There was in the Old Time a great rogue named Badger. The Wabanaki storytellers, who talk of men as though they were animals and animals as though they were men, sometimes spoke of Badger as a man and sometimes as an animal. It was agreed, however, that he had something of Lox in him–Lox, you remember, who was the son of Evil and who sometimes took on the form of a badger. And that is how this Indian known as Badger got his name.
Now this fearless and impudent rascal lived a carefree life on the labour of others, having no time from merrymaking to spend on hunting. In time, however, his neighbours grew tired of supporting him. One summer when food was scarce, the Chief of Badger’s tribe said to him:
“You take all and give nothing. We can no longer afford to share our meat with you. This is what we have decided. You will be given food for half a moon’s journey. You will then be too far away to trouble us, and must live as you can.”
For once, Badger’s face lost its grin.
“Who will take care of Little Brother when I’m gone?” he demanded. Now you see, Badger was not all bad. He had a small brother who was gentle and shy and not very clever, and ever since the boys had lost their parents, Badger had looked after Little Brother and treated him with affection.
“He will be given a home with foster parents,” said the Chief, but Little Brother burst into tears.
“I want to go with my elder brother,” he wailed.
“Very well, come along,” said Badger, and grinned saucily at the people. “Thanks, my friends, for giving us a chance to see the world!” Then, with all their possessions in a blanket slung over Badger’s shoulder, the two set jauntily off into the woods. However, they did not go far. Badger stopped before the mouth of a small cave and told Little Brother to go inside.
“This food will last you until the full of the moon, when I shall return,” he said. “I must play one last trick on our late friends! ”
Then Badger dressed himself in the beads and feathers of a medicine man and put a mask on his face. Medicine men, you know, were the doctors of the Indians. Some of them understood how to make medicine from herbs and how to cure people; but others, like Badger, were frauds.
He knew that his former tribe had no medicine man at present, so he went back to the village and announced that he was a powerful man of magic. Not recognizing Badger behind the mask, his old neighbours treated him with great respect. They gave him a wigwam to live in and shared their food with him, begging him to treat their sick and use his magic to make meat more plentiful.
For a while, Badger played the medicine man with glee. He beat his drum and shook his rattle, and pretended to summon spirits. He sold charms and fell into trances, and all the time behind his mask, he was laughing. However, game in the district grew scarcer and scarcer, and as the people grew hungrier, they began to lose faith in the medicine man. If he was really a magician, why did he not make hunting better?
One day, near the full of the moon, a long loud wail came from the forest. The Indians shook with fear, but not Badger, who knew at once what it meant. It was Little Brother crying because he was lonely and his food was gone. The wail came again.
“It is the giant, Famine,” said Badger with a long face. “He says he is coming to this village.”
Then all the people began to groan with dismay, for when Famine comes, he brings death by starvation.
“Never fear,” said Badger calmly, “for I, your medicine man, will go out to meet him and drive him away.”
The people exclaimed with gratitude and admiration.
“Give me a bag of tallow,” said Badger, “to take with me, for I shall need plenty of strength to defeat that fellow.”
Tallow was a kind of fat, a great delicacy with the Indians in olden times. It was made by pounding and breaking the bones of a moose, then boiling the bones until the grease came to the top. The grease, a white substance as hard as wax, was then skimmed off with a wooden spoon. It was so nourishing, hunters used to take it with them on long hunting expeditions as their only provision.
So the people gave Badger a large bag of tallow, the last they had, and off he went, crying out in a commanding voice, “Ahhh Chowwwaaa!” The Indians thought this a cry of defiance against the giant, but it was really the secret name Badger had for his brother, to let him know he was coming.
They waited and listened, but heard no sound of battle. They waited long–and in vain–for the return of their medicine man.
