Embark on a magical journey as we unveil the captivating tale of Mish-o-sha the Magician, a beloved character from American Indian fairy tales. At KidsGen, we invite you to join us on an extraordinary adventure that will spark the imagination and transport children to a world of wonder, adventure, and the power of imagination.
Follow the captivating story of Mish-o-sha, a skilled magician who wields the power of magic and uses it to bring joy and happiness to those around him. Through his exciting and imaginative exploits, children will discover the limitless possibilities of their own creativity and the wonders that lie within their own minds.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of imaginative storytelling as we explore the realms of magic, adventure, and the triumph of the human spirit. Mish-o-sha the Magician will inspire young minds to embrace their creativity, believe in themselves, and unleash their own magical potential.
Join us on this enchanting journey as we celebrate the captivating world of Mish-o-sha the Magician. Let the tale ignite the spark of imagination, inspire young minds to dream big, and embrace the magic that lies within each and every one of us.
Illustrated by John Rae
In the heart of the great green forest once lived a hunter whose lodge was many miles distant from the wigwams of his tribe. His wife had long since died, and he dwelt there all alone with his two young sons, who grew up as best they could without a mother's care.
When the father was away on a hunting trip, the boys had no companions but the birds and beasts of the forest, and with some of the smaller animals they became fast friends. Ad-ji-dau-mo, the squirrel, scampering from tree to tree, would let his nut-shells fall plump on the roof of the lodge. That was his way of knocking at the door, coming to pay a morning call. He was a great talker, without much to say - as is often so with those whose voices are seldom still. But he was bright and merry, chattering away cheerfully about nothing in particular; and it made no difference whether you listened to him or not.
Wa-bo-se, the little white hare, was another friend. One winter's day, when forest food was scarce, O-ne-o-ta, the lynx, was just about to pounce upon him, when the boys' father let fly an arrow - and O-ne-o-ta was no longer interested in little white hares.
Wa-bo-se was grateful for this, and sometimes in his shy way he tried to show it.
The father and the boys lived mostly on big game, like bear and venison. This meat would be cut in strips, and cured; sometimes it had to last them many a long day, when game was scarce, or the woods so dry for want of rain that the twigs would snap under the hunters feet, and warn the animals he was coming. So the boys were used to being left alone for weeks at a time, when their father was absent.
Then came a season of famine. No berries grew on the bushes, grass withered on the stalk, few acorns hung on the oaks. Some of the brooks went dry. Thus it happened that the hunter had gone far in search of game.
Many months passed. When Seegwun, the elder boy, saw that but little meat remained, he said to his younger brother Ioscoda:
"Let us take what meat is left, and strike out through the forest, toward the North. I remember our father saying that many moons distant lies a great lake called Gitche Gumee, whose waters are alive with fish."
"But can we find our way?" asked Ioscoda, doubtfully. "Never fear!" called out a voice from overhead.
It was Ad-ji-dau-mo, the squirrel, frisky as ever, though a little lean for lack of nuts.
"I'll go along with you," he continued, "and so will Wa-bo-se, the white hare. He can hop ahead and find the trail, and I can jump from tree to tree, and keep a look-out. Between us, we are bound to go right."
It proved to be a good idea, and Wa-bo-se took the lead. Where the trail was overgrown with grass, he would nose his way along the ground, without once going wrong; where the track was plain, he would run ahead, then stop and sit up on his haunches, to wait for the boys, his long ears pricked up and moving, to detect the slightest danger.
But nothing happened to alarm them. The lynx, the wildcat and the wolf had all fled before the famine, and the silent forest was empty of savage beasts. On and on they went, till it seemed as if the woods would never end. Then, one day, Ad-ji-dau-mo climbed a tall pine, from whose topmost bough he could see far over the forest. The sun was shining bright; as he cocked his eye and looked toward the north, something that seemed to meet the sky sparkled like silver. It was Gitche Gumee, the Great Lake.
