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

p. 120

How the Lord of Men and Beasts strove with the Mighty Wasis, and was shamefully defeated.


Now it came to pass when Glooskap had conquered all his enemies, even the Kewahqu', who were giants and sorcerers, and the m'téoulin, who were magicians, and the Pamola, who is the evil spirit of the night air, and all manner of ghosts, witches, devils, cannibals, and goblins, that he thought upon what he had done, and wondered if his work was at an end.

And he said this to a certain woman. But she replied, "Not so fast, Master, for there yet remains One whom no one has ever conquered or got the better of in any way, and who will remain unconquered to the end of time."

p. 121

"And who is he?" inquired the Master.

"It is the mighty Wasis," she replied, "and there he sits; and I warn you that if you meddle with him you will be in sore trouble."

Now Wasis was the Baby. And he sat on the floor sucking a piece of maple-sugar, greatly contented, troubling no one.

As the Lord of Men and Beasts had never married or had a child, he knew naught of the way of managing children. Therefore he was quite certain, as is the wont of such people, that he knew all about it. So he turned to Baby with a bewitching smile and bade him come to him.

Then Baby smiled again, but did not budge. And the Master spake sweetly and made his voice like that of the summer bird, but it was of no avail, for Wasis sat still and sucked his maple-sugar.

Then the Master frowned and spoke terribly, and ordered Wasis to come crawling to him immediately. And Baby burst out into crying and yelling, but did not move for all that.

Then, since he could do but one thing more, the Master had recourse to magic. He used his most awful spells, and sang the songs which raise the dead and scare the devils. And Wasis sat and looked on admiringly, and seemed to find it very interesting, but all the same he never moved an inch.

So Glooskap gave it up in despair, and Wasis, sitting on the floor in the sunshine, went goo! goo! and crowed.

p. 122

And to this day when you see a babe well contented, going goo! goo! and crowing, and no one can tell why, know that it is because he remembers the time when he overcame the Master who had conquered all the world. For of all the beings that have ever been since the beginning, Baby is alone the only invincible one. 1


122:1 I am indebted for this "märchen" to Maria Saksis, a very intelligent Penobscot woman, a widow of a former governor, whom I met at North Conway, in the White Mountains, N. H. In her dialect Glooskap is invariably called Glus-gah-be. She told it with that admirable dry drollery, characteristic of a good story-teller in a race where there are no bad ones. The exquisite humor and humanity of this little legend, placed as a pendant to the stupendous successes of the giant hero, are such as to entitle its Indian author to rank as a genius. I have frequently asserted that these Wabanaki or Northeastern Algonquin tales bore to those of the West the apparent relation of originals to poor copies. Let the reader compare this, which is given as nearly word for word as was possible from the Indian narrative, with that of Manobozho-Hiawatha's effort to compete with a baby. The Cherokee account is that, seeing an infant sucking its own toe, he tried to do the same, and failed. It is in accounting for the unaccountable crowing of Baby that the point of the Penobscot story lies. Of this there is no mention made in the Western tale, which is utterly wanting in any feeling as to the power of childhood or its charm over the strongest. A real Indian tale may always be assumed to be ancient when it is told to set forth an origin. This gives the origin of a baby's crowing.

Next: How the great Glooskap fought the Giant Sorcerers at Saco, and turned them into Fish