Paup-puk-keewiss





The vernal equinox in the north, generally takes place while the ground

is covered with snow, and winter still wears a polar aspect. Storms of

wind and light drifting snow, expressively called poudre by the

French, and peewun by the Indians, fill the atmosphere, and render it

impossible to distinguish objects at a short distance. The fine powdery

flakes of snow are driven into the smallest crannies of buildings and

fixtures, and seem to be endowed with a subtle power of insinuation,

which renders northern joinerwork but a poor defence. It is not

uncommon for the sleeper, on waking up in the morning, to find heaps of

snow, where he had supposed himself quite secure on lying down.



Such seasons are, almost invariably, times of scarcity and hunger with

the Indians, for the light snows have buried up the traps of the

hunters, and the fishermen are deterred from exercising their customary

skill in decoying fish through orifices cut in the ice. They are often

reduced to the greatest straits, and compelled to exercise their utmost

ingenuity to keep their children from starving. Abstinence, on the part

of the elder members of the family, is regarded both as a duty and a

merit. Every effort is made to satisfy the importunity of the little

ones for food, and if there be a story-teller in the lodge, he is sure

to draw upon his cabin lore, to amuse their minds, and beguile the

time.



In these storms, when each inmate of the lodge has his conaus, or

wrapper, tightly drawn around him, and all are cowering around the

cabin fire, should some sudden puff of wind drive a volume of light

snow into the lodge, it would scarcely happen, but that some one of the

group would cry out, "Ah, Pauppukkeewiss is now gathering his harvest,"

an expression which has the effect to put them all into good humor.



Pauppukkeewiss was a crazy brain, who played many queer tricks, but

took care, nevertheless, to supply his family and children with food.

But, in this, he was not always successful. Many winters have passed

since he was overtaken; at this very season of the year, with great

want, and he, with his whole family, was on the point of starvation.

Every resource seemed to have failed. The snow was so deep, and the

storm continued so long, that he could not even find a partridge or a

hare. And his usual resource of fish had entirely failed. His lodge

stood in a point of woods, not far back from the shores of the

Gitchiguma, or great water, where the autumnal storms had piled up the

ice into high pinnacles, resembling castles.



"I will go," said he to his family one morning, "to these castles, and

solicit the pity of the spirits who inhabit them, for I know that they

are the residence of some of the spirits of Kabiboonoka." He did so,

and found that his petition was not disregarded. They told him to fill

his mushkemoot, or sack, with the ice and snow, and pass on toward his

lodge, without looking back, until he came to a certain hill. He must

then drop it and leave it till morning, when he would find it filled

with fish.



They cautioned him, that he must by no means look back, although he

would hear a great many voices crying out to him, in abusive terms, for

these voices were nothing but the wind playing through the branches of

the trees. He faithfully obeyed the injunction, although he found it

hard to avoid turning round, to see who was calling out to him. And

when he visited his sack in the morning, he found it filled with fish.



It chanced that Manabozho visited him on the morning that he brought

home the sack of fish. He was invited to partake of a feast, which

Pauppukkeewiss ordered to be prepared for him. While they were eating,

Manabozho could not help asking him, by what means he had procured such

an abundance of food, at a time when they were all in a state of

starvation.



Pauppukkeewiss frankly told him the secret, and repeated the

precautions which were necessary to insure success. Manabozho

determined to profit by his information, and as soon as he could, he

set out to visit the icy castles. All things happened as he had been

told. The spirits seemed propitious, and told him to fill and carry. He

accordingly filled his sacks with ice and snow, and proceeded rapidly

toward the hill of transmutation. But as he ran he heard voices calling

out behind him, "Thief! thief! He has stolen fish from Kabiboonoka,"

cried one. "Mukumik! mukumik! Take it away! Take it away!" cried

another.