They had reached a place where nuts were plentiful, and many green things grew that would fatten the white hare. So Wa-bo-se and the squirrel bade good-bye to the boys, who could now make their way with ease. Soon they came to the edge of the woods. They heard a piping cry. It was Twee-tweesh-ke-way, the plover, flying along the beach; in another moment the great glittering waters lay before them.
Seegwun with his sharp hunting knife cut a limb from an ash-tree, and made a bow; from an oak bough he whittled some arrows, which he tipped with flint. He found feathers fallen from a gull's wing for the shaft; a strip cut from his deer-skin shirt supplied the bow-string. Then giving the bow and arrow to Ioscoda, to practice with, he gathered some seed pods from the wild rose, to stay their hunger.
An arrow, badly aimed by his brother, fell into the lake, and Seegwun waded in, to recover it. He had walked into the water till it reached his waist, and put out his hand to grasp the arrow, when suddenly, as if by magic, a canoe came skimming along like a bird. In the canoe was an ugly old man, who reached out, seized the astonished boy, and pulled him on board.
"If I must go with you, take my brother, too!" begged Seegwun. "If he is left here, all alone, he will starve."
But Mish-o-sha, the Magician, only laughed. Then striking the side of the canoe with his hand, and uttering the magic words, Chemaun Poll, it shot across the lake like a thing alive, so that the beach was quickly lost to sight. Soon it came to rest on a sandy shore, and Mish-o-sha, leaping out, beckoned him to follow.
They had landed on an island. Before them, in a grove of cedars, were two wigwams, or lodges; from the smaller one two lovely young girls came out, and stood looking at them.
To Seegwun, who had never before seen a girl, these maidens looked like spirits from the skies. He gazed at them in wonder, half expecting they would vanish. For their part they looked at him without smiling; in their dark eyes were only sympathy and sadness.
"My daughters!" said the old man to Seegwun, with a chuckle that displayed his long, yellow teeth. Then turning to the girls:
"Are you not glad to see me safely back?" he asked,"and are you not pleased with my handsome young friend here?" They bent their heads politely, but said nothing.
"It's a long time since you were favored with such a visitor," he went on, in a loud whisper to the elder girl. "He would make you a fine husband."
The maiden murmured something under her breath, and Mish-o-sha gave her a wicked look.
"We shall see, we shall see!" he muttered to himself, laughing like a magpie, and rubbing his long, bony hands together.
Seegwun, much troubled in mind, and hardly knowing what to make of it all, resolved to keep his eyes open. Luckily Mish-o-sha was sometimes careless. He walked on ahead, and entered his lodge, leaving the others together; whereupon the elder girl, approaching Seegwun, spoke to him quickly: "We are not his daughters," she said. "He brought us here as he brought you. He hates the human race. Every moon he seizes a young man, and pretends he has borne him here as a husband for me. But soon he takes him off in his canoe, and the young man never comes back. We feel sure Mish-o-sha has made away with them all."
"What must I do?" asked Seegwun. "I care less for myself than for my little brother. He was left behind on a wild beach, and may die of hunger."
"Ah!" said the maiden. "You are really good and unselfish; so, no matter what comes of it, we must aid you. Koko-ko-ho, the great owl, keeps watch all night on the bare limb of that big cedar. Wait till Mish-o-sha falls asleep, then wrap yourself from head to foot in his blanket, and steal softly to the door of our lodge. Whisper my name,Nin-i-mo-sha, and I shall come out and tell you what to do."
"Nin-i-mo-sha," murmured the youth. "What a beautiful name!" Then, before he could thank her, the girls were gone.
Mish-o-sha now appeared, and made a sign to Seegwun to join him. The old man seemed to be in a good humor, and passed the time telling stories; but Seegwun was not deceived by this pretense of friendship. When the Magician was sound asleep, he rose, wrapped Mish-o-sha's blanket around him, and walked carefully to the door of the little lodge.
"Nin-i-mo-sha!" he whispered, and his heart beat fast; for Nin-i-mo-sha in the Indian tongue is "My Sweetheart." "Seegwun!" she answered; and his name, meaning "Spring," came like music from her lips.
