When Mary entered the children’s
bedroom one bright, pleasant morning she was amazed
at finding both of the beds empty and a piece of foolscap
paper pinned to the dressing table. The writing
on it was beyond her power to read. She remembered
now that the children had begged her not to come very
early in the morning to wake them up, and as their
requests were as a law she had lingered as long as
she dared, and indeed had only gone to call them when
her mistress had asked the reason for their nonappearance.
Not until she had shown the paper, with its inscription,
to the kitchen maid, who could read English, did its
full meaning burst upon her. Of course, she was
very much troubled, and yet such was her loyalty to
the children that she hesitated about letting the
parents know what had occurred. She was fully
aware that she could not long keep the startling news
from them, and yet she was still resolved that never
should any information be imparted by her that might
bring down upon them any punishment, no matter how
It was a long, rough trail through
the primitive forest to the wigwam of Souwanas.
How long the children had been away she could not tell.
Mary, with Indian shrewdness, had felt their beds,
and had found them both quite cold, so she knew the
little mischiefs had been off at least an hour.
She interrogated not only the maid in the kitchen
but also Kennedy, the man of all work, outside.
Neither of them had seen or heard anything of the
children, and as they did not share Mary’s ideas
the escapade of the children was soon known.
The parents were naturally alarmed
when they heard the news. At once the father,
accompanied by Kennedy and the dogs, Jack and Cuffy,
started off on the trail of the runaways. The
intelligent dogs, having been shown a couple of garments
recently worn by the missing boy and girl and being
told to find them, at once took up the trail in the
direction of the wigwam of Souwanas, running with
such rapidity that if they had not been restrained
by the voice of their master they would very quickly
have left him and his Indian attendant far behind.
At length, with a sudden start, both
dogs, growling ominously, dashed off ahead, utterly
regardless of all efforts made by their master to restrain
them. This suspicious conduct on the part of the
dogs of course alarmed the father and his Indian companion,
and as rapidly as the rough trail would allow they
hurried on in the direction taken by the dogs.
Soon their ears were greeted by a chorus of loud and
angry yelping. Fear gave speed to both the men,
and soon they dashed out from the forest into the opening
of an Indian’s clearing. Here was a sight
that filled them with alarm, and almost terror.
Standing on a pile of logs were little Sagastao and
Minnehaha. Sagastao erect and fearless, with
a club about as large as an ordinary cane, while behind
him, leaning against a high fallen log, was Minnehaha.
Surrounding them were several fierce, wolfish Indian
dogs, among whom Jack and Cuffy, wild and furious,
were now making dire havoc. One after another,
wounded and limping, the curs skulked away as the two
men rushed up to the children.
“Ha! ha! hurrah for our Jack
and Cuffy; aren’t they the boss dogs!”
shouted the fearless little runaways, and now that
the victory was won they nimbly sprang down from their
high retreat and, apparently without the slightest
fear, congratulated both their father and the Indian
on the superiority of their own dogs.
Trembling with anxiety, the anxious
father, thankful at the narrow escape of his children,
as he clasped them in his arms could not but be amazed
at the indifference of the little ones to the great
danger from which they had just escaped. After
petting Jack and Cuffy for their great bravery and
courage the return journey was begun, much to the regret
of the children, who pleaded hard to be allowed to
resume their trip to the wigwam of Souwanas to hear
the stories of Nanahboozhoo.
The father was perfectly amazed at
this request, and of course it was sternly refused.
He had started off in pursuit of the runaways with
a resolve to punish them for this serious breach of
home discipline, but his alarm at their danger and
his thankfulness for their escape had so stirred him
that he could not punish them nor even chide them at
the time. All he could do was to bring them safely
home again and, as usual in such emergencies, turn
them over to the tender mercies of their mother.
Sturdily the children marched on ahead
for a while, then Kennedy, the Indian, took Minnehaha
in his arms. He had not carried her many hundred
yards before the weary little one fell fast asleep,
softly muttering as she slipped off into the land
of dreams, “Wanted to hear about Nanahboozhoo.”
