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

Manabozho, the Mischief-Maker

The old magician had not time to kiss the old grandmother more than once again before he felt the flame; and jumping out into the air, it burned only the fiercer, and he ran, blazing like a fire-ball, across the prairie.

Manabozho who had, meanwhile, stolen off to his fasting-place, cried out, in a heart-broken tone, and as if on the very point of starvation, "Noko! Noko! is it time for me to come home?"

"Yes," she cried. And when he came in she asked him, "Did you see any thing?"

"Nothing," he answered, with an air of childish candor; looking as much like a big simpleton as he could. The grandmother looked at him very closely and said no more.

Manabozho finished his term of fasting; in the course of which he slyly dispatched twenty fat bears, six dozen birds, and two fine moose; sung his war-song, and embarked in his canoe, fully prepared for war. Beside weapons of battle, he had stowed in a large supply of oil.

He traveled rapidly night and day, for he had only to will or speak, and the canoe went. At length he arrived in sight of the fiery serpents. He paused to view them; he observed that they were some distance apart, and that the flames which they constantly belched forth reached across the pass. He gave them a good morning, and began talking with them in a very friendly way; but they answered, "We know you, Manabozho; you can not pass."

He was not, however, to be put off so easily. Turning his canoe as if about to go back, he suddenly cried out with a loud and terrified voice:

"What is that behind you?"

The serpents, thrown off their guard, instantly turned their heads, and he in a moment glided past them.

"Well," said he, quietly, after he had got by, "how do you like my movement?"

He then took up his bow and arrows, and with deliberate aim shot every one of them, easily, for the serpents were fixed to one spot, and could not even turn around. They were of an enormous length, and of a bright color.

Having thus escaped the sentinel serpents, Manabozho pushed on in his canoe until he came to a part of the lake called Pitch-water, as whatever touched it was sure to stick fast.

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