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

The Fire-Plume

Wassamo in the mean while had lost the sound of his cousin's voice in the rich simmer of the kettle; and when its music pleased his ear the most, as announcing that the fish were handsomely cooked, he lifted the kettle from the fire. He spoke to his cousin, but he received no answer.

He went on with his housekeeping alone, and took the wooden ladle and skimmed the kettle neatly, for the fish were very plump and fat. Wassamo had a torch of twisted bark in one hand to give light, and when he came to take out the fish, there was no one to have charge of the torch.

The cousin was so happy in his sleep, with the silver moon kissing his cheeks, as though she were enamored of his fair looks, that Wassamo had not the heart to call him up.

Binding his girdle upon his brow, in this he thrust the torch, and went forward, with the light dancing through the green leaves at every turn of his head, to prepare the evening meal.

He again spoke to his cousin, but gently, to learn whether he was in truth asleep. The cousin murmured, but made no reply; and Wassamo stepped softly about with the dancing fire-plume lighting up the gloom of the forest at every turn he made.

Suddenly he heard a laugh It was double, or the one must be the perfect echo of the other. To Wassamo there appeared to be two persons at no great distance.

"Cousin," said Wassamo, "some person is near us. I hear a laugh; awake and let us look out!"

The cousin made no answer.

Again Wassamo heard the laughter in mirthful repetition, like the ripple of the water-brook upon the shining pebbles of the stream. Peering out as far as the line of the torchlight pierced into the darkness, he beheld two beautiful young females smiling on him. Their countenances appeared to be perfectly white, like the fresh snow.

He crouched down and pushed his cousin, saying, in a low voice, "Awake! awake! here are two young women."

But he received no answer. His cousin seemed lost to all earthly sense and sound; for he lay unmoved, smiling, in the calm light of the moon.

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