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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "The Origin of the Narwhal"

The Origin of the Narwhal

One day a loon flew over the hut, and, seeing the poor blind boy at the door, resolved to restore his eyesight. The bird perched on the roof and kept calling, "Quee moo! Quee moo!" which sounded to the lad like "Come here! Come here!"

He went out and followed the bird to the water. There the loon took the boy on its back and dived with him to the bottom. The loon is a great diver and can stay for a long time under water, but it knew the boy could not. So it came to the surface soon and asked, "Can you see anything?"

"No, I cannot see anything as yet," answered the boy.

They dove again and remained a longer time. Again when they came up the loon asked, "Can you see now?"

"I can see a dim shimmer," replied the boy.

"Take a long, long breath and hold it while we go down," said the loon. "When you can hold it no more, let it come out very gradually. As soon as the bubbles of air begin to rise I will know that you must come to the surface and will bring you."

The third time they remained a long while under water, and when they rose to the surface the boy could see as well as ever. He thanked the loon very heartily, and it said to him:

"Go to your home now; but promise me never again to shoot a bird."

He gladly promised, and then ran away to his hut. There he found the skin of the bear he had shot hanging up to dry. He was so angry that he tore it down and, entering the hut, demanded of his mother, "Where did you get the bearskin that is hanging outside the house?"

His mother perceived that he had recovered his sight and that he suspected the truth about the bear. She was frightened at his anger and sought to pacify him.

"Come here," she said, "and I will give you the best I have. But I have no one to support me and am very poor. Come here and eat this. It is very good."

The boy did not go near. Again he asked, "Where did you get the bearskin that I saw hanging outside the door?"

She was afraid to tell him the truth, so she said, "A boat came here with many men in it and they gave me the skin.

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