BNA: Nanebojo and the Geese

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Nanebojo and the Geese

NANEBOJO lived with his grandmother. His parents had been killed by a war party. Now Nanebojo resolved to leave that place with his grandmother.

He told the Indians that a stranger was coming who would harm all of them. Then Nanebojo climbed to the top of a maple tree. He poured water into it; therefore the sap in the maple is now watery and thin. It has to be boiled before it becomes sugar. Nanebojo also went through the cornfields and pulled off all the ears of corn except one or two. Therefore now cornstalks have but one or two ears. They used to have ten or twelve.

Then Nanebojo went away. Nanebojo and his grandmother traveled until they reached Lake Erie. Then they journeyed to Lake St. Clair. Grandmother went on ahead.

Nanebojo saw ducks in Lake St. Clair, but he could not think how to capture them. At last he remembered. He went to his grandmother and told her to make him a sack.

"What for?" asked grandmother.

"Never mind what for," answered her grandson. So Grandmother made the sack.

Nanebojo took the sack and went along the lake shore to where there was a hill, with a short stretch of flat land between the hill and the water. He climbed to the top of the hill, got into the sack, closed the neck, and rolled down the hill. Then he got out and walked up again, laughing heartily all the time. Again he rolled down the hill, shouting loudly.

Now the ducks heard him. They came out of the water and waddled around him. They came closer and closer.

After a while, one duck grew bold. He said, "Let us roll downhill just once."

Nanebojo said, "Oh, no indeed, you go away! Every time I do anything you come around and bother me!"

Then he went up the hill again with his sack on his back, and rolled himself downhill, laughing loudly. Again the ducks said, "Let us roll downhill just once."

Nanebojo said, "Very well. You may roll downhill just once," and he told them to get into the bag.

Just then some geese flew by overhead. They stopped to watch. Nanebojo also saw them. Nanebojo carried the ducks to the top of the hill, laid down the bag, filled it with ducks, tied the neck, and started it to rolling down the hill. He ran beside it, laughing very loudly, while the ducks quacked. They all made much noise. When the bag of ducks reached the bottom of the hill, Nanebojo emptied out the bag, and told them to go away.

Then he went up the hill with the sack on his shoulder, and again he rolled downhill, laughing loudly, but always keeping one eye on the ducks and one on the geese. "If I lose one, I may get the other," he said.

Every time he rolled down, the geese came nearer. Nanebojo pretended not to see them. At last they came very near indeed and asked him if they might roll down.

"Let us roll down just once," they said.

Nanebojo said, "No!"and kept right on rolling downhill.

The geese were about to fly away when Nanebojo said, "Oh, well. If you want to, you may roll down once."

The geese were very glad to get into the sack. Nanebojo squeezed them in together very tightly, saying, "If you are close together, you will have more fun."

Then he shouldered the sack and started up the hill. Nanebojo walked a long, long time. He walked up to the top of the hill and then he walked down on the other side.

The geese after a while thought he had walked too long a time. They called out, "Where are you going?" but he made no answer and walked straight on.

When Nanebojo reached his grandmother, he said, as he laid down the sack, "You heat some water while I go and get more from the spring."

Then he went out after he had said, "Do not untie the sack."

When he had left the lodge, Grandmother untied the sack, wondering what was in it. At once the geese flew out and got away. Not one was left.

(700 words)

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