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HOW GLOOSKAP BROUGHT THE SUMMER

(Algonquin)

BY FRANCES L. MACE

I

Of the old days, of the dawn days,

Still the wonder-tale is told
In the shadow of Katahdin,

Where the master dwelt of old,
The great Glooskap, the Algonquin,

Chief of warriors true and bold.

Long had Winter, strong magician,

Bound in icy chains the land;
Though the wise men prayed and fasted,

Yet he lifted not his hand,
But he said, “Lead forth a warrior

Who my magic can withstand!

“Let him find my secret wigwam,

Face to face and without fear
Feel the power of my enchantment.

If he bear the burden drear,
I am vanquished, and another

Shall be found to rule the year.”

Dire the trouble of the chieftains:

Who that midnight path could trace?
Then spake Glooskap: “Thrice at daybreak

In my dreams a shining face

Smiled and called me. I will follow,

Even to Winter's hiding-place."

In his frozen lodge sat Winter,

Fierce and famine-eyed and old, Giant of forgotten ages,

Scarred with battles manifold; On his cruel deeds he pondered,

In the darkness and the cold.

Suddenly the great white bearskin

Was uplifted from his door, And one entered, rushing by him

Entered too the storm's wild roar, And the heart of Winter trembled

With a dread unknown before.

Strong and beautiful the stranger

Stood within the darkened tent; The faint firelight to his figure

Shadowy grace and stature lent, And his glances free and fearless

On the giant's face were bent.

Strangely stirred the heart of Winter,

Heart of ice within his breast, But he murmured, guileful ever,

“Sit within the lodge and rest. Long they journey, - in the morning

Shall thy purpose be confessed.”

Then the terrible frost-spirits,

Hastening to their monarch's aid,

Of the gleaming white aurora

Phantom fire of welcome made, And the pipe of cloud and ashes

In the stranger's hand was laid.

And his heavy eyes were lifted

With a fixed, unconscious gaze, While the white lips of old Winter

Muttered of the ancient days With wind-voices and storm-voices

Chanted wild and awful lays.

Listening, dreaming, with the magic

Of the place around him cast, Soon in chains of icy numbness

All his senses were made fast, And the hope of the Algonquins

Bound and helpless lay at last.

Days and months he slept, yet often

In his slumber stirred with pain; Lo! the shining face still gleaming

Far o'er midnight's frozen plain! Then with fierce and breathless struggle

Burst he from the demon chain.

Up he rose, to height majestic,

Taller, fairer, than before. As he rent in sudden fury

The white bearskin from the door, A long shaft of yellow sunshine

Flashed upon the icy floor!

“I have tried thy power, O giant,

To thy dark words listened well; Now the vision of the daybreak

Calls me with a mightier spell. Soon it will be thine to listen,

Mine the wizard tale to tell.”

II

Oh, fast and far sped Glooskap,

With shoes of magic shod! Past icy crag and mountain

By wonder-paths he trod, Until his feet sank lightly Upon a violet sod,

And fairyland before him

Its gates wide open threw, While myriad silver bugles

From waving treetops blew; For all the elfin singers

At once the master knew:

And in their midst a being

All beauty, smiles, and light, The fair dream-face that led him

Along the waste of night. Like morning robed in roses

She beamed upon his sight.

But for no soft entreaty

The eager master stayed. “The dark world waits thy coming,”

He uttered. “Radiant maid, Take now thy earthly kingdom:

Too long thou hast delayed!"

He caught her to his bosom,

And fast again he sped, But craftily behind him

He tossed a magic thread, And all the fairy kingdom

In captive train was led.

The birds flew close above them,

And filled the air with song; The golden armored sunbeams,

Their escort, marched along, And leaf, and bud, and blossom,

And rivulet, swelled the throng.

Upon a cliff gigantic

By ocean's stormy shore,
High perched the great wind-eagle,

And urged the tempest's roar.
His wings drooped as they passed him,

And ocean raged no more.

And over old Katahdin,

Where thunders have their home One footprint of sweet Summer

Let loose the spirits dumb. The lightnings gleamed, the thunders

Spake deep, The hour is come!

Into the frozen wigwam

There fell a flood of light:
In stepped the great Algonquin,

With visage bold and bright,
And with him royal Summer,

All dazzling to the sight.

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