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The Kenabeek, the great serpents,
Answered over all the fenlands, Lying huge upon the water,
And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, Sparkling, rippling in the water, Far off on the reedy margin, Lying coiled across the passage,
Heralded the hero's coming. With their blazing crests uplifted,
Westward thus fared Hiawatha, Breathing fiery fogs and vapours, Toward the realm of Megissogwon, So that none could pass beyond them. Toward the land of the Pearl-Feather, But the fearless Hiawatha
Till the level moon stared at him, Cried aloud, and spake in this wise: In his face stared pale and haggard, “Let me pass my way, Kenabeek, Till the sun was hot behind him, Let me go upon my journey!”
Till it burned upon his shoulders, And they answered, hissing fiercely, And before him on the upland With their fiery breath made answer: He could see the Shining Wigwam “Back, go back! O Shaugodaya! Of the Manito of Wampum, Back to old Nokomis, Faint-heart!” Of the mightiest of Magicians. Then the angry Hiawatha
Then once more Cheemaun he patted, Raised his mighty bow of ash-tree, To his birch canoe said, “Onward !” Seized his arrows, jasper-headed, And it stirred in all its fibres, Shot them fast among the serpents: And with one great bound of triumph Every twanging of the bow-string Leaped across the water-lilies, Was a war-cry and a death-cry,
Leaped through tangled flags and Every whizzing of an arrow
rushes, Was a death-song of Kenabeek.
And upon the beach beyond them Weltering in the bloody water, Dryshod landed Hiawatha. Dead lay all the fiery serpents,
Straight he took his bow of ash-tree, And among them Hiawatha
One end on the sand he rested,
All night long he sailed upon it, Of his challenge loud and lofty:
“Come forth from your lodge, PearlCovered with its mould of ages,
Feather! Black with rotting water-rushes,
Hiawatha waits your coming!” Rank with flags and leaves of lilies, Straightway from the Shining Wig. Stagnant, lifeless, dreary, dismal,
wam Lighted by the shimmering moonlight, Came the mighty Megissogwon, And by will-o'-the-wisps illumined, Tall of stature, broad of shoulder, Fires by ghosts of dead men kindled, Dark and terrible in aspect, In their weary night encampments.
Clad from head to foot in wampum, All the air was white with moonlight,
Armed with all his warlike weapons, All the water black with shadow, Painted like the sky of morning, And around him the Suggema,
Streaked with crimson, blue, and yellow, The mosquitos, sang their war-song,
Crested with great eagle-feathers, And the fire-flies, Wah-wah-taysee, Streaming upward, streaming outward. Waved their torches to mislead him ; “ Well I know you, Hiawatha !” And the bull-frog, the Dahinda,
Cried he in a voice of thunder, Thrust his head into the moonlight, In a tone of loud derision. Fixed his yellow eyes upon him,
“ Hasten back, O Shaugodaya! Sobbed and sank beneath the surface, Hasten back among the women, And anon a thousand whistles
Back to old Nokomis, Faint-heart!
I will slay you as you stand there, In the pathway of the other,
Piercing deeper than the other,
Wounding sorer than the other; Nothing daunted, fearing nothing : And the knees of Megissogwon “Big words do not smite like war-clubs, Shook like windy reeds beneath him, Boastful breath is not a bow-string, Bent and trembled like the rushes. Taunts are not so sharp as arrows,
But the third and latest arrow
Then began the greatest battle Saw the fiery eyes of Pauguk,
Saw the eyes of Death glare at him, That the war-birds ever witnessed. Heard his voice call in the darkness; All a Summer's day it lasted,
At the feet of Hiawatha From the sunrise to the sunset;
Lifeless lay the great Pearl-Feather, For the shafts of Hiawatha
Lay the mightiest of Magicians. Harmless hit the shirt of wampum, Then the grateful Hiawatha Harmless fell the blows he dealt it Called the Mama, the woodpecker, With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
From his perch among the branches Harmless fell the heavy war-club; Of the melancholy pine-tree, It could dash the rocks asunder,
And, in honour of his service, But it could not break the meshes
Stained with blood the tuft of feathers Of that magic shirt of wampum.