She drew aside the curtain, and came out.
"Here," she said, "is food that will last your brother for several days. Get into Mish-o-sha's canoe, pronounce the magic charm, and it will take you where you wish. You can be back before daybreak."
"But the owl?" asked Seegwun. "Will he not cry out?" "Walk with a stoop, the way Mish-o-sha walks," she explained. "Ko-ko-ko-ho, when he sees you, will cry 'Hoot, hoot!' You must answer, 'Hoot, hoot, whoo! Mish-o-sha.' Then he will let you pass."
Seegwun did as he was told, and was soon skimming across the lake. Having landed on the beach, he began to bark like a squirrel; and at this friendly signal his brother ran up and flung his arms around him. Seegwun made a shelter for the boy, and told him he would come again. Then he returned in the canoe, and was soon fast asleep in the Magician's lodge.
Mish-o-sha, who trusted in his owl, suspected nothing. How should he know what lovers can do when they put their heads together?
"You have slept well, my son," said he. "And now we have a pleasant journey before us. We are going to an island where thousands of gulls lay their eggs in the sand, and we shall get all we can carry away."
Remembering what Nin-i-mo-sha had said, Seegwun shivered. But she kissed her hand, and waved him a good-bye; and this put heart in him.
As the canoe sped away, he made sure that his hunting knife slipped easily in its sheath, and he did not take his eyes off Mish-o-sha for a moment.
When they reached the island the gulls rose in great numbers, and flew screaming above their heads.
"You gather the eggs," said the Magician, "while I keep watch in the canoe."
Seegwun hastened ashore, glad to quit the old man's company. Then the Magician cried out to the gulls:
"Ho, my feathered friends! Here is the human offering I promised you when you agreed to call me master. Fly down, my pretty ones! Fly down, and devour him!"
Striking the side of his canoe, he abandoned the youth to the mercy of the birds.
With harsh cries, the gulls swept down on Seegwun. Never had he heard such a clamor. Ten thousand wings beat the air, and stirred it like a storm. Whirling and darting they came upon him in a cloud. But Seegwun did not flinch. Shouting the Saw-saw-quan, or war-cry, he seized the first bird that attacked him. Then grasping it by the neck, he held it high above his head in his left hand, and with his right hand drew his knife, which glittered in the sun.
"Hold!" he cried. "Hold, you poor fools! Beware the vengeance of the Great Spirit."
The gulls paused in their attack, but still circled around him, with sharp beaks extended.
"Hear me, O Gulls!" he continued. "The Great Spirit gave you life that you might serve mankind. Slay me, and you slay one made to rule over all the beasts and birds. I tell you, beware!"
"But Mish-o-sha is all powerful." screamed the gulls. "He has bidden us destroy you."
"Mish-o-sha is no Manito," answered Seegwun. "He is only a wicked magician who would use you for his own evil ends. Bear me on your wings back to his island; for it is he who must be destroyed."
Then the gulls, persuaded that Mish-o-sha had tricked them, drew close together, that the youth might lie upon their backs. Rising on the wind, they carried him across the waters, setting him down gently by the lodge before the Magician had arrived there.
Nin-i-ino-sha rejoiced when she saw it was really Seegwun. "I was not mistaken in you," she told him. "It is plain that the Great Spirit protects you. But Mish-o-sha will try again, so be on your guard."
The Magician now arrived in his magic canoe. When he saw Seegwun he tried to smile pleasantly. But having had little practice in thinking kind thoughts, he only grinned like a gargoyle, which, excepting perhaps the hyena, has the most painful possible smile. >
"Good, my son!" he managed to say. "You must not misunderstand me. I did it to test your courage; and now Nin-i-mo-sha is sure to love you. Ah, my children, you will make a happy pair!"
Nin-i-mo-sha turned away to hide her disgust, but Seegwun pretended to believe the malicious old man was in earnest.
