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Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,
Ile alone was spared among them
As a hostage for his people.
With his prisoner-string he bound him,
Led him captive to his wigwam,
Tied him fast with cords of elm-bark
"o the ridge-pole of his wigwam.
Kahgahgee, my raven !” said he,
56 You the leader of the robbers,
You the plotter of this mischief,
The contriver of this outrage,
I will keep you, I will hold you,
As a hostage for your people,
As a pledge of good behavior !”.
And he left him, grim and sulky,
Sitting in the morning sunshine
On the summit of the wigwam,
Croaking fiercely his displeasure,
Flapping his great sable pinions,
Vainly struggling for his freedom,
Vainly calling on his people!
Summer passed, and Shawondasse
Breathed his sighs o'er all the landscape,
From the South-land sent his ardors,
Wafted kisses warm and tender;
And the maize-field grew and ripened,
Till it stood in all the splendor
Of its garments green and yellow,
Of its tassels and its plumage,
And the maize-ears full and shining
Gleamed from bursting sheaths of verdure.
Then Nokomis, the old woman, Spake, and said to Minnehaha : ""T is the Moon when leaves are falling; All the wild-riee has been gathered, And the maize is ripe and ready ; Let us gather in the harvest, Let us wrestle with Mondamin, Strip him of his plumes and tassels, Of his garments green and yellow 1”
And the merry Laughing Water Went rejoicing from the wigwam, With Nokomis, old and wrinkled, And they called the women round them, Called the young men and the maidens, To the harvest of the corn-fields, To the husking of the maize-ear.
On the border of the forest,
Underneath the fragrant pine-trees,
Sat the old men and the warriors
Smoking in the pleasant shadow.
In uninterrupted silence
Looked they at the gamesome labor
Of the young men and the women ;
Listened to their noisy talking,
To their laughter and their singing,
Heard them chattering like the magpies,
Heard them laughing like the blue-jays,
Heard them singing like the robins.
And whene'er some lucky maiden
Found a red ear in the husking,
Found a maize-ear red as blood is,
“Nushka !” cried they all together,
Nushka! you shall have a sweetheart,
You shall have a handsome husband !”
“Ugh!” the old men all responded
From their seats beneath the pine-trees
And whene'er a youth or maiden Found a crooked ear in husking, Found a maize-ear in the husking, Blighted, mildewed, or misshapen, Then they laughed and sang together, Crept and limped about the corn-fields Mimicked in their gait and gestures Some old man,
bent almost double, Singing singly or together : * Wagemin, the thief of corn-fields ! Paimosaid, who steals the maize-ear!”
Till the corn-fields rang with laughter,
Till from Hiawatha's wigwam
Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,
Screamed and quivered in his anger,
And from all the neighboring tree-tops
Cawed and croaked the black marauders.
“ Ugh!” the old men all responded,
From their seats beneath the pine-trees !
In those days said Hiawatha,
* Lo! how all things fade and perish 1
From the memory of the old men
Pass away the great traditions,
The achievements of the warriors,
The adventures of the hunters,
All the wisdom of the Medas,
All the craft of the Wabenos,
All the marvellous dreams and visions
Of the Jossakeeds, the Prophets!
“ Great men die and are forgotten,
Wise men speak; their words of wisdom
Perish in the ears that hear them,
Do not reach the generations
That, as yet unborn, are waiting
In the great, mysterious darkness
Of the speechless days that shall be !
“On the grave-posts of our fathers are no signs, no figures painted ; Who are in those graves we know not, Only krow they are our fathers. Of what kith they are and kindred, From what old, ancestral Totem, Be it Eagle, Bear, or Beaver, They descended, this we know not, Only know they are our fathers.
“ Face to face we speak together, But we cannot speak when absent, Cannot send our voices from us
To the friends that dwell afar off ;
Cannot send a secret message,
But the bearer learns our secret,
May pervert it, may betray it,
May reveal it unto others.”
Thus said Hiawatha, walking
In the solitary forest,
Pondering, musing in the forest,
On the welfare of his people.
From his pouch he took his colors,
Fook his paints of different colors,
On the smooth bark of a birch-tree
Painted many shapes and figures,
Wonderful and mystic figures,
And each figure bad a meaning,
Each some word or thought suggested.
Gitche Manito the Mighty,
He, the Master of Life, was painted
As an egg, with points projecting
To the four winds of the heavens.
Everywhere is the Great Spirit,
Was the meaning of this symbol
Mitche Manito the Mighty,
He the dreadful Spirit of Evil,
As a serpent was depicted,
As Kenabeek, the great serpent.
Very crafty, very cunning,
Is the creeping Spirit of Evil
, Was the meaning of this symbol.
Life and Death he drew as circles, Life was white, but Death was darkened ; Sun and moon and stars he painted, Man and beast, and fish and reptile, Forests, mountains, lazes, and rivers.
For the earth he drew a straight line, For the sky a bow above it; White the space between for day-time, Filled with little stars for night-time;
left a point for sunrise,