On the little head of Mama ; Till at sunset Hiawatha,
Even to this day he wears it, Leaning on his bow of ash-tree,
Wears the tuft of crimson feathers, Wounded, weary, and desponding, As a symbol of his service. With his mighty war-club broken,
Then he stripped the shirt of wampum With his mittens torn and tattered, From the back of Megissogwon, And three useless arrows only,
As a trophy of the battle, Paused to rest beneath a pine-tree, As a signal of his conquest. From whose branches "trailed the On the shore he left the body, mosses,
Half on land and half in water, And whose trunk was coated over In the sand his feet were buried, With the Dead-man's Moccason And his face was in the water, leather,
And above him wheeled and clamoured With the fungus white and yellow. The Keneu, the great war-eagle,
Suddenly from the boughs above him Sailing round in narrower circles, Sang the Mama, the woodpecker: Hovering nearer, nearer, nearer. Aim your arrows, Hiawatha,
From the wigwam Hiawatha At the head of Megissogwon,
Bore the wealth of Megissogwon, Strike the tuft of hair upon it,
All his wealth of skins and wampum, At their roots the long black tresses; Furs of bison and of beaver, There alone can he be wounded!” Furs of sable and of ermine, Winged with feathers, tipped with Wampum belts and strings and pouches, jasper,
Quivers wrought with beads of wamSwiftly flew Hiawatha's arrow,
pum, Just as Megissogwon, stooping,
Filled with arrows, silver-headed. Raised a heavy stone to throw it.
Homeward then he sailed exulting, Full upon the crown it struck him, Homeward through the black pitchAt the roots of his long tresses,
water, And he reeled and staggered forward, Homeward through the weltering serPlunging like a wounded bison,
pents, Yes, like Pezhekee, the bison,
With the trophies of the battle, When the snow is on the prairie.
With a shout and song of triumph. Swifter flew the second arrow,
On the shore stood old Nokomis,
On the shore stood Chibiabos,
Ever dear to Hiawatha
X. HIAWATHA'S WOOING. “As unto the bow the cord is, So unto the man is woman, Though she bends him she obeys him, Though she draws him, yet she follows, Useless each without the other!”
Thus the youthful Hiawatha Said within himself and pondered, Much perplexed by various feelings, Listless, longing, hoping, fearing, Dreaming still of Minnehaha, Of the lovely Laughing Water, In the land of the Dacotahs.
“ Wed a maiden of your people,”
Thus dissuading spake Nokomis,
Gravely then said old Nokomis:
Bring not here an idle maiden, Bring not here a useless woman, Hands unskilful, feet unwilling; Bring a wife with nimble fingers, Heart and hand that move together, Feet that run on willing errands!”
Smiling, answered Hiawatha: “ In the land of the Dacotahs Lives the Arrow-maker's daughter, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Handsomest of all the women. I will bring her to your wigwam, She shall run upon your errands, Be your starlight, moonlight, firelight, Be the sunlight of my people!”
Still dissuading said Nokomis:
Bring not to my lodge a stranger From the land of the Dacotahs! Very fierce are the Dacotahs, Often is there war between us, There are feuds yet unforgotten, Wounds that ache and still may open!"
Laughing answered Hiawatha:
For that reason, if no other,
Thus departed Hiawatha
With his moccasons of magic,
On the outskirts of the forest, 'Twixt the shadow and the sunshine, Herds of fallow deer were feeding, But they saw not Hiawatha ; To his bow he whispered, “ Fail not!" To his arrow whispered, “ Swerve Sent it singing on its errand, To the red heart of the roebuck;
Threw the deer across his shoulder, At the feet of Laughing Water
Threw the red deer from his shoulders. Sat the ancient Arrow-maker,
And the maiden looked up at him, In the land of the Dacotahs,
Looked up from her mat of rushes, Making arrow-heads of jasper,
Said, with gentle look and accent, Arrow-heads of chalcedony.
“ You are welcome, Hiawatha !” At his side, in all her beauty,
Very spacious was the wigwam, Sat the lovely Minnehaha,
Made of deer-skin dressed and Sat his daughter, Laughing Water,
whitened, Plaiting mats of flags and rushes; With the gods of the Dacotahs Of the past the old man's thoughts Drawn and painted on its curtains, were,
And so tall the doorway, hardly And the maiden's of the future.
Hiawatha stooped to enter, He was thinking, as he sat there, Hardly touched his eagle-feathers Of the days when with such arrows As he entered at the doorway. He had struck the deer and bison,
Then uprose the Laughing Water, On the Muskoday, the meadow;
From the ground fair Minnehaha, Shot the wild-goose, flying southward, Laid aside her mat unfinished, On the wing, the clamorous Wawa; Brought forth food and set before them, Thinking of the great war-parties, Water brought them from the brooklet, How they came to buy his arrows, Gave them food in earthen vessels, Could not fight without his arrows. Gave them drink in bowls of bass-wood, Ah, no more such noble warriors
Listened while the guest was speaking, Could be found on earth as they were ! Listened while her father answered, Now the men were all like women, But not once her lips she opened, Only used their tongues for weapons ! Not a single word she uttered. She was thinking of a hunter,
Yes, as in a dream she listened From another tribe and country
To the words of Hiawatha, Young and tall, and very handsome, As he talked of old Nokomis, Who one morning, in the Spring-time, Who had nursed him in his childhood, Came to buy her father's arrows,
As he told of his companions, Sat and rested in the wigwam,
Chibiabos, the musician, Lingered long about the doorway, And the very strong man, Kwasind, Looking back as he departed.
