One pleasant summer day, when the children had the pleasure of a canoe outing with Mary and Kennedy, they decided to visit the wigwam of their old friends, Kinnesasis and his wife. They had not seen them for some time, and as Souwanas was away on a long hunting excursion they could not expect any Nanahboozhoo stories until his return. Kinnesasis was a capital story-teller, and they were eager to reach his wigwam. There, after making both him and his wife happy with some gifts, they knew they could get some interesting stories in return.
They met with a hearty welcome and spent a happy day there. Among the stories Kinnesasis told them, as handed down by his forefathers, the following is perhaps the most interesting:
"Long ago there were great monsters on this earth. Some of them were enormous animals and fiercer than any that now exist. Then there were magicians, and other evil spirits, like windegoos, some of whom were tall, giant cannibals, that filled the people with terror. They lay in wait and caught the children, and even the grown-up people, as the wild beasts now catch their prey. Then they kindled up great fires and roasted them and ate them.
"Often, when the parents went to look for their children, they also were caught and eaten.
"The people were rendered very miserable not only by these great monsters in human form, but also by the attacks of the enormous animals that then lived. Indeed they began to fear that they would all soon be killed, unless help came to them.
"These people were worshipers of the sun, whom they called the great Sun Father, and some tribes still have their sun dances in his honor. When he saw that the people were in such great trouble and were likely to be all killed by their cruel enemies he resolved to deliver them from their foes. So he disguised himself and came down to the earth and married a beautiful woman of the Northland. They had lovely twin boys, whose names were Sesigizit, the older, and Ooseemeeid, the younger. They grew so rapidly that they were able to walk when only a few days old. Their sun father disappeared as soon as they were born, going to the far Eastland.
"Strange to say, although these two boys grew so rapidly at first, they as suddenly ceased growing, and so remained quite small. But they were very intelligent, and were ever asking questions.
"'Who is our father?'" they inquired of their mother one day.
But she ignored the question, and although they kept bothering her it was a long time before she would give them any information at all, and that was very little. However, she did tell them that they were more than ordinary children and finer than other boys, but then there are lots of mothers who say such things to their own little ones.
"As they were now big enough, she brought out of hiding a couple of bows, and quivers full of arrows, and some magic rabbit sticks, and gave them to the boys.
"'These were left for you by your father,' said the mother, ere he went away, and he gave commands that they were to be given to you as soon as you were able to use them.'
"The children were, of course, anxious to try their bows and arrows and these magic sticks. So very soon after they had received them they resolved to go off on a hunting expedition.
"The mother, who was anxious about them, warned them of the various monsters in human shape, great windegoos and cannibals, that were ever lying in wait to catch and roast and eat little boys. She also told them of the animals that were so enormously large that they could catch them up and swallow them as easily as a turkey does a grasshopper.
"Thus she tried to put them on their guard against the terrible foes that had devoured so many of their people. The boys, however, were not much frightened, and they eagerly set off on their journey.
"They were especially warned by their anxious mother not to go to the east, as there was a narrow lake there to which many of these evil creatures came for water, especially a great monster wolf that had devoured many people. Yet they immediately started off in that direction, for, like some other boys, they did not obey even their mother. It was noon before they reached the lake. At first, as they examined it, everything seemed very quiet and still.
"'Mother must have been mistaken,' said Sesigizit; 'I do not see any living thing here.'
"But as they wandered farther along the shore, suddenly Ooseemeeid cried out:
"'O see that great wolf on the other side!'
"They dropped down as quickly as they could, but the fierce brute had already caught sight of them. He was very much larger than any of the wolves that now howl in the dark forests. He not only destroyed many of the people, but when he came to springs, or small streams, he either drank up all the water or so spoiled it that it was unfit for use.
"The boys shot their arrows at him, but his sides were so tough, for he had bones like jointed armor upon them, that he was only slightly wounded. He was, however, made very angry by their attacks, and he picked up a magic stick and threw it at them. They would have fared badly if they had not so suddenly thrown themselves upon the ground that it passed over them.
"When the boys saw that their arrows were not swift enough to kill such a great animal they decided to use the magic rabbit sticks which their father, the sun, had given them, with orders that they were only to be used when the arrows failed.
"The wolf, when he saw that one of his magic sticks had missed its aim, was more savage than ever, and he seized his remaining one, for he only had two, and he threw it with all his power at the boys. This time they both jumped high up from the ground and the stick passed under them.
"It was their turn now, and so they both threw their magic sticks with such force that the great bony armor of the wolf was crushed in and he was killed.
"Sesigizit quickly ran around the lake to the spot where the great body lay and cut out the heart of the wolf, while Ooseemeeid secured the two magic sticks that the wolf had thrown at them, as well as their own weapons, and then with these trophies they returned to their own home.
"'Where have you been?' asked the anxious mother when they appeared.
"'We have been to the lake,' they replied.
"She could hardly believe it.
"'My boys,' she said, 'you surely are mistaken, for no one who goes there returns. The great monsters that devour our people live there, and they let no one escape.'
"Then they told her of their battle with the great wolf, and how they had killed him. They also showed her his heart, which they had brought home with them.
