Puck Wudj Ininees Or The Vanishing Little Men


There was a time when all the inhabitants of the earth had died,

excepting two helpless children, a baby boy and a little girl. When

their parents died, these children were asleep. The little girl, who

was the elder, was the first to wake. She looked around her, but seeing

nobody besides her little brother, who lay asleep, she quietly resumed

her bed. At the end of ten days her brother moved without opening his

eyes. At the end of ten days more he changed his position, lying on the

other side.

The girl soon grew up to woman's estate, but the boy increased in

stature very slowly. It was a long time before he could even creep. When

he was able to walk, his sister made him a little bow and arrows, and

suspended around his neck a small shell, saying, you shall be called

Wa-Dais-Ais-Imid, or He of the Little Shell. Every day he would go out

with his little bow, shooting at the small birds. The first bird he

killed was a tomtit. His sister was highly pleased when he took it to

her. She carefully skinned and stuffed it, and put it away for him. The

next day he killed a red squirrel. His sister preserved this too. The

third day he killed a partridge (Peena), which she stuffed and set up.

After this, he acquired more courage, and would venture some distance

from home. His skill and success as a hunter daily increased, and he

killed the deer, bear, moose, and other large animals inhabiting the

forest. In fine he became a great hunter.

He had now arrived to maturity of years, but remained a perfect infant

in stature. One day, walking about, he came to a small lake. It was in

the winter season. He saw a man on the ice killing beavers. He appeared

to be a giant. Comparing himself to this great man he appeared no

bigger than an insect. He seated himself on the shore, and watched his

movements. When the large man had killed many beavers, he put them on a

hand sled which he had, and pursued his way home. When he saw him

retire, he followed him, and wielding his magic shell, cut off the tail

of one of the beavers, and ran home with his trophy. When the tall

stranger reached his lodge, with his sled load of beavers, he was

surprised to find the tail of one of them gone, for he had not observed

the movements of the little hero of the shell.

The next day Wa-Dis-Ais-Imid, went to the same lake. The man had

already fixed his load of beavers on his odaw'bon, or sled, and

commenced his return. But he nimbly ran forward, and overtaking him,

succeeded, by the same means, in securing another of the beaver's

tails. When the man saw that he had lost another of this most esteemed

part of the animal, he was very angry. I wonder, said he, what dog it

is, that has thus cheated me. Could I meet him, I would make his flesh

quiver at the point of my lance. Next day he pursued his hunting at the

beaver dam near the lake, and was followed again by the little man of

the shell. On this occasion the hunter had used so much expedition,

that he had accomplished his object, and nearly reached his home,

before our tiny hero could overtake him. He nimbly drew his shell and

cut off another beaver's tail. In all these pranks, he availed himself

of his power of invisibility, and thus escaped observation. When the

man saw that the trick had been so often repeated, his anger was

greater than ever. He gave vent to his feelings in words. He looked

carefully around to see whether he could discover any tracks. But he

could find none. His unknown visitor had stepped so lightly as to leave

no track.

Next day he resolved to disappoint him by going to his beaver pond very

early. When Wa-Dais-Ais-Imid reached the place, he found the fresh

traces of his work, but he had already returned. He followed his tracks,

but failed to overtake him. When he came in sight of the lodge the

stranger was in front of it, employed in skinning his beavers. As he

stood looking at him, he thought, I will let him see me. Presently the

man, who proved to be no less a personage than Manabozho, looked up and

saw him. After regarding him with attention, "Who are you, little man,"

said Manabozho. "I have a mind to kill you." The little hero of the

shell replied, "If you were to try to kill me you could not do it."

When he returned home he told his sister that they must separate. "I

must go away," said he, "it is my fate. You too," he added, "must go

away soon. Tell me where you would wish to dwell." She said, "I would

like to go to the place of the breaking of daylight. I have always

loved the east. The earliest glimpses of light are from that quarter,

and it is, to my mind, the most beautiful part of the heavens. After I

get there, my brother, whenever you see the clouds in that direction of

various colors, you may think that your sister is painting her face."

"And I," said he, "my sister, shall live on the mountains and rocks.

There I can see you at the earliest hour, and there the streams of water

are clear, and the air pure. And I shall ever be called Puck Wudj

Ininee, or the little wild man of the mountains."

"But," he resumed, "before we part forever, I must go and try to find

some Manitoes." He left her, and travelled over the surface of the

globe, and then went far down into the earth. He had been treated well

wherever he went. At last he found a giant Manito, who had a large

kettle which was forever boiling. The giant regarded him with a stern

look, and then took him up in his hand, and threw him unceremoniously

into the kettle. But by the protection of his personal spirit, he was

shielded from harm, and with much ado got out of it and escaped. He

returned to his sister, and related his rovings and misadventures. He

finished his story by addressing her thus: "My sister, there is a

Manito, at each of the four corners of the earth.[45] There is also one

above them, far in the sky; and last," continued he, "there is another,

and wicked one, who lives deep down in the earth. We must now separate.

When the winds blow from the four corners of the earth you must then

go. They will carry you to the place you wish. I go to the rocks and

mountains, where my kindred will ever delight to dwell." He then took

his ball stick, and commenced running up a high mountain, whooping as

he went. Presently the winds blew, and, as he predicted, his sister was

borne by them to the eastern sky, where she has ever since been, and

her name is the Morning Star.

Blow, winds, blow! my sister lingers

For her dwelling in the sky,

Where the morn, with rosy fingers,

Shall her cheeks with vermil dye.

There, my earliest views directed,

Shall from her their color take,

And her smiles, through clouds reflected,

Guide me on, by wood or lake.

While I range the highest mountains,

Sport in valleys green and low,

Or beside our Indian fountains

Raise my tiny hip holla.

[45] The opinion that the earth is a square and level plain, and

that the winds blow from its four corners, is a very ancient

eastern opinion.

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