Meanwhile, deep in the forest, Badger and Little Brother were feasting on the tallow, laughing together at Badger’s cleverness, when suddenly they heard a rushing sound in the forest. Badger jumped up, alarmed, as huge feet came crashing through the underbrush. The trees swayed as a great hand flung them aside, and all at once a fearsome giant stood before the brothers. His face was as green as the grass, and his hair sprang out from his huge head like needles on pine boughs. Before Badger knew what was happening, the Green Giant had seized Little Brother in his mighty green hand and had stuffed him into the bag he carried on his shoulder.
“Save me,” shrieked Little Brother.
Badger rushed upon the giant furiously, biting and punching and kicking, but the giant only laughed.
“What is tickling my legs?” he asked.
“Give me back my Little Brother,” stormed Badger.
“Certainly,” said the Green Giant, “as soon as you bring me the magic food of Glooscap which never grows less, no matter how much of it is eaten.”
Poor Badger stared at the giant in dismay. It was a long way to Blomidon where Glooscap lived, and the path to it was full of danger. Moreover, there was no certainty of Glooscap giving him the food when he got there.
“I shall wait for you here,” the Green Giant shouted, “but only for the space of time it takes the sun to run its full course. If you do not bring the food by then, I shall have to eat Little Brother instead.”
Without a word, Badger turned and set off through the trees at top speed. Late that same day, tired and breathless, he reached the shore of Minas Basin and looked up at Blomidon’s red slopes, immense against the darkening sky. He knew, in order to find Glooscap’s lodge, he must climb to the very top. He was terribly tired, and yearned to rest, but the thought of Little Brother in the hands of the Green Giant drove him up the red slope as fast as possible.
The red stone was slippery and covered him with red dust, but he kept on. Branches of low spruce and juniper scratched his face and tore his hands, but he paid no attention. His lungs pained, his head throbbed. His throat was hot and dry as he dragged himself the last few yards, and tumbled over full length on the grass at the summit. Too worn out for a moment to move, Badger lay still, recovering his breath. Then he got wearily to his feet. There stood Glooscap’s great wigwam, a fire glowing dimly within. The Great Chief himself was nowhere in sight, nor was there any sign of Noogumee, Glooscap’s grandmother, or of Marten his servant. Badger could not wait for their return to ask for the food–there was no time. Besides, the Great Chief might refuse to give it to him. Badger must get the food somehow and hurry back to the Green Giant.
He crept into the lodge and looked around, then cried out softly with triumph. A dish of Glooscap’s magic food stood beside the fire. He had only to reach out and take it; but as his fingers curved around the dish they were struck aside.
“Stop, thief!” a stern voice commanded. And Badger looked up to see the great Glooscap towering over him. But his fear for Little Brother was even greater than his fear of the Great Chief.
“Please, Master!” he cried. “Give me the magic food. I must save my brother from the Green Giant.”
“Why should I give you anything,” asked Glooscap, “you who have robbed and made fun of your neighbours?”
“You can’t let Little Brother die,” Badger cried. “It wasn’t his fault. If you don’t help me, the giant will eat him!”
“Will he?” asked Glooscap mysteriously, and before Badger’s surprised eyes, his shape began to change. His skin became green, his hair stood out from his head in green spikes, and his green face assumed a ferocious expression.
“The Green Giant was you all the time!” gasped Badger.
“And I hope he has taught you a lesson,” said Glooscap, resuming his own appearance. “Are you sorry for the way you have behaved?”
“Yes, indeed,” cried Badger.
“And will you promise to give up your silly tricks and do your share of the hunting?”
“I will, I will, if only–”
“Then look behind you.”
Badger turned and saw Little Brother, smiling and un harmed, standing beside the fire. So great was Badger’s relief, he nearly cried. For the first time, too, he realized how tired he was, and how hungry. The old impudent grin reappeared.
“I don’t suppose,” he suggested, “you could spare me a taste of that food?”
“Certainly not!” said Glooscap indignantly, “not until you can share it with the people you robbed of their tallow. Take this food to them at once. It will never grow less, no matter how much is eaten, until game is again plentiful in the forest.”
