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Shingebiss






Source: Thirty Indian Legends

Once there was a little duck, whose name was Shingebiss. He lived by
himself in a small lodge, and was very contented and happy. This lodge
was built on the shore of a lake. When the cold winter days came, and
the lake was frozen over, all the other ducks flew away to a warmer
land. But Shingebiss was not afraid of the cold. He gathered four
large logs and took them into his lodge. Each log was big enough to
burn for a month, and as there were only four cold months, there would
be enough to last him through the winter.

Then each morning he would go to the lake, and hunt for places where
the rushes came through the ice. He would pull these out with his
strong beak, and catch fish through the openings.

Kabibonokka, the north wind, saw him, and said to himself, "What a
strange person this is. He sings and is out on the coldest days. But
I shall stop his singing."

So he blew a cold blast from the north-west, which froze the ice on the
lake much deeper. Still Shingebiss came out in the morning, caught his
fish, and went home singing.

"How strange," said the north wind, "I cannot freeze him; I shall go
and visit his lodge. Perhaps I can put out his fire."

So he went and knocked at the door of the lodge. Shingebiss was
within. He had cooked and eaten his fish, and now was lying on one
side in front of the fire, singing a song. He heard the north wind at
the door, but he pretended that he did not. He went on singing in
quite a loud voice:

"Windy god, I know your plan,
You are but my fellow-man.
Blow you may your coldest breeze,
Shingebiss yon cannot freeze;
Sweep the strongest wind you can,
Shingebiss is still your man.
Heigh, for life--ho, for bliss,
Who so free as Shingebiss?"


The north wind heard him and was very angry. He blew his coldest blast
under the doorway, Shingebiss felt it, but still went on singing. Then
the north wind opened the door, and walked in. He took a seat beside
the fire, and Shingebiss pretended not to see him. He just went on
singing, and after a while took his poker and stirred the logs. This
made them blaze brightly, and in a few minutes tears began to run down
Kabibonokka's cheeks. He pushed his chair away from the fire and tried
to blow his icy breath on the blazing log. But the warm air pushed the
cold breeze back and wrapped Kabibonokka around like a cloak. The
tears were running in streams down his cheeks now, and the heavy frost
on his long beard and hair had melted and made pools of water on the
floor. He could stand it no longer. Rising, he hastily passed out the
door, saying to himself, "I cannot put out his fire, but I shall freeze
the lake so deep that he will not be able to catch any more fish."

So that night he blew his coldest breath. Next morning the ice on the
lake was very thick. Brave little Shingebiss went from one place to
another trying to find a thin spot. At last a bunch of rushes came out
as he pulled, and, looking in the hole, he saw several fine fish. He
sang merrily as he caught them, and the north wind heard the song.
Looking out of his lodge, he saw what Shingebiss was doing. At first
he was very angry, then he began to feel afraid.

"This duck must be helped by some Manitou," he said. "I shall leave
him in peace after this."

Then Kabibonokka went in and closed his lodge door and Shingebiss never
saw him again.





Next: The Queer Little Animal

Previous: The Sleep Fairies



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