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Main > Canada folktales > Fairy tale "The Boy in the Land of Shadows"

The Boy in the Land of Shadows

At last, after a long journey, the sea grew calm and the air was sweet and warm. There was no trace of the storm, for the waves were quiet and the sky was as clear as crystal. He saw that he was near the Island of the Blest of which the old man had spoken, for it was now plain to his view, as it rose above the ocean, topped with green grass and trees, and a snow-white beach. Soon he reached the shore and drew up his canoe. As he turned away he came upon a skeleton lying flat upon the sand. He stopped to look at it, and as he did so, the skeleton sat up and said in great surprise, "You should not be here. Why have you come?" And the boy said, "I seek my sister. In the early spring-time she sickened and died, and I am going to the Land of Shadows in the Country of Silence in search of her." "You must go far inland," said the skeleton, "and the way is hard to find for such as you." The boy asked for guidance and the skeleton said, "Let me smoke and I will help you." The boy gave him the pipe and the tobacco he had received from the old man, and he laughed when he saw his strange companion with the pipe between his teeth. The skeleton smoked for some time and at last, as the smoke rose from his pipe, it changed to a flock of little white birds, which flew about like doves. The boy looked on in wonder, and the skeleton said, "These birds will guide you. Follow them." Then he gave back the pipe and stretched out again flat upon the sand, and the boy could not rouse him from his sleep.

The boy followed the little white birds as he had been told. He went along through a land of great beauty where flowers were blooming and countless birds were singing. Not a person did he meet on the way. The place was deserted except for the song-birds and the flowers. He passed through the Country of Silence, and came to a mysterious land where no one dwelt. But although he saw no one he heard many voices and he could not tell whence they came. They seemed to be all around him. At last the birds stopped at the entrance to a great garden, and flew around his head in a circle.

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