When the people of Badger’s old village saw him bringing the magic food of Glooscap, they forgave him and welcomed him back into the tribe. Famine no longer troubled the Indians, and Badger behaved himself for quite some time.
But if you think he had played his last trick, you are much mistaken, for you will hear again in time of Badger–and his mischief-making.
Until then, kespeadooksit!
Badger was up to his tricks again.
He had met a stranger in the forest and invited him to camp with him overnight. As they sat by the fire, they smoked their pipes and told stories until it grew very late, so late that Badger could hardly keep from yawning. However, it was a matter of pride with him not to fall asleep. Besides, being such a deceiver himself, he was always suspicious of other people. He would feel safer when the unknown Indian was asleep. He thought of a trick.
“My friend,” said he, “can you tell me what my backlog is?” meaning the log against which he was leaning.
“Hickory?” inquired the stranger.
“No, not hickory.”
“No, not maple.”
“No, not white oak.”
And so it went on, the stranger mentioning moose wood, ash, pine, cedar, birch, and all the wood he could think of, while Badger kept on saying no it was not this, or that. Their voices rose and fell with such monotonous regularity that the man grew sleepier and sleepier, until at last he slumped down fast asleep. Annoyed at the man for being so long about it, Badger thought of another trick to play. He spread sticky clay over the sleeper’s eyes and then quickly departed.
When the man awoke, he thought he was blind, and was in a terrible state until he discovered the clay and rubbed it off.
“If ever I meet with that fellow again,” he vowed bitterly, “I’ll crush him to bits!”
Now this man, as it happened, was a boooin, and such wizards are very unpleasant fellows. It would be well for Badger if he never crossed Koondao’s path again. Koondao, which means “stone,” was the wizard’s name, and he could become a huge stone at will.
Meanwhile, Badger had returned to his own lodge and told Little Brother to prepare for a journey.
“We are going to see what is new in the world,” he said, and as Little Brother was always willing to do what Badger said, away they both went.
They had not gone far when they met a very tall and handsome Indian, wearing a shining belt and a necklace of purple stones. Badger recognized the amethyst beads and knew at once it was Glooscap the Great Chief. He felt somewhat nervous, but when Badger is frightened he is always more impudent than ever.
“Kwah-ee, Master,” he saluted the Chief jauntily.
“Badger,” said Glooscap sternly, “some day, with those tricks of yours, you will go too far. If your mischief should be the death of you, what would become of Little Brother?”
“That’s just what’s been worrying me,” said the trouble maker merrily. “And so, my Chief, I think you should give me a teomul to keep me from harm!” A teomul, you know, is Indian for “magic charm.”
Glooscap was about to rebuke Badger for his impudence, but then he thought to himself that perhaps a reward might have more effect on the troublemaker than punishment. It was at least worth a trial.
“Very well,” he agreed, touching his magic belt. “I give you a charmed backbone.”
“Hurray!” cried Badger.
“But you may use its magic only once,” warned the Great Chief. “Be sure you use it wisely.” Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, Glooscap was gone.
“Hurray for my backbone,” laughed Badger. “And now, Little Brother, let us find some fun.”
“I’m hungry,” said Little Brother.
“Very well. I’ll take care of that.”
And away they went through the forest. Presently, they met two young boys. Now these boys, though Badger did not know it, were of the Culloo tribe, the Culloos being magicians who could, when they wished, turn themselves into enormous birds. Badger greeted the boys and asked where they lived. The boys pointed across the river, and Badger began to admire their bows and arrows.
“Let me feel how stiff they are,” he said, and when he had them in his hand, he bent them so sharply they broke in pieces. “Dear me,” said Badger in mock dismay, “what a pity. However, down the river a way, there is a large grove of birch which makes the very best bows. Listen!” and he cocked his head as if he could hear sounds. “There are some of your friends now, cutting down the trees. Hurry, so you may get your share.”