In fine, his ears were so assailed by all manner of opprobrious terms,

that he could not avoid turning his head, to see who it was that thus

abused him. But his curiosity dissolved the charm. When he came to

visit his bags next morning, he found them filled with ice and snow. A

high drifting snow storm never fails to bring up this story. The origin

of this queer character is as queer as his acts are phantastic. The

myth asserts, that a man of large stature, and great activity of mind

and body, found himself standing alone on a prairie. He thought to

himself, "How came I here? Are there no beings on this earth but

myself? I must travel and see. I must walk till I find the abodes of

men." So soon as his mind was made up, he set out, he knew not where,

in search of habitations. No obstacles could divert him from his

purpose. Neither prairies, rivers, woods, nor storms had the effect to

daunt his courage or turn him back. After travelling a long time he

came to a wood, in which he saw decayed stumps of trees, as if they had

been cut in ancient times, but no other traces of men. Pursuing his

journey, he found more recent marks of the same kind; and after this,

he came to fresh traces of human beings; first their footsteps, and

then the wood they had cut, lying in heaps. Continuing on, he emerged

towards dusk from the forest, and beheld at a distance a large village

of high lodges, standing on rising ground. He said to himself, "I will

arrive there on a run." Off he started with all his speed; on coming to

the first large lodge, he jumped over it. Those within saw something

pass over the opening, and then heard a thump on the ground.



"What is that?" they all said.



One came out to see, and invited him in. He found himself in company

with an old chief and several men, who were seated in the lodge. Meat

was set before him, after which the chief asked him where he was going

and what his name was. He answered, that he was in search of

adventures, and his name was Paup-Puk-Keewiss. A stare followed.



"Paup-Puk-Keewiss!"[31] said one to another, and a general titter went

round.



He was not easy in his new position; the village was too small to give

him full scope for his powers, and after a short stay he made up his

mind to go farther, taking with him a young man who had formed a strong

attachment for him, and might serve him as his mesh-in-au-wa.[32] They

set out together, and when his companion was fatigued with walking, he

would show him a few tricks, such as leaping over trees, and turning

round on one leg till he made the dust fly, by which he was mightily

pleased, although it sometimes happened that the character of these

tricks frightened him.



One day they came to a very large village, where they were well

received. After staying in it some time, they were informed of a number

of manitoes who lived at a distance, and who made it a practice to kill

all who came to their lodge. Attempts had been made to extirpate them,

but the war-parties who went out for this purpose were always

unsuccessful. Paup-Puk-Keewiss determined to visit them, although he

was advised not to do so. The chief warned him of the danger of the

visit; but, finding him resolved,



"Well," said he, "if you will go, being my guest, I will send twenty

warriors to serve you."



He thanked him for the offer. Twenty young men were ready at the

instant, and they went forward, and in due time described the lodge of

the manitoes. He placed his friend and the warriors near enough to see

all that passed, while he went alone to the lodge. As he entered he saw

five horrid-looking manitoes in the act of eating. It was the father

and his four sons. They looked hideous; their eyes were swimming low in

their heads, as if half starved. They offered him something to eat,

which he refused.



"What have you come for?" said the old one.



"Nothing," Paup-Puk-Keewiss answered.



They all stared at him.



"Do you not wish to wrestle?" they all asked.



"Yes," he replied.



A hideous smile came over their faces.



"You go," they said to the eldest brother.



They got ready, and were soon clinched in each other's arms for a

deadly throw. He knew their object--his death--his flesh was all they

wanted, but he was prepared for them.



"Haw! haw!"[33] they cried, and soon the dust and dry leaves flew about

as if driven by a strong wind.



The manito was strong, but Paup-Puk-Keewiss soon found that he could

master him; and, giving him a trip, he threw him with a giant's force

head foremost on a stone, and he fell like a puffed thing.



The brothers stepped up in quick succession, but he put a number of

tricks in force, and soon the whole four lay bleeding on the ground.

The old manito got frightened and ran for his life. Paup-Puk-Keewiss

pursued him for sport; sometimes he was before him, sometimes flying

over his head. He would now give him a kick, then a push or a trip,

till he was almost exhausted. Meantime his friend and the warriors

cried out, "Ha! ha! a! ha! ha! a! Paup-Puk-Keewiss is driving him

before him." The manito only turned his head now and then to look back;

at last, Paup-Puk-Keewiss gave him a kick on his back, and broke his

back bone; down he fell, and the blood gushing out of his mouth

prevented him from saying a word. The warriors piled all the bodies

together in the lodge, and then took fire and burned them. They all

looked with deep interest at the quantity of human bones scattered

around.



