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Canadian Wonder Tales by  Cyrus MacMillan


 

 

THE MOON AND HIS FROG-WIFE

[96]

W
HEN Glooskap first reigned upon the earth, what is now the Moon shone by day and what is now the Sun shone by night. Their work was exactly opposite to what it is to-day, for the present Moon was then the Sun and the present Sun was then the Moon. The Moon was then very red and bright; the Sun was pale and silvery. At that time the Sun—the present Moon—kept very irregular hours, and was very careless about his work. Sometimes he rose very early in the morning and set very late at night; at other times he rose very late and went to bed very early. For weeks in the winter he refused to shine at all, and even when he did appear at his work he gave very little warmth and he might just as well have been covered in his clouds. The Moon—the present Sun—was, on the other hand, always faithful to his duties.

At last the people grew tired of the Sun's strange actions and irregularities. They protested loudly against his methods of work, until in the end they sent some of their number to complain to Glooskap. Glooskap rebuked the Sun, but the latter answered that he had done his work as well as he could, and that his accusers were merely his enemies. Glooskap had [97] really been too busy to notice the Sun's way of working; so, that he might treat all with fairness, he said to the accusers: "Charge the Sun formally and openly with neglect of his duty; I will call a great meeting of all my people; we will hold a trial to judge him; I myself will be the judge; whoever wants to give evidence may do so, and the Sun may make his defence." To this all the people and the Sun agreed.

Now, in those days the Sun had many wives. With some of them he was far from happy, for often they sorely tormented him and tried his patience, and a few of them he would gladly get rid of if he could. One of his scolding wives was Frog. She had a crumpled back and a wrinkled face and a harsh voice; she was always jumping about, and with her of all his wives he was on the least friendly terms. When she heard that her husband was to be tried before Glooskap on a serious charge, she wished to be present at the trial, for she was very inquisitive. But the Sun said, "This trial is for men, not for women; your place is at home and not in the courts of warriors; you must not come." The Frog-wife pleaded to be allowed to go, but the more she pleaded the more sternly the Sun refused his permission. However, being a woman, and not to be outdone by a man, she resolved to go to the trial whether her husband permitted it or not, and she decided to steal into the court quietly after the trial had commenced.

At last the day of the trial arrived. The great court-tent [98] was filled with Glooskap's people. In the centre of the platform sat Glooskap, and near him sat the Sun, eager to defend himself from the charges of his enemies. When the trial was well advanced, and the evidence had nearly all been taken, the Sun's Frog-wife appeared suddenly at the door. All the seats were filled, but Glooskap with his usual politeness arose to find her a place. But when the Sun saw her there contrary to his wishes, he was very angry. He looked at her sternly with a frown, making at her a wry, twisted face; and drawing down his right eyelid, he said to Glooskap, "Oh, Master, do not trouble yourself to find her a seat; let her sit on my eyelid; that is a good enough seat for her; she can hang on there well enough, for she always wants to stick to me and follow me wherever I go." And at once the Frog-wife jumped to his eyelid and sat there quite comfortably.


[Illustration]

THE GREAT COURT-TENT WAS FILLED WITH GLOOSCAP'S PEOPLE FOR THE SUN'S TRIAL.

Then the trial went on. Because of the Sun's clever defence of himself he was declared "not guilty" of the charges against him. It was decided by the judge, Glooskap,—and all the people, even the accusers, agreed—that under the circumstances he had done his work as well as he could, and that he deserved neither blame nor punishment. But at the close of the trial, when the Sun attempted to go back to his work, he could not get rid of his Frog-wife. He tried with all his might but he could not shake her off. She stuck fast to his eyelid and stubbornly refused to leave her seat, and she said that henceforth she would stay with him to see that he did [99] his work well. All the people pulled and tugged and coaxed, but they failed to move her. The strongest men in the land came, but even they could not pull her away. Then the people lamented and said to Glooskap: "She covers the side of the Sun's face and hinders his work; she makes him ugly; we must not have our Light of Day disfigured like this and bright on one side only; all the world will laugh at us. What are we to do?" And they were in great sorrow and distress.

But Glooskap in his wisdom found a way out of the difficulty. He said: "Be not troubled, O my people! We will make the Moon and the Sun exchange places; the Moon, who is still perfect and unharmed, shall become the Light of Day instead of Night, and shall take the name Sun. The Sun shall become the Light of Night instead of Day, and shall take the name Moon; for at night it will matter little if one side of his face is dark; and his Frog-wife hanging to his eyelid will by night be little noticed." To this the people all agreed. And so the Sun was changed with the Moon to shine by night, and the Moon was changed with the Sun to shine by day.

So now when the Moon—the old Sun—first appears at his work, he holds away from the earth the side of his face to which his Frog-wife is hanging, for he is very much ashamed of his appearance. And when he turns his head full upon the earth, you can still see, when the sky is clear, his black [100] Frog-wife hanging to his right eyelid and covering one side of his face. And always when his month's work is nearly done he turns his head abruptly in a frantic effort to shake her off, but he never succeeds. She hangs there always, and because of his Frog-wife's curiosity he shall never shine again by day.


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