The boys could hear nothing but the wind in the trees and the birds singing, but they were anxious to have new bows, so theyhurried off down the river, going farther and farther from home. Badger laughed and told Little Brother to hide himself under a spruce tree.
“I am going to pay a visit to their lodge and get some dinner,” he said. He reached into his blanket and pulled out a fine shirt, a feathered headdress, and a string of shell beads. When he put them on, he looked as grand as a Chief, and when he presented himself at the lodge of the Culloo woman, she bowed deeply.
“What can I do for you, O Chief ?” asked she.
“Call your two boys,” said Badger imperiously, “for I have something of importance to say to them.”
The mother thought this must mean some good fortune, so she hurried away into the trees, calling out to her sons to come home. As soon as her back was turned, Badger lifted the meat off the fire and made off with it–and he and Little Brother shared a fine meal.
Soon afterward, the mother returned with her boys and found her dinner gone. It was clear that a trick had been played on them.
“It is that same rascal who broke our bows and led us on a wild goose hunt down the river,” said the boys. “Come, let us go after him and teach him a lesson!” And, turning themselves into birds, they flew off.
Badger saw them coming and told Little Brother to hide.
“I shall lead them a merry chase,” cried he, and was off like the wind, so fast the young Culloos could not overtake him–except one, who came close enough to snatch at the beads around his neck and break them. As the beads streamed away in the wind, Badger laughed.
“Thank you! Those beads were heavy. Now I can run much faster!”
The young Culloos called for help from their uncle, Kakakooch the Crow. Kakakooch flew after Badger and just managed to seize his headdress.
“Oh, how good you are,” the merry Badger laughed.
“You have done me a great favour. My head was growing very hot. Now I can run faster than ever.”
Then Kakakooch called on Uncle Kitpou the Eagle, begging him to catch Badger and punish him. Uncle Kitpou could fly faster than the others, but even so he only managed to snatch off Badger’s shirt.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” cried Badger, as he ran on. “I was just wishing to be rid of that heavy shirt.”
It looked as though Badger would escape them all.
Then, suddenly, down out of the sky came the Culloo boys’ father, the giant Culloo himself, the biggest and strongest bird in the whole sky. He caught Badger up in his claws, body and bones, carried him to a high cloud, and let go! Badger fell heels over head, and from such a height he fell all night, from dusk to dawn, and the Culloo followed him down.
“Hurrah for a race!” cried Badger. “Swish, swish!” And he flapped his arms like the Culloo, imitating the sound of his wings. However, when at last he neared the ground, even Badger grew worried. That ground looked very hard. Just at the last moment, he remembered to cry out, “Oh spare my backbone!” and the next instant he struck the earth and was dashed to pieces. The Culloo flew away, satisfied.
Poor Badger. There he lay, in a hundred pieces, except for his backbone which remained whole.
On the following day, along came Little Brother, crying bitterly, “Oh, my brother, why have you deserted me?”
At the sound of Little Brother’s voice, Badger’s backbone suddenly stood up all by itself and Badger’s voice cried out:
“Ho, my leg come hither!” and the leg came and attached itself to the backbone. “Ho, my arm come hither!” cried the voice, and so it went on, Badger crying upon all the parts of his body until all the scattered bone and muscle and sinew and skin came together, and he was his old self again.
Little Brother clapped his hands with joy.
“That’s a good trick,” said Badger. “Too bad I can’t do it again. Never mind, Little Brother, we can have plenty of fun without it.”
So the two went on through the forest until they came to a hill and saw a huge stone. This, as it happened, was Koondao the boooin in his stone shape, but Badger had no idea of it.
“Let’s have a race,” cried Badger, and levering the stone from the earth, he sent it rolling down the hill.
Badger and his brother ran after it at top speed, shouting, “We can run faster than you!” They chased it to the bottom of the hill and raced past in triumph.
“We won, we won!” cried Little Brother, and sat down to recover his breath.
Badger was about to do the same when he heard a strange noise and looked around. There was the great stone coming straight at them.