"However," continued the Magician, "I owe you something for having seemed to play you such a trick. I see you wear no ornaments. Come with me, then, to the Island of Glittering Shells, and soon you will be attired as becomes a handsome warrior."
The island where they landed was indeed a wonderful place, covered with colored shells that gleamed in the sun like jewels.
"Look!" said Mish-o-sha, as they walked along the beach. "Out there a little way. See it shining on the bottom." Seegwun waded in. When the water reached his thighs, the Magician made a leap for the canoe, and shoved it far out into the lake.
"Come, King of Fishes!" he called. "You have always served me well. Here is your reward."
Then, striking his canoe, he quickly disappeared. Immediately an enormous fish, with jaws wide open, rose to the surface a few feet away. But Seegwun only smiled, saying as he drew his long blade:
"Know, Monster, that I am Seegwun - named after him whose breath warms the ice-bound waters and clothes the hills with green. The cowardly Mish-o-sha, fearing the anger of the Great Spirit, seeks to make you do what he dares not do himself. Spill but one drop of my blood, and it will dye the waters of the lake, in which all your tribe will miserably perish.' "Mish-o-sha has deceived me," said the King of Fishes. "He promised me a tender maiden, and has brought instead a youth with the eyes of a warrior. How shall I aid you, my Master?"
"Wretch!" exclaimed Seegwun. "Rejoice that he did not keep his frightful promise. You deserve to die at my hands, but I give you a chance to repent. Take me on your back to the island of Mish-o-sha, and I will spare your life."
The King of Fishes hastened to take Seegwun astride his broad back, and swam so swiftly that he reached the island soon after Mish-o-sha. The Magician was explaining to Nini-mo-sha how the youth had fallen from the canoe into the jaws of a big fish, when along came Seegwun himself, strolling up from the Lake as if he had returned from an everyday excursion. Even so, Mish-o-sha still sought to excuse himself.
"My daughter," said he. "I was only trying to find out how much you cared for him."
But all the while he was saying to himself that the next time he would not fail. And the next time was the very next day.
"My owl is growing old, and cannot live much longer," he explained. "I should like to catch a young eagle, and tame him. Will you help me?"
Seegwun consented, and went with him in the magic canoe to a rocky point of land reaching out into the lake. There, in the fork of a tall pine, was an eagle's nest, in which were some young eagles, who could not yet fly.
"Quick!" said Mish-o-sha. "Climb the tree before the old birds return."
Seegwun had almost reached the nest when the Magician spoke to the pine, commanding it to grow taller. At once it began to rise, until it was so high, and swayed so in the wind, that he felt it would take all his courage to get down again. At the same time the Magician uttered a peculiar cry, at which the father and mother eagles came swooping from the clouds to protect their young.
"Ho, ho!" laughed Mish-o-sha. "This time I have made no mistake. Either you will fall and break your neck, or the eagles will scratch your eyes out."
Striking his canoe, he vanished in the mist.
The eagles now circled around Seegwun, who, resting on a branch, thus addressed them:
"My brothers, behold the eagle's feather in my hair! It proves my admiration for your bravery and skill. Yet in me you see your master; for I am a man, and you are only birds. Obey me, then, and bear me to Mish-o-sha's island."
This praise pleased the eagles, who respected the youth's cool courage. Mounting on the back of the enormous male bird, Seegwun was borne through the air, and set down safely on the enchanted island.
Mish-o-sha now saw that neither bird nor beast would harm this handsome youth, who seemed to be protected by some powerful Manito. It must be done some other way.
"One more test," he said to Seegwun, "and then you may take Nin-i-mo-sha for your wife. But first you must prove your skill as a hunter. Come!"
They made a lodge in the forest; and Mish-o-sha, by his magic, caused a snow-storm, with a stinging gale from the north, like a flight of icy arrows. Seegwun, that night, before going to sleep, had hung his moccasins and leggings by the fire to dry; and Mish-o-sha, rising first, at daybreak, took one of each and threw them into the flames. Then he rubbed his hands, and laughed like a prairie wolf.
