Amelia M. Paget.

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in the waters. As the raft began to fill,
the birds had to perch upon the branches of
the tree to make room for the animals.

The rain kept falling, and for many many
days there was no break in the gray
clouds above them, but the strange com
pany upon the raft were kept safe from
harm. Wee-sack-ka-chack kept count of
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THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

the days by cutting a little nick in the tree
which he had placed in the centre of the
raft. When almost two moons had come
and gone he noticed one morning that the
clouds were beginning to break, and soon
after the rain ceased. But even after the
rain had stopped they floated about, driven
first in one direction and then in another
by the winds which came with the clearing
of the sky. After a long time of weary
waiting for the sight of land, Wee-sack-ka-
chack decided to ask some of his little
friends to help him find some earth, so call
ing the mink to him he said : " My young
brother, we must try to find some earth,
for if I do not make a new world for us
to live in we shall all die. Now I want
you to dive down as far as possible and see
if there is any earth to be found beneath
all this water." The mink jumped into
the water and went down. After several
minutes he came up almost exhausted and
said he had seen no earth.

Wee-sack-ka-chack next called upon the
beaver to investigate, but he too failed,
after being gone several minutes. The
172



AFLOAT ON THE FLOOD

otter was next called on, and Wee-sack-ka-
chack urged him very strongly to try and
go down far enough to bring up at least a
tiny bit of earth. But the otter, too, met
with no success, even after being down so
long that he was almost drowned before
they helped him on to the raft.

Wee-sack-ka-chack was at his wit s end
to know which of his many little friends
he could possibly get to go down next, when
by merest chance he happened to catch
sight of the rat; so addressing him Wee-
sack-ka-chack said, " My little brother, you
are a good swimmer and now our hopes rest
upon you. Your big brothers have tried
their best and failed; now you must go
down: sometimes small things succeed
where larger ones fail." So the rat dived
off the raft and went to try his luck. He
was down so long that all on the raft be
came very anxious for his safety. But pres
ently he came up and was assisted out of
the water by Wee-sack-ka-chack, who had
great difficulty in resuscitating him. When
he was sufficiently revived to speak the rat
said he had seen the earth, but fainted
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THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

before he could get any of it. Wee-sack-ka-
chack was delighted with his little friend s
success, and after a good rest sent him
down again, asking him to do his best to
bring some earth up with him. So for the
second time the rat went down, and after
a long time Wee-sack-ka-chack saw his body
floating near the raft and had to pull him
in with a branch of the tree. After they
had worked over him for some time the fox
noticed that the rat had his forepaws
tightly closed as if holding something, and
drew Wee-sack-ka-chack s attention to the
fact. They opened his paws and in them
found a little earth which he had man
aged to grasp before losing consciousness.
Upon this earth Wee-sack-ka-chack started
to work; blowing on it until perfectly dry,
he scattered it a little at a time over the
waters, and as he did so it began to form
a solid mass which grew larger and larger
around the raft until it looked like a huge
island.

After a few days Wee-sack-ka-chack sent
a young wolf around the land to report as
to its size. The wolf was gone for only
174



THE GROWTH OF A WORLD

one day, and told his older brother that the
earth was far too small for all of them to
subsist upon, and if they were to live upon
it it must be made very much larger.

So Wee-sack-ka-chack took some of the
earth in his hands and scattered it so that
it would be blown away by the winds to the
four points of heaven. He then waited a
few days before sending off another wolf to
see the size of this island. This wolf on his
return also reported the island as being too
small for them all. Then again Wee-sack-
ka-chack worked away and waited a week
or two before sending another wolf to sur
vey their land. This one returned in a
year s time and said it was almost large
enough but it would be to their advantage
to make it larger. This Wee-sack-ka-chack
proceeded to do, and after a month s labour
sent out a young wolf, who came back after
many years, an old wolf, with the welcome
information that the earth was large enough
for all the birds and beasts to live upon.
It must be explained that every one of these
wolves were sent early in the morning, just
at sunrise, and they each started in the
175



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

direction of the rising sun and kept on
going around the island until they reached
their starting-place.

