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Bosh-kwa-dosh Or The Mastodon

Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha

There was once a man who found himself alone in the world. He knew not
whence he came, nor who were his parents, and he wandered about from
place to place, in search of something. At last he became wearied and
fell asleep. He dreamed that he heard a voice saying, "Nosis," that is,
my grandchild. When he awoke, he actually heard the word repeated, and
looking around, he saw a tiny little animal hardly big enough to be
seen on the plain. While doubting whether the voice could come from
such a diminutive source, the little animal said to him, "My grandson,
you will call me Bosh-kwa-dosh. Why are you so desolate? Listen to me,
and you shall find friends and be happy. You must take me up and bind
me to your body, and never put me aside, and success in life shall
attend you." He obeyed the voice, sewing up the little animal in the
folds of a string, or narrow belt, which he tied around his body, at
his navel. He then set out in search of some one like himself, or other
object. He walked a long time in the woods without seeing man or
animal. He seemed all alone in the world. At length he came to a place
where a stump was cut, and on going over a hill he descried a large
town in a plain. A wide road led through the middle of it; but what
seemed strange was, that on one side there were no inhabitants in the
lodges, while the other side was thickly inhabited. He walked boldly
into the town.

The inhabitants came out and said: "Why here is the being we have heard
so much of--here is Anish-in-a-ba. See his eyes, and his teeth in a
half circle--see the Wyaukenawbedaid! See his bowels, how they are
formed;"--for it seems they could look through him. The king's son, the
Mudjekewis, was particularly kind to him, and calling him
brother-in-law, commanded that he should be taken to his father's lodge
and received with attention. The king gave him one of his daughters.
These people (who are supposed to be human, but whose rank in the scale
of being is left equivocal) passed much of their time in play and
sports and trials of various, kinds. When some time had passed, and he
become refreshed and rested, he was invited to join in these sports.
The first test which they put him to, was the trial of frost. At some
distance was a large body of frozen water, and the trial consisted in
lying down naked on the ice, and seeing who could endure the longest.
He went out with two young men, who began, by pulling off their
garments, and lying down on their faces. He did likewise, only keeping
on the narrow magic belt with the tiny little animal sewed in it; for
he felt that in this alone was to be his reliance and preservation. His
competitors laughed and tittered during the early part of the night,
and amused themselves by thoughts of his fate. Once they called out to
him, but he made no reply. He felt a manifest warmth given out by his
belt. About midnight, finding they were still, he called out to them,
in return, "What!" said he, "are you benumbed already? I am but just
beginning to feel a little cold." All was silence. He, however, kept
his position till early day break, when he got up and went to them.
They were both quite dead, and frozen so hard, that the flesh had
bursted out under their finger nails, and their teeth stood out. As he
looked more closely, what was his surprise to find them both
transformed into buffalo cows. He tied them together, and carried them
towards the village. As he came in sight, those who had wished his
death were disappointed, but the Mudjekewis, who was really his friend,
rejoiced. "See!" said he, "but one person approaches--it is my
brother-in-law." He then threw down the carcasses in triumph, but it
was found that by their death he had restored two inhabitants to the
before empty lodges, and he afterwards perceived that every one of
these beings, whom he killed, had the like effect, so that the
depopulated part of the village soon became filled with people.

The next test they put him to, was the trial of speed. He was
challenged to the race ground, and began his career with one whom he
thought to be a man; but everything was enchanted here, for he soon
discovered that his competitor was a large black bear. The animal
outran him, tore up the ground, and sported before him, and put out its
large claws as if to frighten him. He thought of his little guardian
spirit in the belt, and wishing to have the swiftness of the Kakake,
i.e. sparrowhawk, he found himself rising from the ground, and with
the speed of this bird he outwent his rival, and won the race, while
the bear came up exhausted and lolling out his tongue. His friend the
Mudjekewis stood ready, with his war-club, at the goal, and the moment
the bear came up, dispatched him. He then turned to the assembly, who
had wished his friend and brother's death, and after reproaching them,
he lifted up his club and began to slay them on every side. They fell
in heaps on all sides; but it was plain to be seen, the moment they
fell, that they were not men, but animals--foxes, wolves, tigers,
lynxes, and other kinds, lay thick around the Mudjekewis.