“Run for your life, Little Brother!” cried Badger.
The stone thundered after them, up hills and down valleys, smashing rocks and trees in its path, gaining on the two Micmacs inch by inch. At the last moment, Badger thrust Little Brother to one side and allowed Koondao to strike him instead. The stone rolled over Badger, grinding him to powder, all of him this time, even his backbone. Then at last Koondao came to a halt, satisfied.
When all was still, Little Brother came and looked at the scattered bits of his brother and began to cry.
“The teomul will not work again,” he sobbed. “I have lost my brother forever.” But suddenly a voice thundered behind him.
“Koondao, you miserable stone, how dare you harm my people!” And there stood Glooscap, enlarged to an appalling size, so tall that his head touched the sky. In his fury the Great Chief set a light to the rock, and it burst into fire and burned down to black flakes. Then, returning to his normal size, Glooscap touched the flakes with his foot and they turned into flies.
“Little Brother,” said the Great Chief sadly, “Badger was warned, but he would not listen. If he had not used up his charm to escape the Culloos, it would have protected him from Koondao.”
Then, seeing the misery on Little Brother’s face, he added, “However, Badger gave his life to save yours, so perhaps there is hope for him yet. I think we will give him one more chance.” And, touching his magic belt, the Great Chief shouted:
“Ho, Badger’s leg come hither” and “Ho, Badger’s arm come hither,” and so on, until Badger stood before them, his old self again, but somewhat thoughtful.
“That bit of fun was nearly my end,” he remarked. “I hope I remember to be more careful in the future.”
The Great Chief smiled and called down one of the black flies from the tree around which they were buzzing. Suddenly, Badger jumped, then he howled as the black fly bit him again.
“That will remind you!” said Glooscap, roaring with laughter. “Each spring the black flies will come to the forest to tell you that an act which causes pain to others will in the end cause pain to yourself.”
And it is so to this day. The savage black flies still swarm through the eastern woodlands of Maine and the Maritime Provinces, reminding us of the Great Chief’s words, as they reminded Badger long ago.
Once more, kespeadooksit–the story ends.
One day Badger and his brother were sunning themselves in a meadow when along came two flighty girls of the Micmac tribe. They had been sent to pick blueberries but, idling their time away in talk, they had little to show for their morning’s work. Badger saluted the girls and asked what luck they were having.
“None at all,” said the elder sister, preferring the stranger to think the fault lay in the scarcity of berries and not in themselves.
“You’re not looking in the right place,” said Badger, hiding a grin. “You should follow the sun to its going-down place. There you will find more blueberries than you ever imagined.”
“Quick!” cried the younger girl, who was even more foolish and impetuous than her sister. “Let us find them before someone else does,” and away they went.
How Badger laughed, and Little Brother too.
“When they find the sun’s going-down place,” he told Little Brother, “it will be too dark to see blueberries or any thing else!”
The two foolish girls followed the sun all afternoon and when it dipped below the treetops, they looked for berries. In the dusk, of course, they could hardly see anything, and not a berry could they find. Then, at last, they realized how they had been fooled and knew they must build a lodge where they were for the night, since it was too dark to travel.
Luckily, even very young girls are taught in the Wabanaki land how to build a wigwam, for amongst the Indians that is a woman’s work. The sisters stripped young birches of their boughs and thrust them into the ground to form a cone. Then they laid birch bark over the cone and laid poles on the outside to hold the bark in position. Finally, they made beds of thick spruce boughs and lay down with their heads to the door, so they could look out at the sky.
“If you could marry a star,” asked the younger girl sleepily, “which one would you choose? That large bright star or the small twinkling one?”
The elder girl yawned.
“The large bright one,” she murmured, and fell asleep.
“I should like the little one,” said her sister, and then she too drifted into slumber.
In the morning, the elder sister was first awake, and cried out with surprise at the sight of a young man with large lustrous eyes, standing within the wigwam.