As soon as Wee-sack-ka-chack was sure
of the size of the earth he sent each
animal and bird out into the world with
his kind to make his living. It was here
that he gave them all their names, each
name being given on account of some pecu
liarity of its owner. And Wee-sack-ka-
chack at this time also instructed them in
the way each bird and animal was to make
its living. For instance, he explained to
the beaver how to use his tail as a trowel
to build his dam. The beaver has done
this ever since.

Because the fox was the first to notice
that the rat s paws were closed tightly over
the earth he had scratched up for Wee-sack-
ka-chack, he was made more cunning than
all other animals. Because the wolf had
fasted longest when running around the
earth, Wee-sack-ka-chack told him he would
have the largest appetite for his size in all
the animal kingdom. Because the skunk
was not pleasant to come upon suddenly,
176



ANOTHER CREATION MYTH

Wee-sack-ka-chack put white stripes down
his back so that people could see him
plainly in the distance and avoid him. To
the ermine he said, " My young brother, you
are very pretty, but I think you will be
prettier with a black tip to your tail ;" and
the ermine has always worn a tail with a
black tip ever since.

Another version of a flood-myth and Wee-
sack-ka-chack s connection with it is as
follows :

It seems that Wee-sack-ka-chack was the
first person in the world. One day he
started out for a walk, and after walking
for a long time almost around the world,
in fact he came to a hill. Now this hill
overlooked a very beautiful valley, and in
the valley he noticed a large wigwam. This
he was delighted to see, as he felt sure some
fellow-beings were living in it. But as he
approached it he was surprised to see that
the door was made of a wolf-skin. Wee-
sack-ka-chack never killed any of his young
friends, and did not understand why any
one else should have done so. But he was
more surprised when he lifted the door of
12 177



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

the wigwam and, looking in, saw two large
snakes, coiled together and wriggling
around. They actually appeared to make
the ground upon Avhich the wigwam stood
tremble with their every movement. Wee-
sack-ka-chack managed, however, to kill
them, but being fascinated by their size and
colour, he continued to gaze upon them till
he noticed that they were gradually being
submerged by water. Pie drew back from
the tent door and looked around him, when
to his horror he saw that the water was
gradually rising all about him too. Pull
ing the wolf-skin off the door, he ran to
wards the hill from which he had seen the
wigwam. The waters seemed to be rushing
upon him, though he ran as fast as he pos
sibly could. But when he reached the hill
they appeared to stop, so he took fresh
courage and, as he climbed, called out to
all the birds and animals to come to him.
When he reached the top of the hill he saw
the waters were on all sides of him; then
he knew that unless he made a raft immedi
ately he and all his young friends would
perish. So he cut down the largest trees
178



THE FLOATING REFUGE

he could find, and tying them together with
the fibrous roots of others he soon had a
huge raft built; in the centre of it he stuck
a fine, straight tree with many branches.
As he made this fast he said, " This is for
my young friends the birds to perch upon.
They can see a long distance from the top
of the tree and can tell me if anything
appears on the waters."

When the raft was finished he told all
the birds and animals to get on it, as the
waters would soon reach them and would
cause the raft to float away from the hill.
Very soon after this, rain began to fall in
torrents and the raft floated away. A few
of the animals who had not heeded Wee-
sack-ka-chack s warnings to board the raft
had to swim up to it, some being so ex
hausted by their exertions as to require
assistance in getting on. While Wee-sack-
ka-chack was helping some of them, others
had to keep themselves from sinking by
resting their chins upon the edge of the
raft.

For days and days this strangely assorted
company drifted over the waters. Wee-
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THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

sack-ka-chack kept one of the birds upon
the highest branch of the tree day and night,
but none of them saw anything but water.
It was during this voyage that the owl
acquired the habit of staying up all night;
as he could see in the darkness he was
usually assigned to night duty. It was at
this time, too, that Wee-sack-ka-chack came
to know all the animals and birds so inti
mately. He had always been able to speak
with them, but had not known them so well
before this trip.

