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The Fire-Plume

It is seldom that the few who pass these sand-hills offer me a piece of tobacco,—it is a rare plant in these parts,—but when they do, it immediately comes to me. Just so," he added, putting his hand out of the side of the lodge and drawing in several pieces of tobacco which some one passing at that moment offered as a fee to the Old Spirit, to keep the sand-hills from blowing about till they had got by.

Other gifts beside tobacco came in the same way to the side of the lodge—sometimes a whole bear, then a wampum-robe, then a string of birds—and the Sand-Spirits altogether led an easy life; for they were not at the trouble to hunt or clothe themselves; and whenever the housekeeping began to fall short, nothing would happen but a wonderful storm of dust, all the sand-hills being straightway put in an uproar, and the contributions would at once begin to pour in at the side windows of the lodge, till all their wants were supplied.

After Wassamo had been among these curious people several months, the old Sand-Spirit said to him, "Son-in-law, you must not be surprised at what you will see next; for since you have been with us you have never known us to go to sleep. It has been summer when the sun never sets here where we live. But now, what you call winter, is coming on. You will soon see us lie down, and we shall not rise again till the spring. Take my advice. Do not leave the lodge. I have sure knowledge that that knavish Island Spirit is on the prowl, and as he has command of a particular kind of storm, which comes from the south-west, he only waits his opportunity to catch you abroad and do you a mischief. Try and amuse yourself. That cupboard," pointing to a corner of the lodge, "is never empty; for it is there that all the offerings are handed in while we are asleep. It is never empty, and—" But ere the old Sand-Spirit could utter another word, a loud rattling of thunder was heard, and instantly, not only the Old Spirit but every one of his family, vanished out of sight.

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Category: United States folktales
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