Paup-Puk-Keewiss then took three arrows, and after having performed a

ceremony to the Great Spirit, he shot one into the air, crying, with a

loud voice,



"You who are lying down, rise up, or you will be hit!" The bones all

moved to one place. He shot the second arrow, repeating the same words,

when each bone drew towards its fellow-bone; the third arrow brought

forth to life the whole multitude of people who had been killed by the

manitoes. Paup-Puk-Keewiss then led them to the chief of the village

who had proved his friend, and gave them up to him. Soon after the

chief came with his counsellors.



"Who is more worthy," said he, "to rule than you? You alone can

defend them."



Paup-Puk-Keewiss thanked him, and told him he was in search of more

adventures. The chief insisted. Paup-Puk-Keewiss told him to confer the

chieftainship on his friend, who, he said, would remain while he went

on his travels. He told them that he would, some time or other, come

back and see them.



"Ho! ho! ho!" they all cried, "come back again and see us," insisting

on it. He promised them he would, and then set out alone.



After travelling some time he came to a large lake; on looking about,

he discovered a very large otter on an island. He thought to himself,

"His skin will make me a fine pouch," and immediately drew up, at long

shots, and drove an arrow into his side. He waded into the lake, and

with some difficulty dragged him ashore. He took out the entrails, and

even then the carcass was so heavy that it was as much as he could do

to drag it up a hill overlooking the lake. As soon as he got him up

into the sunshine, where it was warm, he skinned him, and threw the

carcass some distance, thinking the war-eagle would come, and he should

have a chance to get his skin and feathers as head ornaments. He soon

heard a rushing noise in the air, but could see nothing; by and by, a

large eagle dropped, as if from the air, on the otter's carcass. He

drew his bow, and the arrow passed through under both his wings. The

bird made a convulsive flight upwards with such force, that the heavy

carcass (which was nearly as big as a moose) was borne up several feet.

Fortunately, both claws were fastened deeply into the meat, the weight

of which soon brought the bird down. He skinned him, crowned his head

with the trophy, and next day was on his way, on the lookout for

something new.



After walking a while he came to a lake, which flooded the trees on its

banks; he found it was only a lake made by beavers. He took his station

on the elevated dam, where the stream escaped, to see whether any of

the beavers would show themselves. He soon saw the head of one peeping

out of the water to see who disturbed them.



"My friend," said Paup-Puk-Keewiss, "could you not turn me into a

beaver like yourself?" for he thought, if he could become a beaver, he

would see and know how these animals lived.



"I do not know," replied the beaver; "I will go and ask the others."



Soon all the beavers showed their heads above the water, and looked to

see if he was armed; but he had left his bow and arrows in a hollow

tree at a short distance. When they were satisfied, they all came near.



"Can you not, with all your united power," said he, "turn me into a

beaver? I wish to live among you."



"Yes," answered their chief; "lay down;" and he soon found himself

changed into one of them.



"You must make me large," said he; "larger than any of you."



"Yes, yes!" said they. "By and by, when we get into the lodge, it shall

be done."



In they all dove into the lake; and, in passing large heaps of limbs

and logs at the bottom, he asked the use of them; they answered, "It is

for our winter's provisions."[34] When they all got into the lodge,

their number was about one hundred. The lodge was large and warm.



"Now we will make you large," said they. "Will that do?" exerting

their power.



"Yes," he answered, for he found he was ten times the size of the

largest.



"You need not go out," said they. "We will bring your food into the

lodge, and you will be our chief."



"Very well," Paup-Puk-Keewiss answered. He thought, "I will stay here

and grow fat at their expense." But, soon after, one ran into the lodge

out of breath, saying, "We are visited by Indians." All huddled

together in great fear. The water began to lower, for the hunters had

broken down the dam, and they soon heard them on the roof of the lodge

breaking it up. Out jumped all the beavers into the water, and so

escaped. Paup-Puk-Keewiss tried to follow them; but, alas! they had

made him so large that he could not creep out of the hole. He tried to

call them back, but to no effect; he worried himself so much in trying

to escape, that he looked like a bladder. He could not turn himself

back into a man, although he heard and understood all the hunters said.

