In Divers Tones

by Charles G.D. Roberts

Edited by Tracy Ware


 

THE QUELLING OF THE MOOSE.

A MELICITE LEGEND


 

When tent was pitched, and supper done,
And forgotten were paddle, and rod, and gun,
And the low, bright planets, one by one,

Lit in the pine-tops their lamps of gold,
To us by the fire, in our blankets rolled,

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This was the story Sacòbi told:—

“In those days came the moose from the east,
A monster out of the white north-east,
And as leaves before him were man and beast.

“The dark rock-hills of Saguenay

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Are strong,—they were but straw in his way.
He leapt the St. Lawrence as in play.

“His breath was a storm, and a flame; his feet
In the mountains thundered, fierce and fleet,
Till men’s hearts were as milk, and ceased to beat.

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“But in those days dwelt Clote Scarp with men.
It is long to wait till he comes again,—
But a friend was near, and could hear us, then!

“In his wigwam, built by the Oolastook,
Where the ash-trees over the water look,

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A voice of trouble the stillness shook.

“He rose, and took his bow from the wall,
And listened; he heard his people’s call
Pierce up from the villages one and all.

“From village to village he passed with cheer,

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And the people followed; but when drew near
The stride of the moose, they fled in fear.

“Like smoke in a wind they fled at the last.
But he in a pass of the hills stood fast,
And down at his feet his bow he cast.

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“That terrible forehead, maned with flame,
He smote with his open hand,—and tame
As a dog the raging beast became.

“He smote with his open hand; and lo!
As shrinks in the rains of spring the snow,

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So shrank the monster beneath that blow,

“Till scarce the bulk of a bull he stood.
And Clote Scarp led him down to the wood,
And gave him the tender shoots for food.”

He ceased; and a voice said, “Understand

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How huge a peril will shrink like sand,
When stayed by a prompt and steady hand!”