The Humpbacked Manitou





Bokwewa and his brother lived in a lodge in the forest, far away from

the rest of the world. They were both Manitous and could do many

wonderful things. Bokwewa had the most gifts and knew all the secrets

of the woods, but his body was deformed. The brother was very

handsome. His body was very straight, and he could run and do many

things that Bokwewa could not do. But he was not as wise as the

humpbacked Manitou. Bokwewa used to tell his brother how to hunt and

shoot and fish. Then the brother would go and get the food, and bring

it back to the lodge. Bokwewa did not go out very much, of course.



One day the brother said, "Bokwewa, I am tired of living so quietly.

Where are all the rest of the people? I am going away to find them and

to get a wife."



Bokwewa tried to coax him not to go, but the brother was determined.

He made ready for his journey, and departed. In a few days he

returned, bringing a beautiful maiden with him. Bokwewa was very kind

to His brother's wife and she was good to him, so they became great

friends. One day the brother was away hunting. Bokwewa was sitting by

one side of the fire in the lodge; the wife was sitting on the other

side. Suddenly the door was opened, and a strong, tall man entered.

He seized the maiden and began to pull her to the door. She screamed,

and tried to get away from him; but he held her fast. Bokwewa pulled

and fought with all his strength. The tall man pushed him against the

door and hurt his back. Then he dashed out with the maiden, and took

her away with him.



When the brother returned, he found Bokwewa weeping with sorrow; and

when he heard what had happened, he wept also. Bokwewa tried to

comfort him, but the brother only lay on the bed, refusing to eat

anything, and weeping bitterly. For several days he stayed there. At

length he arose and said, "Bokwewa, I am going to the village where

that mighty Manitou lives. He has stolen my wife."



"Oh, do not go," said Bokwewa, "for that village is many miles to the

south. The people who live there are idle and know only of pleasure.

They have many snares set by the roadside to catch you. Do not try to

go amongst them, for you will become like them and think only of

pleasure."



"I am not afraid of anything," said the brother. "I must go."



"Well, then," said Bokwewa, "I shall tell you of two dangers that lie

in the path. When you first start, you will find a grape-vine across

your path. Do not eat any of its fruit, for it is poisonous. It will

make you become very careless. Then, farther on you will come across

something that looks like bear's fat. It is clear, like jelly. Do not

eat of it, for it is frogs' eggs and will make you forget your home."



The brother promised to remember these warnings, and set out for the

village.



He had not gone very far when he noticed a grape-vine lying across the

road. The grapes were beautiful and juicy, so he ate some. Some

distance on he came to a jellylike mass, and he ate it. This was the

frogs' eggs, and he at once forgot his home and brother, and even his

wife. He travelled on for two days, and towards evening came in sight

of the large village. The people in it seemed to be having a good

time. Some were dancing and singing, and many of the women were

beating corn in golden dishes. When they saw him coming, they ran out,

shouting, "Here comes Bokwewa's brother to visit us."



They welcomed him with joy, and led him into the village. In a short

time he was beating corn with the women. That is the surest sign to

the Indians that a warrior has lost his bravery.



Days and weeks went by, and still he did not try to find his wife,

although she was living in that same village. Bokwewa waited at home,

hoping each day that his brother would return. At length, when some

years had gone by, he set out to find him. As he travelled along the

same road, he passed the grape-vine and the frogs' eggs. But they held

no danger for him, as he did not taste them. When he came in sight of

the village, he felt sorry for the people, who were wasting their lives

in idle games and other pleasures. As he came closer, the people ran

out, shouting, "Oh, Bokwewa has come to visit us! The good Bokwewa of

whom we have heard so much! Welcome to our village!"



Bokwewa entered with them and found his brother. He was still beating

corn with the women, and seemed very happy. Bokwewa coaxed him to come

home, but he would not listen. He seemed content to stay there and do

no work. This made Bokwewa very sorry, for he knew his brother was no

longer a brave warrior. When evening came Bokwewa went down to the

riverside. There he changed himself into one of those hair snakes

sometimes seen in running water. After a while, the wife came down

with a pitcher to get some water.



"Pick me up," said the hair snake, "and leave me in your pitcher."



The wife did as she was told, and took the pitcher to her lodge.



That night the Manitou who had stolen her wanted a drink. In the dark

he did not see the hair snake in the water, so drank it. In a few

minutes he was dead. Then Bokwewa returned to his former shape. He

went again to his brother and tried to make him come home. But the

brother refused. Bokwewa told him that these pleasures would not last

forever, and his tears fell as he saw that his brother would not come.

So he said good-bye to him and disappeared.



After Bokwewa had gone, the brother seemed to remember parts of his

past life. He looked around and saw his wife at a little distance. At

once he remembered everything, and going to her, he wept and begged her

to forgive him and his neglect. She kissed him fondly, and then hand

in hand they walked away from the treacherous land of pleasure, back to

the lodge where Bokwewa waited for them.





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