The Tobacco Fairy From The Blue Hills
: Canadian Fairy Tales
A man and his wife and two little children were living long ago on the
shores of a lake surrounded by large trees, deep in the Canadian
forest. They lived very happily together, and as game was plentiful,
they wanted for nothing. As the children grew up they became each day
more beautiful and gentle, until the old women of the tribe said,
"They are too good and lovely for this world; their home is surely
ewhere in the West." Before they grew to maturity a cruel plague
spread over the land and carried them off with its ravages. Their
mother was the next to go, slowly growing weaker, and wasting away
before the eyes of her husband, who was powerless to save her.
The man was now left all alone upon the earth. The joy of his life had
gone with his wife and children, and he went about in great loneliness
and sorrow. Life was long to him and dreary, and often he wished that
he too was dead. But at last he roused himself and said, "I will go
about doing good. I will spend my life helping others, and perhaps in
that way I can find peace." So he worked hard and did all the good he
could for the weaker and the poorer people of his tribe. He was held
in high esteem by all the people of the village, and in their
affection for him they all called him "Grandfather." He grew to be
very old, and because of his good deeds he found great happiness. But
he was still very solitary, and the days and evenings were long and
lonely, and as he grew older and his work grew less, he found it hard
to pass away the time, for he could only sit alone and dream of his
vanished youth and of his absent friends.
One day he sat thinking by the lake. Many people of the village were
around him, but as usual he sat alone. Suddenly a large flock of
birds, looking like great black clouds, came flying from the blue
hills in the distance toward the shore of the lake. They wheeled and
circled about, and hovered long over the trees, uttering strange
cries. The people had never before seen such large birds, and they
were much afraid and said, "They are not ordinary creatures. They
foreshadow some strange happening." Suddenly one of the birds
fluttered for an instant and fell slowly to the earth with an arrow in
its breast. No one in the village had shot at the flock, and where the
arrow had come from no man knew. The mystery frightened the people
still more, and they looked to the old man for counsel, for they knew
that he was very wise.
The fallen bird lay fluttering on the ground, seemingly in pain. The
other birds circled about it for a short time, uttering loud cries.
Then they screamed and called to each other and flew back to the
distant blue hills, leaving the fallen bird behind them with the arrow
sticking in its breast. The old man was not frightened by the sight.
He said, "I will go to the stricken bird; perhaps I can heal its
wound." But the people, in great fear, said, "Do not go, Grandfather,
the bird will do you harm." But the old man answered, "It can do no
harm to me. My work is ended and my life is almost done. My sky is
dark, for I am full of sorrow, and with me it is already the twilight
of time. I am alone in the world, for my kindred have gone. I am not
afraid of death, for to me it would be very welcome. What matters it
if I should die?" And he went to the stricken bird to see if he could
As he went along, his path suddenly grew dark, but as he drew nearer,
a bright flame suddenly swept down from the sky to the place where the
bird was lying. There was a flash of fire, and when the old man looked
he saw that the bird had been completely burned up. When he came to
where it had lain, nothing but black ashes remained. He stirred up the
ashes with his stick, and lying in the centre he found a large living
coal of fire. As he looked at it, in a twinkling it disappeared, and
in its place was a strange little figure like a little man, no bigger
than his thumb. "Hello, Grandfather," it called, "do not strike me,
for I have been sent to help you."
"Who are you?" asked the old man.
"I am one of the Little People from the distant blue hills," said the
tiny boy. Then the old man knew that the little fellow was one of the
strange fairy people of the mountains, of whom he had often heard.
"What do you want?" he asked.
"I have been sent to you with a precious gift," answered the little
man. The old man wondered greatly, but he said nothing.
Then the fairy from the blue hills said, "You are old and lonely. You
have done many noble deeds, and you have always gone about bringing
good to others. In that way you have found peace. And because of your
good life, I have been sent to bring you more contentment. Your work
is done, but your life is not yet ended, and you have still a long
time to dwell upon the earth. You must live out your mortal course.
You are longing always for your dead wife and children, and you are
often thinking of your youth, and with you the days are long and time
hangs heavy. But I have been sent to you with a gift that will help
you to pass the time more pleasantly."
Then the little man gave him a number of small seeds and said, "Plant
these at once, here, in the ashes from which I have just risen." The
old man did as he was told. At once the seeds sprouted and great
leaves grew from them, and soon the place where the bird had been
burned up became a large field of Tobacco.
The fairy then gave him a large pipe and said, "Dry these leaves and
place them in this pipe and smoke them. You will have great
contentment, and when you have nothing to do it will help you to pass
the time away, and when no one is with you it will be a companion. And
it will bring you many dreams of the future and of the past. And when
the smoke curls upwards it will have for you many visions of those you
loved, and you will see their faces in the smoke as you sit alone in
The old man was very thankful for the fairy's gift. But the little man
said, "Teach other old men how to use it, so that they, too, may
possess it and enjoy it."
Then the fairy quickly disappeared, going towards the distant blue
hills, and he was never seen in the village again. And with his pipe
and his tobacco the old man went back to his dreaming, with more
contentment than before. In this way Tobacco was brought to the
Indians in the old days.