim
down to the world I think you might bring me
some of the dirt that it is made of--then
I am sure I can make another world.'

"'It is too deep, this water,' replied the
Loon, 'I am afraid I shall drown.'

"'Well, what if you do?' said OLD-man. 'I
gave you life, and if you lose it this way I
will return it to you. You shall live again!'

"'All right, OLD-man,' he answered, 'I am
willing to try'; so he waddled to the edge of the
raft. He is a poor walker--the Loon, and
you know I told you why. It was all because
OLD-man kicked him in the back the night he
painted all the Duck-people.

"Down went the Spotted Loon, and long
he stayed beneath the water. All waited and
watched, and longed for good luck, but when
he came to the top he was dead. Everybody
groaned--all felt badly, I can tell you, as
OLD-man laid the dead Loon on the logs. The
Loon's wife was crying, but OLD-man told her to
shut up and she did.

"Then OLD-man blew his own breath into
the Loon's bill, and he came back to life.

"'What did you see, Brother Loon?' asked
OLD-man, while everybody crowded as close
as he could.

"'Nothing but water,' answered the Loon,
'we shall all die here, I cannot reach the world
by swimming. My heart stops working.'

"There were many brave ones on the raft,
and the Otter tried to reach the world by
diving; and the Beaver, and the Gray Goose,
and the Gray Goose's wife; but all died in
trying, and all were given a new life by OLD-
man. Things were bad and getting worse.
Everybody was cross, and all wondered what
OLD-man would do next, when somebody laughed.

"All turned to see what there could be to
laugh at, at such a time, and OLD-man turned
about just in time to see the Muskrat bid
good-by to his wife--that was what they
were laughing at. But he paid no attention
to OLD-man or the rest, and slipped from the
raft to the water. Flip!--his tail cut the
water like a knife, and he was gone. Some
laughed again, but all wondered at his daring,
and waited with little hope in their hearts;
for the Muskrat wasn't very great, they
thought.

"He was gone longer than the Loon, longer
than the Beaver, longer than the Otter or
the Gray Goose or his wife, but when he
came to the surface of the water he was
dead.

"OLD-man brought Muskrat back to life,
and asked him what he had seen on his journey.
Muskrat said: 'I saw trees, OLD-man, but I
died before I got to them.'

"OLD-man told him he was brave. He said
his people should forever be great if he suc-
ceeded in bringing some dirt to the raft; so
just as soon as the Muskrat was rested he
dove again.

"When he came up he was dead, but clinched
in his tiny hand OLD-man found some dirt--
not much, but a little. A second time OLD-man
gave the Muskrat his breath, and told him
that he must go once more, and bring dirt.
He said there was not quite enough in the first
lot, so after resting a while the Muskrat tried
a third time and a third time he died, but
brought up a little more dirt.

"Everybody on the raft was anxious now,
and they were all crowding about OLD-man;
but he told them to stand back, and they did.
Then he blew his breath in Muskrat's mouth
a third time, and a third time he lived and
joined his wife.

"OLD-man then dried the dirt in his hands,
rubbing it slowly and singing a queer song.
Finally it was dry; then he settled the hand that
held the dirt in the water slowly, until the
water touched the dirt. The dry dirt began to
whirl about and then OLD-man blew upon it.
Hard he blew and waved his hands, and the
dirt began to grow in size right before their
eyes. OLD-man kept blowing and waving his
hands until the dirt became real land, and the
trees began to grow. So large it grew that
none could see across it. Then he stopped
his blowing and sang some more. Everybody wanted
to get off the raft, but OLD-man said 'no.'

"'Come here, Wolf,' he said, and the Wolf
came to him.

"'You are swift of foot and brave. Run
around this land I have made, that I may
know how large it is.'

"The Wolf started, and it took him half a
year to get back to the raft. He was very
poor from much running, too, but OLD-man
said the world wasn't big enough yet so he
blew some more, and again sent the Wolf out
to run around the land. He never came back
--no, the OLD-man had made it so big that the
Wolf died of old age before he got back to the
raft. Then all the people went out upon the
land to make their living, and they were
happy, there, too.

"After they had been on the land for a long
time OLD-man said: 'Now I shall make a man
and a woman, for I am lonesome living with
you people. He took two or three handfuls
of mud from the world he had made, and
moulded both a man and a woman. Then he
set them side by side and breathed upon them.
They lived!--and he made them very strong
and healthy--very beautiful to look upon.
Chippewas, he called these people, and they
lived happily on that world until a white man
saw an Eagle sailing over the land and came to
look about. He stole the woman--that white
man did; and that is where all the tribes came
from that we know to-day. None are pure of
blood but the two humans he made of clay,
and their own children. And they are the
Chippewas!

"That is a long story and now you must
hurry to bed. To-morrow night I will tell
you another story--Ho!"


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