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Canadian Wonder Tales by  Cyrus MacMillan


 

 

THE BOY AND HIS THREE HELPERS

[120]

A
N Indian boy lived alone with his parents in the Canadian forest. His parents were very old, and the boy took care of them and hunted and provided them with food. He was always kind to them, and they told him that because of his goodness to them he would never lack happiness and good fortune. But soon his parents died, and the boy was left alone in the world. He lived far from other people, and now that his parents were gone, he decided to leave his old home and find friends elsewhere. One day before he left home, while he was hunting he killed a raven with his arrow. When he picked up the bird from the snow it was bleeding, and red blood stained his black, glossy feathers. He looked at the dead bird and said, "I wish I could find a comrade whose hair is as black as the raven's wing, whose skin is as white as the snow, and whose lips are as red as these blood stains." As he spoke, an old man came along and said, "I will help you to find such a comrade. I have heard of your goodness." So he gave the boy a belt and told him to wear it always, and that it would bring to him those who could help him. Then he went away and the boy went back to his own home.

[121] The next day he left his old home and set out to see the world beyond the hills. He was not merry as he went on his way, for he did not gladly leave all behind him. As he went along he met a man on the trail. One of the man's legs was bent up at the knee, and his foot was tied to his thigh, and he hopped along on one foot. The boy said, "Why are you hopping along on one foot?" The man said, "If I did not tie up my leg, I would run so fast that I would be around the world in a few seconds. I know that you are in search of a beautiful comrade. I have come to go along with you." Then he untied his leg, and in a moment he was out of sight. In a few seconds he came back from the opposite direction. He had been around the world. So the man and the boy went along together.

The next day they met a man on the trail with his nose covered up. The boy said, "Why do you keep your nose covered?" The man said, "If I did not keep my nostrils covered, I would blow so hard that there would always be a whirlwind where I am. You are in search of a beautiful comrade. I have come to help you." Then he uncovered his nostrils, and at once there was such a wind that trees were torn down and the man and the boy were knocked head over heels. So the three went along together.

The next day they saw a man in the forest who was cutting down a hundred trees with one blow of his axe. He said to the boy, "You are in search of a beautiful comrade. [122] I have come to help you." So the four went along together. Soon they came to a village where a great chief lived. The chief had a beautiful daughter; her skin was as white as snow, her lips were as red as blood, and her hair was as black and glossy as the raven's wing. The boy said, "She shall be my comrade. I must win her." So he went to the chief and made known to him his wishes. But the chief said, "The task of winning my daughter is difficult and dangerous. The men of your party must do very hard feats of strength. If they fail, they shall all be put to death. If they succeed, you may have my daughter. But I do not want to give her to a stranger." The boy agreed to attempt the difficult feats and to risk his life and the lives of his party in the effort.


[Illustration]

THE CHIEF HAD A BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER.

The first feat was a test of speed between one of the boy's party and one of the chief's. The boy untied his friend's leg, and the two rival runners set out on their race. They were to run around the world. The boy's runner came in far ahead and won the race. The next feat was a test of strength in moving rocks down a mountain side. The boy took the Wind-Blower to the mountain top. He uncovered his nostrils, and the contest began. The Wind-Blower blew so hard that the rocks on his side of the hill were all blown down in an instant, and he won the contest. Then the chief said, "The next and last contest is a test of skill and strength in building a house from trees in the forest. I want to see how quickly you can build a house for my daughter." Then the Pine [123] Chopper went to work, striving with the chief's builder. With one blow of his axe he felled a hundred trees. Then he trimmed them, and he had the house completed before his rival had trees enough cut down. Then the chief said, "You may take my daughter."

After the wedding feast the four men and the bride set out on their journey home. The chief gave them a canoe and told them to go home by sea as the way was shorter. So one morning they set out. But when they were far out on the ocean, they saw a great storm coming behind them on the water. The chief had sent it after them; he hoped to drown them all, for he would rather see his daughter dead than wedded to a stranger. But before it reached them, the Wind-Blower rose in the canoe, and uncovered his nostrils and began to blow. Soon his breath met the wind-storm and there was a great struggle. But he soon overcame the storm and forced it back. The sea around them remained calm, and they reached the land unharmed. Then the Pine Chopper built a house for the boy and his bride. The boy thanked his three friends for their help. They told him that if he ever needed them again they would come quickly to his aid. Then they went on their way. The boy and his bride lived happily in their new home. But he always kept the old man's belt near him to aid him in times of need.


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