One of them put his head in at the top of the lodge.



"Ty-au!" cried he; "Tut Ty-au! Me-shau-mik--king of the beavers is

in." They all got at him, and knocked his skull till it was as soft as

his brains. He thought, as well as ever he did, although he was a

beaver. Seven or eight of them then placed his body on poles and

carried him home. As they went, he reflected in this manner: "What will

become of me? my ghost or shadow will not die after they get me to

their lodges." Invitations were immediately sent out for a grand feast.

The women took him out into the snow to skin him; but, as soon as his

flesh got cold, his Jee-bi went off.



Paup-Puk-Keewiss found himself standing near a prairie, having

reassumed his mortal shape. After walking a distance, he saw a herd of

elk feeding. He admired the apparent ease and enjoyment of their life,

and thought there could be nothing pleasanter than the liberty of

running about and feeding on the prairies. He asked them if they could

not turn him into their shape.



"Yes," they answered, after a pause. "Get down on your hands and feet."

And he soon found himself an elk.



"I want big horns, big feet," said he; "I wish to be very large."



"Yes! yes!" they said.



"There!" exerting their power; "are you big enough?"



"Yes!" he answered, for he saw that he was very large. They spent a

good time in grazing and running. Being rather cold one day, he went

into a thick wood for shelter, and was followed by most of the herd.

They had not been long there before some elks from behind passed the

others like a strong wind. All took the alarm, and off they ran, he

with the rest.



"Keep out on the plains," they said.



But he found it was too late, as they had already got entangled in the

thick woods. Paup-Puk-Keewiss soon smelt the hunters, who were closely

following his trail, for they had left all the others and followed him.

He jumped furiously, and broke down saplings in his flight, but it only

served to retard his progress. He soon felt an arrow in his side; he

jumped over trees in his agony, but the arrows clattered thicker and

thicker upon his sides, and at last one entered his heart. He fell to

the ground, and heard the whoop of triumph sounded by the hunters. On

coming up, they looked on the carcass with astonishment, and with their

hands up to their mouths exclaimed Ty-au! Ty-au! There were about sixty

in the party, who had come out on a special hunt, as one of their

number had, the day before, observed his large tracks on the plains.

After skinning him and his flesh getting cold, his Jee-bi took its

flight from the carcass, and he again found himself in human shape,

with a bow and arrows.



But his passion for adventure was not yet cooled; for, on coming to a

large lake with a sandy beach, he saw a large flock of brant, and,

speaking to them, asked them to turn him into a brant.



"Yes," they replied.



"But I want to be very large," he said.



"Very well," they answered; and he soon found himself a large brant,

all the others standing gazing in astonishment at his large size.



"You must fly as leader," they said.



"No," answered Paup-Puk-Keewiss, "I will fly behind."



"Very well," they said. "One thing more we have to say to you. You must

be careful, in flying, not to look down, for something may happen to

you."



"Well! it is so," said he; and soon the flock rose up into the air, for

they were bound north. They flew very fast, he behind. One day, while

going with a strong wind, and as swift as their wings could flap, while

passing over a large village, the Indians raised a great shout on

seeing them, particularly on Paup-Puk-Keewiss's account, for his wings

were broader than two large aupukwa.[35] They made such a noise, that

he forgot what had been told him, about looking down. They were now

going as swift as arrows; and, as soon as he brought his neck in and

stretched it down to look at the shouters, his tail was caught by the

wind, and over and over he was blown. He tried to right himself, but

without success. Down, down he went, making more turns than he wished

for, from a height of several miles. The first thing he knew was, that

he was jammed into a large hollow tree. To get back or forward was out

of the question, and there he remained till his brant life was ended by

starvation. His Jee-bi again left the carcass, and he once more found

himself in the shape of a human being.