“You wished for me,” he said, “and here I am.”
Beside him stood an older, smaller man, who looked at the other girl with little twinkling eyes.
“We are tired of living alone,” he said.
Now the two astonished Indian maids did not remember their idle wishes of the night before, but they understood the men wished to marry them. They thought the men looked kind and that it would be very nice to have husbands to love and care for them, so they agreed to go and live with the men in their own country.
“Turn around three times,” said the younger man, “with your eyes tightly closed.” The girls did so, and on opening them, discovered they were in a strange new land. It was wide and open, without trees or water, and with a blue haze over everything. The girls thought it beautiful and settled down happily with their husbands in one large wigwam. The men were kind to them and gave them all they wanted, but warned them never to look under a certain flat stone which stood near the wigwam. Now, of course, this immediately aroused the girls’ curiosity. Time after time, they looked at the stone and asked each other “What can be under it?” and “Why can’t we look?”
At last, one day when their husbands were off hunting, the younger sister could bear it no longer.
“I must take just a tiny peep,” she said, and lifted the stone.
To the sisters’ amazement, they found themselves staring through a peephole at the earth itself! As if they were eagles, they could look down on green forests and lakes and rivers, their own land! Now at last they knew where they were– in the sky, with stars for husbands. At once they were homesick.
That night, when the husbands came home, they saw that the girls had been crying and guessed the reason. As they feared, the earth women now longed to return to their own people.
“Very well,” said the star men sadly. “If you wish to go, we will show you the way.”
“Go to sleep,” said the younger man, “and when you wake, you will find yourselves where you were when you first wished for star husbands.”
“Wait till you hear the chickadee sing,” said the older man, “but do not open your eyes. Wait till the red squirrel sings, but even then, do not open your eyes. Wait till you hear the gray phoebe sing–then you may open your eyes.”
The star wives slept for a long time, until at last they began to hear the familiar sounds of the forest. With closed eyes, they heard the chickadee sing. “Don’t move,” whispered the elder sister. Then the red squirrel sang. And the younger girl could wait no longer. Eagerly, she threw off her blanket.
“No, no!” cried her sister. “Wait till the gray phoebe sings!” But the younger star wife had already opened her eyes.
The star wives were no longer in the sky, but not on the ground either. They were on the topmost branch of a pine tree, halfway up to Sky and halfway down to earth, because they had not waited. Moreover, for their disobedience, they had been turned into weasels.
The elder girl wished very much to scold her younger sister for her impatience, but she knew that would not help. They must get down to the ground.
“There is Team the Moose,” said she. “Let us ask for his help.”
“Team, Team!” cried the younger sister. “Help us!”
“What will you give me if I do?” asked Team.
“Anything! You may even choose one of us to marry.”
But Team shook his head disdainfully.
“No, thank you. I’m married already,” and he passed on.
Next came Mooin the Bear.
“Oh, Mooin, save us and one of us will marry you!”
“I was married in the spring,” said Mooin and passed on. Then came Abistanooch the Marten, and he just laughed at them. “I don’t fancy marrying a weasel,” he said. “I shall choose a mate from my own kind,” and he, too, passed on.
“We ought to have stayed with our star husbands,” moaned the elder sister. “We have been very foolish.”
“Yes,” said the younger, who was also learning wisdom.
“It is better to live in the Sky than in a tree.”
“Look!” cried the first one. “There is the rascal who tricked us in the first place!”
Sure enough, it was Badger, looking up at them with a mocking grin. However, he did not recognize the girls he had fooled. To him they looked like ordinary weasels.
“What will you give me,” he asked, “if I help you down?”
The girls said they had only themselves to give, and Badger said that was just what he wanted. What he had in mind, though, was two roasted weasels, not live ones–one for himself and one for Little Brother.
“Tie your hair string around the branches,” the elder star wife whispered, not trusting Badger this time. “I shall do the same with mine.” Indian women wear strings of thin rawhide to bind their hair, and even though the girls were now weasels they still had their hair strings.
