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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Manabozho, the Mischief-Maker"

Manabozho, the Mischief-Maker

The woodpecker started up with his drum and rattle to restore him, and by beating them violently he succeeded in bringing him to.

As soon as he came to his senses, Manabozho began to lay the blame of his failure upon his wife, saying to his guest:

"Nemesho, it is this woman-relation of yours—she is the cause of my not succeeding. She has made me a worthless fellow. Before I took her I also could get raccoons."

The woodpecker said nothing, but flying on the tree he drew out several fine raccoons.

"Here," said he, "this is the way we do!" and left him in disdain, carrying his bill high in the air, and stepping over the door-sill as if it were not worthy to be touched by his toes.

After this visit, Manabozho was sitting in the lodge one day with his head down. He heard the wind whistling around it, and thought that by attentively listening he could hear the voice of some one speaking to him. It seemed to say to him:

"Great chief, why are you sorrowful? Am not I your friend—your guardian spirit?"

Manabozho immediately took up his rattle, and without rising from the ground where he was sitting, began to sing the chant which has at every close the refrain of, "Wha lay le aw."

When he had dwelt for a long time on this peculiar chant, which he had been used to sing in all his times of trouble, he laid his rattle aside and determined to fast. For this purpose he went to a cave which faced the setting sun, and built a very small fire, near which he lay down, first telling his wife that neither she nor the children must come near him till he had finished his fast.

At the end of seven days he came back to the lodge, pale and thin, looking like a spirit himself, and as if he had seen spirits. His wife had in the meantime dug through the snow and got a few of the root called truffles. These she boiled and set before him, and this was all the food they had or seemed likely to obtain.

When he had finished his light repast, Manabozho took up his station in the door to see what would happen.

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