Still the villagers were not satisfied. They thought the trial of frost
had not been fairly accomplished, and wished it repeated. He agreed to
repeat it, but being fatigued with the race, he undid his guardian
belt, and laying it under his head, fell asleep. When he awoke, he felt
refreshed, and feeling strong in his own strength, he went forward to
renew the trial on the ice, but quite forgot the belt, nor did it at
all occur to him when he awoke, or when he lay down to repeat the
trial. About midnight his limbs became stiff, the blood soon ceased to
circulate, and he was found in the morning a stiff corpse. The victors
took him up and carried him to the village, where the loudest tumult of
victorious joy was made, and they cut his body into a thousand pieces,
that each one might eat a piece.

The Mudjekewis bemoaned his fate, but his wife was inconsolable. She
lay in a state of partial distraction, in the lodge. As she lay here,
she thought she heard some one groaning. It was repeated through the
night, and in the morning she carefully scanned the place, and running
her fingers through the grass, she discovered the secret belt, on the
spot where her husband had last reposed. "Aubishin!" cried the
belt--that is, untie me, or unloose me. Looking carefully, she found
the small seam which inclosed the tiny little animal. It cried out the
more earnestly, "Aubishin!" and when she had carefully ripped the
seams, she beheld, to her surprise, a minute, naked little beast,
smaller than the smallest new-born mouse, without any vestige of hair,
except at the tip of its tail; it could crawl a few inches, but reposed
from fatigue. It then went forward again. At each movement it would
pupowee, that is to say, shake itself like a dog, and at each shake
it became larger. This it continued until it acquired the strength and
size of a middle sized dog, when it ran off.

The mysterious dog ran to the lodges, about the village, looking for
the bones of his friend, which he carried to a secret place, and as
fast as he found them arranged all in their natural order. At length he
had formed all the skeleton complete, except the heel bone of one foot.
It so happened that two sisters were out of camp, according to custom,
at the time the body was cut up, and this heel was sent out to them.
The dog hunted every lodge, and being satisfied that it was not to be
found in the camp, he sought it outside of it, and found the lodge of
the two sisters. The younger sister was pleased to see him, and admired
and patted the pretty dog, but the elder sat mumbling the very
heel-bone he was seeking, and was surly and sour, and repelled the dog,
although he looked most wistfully up in her face, while she sucked the
bone from one side of her mouth to the other. At last she held it in
such a manner that it made her cheek stick out, when the dog, by a
quick spring, seized the cheek, and tore cheek and bone away and fled.

He now completed the skeleton, and placing himself before it, uttered a
hollow, low, long-drawn-out howl, when the bones came compactly
together. He then modulated his howl, when the bones knit together and
became tense. The third howl brought sinews upon them, and the fourth,
flesh. He then turned his head upwards, looking into the sky, and gave
a howl, which caused every one in the village to startle, and the
ground itself to tremble, at which the breath entered into his body,
and he first breathed and then arose. "Hy kow!" I have overslept
myself, he exclaimed; "I will be too late for the trial." "Trial!" said
Bosh-kwa-dosh, "I told you never to let me be separate from your body,
you have neglected this. You were defeated, and your frozen body cut
into a thousand pieces, and scattered over the village; but my skill
has restored you. Now I will declare myself to you, and show who and
what I am!"

He then began to Pupowee, or shake himself, and at every shake, he grew.
His body became heavy and massy, his legs thick and long, with big
clumsy ends, or feet. He still shook himself, and rose and swelled. A
long snout grew from his head, and two great shining teeth out of his
mouth. His skin remained as it was, naked, and only a tuft of hair grew
on his tail. He rose up as high as the trees. He was enormous. "I should
fill the earth," said he, "were I to exert my utmost power, and all
there is on the earth would not satisfy me to eat. Neither could it
fatten me or do me good. I should want more. The Great Spirit created me
to show his power when there were nothing but animals on the earth. But
were all animals as large as myself, there would not be grass enough for
food. But the earth was made for man, and not for beasts. I give some of
those great gifts which I possess. All the animals shall be your food,
and you are no longer to flee before them, and be their sport and food."
So saying, he walked off with heavy steps and with fierce looks, at
which all the little animals trembled.

Next: The Sun-catcher Or Boy Who Set A Snare For The Sun

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