When the rain had ceased and the sky
had cleared Wee-sack-ka-chack began to
think seriously of their future and of how
he was to make the earth for them all to
live upon. They couldn t possibly live on
the raft all their lives ; so he called a meet
ing of all his young friends and discussed
the best thing to be done. He assured them
all that if it were possible to get even a
tiny speck of earth he could from it make
a huge island large enough for all. He
reminded them of the fact that but for his
love and wisdom they would all have been
drowned, and that in return he expected
180



THE DIVERS

their help in the present predicament. He
wanted some of them to dive off the raft
and try to bring up a little of the earth
they had not seen for so many days. Three
different animals volunteered to do this
the beaver, the otter and the rat. Wee-
sack-ka-chack thanked them and said he
would ask the beaver to go down first, as
he was strong and accustomed to undertake
very difficult tasks and was also a good
swimmer. So off the beaver jumped and
was under the water a long time, but on
his return he had to confess that he had
not seen a sign of any earth, though he had
gone down very far.

The otter was the next one to go down.
Wee-sack-ka-chack encouraged him to
greater effort by reminding him that some
of the best fishes were to be found in the
deepest water. But though the otter stayed
down much longer than the beaver he, too,
disappointed his waiting friends by coming
up without any earth and without having
seen any.

Things began to look very bad for Wee-
sack-ka-chack and his company, for the only
181



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

volunteer left was the rat, whose size did
not promise any better success for finding
the material required to build a new world.
However, the rat himself was most cheer
ful and seemed confident of being more
successful than his larger and stronger
friends, the beaver and the otter. Just be
fore he dived off the raft Wee-sack-ka-chack
impressed upon him to do his best, which of
course the little rat had already made up
his mind to do. They all watched him jump
into the water, and waited most anxiously
for his return. He stayed doAvn for a very
long time, and at last came up more dead
than alive, but with the welcome informa
tion that he had seen some earth. Now
this was indeed good news to them all.
After a good rest he started once more for
his seemingly impossible task. This time
he was so long gone that his friends began
to fear for his life, because even a rat can
not stay more than a certain time under
the water. However, one of the animals
suddenly noticed his small, limp body in
the water, and Wee-sack-ka-chack managed
with the aid of a branch to pull him near
182



THE BEGINNING OF LAND

enough to the raft to get him on board.
He appeared to be dead, but Wee-sack-
ka-chack worked over him until he felt
his heart begin to beat and knew he was
going to live. Just then the fox remarked
that the rat had his paws tightly clenched,
as if holding something, so Wee-sack-ka-
chack forced them open, and sure enough
the brave little fellow had managed to
scratch up some earth in each small paw
and had thus saved the situation.

Wee-sack-ka-chack took the earth and
dried it very carefully. Afterwards he blew
it in all directions, and wherever it fell the
land began to form. After days of this
work Wee-sack-ka-chack thought he had
surely made an island large enough for
them all, but in order to be sure of the
size of his island he looked around among
his friends to find one who would run all
around it and report as to its size. Some
of the animals were a little nervous about
undertaking this task, but Wee-sack-ka-
chack said to the wolf, " Now, my young
brother, you are surely brave enough to do
this. Remember I saved your skin from
183



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

the door of the snake s tepee, and in return
you must do this for me." So off the wolf
started, running toward the rising sun, and
in that direction they waited for his return.
He was only away for a year when back
he came, saying the island was not nearly
large enough. This report started Wee-
sack-ka-chack again, and after working for
weeks he sent off another wolf. This one
was away so long that he was old and grey
when he returned. He said the island was
now quite large enough for them all. Wee-
sack-ka-chack was delighted to hear this,
and said to the wolf, " You may be old and
grey, but you will be game to the last, and
you shall be able to fast longer than all
other animals, and also to eat more than
any other of your size when there is food to
be had."



184



CHAPTER XIV.

Two more legends Wee-sack-ka-chack and the
Bald-headed Eagles Wee-sack-ka-chack and
the Fox.

ONCE upon a time Wee-sack-ka-chack, on
one of his numerous travels, had to climb
to the brow of a high hill. It was a warm
day in the month of Moulting Birds (July),
and when he reached the top he was very
hot and tired and sat down to rest himself.

