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

Manabozho, the Mischief-Maker

"It is the only thing earthly that I am afraid of, for if it should happen to hit me on any part of my body it would hurt me very much."

The West made this important circumstance known to Manabozho in the strictest confidence.

"Now you will not tell any one, Manabozho, that the black stone is bad medicine for your father, will you?" he added. "You are a good son, and I know will keep it to yourself. Now tell me, my darling boy, is there not something that you don't like?"

Manabozho answered promptly—"Nothing."

His father, who was of a very steady and persevering temper, put the same question to him seventeen times, and each time Manabozho made the same answer—"Nothing."

But the West insisted—"There must be something you are afraid of."

"Well, I will tell you," says Manabozho, "what it is."

He made an effort to speak, but it seemed to be too much for him.

"Out with it," said Ningabiun, or the West, fetching Manabozho such a blow on the back as shook the mountain with its echo.

"Je-ee, je-ee—it is," said Manabozho, apparently in great pain. "Yeo, yeo! I can not name it, I tremble so."

The West told him to banish his fears, and to speak up; no one would hurt him.

Manabozho began again, and he would have gone over the same make-believe of anguish, had not his father, whose strength he knew was more than a match for his own, threatened to pitch him into a river about five miles off. At last he cried out:

"Father, since you will know, it is the root of the bulrush."

He who could with perfect ease spin a sentence a whole day long, seemed to be exhausted by the effort of pronouncing that one word, "bulrush."

Some time after, Manabozho observed:

"I will get some of the black rock, merely to see how it looks."

"Well," said the father, "I will also get a little of the bulrush-root, to learn how it tastes."

They were both double-dealing with each other, and in their hearts getting ready for some desperate work.

They had no sooner separated for the evening than Manabozho was striding off the couple of hundred miles necessary to bring him to the place where black rock was to be procured, while down the other side of the mountain hurried Ningabiun.

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