"She was very much excited. She called the people together, and there was great rejoicing at the death of this terrible wolf which had been such a scourge to them.
"Some time after Sesigizit and Ooseemeeid asked their mother if she knew where grew any good tough wood suitable for making bows and arrows. Her answer was:
"'Far away in the foothills is a canyon, or ravine, where a forest of just such wood as you need is growing, but the path that leads to it is narrow, and there sits guard a great monster giant who kills and throws into the ravine everyone who has attempted to get any of that wood. And in addition there is a fierce mountain lioness prowling around somewhere on the route, and she has already killed many people and carried them off to her den.'
"Ooseemeeid at once desired to set off and get a supply of this wood, but Sesigizit, when he found out how fearful their mother was that they would both be killed if they made the attempt, at first refused to go. His objection, however, vanished when he saw his brother making ready to start, and in spite of their mother's fears they started off.
"They had not gone very far when they met the great mountain lioness. She was out hunting food for her cubs. These she had hidden in a den which was away up on a precipitous mountain side.
"Ooseemeeid asked her if she knew the way to the canyon where grew the good wood.
"'Yes,' she replied. 'I am just going that way, and I will show you the route.' She said this because she wished in this way to allure the two boys to walk near to her den, and there she would kill them for food for her cubs.
"So she led them until they came to a place where the path was very dangerous, because it was on a narrow, shelving rock around the mountain side. Here the monster lioness asked the boys to walk on ahead of her, but they refused, saying that they had been taught never to walk in front of their elders. The lioness urged, but the boys were firm, and so she had to yield and let them have their way.
"When in the most dangerous part of the pass the boys pretended to be very much alarmed, and asked to be permitted to walk between her and the mountain side. At first she was suspicious, but they seemed now to be so cowardly and afraid that she thought they were not able to do her any harm, so she walked on the outer edge of the pass and let them have the inside, and also allowed them to put their hands on her as though to steady themselves. When they came to the most dangerous spot, where it was so narrow that even a mountain lion had to be careful, they both suddenly drew their magic sticks and, giving her a great shove, sent her over the side of the narrow rocky ledge and down she fell—to be dashed to pieces thousands of feet below.
"With a shout of triumph the two boys carefully pushed on and, finding the den, quickly killed the cubs and cut off the right forepaw from each one to carry home.
"From this high pass they could now see the canyon where grew the good wood for which they were seeking. They also saw the lodge of the monster giant who guarded the narrow path that led to it. They saw by its size that he must be an enormous creature, and so they looked to see that their arrows and magic sticks were all in good order and handy for use.
"The great giant had heard their shout of triumph when they had destroyed the mountain lioness and it made him very angry, for he hated any noise or disturbance; his name, Nikoochis, which means solitude, indicated this.
"When he saw the small boys he was at first inclined to laugh in derision at them, but when they had come near enough to shoot their magic arrows at him he soon began to roar with the stinging pain they gave him.
"In vain he tried to catch the active little fellows; he was so big and clumsy, and they were so quick in their movements, that it was an utter impossibility for him to get his hands upon them.
"Then he began tearing up great rocks and stones and tried to crush them by hurling these at them. Here the boys' father, the sun, came to their help, and he shone so fiercely into the eyes of the great monster that he was unable to see very well, and the boys easily kept out of the way of the rocks thrown at them.
"The monster was big and fat and unaccustomed to exertion, and he was soon tired out. Indeed he was so big that the arrows of the boys seemed only like pins and needles sticking into him, and the boys began to fear that their quivers would be emptied before they had conquered him. Just then they met an old witch with a bundle of sticks which she was carrying to her wigwam. She was very angry with Nikoochis, for he would not allow her even to gather the dry sticks that fell to the ground in the forest he was guarding. The result was that she had to wander far away to get the little fuel she needed in her wigwam.
"The boys told her of their battle with this selfish old monster, and that even now he was badly wounded by their arrows, which, however, did not seem to reach any vital spot. She told them that the only place where their weapons could be effectual in killing him was in the top of his skull. That they must first in some way crack it with their magic rabbit sticks, and then they could shoot their arrows into his brain. Hearing this they quickly resumed their attack upon him. In vain he tore up great rocks and hurled them with all his force at them. They either cleverly jumped on one side or sprang up into the air out of the way.
"Then, watching for their opportunity, they waited until he stooped down, and when he was struggling to loosen from the earth a great rock as big as a house Sesigizit threw, with all his power, his magic rabbit stick. It struck the giant fair on the top of his head with such force that it broke off a piece of his skull. The next instant Ooseemeeid fired one of his arrows so accurately that it pierced into the brain through the spot thus left exposed.
"With a roar of rage and pain the great monster fell, rolled down into the deep canyon, and died.
"After securing his big flint knife, which dropped from his belt, the boys hurried into the canyon and gathered a lot of fine wood for arrow shafts and returned to their mother. When she asked them where they had been they replied that they had been to the canyon, and that they had killed both the mountain lioness and the great giant.
"At first she could hardly believe this, but as they had brought the paws of the cubs and the flint knife of the great giant, why, she just had to believe it. Great indeed were the rejoicings of the people at being thus rid of these creatures."