Presently he noticed two huge eagles
soaring far above him, and he called to
them, " My young brothers, come down and
let me get upon your backs and take me up
high into the air where it is cool. I am
tired and very warm." So they came down,
and, letting Wee-sack-ka-chack mount upon
their wings, they bore him up towards the
sky and the swaying motion soon lulled
him to sleep. Imagine his surprise when
he awoke to find himself shivering with
cold, and up among the clouds. He at
once told the eagles they had taken him
185



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

too far up, and to carry him down to the
earth again. But this they had no inten
tion of doing, and instead kept going up
higher and higher until Wee-sack-ka-chack
found himself in a region of huge icicles
which seemed to be suspended from the
heavens. To save himself from striking
against them he grasped one in each hand,
and found himself deserted by the eagles
and hanging in the air.

The warmth from his hands soon caused
the icicles to melt, and the cold water from
them trickled down his arms and body.
He realized that it was only a matter of a
few minutes until the icicles should be
melted by his hold upon them, and calling
to the eagles, who had remained in the
vicinity, he begged of them to come to his
rescue. But those unkind birds left him
to his fate and saw him drop down into
space. Poor Wee-sack-ka-chack was going
down and down towards the earth, which
appeared to be miles below him. He
had lots of time to think, and also to pray,
during his travel through space. So he
made supplication to the earth that she
186



AN ADVENTURE

might be kind to him and guide his fall to
some one of the many soft places on her
broad surface. The earth heard him, and
guided his flight to a soft mound, where he
fell. But the force of his fall caused him
to be buried almost to the middle of his
body, and as he came down head first his
trying position may be better imagined than
described. However, he managed to extri
cate himself by wriggling, and when he did
get out was completely exhausted and lay
down in a semi-conscious condition. He
was aroused from this state by feeling some
crows pecking at him, and hearing some
wolves arguing among themselves as to
whether he was alive or dead. He was too
weak to speak, and lay quietly gazing up
towards the heavens, when he saw the two
huge eagles hovering above him. This
helped to bring back his senses, and he
said, to the crows, " My young brothers, I
am not dead yet, but stay around me and
pretend to be picking at my flesh. I want
to punish those two eagles when they come
to eat me." So the crows did as requested
and were soon joined by the eagles.
187



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

Wee-sack-ka-chack lay on his back with
his arms stretched out and his palms open.
Very soon the eagles began pecking at the
palms of his hands, and awaiting his chance
he suddenly closed his hands upon the
eagles heads and held them firmly. After
struggling for a long time they managed to
get away, but left all the skin from off the
tops of their heads in his hands.

As they flew away, Wee-sack-ka-chack
said to them, " You and all your descend
ants will evermore be bald, for having
treated me as you did in causing me to fall
from the sky."

And the Indians say that Wee-sack-ka-
chack s words were fulfilled, and all the
descendants of those two eagles have car
ried the unmistakable mark of his displea
sure; to this day none of them have any
feathers upon their heads.

Once upon a time, when Wee-sack-ka-
chack was very hungry, he started out to
find some food. As he walked along he
came to a beautifully-situated little lake,
in which there were a number of geese.
Now it suddenly occurred to Wee-sack-ka-
188



A CUNNING MUSICIAN

chack that there was nothing he desired to
eat so much as a goose. In looking around
for something Avith which to kill them he
spied a peculiar hollow-centred reed, from
which he could produce a strange, weird
music which appealed to all kinds of birds
and wild animals.

Procuring a few of the reeds, he began
to play upon them ; the geese had no sooner
heard it than they waddled out upon the
shore and came towards him. Wee-sack-
ka-chack with his usual cunning pretended
not to see them, but continued playing.
Very soon he had all the geese dancing
around him in a clumsy but rhythmic mea
sure. He kept up the music so long that
the geese began to get quite tired and were
unconsciously narrowing the circle in which
they danced till they were actually press
ing up against him. With his disengaged
hand he twisted their necks one after an
other as they came to him without arousing
any suspicion among them. All shared the
same fate. Wee-sack-ka-chack was de
lighted with his success, especially as none
had escaped to tell of his work. He was
189



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

always anxious to pose as the friend of all
birds and beasts, and would not for worlds
have his true character become known to
them.

