Sacred Texts  Native American  Northeast  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Algonquin Legends of New England, by Charles G. Leland, [1884], at

p. 104

Of Glooskap and the Sinful Serpent.


Of old time it befell that Glooskap had an enemy, an evil man, a sinful beast, a great sorcerer. And this man, after trying many things, made himself a great serpent, hoping so to slay the Master.

Of old time Glooskap met a boy whose name was 'Nmmokswess, the Sable. 1 And the boy had a flute: whoever played on it could entice unto him all the animals. And once, when the Master was afar, the boy broke the flute, and in his great sorrow he would not return home, but wandered away into the wilderness. Now Glooskap knew in his heart that the flute was broken: he who is a magician knows at once of a great evil. And coming home, he asked of the grandmother where the boy was, and she could only weep. Then the Master said, "Though I roam forever, yet will I find the boy." So he went forth, and he tracked him in the snow for three days; and on the third night he heard some one singing in a hollow; and it was a magic song, that which the m'téoulin sings when he is in dire need and death is near. And making a circle round about the place, Glooskap looked down and saw a wigwam, and heard the voice more distinctly as he drew nearer; and it was the voice of the boy, and he was singing a song

p. 105

against all of the snake kind. And he was wandering about the wigwam, seeking a straight stick.

Then Glooskap understood all the thing, and how the boy had been enticed into the wilderness by the evil arts of At-o-sis, the Snake, and that the Great Serpent was in the wigwam, and had sent him out to seek a straight stick. Then Glooskap, singing again softly, bade him get a very crooked one, and told what more to, do. So the boy got an exceedingly crooked one; and when he entered, the Snake, seeing it, said, "Why hast thou got such a bad stick?" And the boy, answering, said, "Truly, it is very crooked, but that which is crookedest may be made straightest, and I know a charm whereby this can be done; for I will but heat this stick in the fire, and then I will make it quite straight, as you shall see." Now At-o-sis was very anxious to behold this wonderful thing, and he looked closely; but the boy, as soon as the end of the stick was red-hot, thrust it into his eyes and blinded him, and ran forth. Yet the Snake followed him; but when he was without the wigwam he met the Master, who slew him out of hand. 1

Of old times. This is an end of the story.


104:1 Evidently no other than Marten, or the Abistanooch of the Micmac mythology.

105:1 This curious legend is suggestive of Ulysses and the Cyclops. The enemies of Glooskap are all cannibals; the boy is sent out for a straight stick to serve as a spit to roast him on. It is not impossible that the Snake, in some perfect version of the tale, has but a single eye, since many of the evil creatures of red Indian mythology are half stone lengthwise. But the whole story is full of strange hints. It was told me by Tomah Josephs, at Campobello, N. B.

Next: The Tale of Glooskap as told by another Indian. Showing how the Toad and Porcupine lost their Noses