The Book of the Native

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

The Vengeance of Gluskâp

A Micmac Legend


 

Gluskâp, the friend and father of his race,
With help in need went journeying three days’ space.

His village slept, and took no thought of harm,
Secure beneath the shadow of his arm.

But wandering wizards watched his outward path,

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And marked his fenceless dwelling for their wrath.

They came upon the tempest’s midnight wings,
With shock of thunder and the lightning’s slings,
And flame, and hail, and all disastrous things.

When home at length the hero turned again,

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His huts were ashes and his servants slain;
And o’er the ruin wept a slow, great rain.

He wept not; but he cried a mighty word
Across the wandering sea, and the sea heard.

Then came great whales, obedient to his hand,

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And bare him to the demon-haunted land,

Where, in malign morass and ghostly wood
And grim cliff-cavern, lurked the evil brood.

And scarce the avenger’s foot had touched their coast
Ere horror seized on all the wizard host,

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And in their hiding-places hushed the boast.

He grew and gloomed before them like a cloud,
And his eye drew them till they cried aloud,

And withering like spent flame before his frown
They ran forth in a madness and fell down.

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Rank upon rank they lay without a moan,—
His finger touched them, and their hearts grew stone.

All round the coasts he heaped their stiffened clay;
And the seamews wail o’er them to this day.