Travelling was still his passion; and, while travelling, he came to a

lodge in which were two old men with heads white from age. They treated

him well, and he told them that he was going back to his village to see

his friends and people. They said they would aid him, and pointed out

the direction he should go; but they were deceivers. After walking all

day, he came to a lodge looking very much like the first, with two old

men in it with white heads. It was, in fact, the very same lodge, and

he had been walking in a circle; but they did not undeceive him,

pretending to be strangers, and saying, in a kind voice, "We will show

you the way." After walking the third day, and coming back to the same

place, he found them out in their tricks, for he had cut a notch on the

doorpost.



"Who are you," said he to them, "to treat me so?" and he gave one a

kick and the other a slap, which killed them. Their blood flew against

the rocks near the lodge, and this is the reason there are red streaks

in them to this day. He then burned their lodge down, and freed the

earth of two pretended good men, who were manitoes.



He then continued his journey, not knowing exactly which way to go. At

last he came to a big lake. He got on the highest hill to try and see

the opposite side, but he could not. He then made a canoe, and took a

sail into the lake. On looking into the water, which was very clear,

before he got to the abrupt depth, he saw the bottom covered with dark

fishes, numbers of which he caught. This inspired him with a wish to

return to his village and to bring his people to live near this lake.

He went on, and towards evening came to a large island, where he

encamped and ate the fish he had speared.



Next day he returned to the main land, and, in wandering along the

shore, he encountered a more powerful manito than himself, called

Manabozho. He thought best, after playing him a trick, to keep out of

his way. He again thought of returning to his village; and,

transforming himself into a partridge, took his flight towards it. In a

short time he reached it, and his return was welcomed with feastings

and songs. He told them of the lake and the fish, and persuaded them

all to remove to it, as it would be easier for them to live there. He

immediately began to remove them by short encampments, and all things

turned out as he had said. They caught abundance of fish. After this, a

messenger came for him in the shape of a bear, who said that their king

wished to see him immediately at his village. Paup-Puk-Keewiss was

ready in an instant; and, getting on to the messenger's back, off he

ran. Towards evening they went up a high mountain, and came to a cave

where the bear-king lived. He was a very large person, and made him

welcome by inviting him into his lodge. As soon as propriety allowed,

he spoke, and said that he had sent for him on hearing that he was the

chief who was moving a large party towards his hunting-grounds.



"You must know," said he, "that you have no right there. And I wish you

would leave the country with your party, or else the strongest force

will take possession."



"Very well," replied Paup-Puk-Keewiss. "So be it." He did not wish to

do anything without consulting his people; and besides, he saw that the

bear-king was raising a war party. He then told him he would go back

that night. The bear-king left him to do as he wished, but told him

that one of his young men was ready at his command; and, immediately

jumping on his back, Paup-Puk-Keewiss rode home. He assembled the

village, and told the young men to kill the bear, make a feast of it,

and hang the head outside the village, for he knew the bear spies would

soon see it, and carry the news to their chief.



Next morning Paup-Puk-Keewiss got all his young warriors ready for a

fight. After waiting one day, the bear war-party came in sight, making

a tremendous noise. The bear-chief advanced, and said that he did not

wish to shed the blood of the young warriors; but that if he,

Paup-Puk-Keewiss, consented, they two would have a race, and the winner

should kill the losing chief, and all his young men should be slaves to

the other. Paup-Puk-Keewiss agreed, and they ran before all the

warriors. He was victor, and came in first; but, not to terminate the

race too soon, he gave the bear-chief some specimens of his skill and

swiftness by forming eddies and whirlwinds with the sand, as he leaped

and turned about him. As the bear-chief came up, he drove an arrow

through him, and a great chief fell. Having done this, he told his

young men to take all those blackfish (meaning the bears), and tie them

at the door of each lodge, that they might remain in future to serve as

servants.



After seeing that all was quiet and prosperous in the village,

Paup-Puk-Keewiss felt his desire for adventure returning. He took a

kind leave of his friends and people, and started off again. After

wandering a long time, he came to the lodge of Manabozho, who was

absent. He thought he would play him a trick, and so turned everything

in the lodge upside down, and killed his chickens. Now Manabozho calls

all the fowls of the air his chickens; and among the number was a

raven, the meanest of birds, which Paup-Puk-Keewiss killed and hung up

by the neck to insult him. He then went on till he came to a very high

point of rocks running out into the lake, from the top of which he

could see the country back as far as the eye could reach. While sitting

there, Manabozho's mountain chickens flew round and past him in great

numbers. So, out of spite, he shot them in great numbers, for his

arrows were sure and the birds very plenty, and he amused himself by

throwing the birds down the rocky precipice. At length a wary bird

cried out, "Paup-Puk-Keewiss is killing us. Go and tell our father."