After gathering up all the dead geese he
carried them to a spot near-by, where he
soon built a fire with which to cook them.
When he had burned sufficient wood to
make quite a heap of ashes he buried all
the geese under them. He arranged the
geese in such a way that though their bodies
were completely buried, their legs and feet
stuck out of the ashes. This was to help
him find the birds when they were cooked.
To hasten the process he made a good big
fire over all the ashes, and then went for a
walk in order to sharpen his appetite.

As he walked along a sly old fox caught
sight of him and said to himself, " My
friend Wee-sack-ka-chack has a most self-
satisfied expression this morning; he must
have had a successful hunt. I wonder
which of his young brothers he has
played some trick upon to-day." When he
saw Wee-sack-ka-chack approaching in his
direction he pretended to be fast asleep.
190



A HANDICAP KACE

Catching sight of the fox, Wee-sack-ka-
chack went up to him and said, " Well, my
young brother, you have had a good rest,
so should be fit for a race with me to-day.
I am feeling very well and am sure of win
ning. Will you run a race around that
little lake with me?" The fox said he was
perfectly willing to try conclusions with
his older brother, but could not very well
do so just then as he was suffering from the
effects of a sore foot. Wee-sack-ka-chack,
of course, believed all this, and offered very
generously to handicap himself by tying a
stone to his ankle and also giving the fox
a few yards start of him in the race. The
sly old fox very reluctantly consented to
this arrangement and the race was started.
As soon, however, as they were out of sight
of each other the fox ran as fast as he
could and presently came to the fire which
Wee-sack-ka-chack had left a few minutes
before. He at once proceeded to investi
gate and soon discovered what was cooking.
He made short work of all the geese, and
before leaving buried all the feathers and
carefully arranged all the legs and feet of
191



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

the geese in their former position. He then
started off to finish the race and reached the
starting-point long before his old friend had
gone half the distance. He lay down to
rest, but after his hearty meal was so
drowsy that he very soon fell into a heavy
slumber. Wee-sack-ka-chack at last reached
then end of the race, and much to his sur
prise found the fox ahead of him and fast
asleep. He at once became suspicious, as
the fox was in the habit of playing just
such tricks upon his elder brother, so he
examined each of the fox s feet and, as he
suspected, they showed no signs of cuts
or bruises ; but in the kindness of his heart
he concluded to let his young brother sleep,
while he went on to enjoy his dinner. He
felt sure that the geese were sufficiently
cooked for him by that time and hurried on,
only to find that the fox had eaten every
one of them and had concealed the trick
most cleverly by putting each pair of legs
back just as he had arranged them.

Wee-sack-ka-chack then returned to where
he had left his unkind friend fast asleep,
and, gathering a lot of dry grass, made a
192



HUNTING FOR A MEAL

complete circle with it round the sleeping
fox; then, setting fire to it, he sat down
and watched the flames burn up. The heat
very soon awakened the fox, who jumped up,
hopped over the fire and got away, remark
ing as he went that his " older brother was
a very good cook," which reminded poor
old Wee-sack-ka-chack how very hungry he
was, more especially as he had anticipated
such a hearty meal.

But, with his wonderful powers of en
durance, he started out again with a will to
get another meal.

He had lots to think of as he trudged
along: of the many tricks the fox was
always playing upon him, and of those
played on him by the different birds and
other animals. Then, again, he thought of
how he had ill-treated so many of his young
friends. He realized that he had not
treated his friends the geese fairly himself
that very morning, but he excused his con
duct by thinking of the intense hunger from
which he had suffered, and, as he said to
himself, they were not asked to dance,
even if he did make such appealing music,
13 193



THE PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS

and if they had stayed in the water they
might all have been alive now. But we
shall see whether staying in the water
would have saved them.

After he had walked quite a long way
he came to a very pretty part of the coun
try, hills and little inland lakes everywhere
about him. He sat down to rest, and as he
did so imagined he heard the splash of
ducks or geese in some near-by lake. Pres
ently he heard a goose honk quite near him,
and this was too much for poor old Wee-
sack-ka-chack, who started out in the direc
tion from which the sound had come and
soon discovered a lake in which were fully
a dozen or more of his young friends. The


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