The Journey To The Island Of Souls





Once upon a time there lived in the nation of the Chippeways a most

beautiful maiden, the flower of the wilderness, the delight and wonder

of all who saw her. She was called the Rock-rose, and was beloved by a

youthful hunter, whose advances gained her affection. No one was like

the brave Outalissa in her eyes: his deeds were the greatest, his

skill was the most wonderful. It was not permitted them, however, to

become the inhabitants of one lodge. Death came to the flower of the

Chippeways. In the morning of her days she died, and her body was laid

in the dust with the customary rites of burial. All mourned for her,

but Outalissa was a changed man. No more did he find delight in the

chase or on the war-path. He grew sad, shunned the society of his

brethren. He stood motionless as a tree in the hour of calm, as the

wave that is frozen up by the breath of the cold wind.



Joy came no more to him. He told his discontent in the ears of his

people, and spoke of his determination to seek his beloved maiden. She

had but removed, he said, as the birds fly away at the approach of

winter, and it required but due diligence on his part to find her.

Having prepared himself, as a hunter makes ready for a long journey,

he armed himself with his war-spear and bow and arrow, and set out to

the Land of Souls.



Directed by the old tradition of his fathers, he travelled south to

reach that region, leaving behind him the great star. As he moved

onwards, he found a more pleasant region succeeding to that in which

he had lived. Daily, hourly, he remarked the change. The ice grew

thinner, the air warmer, the trees taller. Birds, such as he had never

seen before, sang in the bushes, and fowl of many kinds were pluming

themselves in the warm sun on the shores of the lake. The gay

woodpecker was tapping the hollow beech, the swallow and the martin

were skimming along the level of the green vales. He heard no more the

cracking of branches beneath the weight of icicles and snow, he saw no

more the spirits of departed men dancing wild dances on the skirts of

the northern clouds, and the farther he travelled the milder grew the

skies, the longer was the period of the sun's stay upon the earth, and

the softer, though less brilliant, the light of the moon.



Noting these changes as he went with a joyful heart, for they were

indications of his near approach to the land of joy and delight, he

came at length to a cabin situated on the brow of a steep hill in the

middle of a narrow road. At the door of this cabin stood a man of a

most ancient and venerable appearance. He was bent nearly double with

age. His locks were white as snow. His eyes were sunk very far into

his head, and the flesh was wasted from his bones, till they were like

trees from which the bark has been peeled. He was clothed in a robe of

white goat's skin, and a long staff supported his tottering limbs

whithersoever he walked.



The Chippeway began to tell him who he was, and why he had come

thither, but the aged man stopped him, telling him he knew upon what

errand he was bent.



"A short while before," said he, "there passed the soul of a tender

and lovely maiden, well-known to the son of the Red Elk, on her way to

the beautiful island. She was fatigued with her long journey, and

rested a while in this cabin. She told me the story of your love, and



was persuaded that you would attempt to follow her to the Lake of

Spirits."



The old man, further, told Outalissa that if he made speed he might

hope to overtake the maiden on the way. Before, however, he resumed

his journey he must leave behind him his body, his spear, bow, and

arrows, which the old man promised to keep for him should he return.

The Chippeway left his body and arms behind him, and under the

direction of the old man entered upon the road to the Blissful Island.

He had travelled but a couple of bowshots when it met his view, even

more beautiful than his fathers had painted it.



He stood upon the brow of a hill which sloped gently down to the water

of a lake which stretched as far as eye could see. Upon its banks

were groves of beautiful trees of all kinds, and many canoes were to

be seen gliding over its water. Afar, in the centre of the lake, lay

the beautiful island appointed for the residence of the good. He

walked down to the shore and entered a canoe which stood ready for

him, made of a shining white stone. Seizing the paddle, he pushed off

from the shore and commenced to make his way to the island. As he did

so, he came to a canoe like his own, in which he found her whom he was

in pursuit of. She recognised him, and the two canoes glided side by

side over the water. Then Outalissa knew that he was on the Water of

Judgment, the great water over which every soul must pass to reach the

beautiful island, or in which it must sink to meet the punishment of

the wicked. The two lovers glided on in fear, for the water seemed at

times ready to swallow them, and around them they could see many

canoes, which held those whose lives had been wicked, going down. The

Master of Life had, however, decreed that they should pass in safety,

and they reached the shores of the beautiful island, on which they

landed full of joy.



It is impossible to tell the delights with which they found it filled.

Mild and soft winds, clear and sweet waters, cool and refreshing

shades, perpetual verdure, inexhaustible fertility, met them on all

sides. Gladly would the son of the Red Elk have remained for ever with

his beloved in the happy island, but the words of the Master of Life

came to him in the pauses of the breeze, saying--



"Go back to thy own land, hunter. Your time has not yet come. You

have not yet performed the work I have for you to do, nor can you yet

enjoy those pleasures which belong to them who have performed their

allotted task on earth. Go back, then. In time thou shalt rejoin her,

the love of whom has brought thee hither."





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