Badger carried the elder sister down first, and she told him that after he had brought her sister down, he must go up the tree again and bring down the hair strings which were very valuable and had magic in them. “Meanwhile,” she said, “my sister and I will prepare the wigwam for you.”
Badger willingly went up the tree since, if those hair strings were valuable, he wanted them for himself. But they were tied in many hard knots, and it took him a long time to get them free. While he was busy at this, the sisters were busy building and furnishing the wigwam.
At last, hearing Badger descend, they crept out the back way and ran for their lives.
“The fun is over,” cried Badger, drawing his knife. “Now for a good dinner of young weasel,” and he strode into the wigwam. “Ouch!” he cried, as sharp thorns ran through his moccasins, and “Help!” he shouted as he bumped into a hornet’s nest and the angry insects stung his face. “Oh, oh, oh!” moaned Badger as he stumbled over an anthill and the ants ran over him and bit him. The girls had prepared the wigwam well!
Now by the time Badger had escaped from the wasps and the ants and washed his stinging body in the brook, he was a very angry Indian indeed. He made up his mind that no matter what happened, he would find those weasels and punish them, and it was a simple matter to discover their track through the forest.
Meanwhile the two star wives, out of breath, had arrived at a broad river, too wide and too deep for two weasels to swim. Knowing Badger would soon be after them, they were very frightened and stared longingly at the other side. A croaking voice spoke behind them.
“Do you wish me to fly you across the river?”
It was Tumgwoligunech the Crane, and the girls joyfully accepted his offer.
“Hop on,” he said, and away they flew across the water.
As he set them down on the far side, however, the crane spoke in a different voice–a deep and musical voice full of wisdom and authority.
“Would you indeed like to be star wives again and live in the Sky?”
The star wives were dumbfounded. How did he know?
“Sometimes men call me the Trickster,” said the crane with meaning, and then the girls knew it was Glooscap.
“Oh yes, Master,” they cried. “If our husbands will have us back, we would very much like to live again in the sky. We don’t like being weasels at all!”
“Very well,” said Glooscap, and he told them to turn around three times with their eyes tightly closed, until they heard the voices of their husbands. The weasels did so, obeying his instructions, and only opened their eyes when they heard their husbands crying, “Welcome home!” And if you look carefully at the night sky in midsummer, you may see four small stars around a piece of sky the shape of a wigwam. They are the two sisters and their husbands shining happily up there to this day.
Back on earth, Glooscap flew back across the river to deal with Badger. Presently the mischief-maker came running out of the woods.
“Here, you Tumgwoligunech,” he shouted, “have you seen two weasels pass this way?”
“I just carried them over to the far side,” said Glooscap in the crane’s hoarse voice.
“Then take me over too!” demanded Badger. “And be quick about it.”
The crane, however, was in no hurry. He smirked and fluffed up his feathers proudly. “Tell me,” he said, “do I not have lovely smooth feathers?”
“Smooth–and dusty!” mocked Badger.
“But have I not a long, straight neck?”
“Very long,” laughed Badger, “and no straighter than this winding river.
“Confess at least,” the crane pleaded, “that my legs are very long and red.”
“Oh, bother!” cried Badger, losing patience. “As long as your tongue, you old chatterer. Take me across!” And he jumped on the crane’s neck.
Saying no more, the crane launched himself into the air and flew with Badger high over the river until, half way across, he gave himself a shake.
“Help!” cried Badger, as he tumbled off and fell down, down, down into the water with a tremendous splash.
Glooscap watched Badger struggle with all his might to gain the shore. At last–wet, tired and breathless–Badger dragged himself from the water. Then he looked up–and waved.
“Thanks!” he shouted with a weak grin. “Just what I wanted–a refreshing swim!”
And Glooscap smiled. For he loved an indomitable spirit and, for all Badger’s faults, he never gave in!
Now again, kespeadooksit–the story ends.