"What is it?" asked Seegwun, sitting up.
"Alas, my son!" said Mish-o-sha. "I was just too late. This is the season of the moon when fire attracts all things. It has drawn to it one of your moccasins and leggings, and destroyed them. Yeo, yeo! I should have warned you."
Seegwun held his tongue, though the thing was plain enough. Mish-o-sha meant that he should freeze to death. But Seegwun, praying silently to his Manito for aid, took from the fireplace a charred stick with which he blackened one leg and foot, murmuring at the same time a charm. Then putting on his remaining moccasin and legging, he was ready tor the hunt.
Their way led through snow and ice, into thickets of thorn, and over bogs half-frozen, where Seegwun sank to the knees. But his prayer had been heard; the charm worked, and the youth walked on, dry shod. With his first arrow he slew a bear.
"Now," he said, looking the Magician full in the eye. "I see you are suffering from the cold. Let us go back to your island."
At Seegwun's bold look, Mish-o-sha bent his head, and mumbled some foolish answer. At last he had met his match; and he knew it.
"Take up the bear on your shoulders!" commanded Seegwun.
Again the Magician obeyed. For the first time they returned together to the island, where the two young girls looked on in amazement to see the proud Mish-o-sha staggering under the weight of the bear, grunting with helpless rage.
"His power is broken," agreed Nin-i-mo-sha, when Seegwun had told her all. "But we shall never sleep in safety until we are really rid of him. What is best to do?"
They put their heads together; and when they had talked it over, Nin-i-mo-sha laughed merrily.
"He deserves a greater punishment," she said. "The world will not be safe as long as he has life. Yet what we plan to do will revenge us, without shedding a single drop of blood." The next day Seegwun said to the Magician:
"It is time that we rescued my brother, whom we left all alone on the beach. Come with me."
Mish-o-sha made a wry face, but prepared to go. Landing on the beach, they soon spied the boy, who joyfully clambered into the canoe. Then Seegwun said to the old man:
"Those red willows over on the bank would make good smoking mixture. Could you manage to climb up there and cut me some?"
"To be sure, my son, to be sure," answered Mish-o-sha, walking rapidly toward the willows. "I am not so weak and good-for-nothing as you seem to think."
Seegwun struck the canoe with his hand, pronouncing the magic words, Chemaun Poll; and away it went with the two brothers aboard, leaving the Magician high and dry, and gnashing his yellow teeth.
The girls ran to meet them at the shore, Nin-i-mo-sha rejoicing that the old man had been left behind, while her sister could think of nothing but the attractive boy who looked so much like his big brother.
"But Mish-o-sha can call the canoe back to him," said Nin-i-mo-sha, "until a way is found to break the charm. Some one must keep watch, with his hand upon it."
Ioscoda begged permission to do his part; so they left him, with night coming on, sitting on the sand and holding fast to the canoe.
It was a tiresome task for a little boy already weary with long waiting. To amuse himself he began to count the stars. First he counted those in the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, then the ones that look like a high-back chair, and the three big bright ones in the belt of Orion the Hunter. He did not know them by these names, which were given them long afterward; but he recognized the cluster called O-jeeg An-nung, the Fisher, who brought Summer from the sky because his boy was cold.
Ioscoda also was cold, sitting there in the wet sand. But Indian boys do not complain. Yet seeing the Fisher stars, he thought of his own dear father, and wondered where he might be. Had Ioscoda been a white boy, instead of a red, we think the sand he sat on might have been a little wetter for his tears. As it was, he found himself looking at the sky through a kind of fog. What was it? He rubbed his eyes, lost his count, and began all over again.
The worst of it was that Indians could reckon only with their fingers - unless you include their toes; and Ioscoda's toes were tucked away snugly in his moccasins, quite out of sight and question. How many fingers had he counted - and how - many - stars - ?
The fog, or whatever it was, filled his eyes. Lap, lap! went the little waves, rocking the canoe like a cradle. Soo, soo! sighed the wind in the cedars. All else earthly nodded and was still; even the stars blinked and winked, as if weary of watching the world.