Away flew a delegation of them, and Manabozho soon made his appearance

on the plain below. Paup-Puk-Keewiss made his escape on the opposite

side. Manabozho cried out from the mountain--



"The earth is not so large but I can get up to you." Off

Paup-Puk-Keewiss ran, and Manabozho after him. He ran over hills and

prairies with all his speed, but still saw his pursuer hard after him.

He thought of this expedient. He stopped and climbed a large pine-tree,

stripped it of all its green foliage, and threw it to the winds, and

then went on. When Manabozho reached the spot, the tree addressed him.



"Great chief," said the tree, "will you give me my life again?

Paup-Puk-Keewiss has killed me."



"Yes," replied Manabozho; and it took him some time to gather the

scattered foliage, and then renewed the pursuit. Paup-Puk-Keewiss

repeated the same thing with the hemlock, and with various other trees,

for Manabozho would always stop to restore what he had destroyed. By

this means he got in advance; but Manabozho persevered, and was fast

overtaking him, when Paup-Puk-Keewiss happened to see an elk. He asked

him to take him on his back, which the elk did, and for some time he

made great progress, but still Manabozho was in sight. Paup-Puk-Keewiss

dismounted, and, coming to a large sandstone rock, he broke it in

pieces and scattered the grains. Manabozho was so close upon him at

this place that he had almost caught him; but the foundation of the

rock cried out,



"Haye! Ne-me-sho, Paup-Puk-Keewiss has spoiled me. Will you not restore

me to life?"



"Yes," replied Manabozho; and he restored the rock to its previous

shape. He then pushed on in the pursuit of Paup-Puk-Keewiss, and had

got so near as to put out his arm to seize him; but Paup-Puk-Keewiss

dodged him, and immediately raised such a dust and commotion by

whirlwinds as made the trees break, and the sand and leaves dance in

the air. Again and again Manabozho's hand was put out to catch him; but

he dodged him at every turn, and kept up such a tumult of dust, that in

the thickest of it, he dashed into a hollow tree which had been blown

down, and changed himself into a snake, and crept out at the roots.

Well that he did; for at the moment he had got out, Manabozho, who is

Ogee-bau-ge-mon,[36] struck it with his power, and it was in fragments.

Paup-Puk-Keewiss was again in human shape; again Manabozho pressed him

hard. At a distance he saw a very high bluff of rock jutting out into

the lake, and ran for the foot of the precipice, which was abrupt and

elevated. As he came near, the local manito of the rock opened his door

and told him to come in. The door was no sooner closed than Manabozho

knocked.



"Open it!" he cried, with a loud voice.



The manito was afraid of him, but he said to his guest--



"Since I have sheltered you, I would sooner die with you than open the

door.



"Open it!" Manabozho again cried.



The manito kept silent. Manabozho, however, made no attempt to open it

by force. He waited a few moments. "Very well," he said; "I give you

only till night to live." The manito trembled, for he knew he would be

shut up under the earth.



Night came. The clouds hung low and black, and every moment the forked

lightning would flash from them. The black clouds advanced slowly, and

threw their dark shadows afar, and behind there was heard the rumbling

noise of the coming thunder. As they came near to the precipice, the

thunders broke, the lightning flashed, the ground shook, and the solid

rocks split, tottered, and fell. And under their ruins where crushed

the mortal bodies of Paup-Puk-Keewiss and the manito.



It was only then that Paup-Puk-Keewiss found he was really dead. He had

been killed in different animal shapes; but now his body, in human

shape, was crushed. Manabozho came and took their Jee-bi-ug, or

spirits.



"You," said he to Paup-Puk-Keewiss, "shall not be again permitted to

live on the earth. I will give you the shape of the war-eagle, and you

will be the chief of all fowls, and your duty shall be to watch over

their destinies."





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