Mukakee Mindemoea Or The Toad-woman


Great good luck once happened to a young woman who was living all alone

in the woods, with nobody near her but her little dog, for, to her

surprise, she found fresh meat every morning at her door. She felt very

anxious to know who it was that supplied her, and watching one morning,

very early, she saw a handsome young man deposit the meat. After his

being seen by her, he became her husband, and she had a son by him. One

day, not long after this, the man did not return at evening, as usual,

from hunting. She waited till late at night, but all in vain. Next day

she swung her baby to sleep in its tikenagun, or cradle, and then said

to her dog: "Take care of your brother whilst I am gone, and when he

cries, halloo for me." The cradle was made of the finest wampum, and

all its bandages and decorations were of the same costly material.

After a short time, the woman heard the cry of her faithful dog, and

running home as fast as she could, she found her child gone and the dog

too. But on looking round, she saw pieces of the wampum of her child's

cradle bit off by the dog, who strove to retain the child and prevent

his being carried off by an old woman called Mukakee Mindemoea, or the

Toad-Woman. The mother followed at full speed, and occasionally came to

lodges inhabited by old women, who told her at what time the thief had

passed; they also gave her shoes, that she might follow on. There were

a number of these old women, who seemed as if they were all

prophetesses. Each of them would say to her, that when she arrived in

pursuit of her stolen child at the next lodge, she must set the toes of

the moccasins they had loaned her pointing homewards, and they would

return of themselves. She would get others from her entertainers

further on, who would also give her directions how to proceed to

recover her son. She thus followed in the pursuit, from valley to

valley, and stream to stream, for months and years; when she came, at

length, to the lodge of the last of the friendly old Nocoes, or

grandmothers, as they were called, who gave her final instructions how

to proceed. She told her she was near the place where her son was, and

directed her to build a lodge of shin-goob, or cedar boughs, near the

old Toad-Woman's lodge, and to make a little bark dish and squeeze her

milk into it. "Then," she said, "your first child (meaning the dog)

will come and find you out." She did accordingly, and in a short time

she heard her son, now grown, going out to hunt, with his dog, calling

out to him, "Monedo Pewaubik (that is, Steel or Spirit Iron), Twee!

Twee!" She then set ready the dish and filled it with her milk. The dog

soon scented it and came into the lodge; she placed it before him.

"See, my child," said she, addressing him, "the food you used to have

from me, your mother." The dog went and told his young master that he

had found his real mother; and informed him that the old woman, whom

he called his mother, was not his mother, that she had stolen him

when an infant in his cradle, and that he had himself followed her in

hopes of getting him back. The young man and his dog then went on their

hunting excursion, and brought back a great quantity of meat of all

kinds. He said to his pretended mother, as he laid it down, "Send some

to the stranger that has arrived lately." The old hag answered, "No!

why should I send to her--the Sheegowish."[85] He insisted; and she at

last consented to take something, throwing it in at the door, with the

remark, "My son gives you, or feeds you this." But it was of such on

offensive nature that she threw it immediately out after her.

After this the young man paid the stranger a visit, at her lodge of

cedar boughs, and partook of her dish of milk. She then told him she

was his real mother, and that he had been stolen away from her by the

detestable Toad-Woman, who was a witch. He was not quite convinced. She

said to him, "Feign yourself sick, when you go home, and when the

Toad-Woman asks what ails you, say that you want to see your cradle;

for your cradle was of wampum, and your faithful brother, the dog, bit

a piece off to try and detain you, which I picked up, as I followed in

your track. They were real wampum, white and blue, shining and

beautiful." She then showed him the pieces. He went home and did as his

real mother bid him. "Mother," said he, "why am I so different in my

looks from the rest of your children?" "Oh," said she, "it was a very

bright clear blue sky when you were born; that is the reason." When the

Toad-Woman saw he was ill, she asked what she could do for him. He said

nothing would do him good, but the sight of his cradle. She ran

immediately and got a cedar cradle; but he said "That is not my

cradle." She went and got one of her own children's cradles (for she

had four), but he turned his head and said, "That is not mine." She

then produced the real cradle, and he saw it was the same, in

substance, with the pieces the other had shown him; and he was

convinced, for he could even see the marks of the dog's teeth upon it.

He soon got well, and went out hunting, and killed a fat bear. He and

his dog-brother then stripped a tall pine of all its branches, and

stuck the carcass on the top, taking the usual sign of his having

killed an animal--the tongue. He told the Toad-Woman where he had left

it, saying, "It is very far, even to the end of the earth." She

answered, "It is not so far but I can get it;" so off she set. As soon

as she was gone, the young man and his dog killed the Toad-Woman's

children, and staked them on each side of the door, with a piece of fat

in their mouths, and then went to his real mother and hastened her

departure with them. The Toad-Woman spent a long time in finding the

bear, and had much ado in climbing the tree to get down the carcass. As

she got near home, she saw the children looking out, apparently, with

the fat in their mouths, and was angry at them, saying, "Why do you

destroy the pomatum of your brother?" But her fury was great indeed,

when she saw they were killed and impaled. She ran after the fugitives

as fast as she could, and was near overtaking them, when the young man

said, "We are pressed hard, but let this stay her progress," throwing

his fire steel behind him, which caused the Toad-Woman to slip and fall

repeatedly. But still she pursued and gained on them, when he threw

behind him his flint, which again retarded her, for it made her slip

and stumble, so that her knees were bleeding; but she continued to

follow on, and was gaining ground, when the young man said, "Let the

Oshau shaw go min un (snake berry) spring up to detain her," and

immediately these berries spread like scarlet all over the path for a

long distance, which she could not avoid stooping down to pick and eat.

Still she went on, and was again advancing on them, when the young man

at last said to the dog, "Brother, chew her into mummy, for she plagues

us." So the dog, turning round, seized her and tore her to pieces, and

they escaped.

Mrs Hannah Smith Nurse Mukumik! Mukumik! Mukumik! facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail