Peboan And Seegwun An Allegory Of Winter And Spring





ODJIBWA.





An old man was sitting in his lodge, by the side of a frozen stream. It

was the close of winter, and his fire was almost out. He appeared very

old and very desolate. His locks were white with age, and he trembled

in every joint. Day after day passed in solitude, and he heard nothing

but the sounds of the tempest, sweeping before it the new-fallen snow.



One day, as his fire was just dying, a handsome young man approached

and entered his dwelling. His cheeks were red with the blood of youth,

his eyes sparkled with animation, and a smile played upon his lips. He

walked with a light and quick step. His forehead was bound with a

wreath of sweet grass, in place of a warrior's frontlet, and he carried

a bunch of flowers in his hand.



"Ah, my son," said the old man, "I am happy to see you. Come in. Come,

tell me of your adventures, and what strange lands you have been to

see. Let us pass the night together. I will tell you of my prowess and

exploits, and what I can perform. You shall do the same, and we will

amuse ourselves."



He then drew from his sack a curiously-wrought antique pipe, and having

filled it with tobacco, rendered mild by an admixture of certain

leaves, handed it to his guest. When this ceremony was concluded they

began to speak.



"I blow my breath," said the old man, "and the streams stand still. The

water becomes stiff and hard as clear stone."



"I breathe," said the young man, "and flowers spring up all over the

plains."



"I shake my locks," retorted the old man, "and snow covers the land.

The leaves fall from the trees at my command, and my breath blows them

away. The birds get up from the water, and fly to a distant land. The

animals hide themselves from my breath, and the very ground becomes as

hard as flint."



"I shake my ringlets," rejoined the young man, "and warm showers of

soft rain fall upon the earth. The plants lift up their heads out of

the earth, like the eyes of children glistening with delight. My voice

recalls the birds. The warmth of my breath unlocks the streams. Music

fills the groves wherever I walk, and all nature rejoices."



At length the sun began to rise. A gentle warmth came over the place.

The tongue of the old man became silent. The robin and bluebird began

to sing on the top of the lodge. The stream began to murmur by the

door, and the fragrance of growing herbs and flowers came softly on the

vernal breeze.



Daylight fully revealed to the young man the character of his

entertainer. When he looked upon him, he had the icy visage of

Peboan.[48] Streams began to flow from his eyes. As the sun increased,

he grew less and less in stature, and anon had melted completely away.

Nothing remained on the place of his lodge fire but the miskodeed,[49] a

small white flower, with a pink border, which is one of the earliest

species of northern plants.



[48] Winter.



[49] The Claytonia Virginica.





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