The Three Wishes





Once upon a time there were three brothers who set out on a visit to

Goose-cap, the wise one, who said that any one might come and see him,

and get a wish--just one wish, no more. The three brothers were seven

years on the journey, climbing mountains that seemed to have no top, and

scrambling through forests full of thorn-bushes, and wading through

swamps where the mosquitoes tried to eat them up, and sailing down

rivers where the rapids broke up their rafts and nearly drowned them.



At the end of seven years they heard Goose-cap's dogs barking, so then

they knew they were on the right road; and they went on for three months

more, and the barking got a little louder every day, till at last they

came to the edge of the great lake. Then Goose-cap saw them, and sailed

over in his big stone canoe and took them to his island.



You never saw such a beautiful island as that was, it was so green and

warm and bright; and Goose-cap feasted his visitors for three days and

nights, with meats and fruits that they had never tasted before. Then he

said: "Tell me what you want, and why you have taken so much trouble to

find me."



The youngest brother said: "I want to be always amusing, so that no one

can listen to me without laughing."



Then the great wise one stuck his finger in the ground, and pulled up a

root of the laughing-plant and said: "When you have eaten this you will

be the funniest man in the tribe, and people will laugh as soon as you

open your lips. But see that you don't eat it till you get home."



The youngest brother thanked him, and hurried away; and going home was

so easy that it only took seven days instead of seven years. Yet the

young man was so impatient to try his wish that on the sixth morning he

ate the root. All of a sudden he felt so light-headed that he began to

dance and shout with fun: and the ducks that he was going to shoot for

breakfast flew away laughing into the reeds over the river, and the deer

ran away laughing into the woods, and he got nothing to eat all day.



Next morning he came to the village where he lived, and he wanted to

tell his friends how hungry he was; but at the first word he spoke they

all burst out laughing, and as he went on they laughed louder and

louder--it seemed so funny, though they couldn't hear a word he said,

they made so much noise themselves. Then they got to laughing so hard

that they rolled over and over on the ground, and squeezed their sides,

and cried with laughing, till they had to run away into their houses and

shut their doors, or they would have been killed with laughing. He

called to them to come out and give him something to eat, but as soon as

they heard him they began to laugh again; and at last they shouted that

if he didn't go away they would kill him. So he went away into the woods

and lived by himself; and whenever he wanted to hunt he had to tie a

strap over his mouth, or the mock-bird would hear him and begin to

laugh, and all the other birds and beasts would hear the mock-bird and

laugh and run away.



The second brother said to Goose-cap; "I want to be the greatest of

hunters without the trouble of hunting. Why should I go after the

animals if I could make them come to me?"



Goose-cap knew why; still, he gave the man a little flute, saying: "Be

sure you don't use it till after you have got home."



Then the hunter set off; but on the sixth day he was getting so near

home that he said to himself: "I'm sure Goose-cap couldn't hear me now

if I blew the flute very gently, just to try it." So he pulled out

the flute and breathed into it as gently as ever he could--but as soon

as his lips touched it the flute whistled so long and loud that all the

beasts in the country heard it and came rushing from north and south and

east and west to see what the matter was. The deer got there first, and

when they saw it was a man with bow and arrows they tried to run away

again; but they couldn't, for the bears were close behind, all round,

and pushed and pushed till the deer were all jammed up together and the

man was squeezed to death in the middle of them.



The eldest brother, when the other two had set off for home, said to

Goose-cap: "Give me great wisdom, so that I can marry the Mohawk chief's

daughter without killing her father or getting killed myself." You see,

the eldest brother was an Algonquin, and the Mohawks always hated the

Algonquins.



Goose-cap stooped down on the shore and picked up a hard clam-shell; and

he ground it and ground it, all that day and all the next night, till he

had made a beautiful wampum bead of it. "Hang this round your neck by a

thread of flax," he said, "and go and do whatever the chief asks you."



The eldest brother thanked him, and left the beautiful island, and

traveled seven days and seven nights till he came to the Mohawk town. He

went straight to the chief's house, and said to him, "I want to marry

your daughter."



"Very well," said the chief, "you can marry my daughter if you bring me

the head of the great dragon that lives in the pit outside the gate."



The eldest brother promised he would, and went out and cut down a tree

and laid it across the mouth of the pit. Then he danced round the pit,

and sang as he danced a beautiful Algonquin song, something like this:

"Come and eat me, dragon, for I am fat and my flesh is sweet and there

is plenty of marrow in my bones." The dragon was asleep, but the song

gave him beautiful dreams, and he uncoiled himself and smacked his lips

and stretched his head up into the air and laid his neck on the log.

Then the eldest brother cut off the head; snick-snack, and carried it to

the chief.



"That's right," said the chief; but he was angry in his heart, and next

morning, when he should have given away his daughter, he said to the

Algonquin: "I will let you marry her if I see that you can dive as well

as the wild duck in the lake."



When they got to the lake the wild duck dived and stayed under water for

three minutes, but then it had to come up to breathe. Then the eldest

brother dived, and turned into a frog, and stayed under water so long

that they were sure he was drowned; but just as they were going home,

singing for joy to be rid of him, he came running after them, and said:

"Now I have had my bath and we can go and get married."



"Wait till the evening," said the chief, "and then you can get married."



When the evening came, the Northern Lights were dancing and leaping in

the sky, and the chief said: "The Northern Lights would be angry if you

got married without running them a race. Run your best and win, and

there will be no more delay."



The Northern Lights darted away at once to the west, and the eldest

brother ran after them; and the chief said to his daughter: "They will

lead him right down to the other side of the world, and he will be an

old man before he can get back, so he won't trouble us any more." But

just as the chief finished speaking, here came the Algonquin running up

from the east. He had turned himself into lightning and gone right round

the world; and the night was nearly gone before the Northern Lights came

up after him, panting and sputtering.



"Yes, my son," said the chief; "you have won the race; so now we can go

on with the wedding. The place where we have our weddings is down by the

river at the bottom of the valley, and we will go there on our

toboggans."



Now the hillside was rough with rocks and trees, and the river flowed

between steep precipices, so nobody could toboggan down there without

being broken to pieces. But the eldest brother said he was ready, and

asked the chief to come on the same toboggan.



"No," said the chief, "but as soon as you have started I will."



Then the Algonquin gave his toboggan a push, and jumped on, and didn't

even take the trouble to sit down. The chief waited to see him dashed to

pieces; but the toboggan skimmed down the mountain side without touching

a rock or a tree, and flew across the ravine at the bottom, and up the

hillside opposite; and the Algonquin was standing straight up the whole

time. When he got to the top of the mountain opposite he turned his

toboggan round and coasted back as he had come. And when the chief saw

him coming near and standing up on his toboggan, he lost his temper and

let fly an arrow straight at the young man's heart; but the arrow stuck

in Goose-cap's bead, and the Algonquin left it sticking there and took

no notice. Only when he got to the top he said to the chief, "Now it's

your turn," and put him on the toboggan and sent him spinning down into

the valley. And whether the chief ever came up again we don't know; but

at any rate his daughter married the Algonquin without any more fuss,

and went home with him.





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