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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "The Fire-Plume"

The Fire-Plume

Wassamo was living with his parents on the shore of a large bay, far out in the north-east.

One day, when the season had commenced for fish to be plenty, the mother of Wassamo said to him, "My son, I wish you would go to yonder point and see if you can not procure me some fish; and ask your cousin to accompany you."

He did so. They set out, and in the course of the afternoon they arrived at the fishing-ground.

The cousin, being the elder, attended to the nets, and they encamped near by, using the bark of the birch for a lodge to shelter them through the night.

They lit a fire, and while they sat conversing with each other, the moon arose. Not a breath of wind disturbed the smooth surface of the lake. Not a cloud was seen. Wassamo looked out on the water toward their nets, and he saw that the little black spots, which were no other than the floats, dotting the lake, had disappeared.

"Cousin," he said, "let us visit our nets; perhaps we are fortunate."

When they drew up the nets they were rejoiced to see the meshes shining white, all over, with the glittering prey. They landed in fine spirits, and put away their canoe in safety from the winds.

"Wassamo," said the cousin, "you cook that we may eat."

Wassamo set about the work at once, and soon had his great kettle swung upon its branch, while the cousin lay at his ease upon the other side of the fire.

"Cousin," said Wassamo, "tell me stories or sing me some love-songs."

The cousin obeyed, and sung his plaintive songs; or he would frequently break off in the midst of a mournful chant, and begin to recite a mirthful story, and then in the midst of Wassamo's laughter he would return to the plaintive ditty—just as it suited his fancy; for the cousin was gay of spirit, and shifted his humor faster than the fleecy clouds that appeared and disappeared in the night-sky over their heads. In this changeful pastime the cousin ran his length, and then he fell away, murmuring parts of his song or story, into a silvery sleep; with the moon gliding through the branches and gilding his face.

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