And of happiness and plenty She had heard her father praise him, In the land of the Ojibways, Praise his courage and his wisdom; In the pleasant land and peaceful. Would he come again for arrows
“ After many years of warfare, To the Falls of Minnehaha ?
Many years of strife and bloodshed, On the mat her hands lay idle,
There is peace between the Ojibways And her eyes were very dreamy.
And the tribe of the Dacotahs." Through their thoughts they heard Thus continued Hiawatha, a footstep,
And then added, speaking slowly, Heard a rustling in the branches, “ That this peace may last for ever,, And with glowing cheek and forehead, And our hands be clasped more closely, With the deer upon his shoulders,
And our hearts be more united, Suddenly from out the woodlands Give me as my wife this maiden, Hiawatha stood before them.
Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Straight the ancient Arrow-maker Loveliest of Dacotah women!” Looked up gravely from his labour,
And the ancient Arrow
maker Laid aside the unfinished arrow,
Paused a moment ere he answered, Bade him enter at the doorway,
Smoked a little while in silence, Saying, as he rose to meet him,
Looked at Hiawatha proudly, Hiawatha, you are welcome!”
Fondly looked at Laughing Water,
And made answer, very gravely, And a bed with boughs of hemlock, “Yes, if Minnehaha wishes;
And a fire before the doorway Let your heart speak, Minnehaha !” With the dry cones of the pine-tree.
And the lovely Laughing Water, All the travelling winds went with Seemed more lovely, as she stood there,
them, Neither willing nor reluctant,
O'er the meadow, through the forest; As she went to Hiawatha,
All the stars of night looked at them, Softly took the seat beside him,
Watched with sleepless eyes their While she said, and blushed to say it,
slumber; “I will follow you, my husband !” From his ambush in the oak-tree This was Hiawatha's wooing!
Peeped the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Thus it was he won the daughter Watched with eager eyes the lovers; Of the ancient Arrow-maker,
And the rabbit, the Wabasso, In the land of the Dacotahs!
Scampered from the path before them, From the wigwam he departed, Peering, peeping from his burrow, Leading with him Laughing Water, Sat erect upon his haunches, Hand in hand they went together, Watched with curious eyes the lovers. Through the woodland and the meadow, Pleasant was the journey homeward, Left the old man standing lonely All the birds sang loud and sweetly At the doorway of his wigwam,
Songs of happiness and heart's-ease ; Heard the Falls of Minnehaha
Sang the blue-bird, the Owaissa, Calling to them from the distance,
Happy are you, Hiawatha, Crying to them from afar off,
Having such a wife to love you! “ Fare thee well, O Minnehaha!" Sang the Opechee, the robin, And the ancient Arrow-maker
“Happy are you, Laughing Water, Turned again unto his labour,
Having such a noble husband !” Sat down by his sunny doorway,
From the sky the sun benignant Murmuring to himself, and saying,
Looked upon them through the “ Thus it is our daughters leave us,
Life is checkered shade and sunshine;
From the sky the moon looked at Wanders piping through the village,
them, Beckons to the fairest maiden,
Filled the lodge with mystic splendours, And she follows where he leads her, Whispered to them, “O my children, Leaving all things for the stranger!” Day is restless, night is quiet,
Pleasant was the journey homeward, Man imperious, woman feeble; Through interminable forests,
Half is mine, although I follow; Over meadow, over mountain,
Rule by patience, Laughing Water!" Over river, hill, and hollow.
Thus it was they journeyed homeShort it seemed to Hiawatha,
ward; Though they journeyed very slowly, Thus it was that Hiawatha Though his pace he checked and slack- To the lodge of old Nokomis, ened
Brought the moonlight, starlight, fireTo the steps of Laughing Water.
light, Over wide and rushing rivers
Brought the sunshine of his people, In his arms he bore the maiden; Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Light he thought her as a feather, Handsomest of all the women As the plume upon his head-gear;
In the land of the Dacotahs,
In the land of handsome women.