And Ioscoda slept.
Whoo, whoo! The cry of Ko-ko-ko-ho, the owl, shrilled evilly on the ears. It was only for a moment. The shadows lifted, a squirrel barked. Wa-bun, the East Wind, rising above the rim of the waters, let loose his silver arrows. It was day.
Ioscoda sat up, only half aroused, and looked out over the lake. Was he still on the wild beach, waiting for his brother? Then he remembered, and gave a guilty start. The canoe was gone!
Gone, but come again! There it appeared, gliding straight toward him; and in it sat Mish-o-sha.
"Good-morning, child!" called the Magician, as the canoe grated on the sand. "Are you not glad to see your grandfather again?"
Ioscoda clenched his small fists. He was very brave, and he was angry.
"You are not my grandfather," he said, "and I am not glad to see you again."
"Esa, esa! (Shame, shame!)" chuckled the old man. "But Seegwun will be glad to see me, and so will my dear daughters. I hope they have not been worried about me."
He was much pleased with his cleverness in outwitting them all, and was now as impudent as before. But Seegwun bided his time. He thought of another plan.
"Grandfather," said he, "it seems that we must continue to live here together. Let us therefore lay in a supply of meat for the winter. Come with me to the mainland. I am sure you must be a mighty hunter."
Mish-o-sha's vanity was his weakest point.
"Eh, yah!" he answered, boastfully. "I can run all day with a dead deer on my back. I have done it."
"Good!" said Seegwun. "The wind is going north again, and we shall need all our strength on the march."
Now Seegwun had somehow learned the Magician's dearest secret, which was this: Mish-o-sha's left leg and foot were the only parts of his body that could be harmed. No arrow could pierce his heart; a war-club brought down upon his head would be shivered into splinters. As well strike him with a straw. But his left leg and foot. Ah! It was not for rheumatism that his legging was so well laced. And why did he always sit down with his left foot tucked up under him? Ha! Why, indeed? Seegwun had found the answer.
They made a rude lodge in the forest, just as they had done before. And again it came bitter cold; only this time it was Seegwun that brought the storm. He could not help laughing. There was the blazing fire, and there on the couch was Mish-o-sha, sound asleep.
Seegwun softly rose, took both the Magician's moccasins and leggings, and threw them into the flames.
"Get up, grandfather," he called. "It's the season when fire attracts all things, and I fear you have lost something you may need."
When Mish-o-sha saw what had happened he looked so frightened that Seegwun was almost sorry for him. But remembering Nin-i-mo-sha and his little brother, he could think of no other way. "We must be going," he said.
They set out through the snow. My, how cold it was! Mish-o-sha began to run, thinking this would help; while Seegwun followed, fearing that if he led, the Magician might send an arrow through his back. After running for an hour, the Magician was quite out of breath, and his legs and feet were growing numb and stiff.
They had come to the edge of the forest, and reached the shore of the lake. Here Mish-o-sha stopped. When he tried to take another step, he could not lift his feet. How heavy they had grown! He tried again; but something strange had happened. His toes sank into the sand, and took the form of roots. The feathers in his hair, and then the hair itself, changed gradually into leaves. His outstretched arms were branches, swaying in the wind; bark appeared on his body.
Seegwun looked and wondered. That which had been Mish-o-sha was no longer a man, but a tree, a sycamore hung with button-balls, leaning crookedly toward the lake.
At last the wicked old Magician had met his master. No more would his evil spell be cast on the young and innocent Seegwun lingered a moment, to make sure that Mish-o-sha would not come to life. Then he took his way across the water, where the others, anxiously awaiting him, were told the good news.
"Mish-o-sha is no more," said Seegwun. "He can never harm us again. Let us leave this place where we have suffered so much, and make our home on the mainland."
So together they went forth, his sweetheart, her sister, and the boy, with Seegwun showing the way. The trail he took led them again to the great forest, and once more to the lodge from which he had set out. And there they lived happily for the rest of their days.
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