Great was the excitement at home when
the party returned. Sagastao rushed into the
arms of his mother, and without the slightest idea
of having done anything wrong began most dramatically
to describe how “our Jack and Cuffy thrashed
those naughty Eskimo dogs” that chased Minnehaha
and him upon that great pile of logs. Mary in
the meantime had taken from Kennedy’s arms the
still sleeping Minnehaha, and almost smothered her
with kisses as she bore her away to bed.
There was great perplexity on the
part of the parents to know just what to do to impress
upon the little ones that they had been very naughty
in thus running away, for it was very evident from
the utterances of both that they had not considered
the matter in that light. Now, in view of the
weariness of Minnehaha, it was decided to leave the
matter of discipline in abeyance until a little of
the excitement had passed away.
In the meantime Sagastao was ready
to talk with everybody about the whole affair.
It seems that he and Minnehaha had decided that Mary
was “no good” in telling stories.
He said her stories neither frightened them nor made
them cry, but Souwanas was the boss man to tell Nanahboozhoo
stories. He said they got up before anybody was
stirring, that morning, and dressed themselves so
quietly that nobody heard them. They remembered
the trail along which Souwanas and Jakoos had carried
them. After they had walked for some time they
came to where there was a larger trail, and they turned
into it, and came upon a lot of dogs that had been
chasing some rabbits. Soon the rabbits got away
from the dogs, when they reached those trees that had
been chopped down. Minnehaha was the first to
notice that the dogs had turned back, and were coming
after them, and she shouted:
“‘O, look! those dogs
think we are rabbits, and they are coming for us!’”
“When I saw they really were
coming,” said Sagastao, “Minnehaha and
I jumped up on the logs, and we climbed up as high
as we could, and I took up a stick, and then I stood
up with Minnehaha behind me, and I shook the stick
at them, and and I shouted:
“‘A wus, atimuk!’” (Get away,
“They came so near on the logs
that I hit one or two of them, while all of the others
on the ground kept barking at us. But I kept shouting
back at them, ‘A wus, atimuk!’ My! it
was great fun. Then all at once we heard Jack
and Cuffy, and, I tell you! soon there was more fun,
when our big dogs sprang at them. Every time
an Eskimo was tackled by Jack or Cuffy he went down,
and was soon howling from the way in which he was shaken.
And they had nearly thrashed the whole of them when
papa and Kennedy came rushing up. I wished they
had been there sooner, to have seen all the fun.”
Thus the lad’s tongue rattled
on, while it was evident he was utterly unconscious
of the danger they had been in.
After some deliberation it was decided
that, in view of this runaway being the first offense
of the kind, the punishment should be confinement to
their own room the next day, until six o’clock
in the evening, on a diet of bread and water.
At this Mary was simply furious. She well knew,
however, that it was necessary for her to control
herself in her master’s and mistress’s
presence. She managed to hold her tongue, but
her flashing eyes and an occasional mutter, which
would come out as she went about her usual duties,
showed the smoldering fire that was burning inside.
The children had been duly lectured for their breach
of discipline and then, that evening, consigned to
their room for their imprisonment which was to last
until the next evening. That night Mary took up
her mattress and blankets and went and slept on the
floor between the two beds of the children, and in
spite of orders, so the maid said, she secretly carried
up a goodly sized bundle from the kitchen.
The day was one of unusual quietness,
as the lively pair, who generally kept the house full
of music, were now supposed to be away in humiliation
and disgrace. All regretted that the punishment
had to be inflicted and the children made to realize
their naughtiness in thus running away, and all were
looking forward to the hour of six o’clock with
pleasant anticipation. When it arrived word was
sent to the children that their hours of imprisonment
were over, and that they were to present themselves
in the library. Quick and prompt was the response,
and noisily and hurriedly the two darlings came rushing
down the stairs, followed by Mary. They were
arrayed in their most beautiful apparel, and were evidently
prepared by their nurse to go with her for a walk.
The father, feeling that it was necessary,
began to make a few remarks expressive of regret that
he had thus been obliged to punish them, when he was
interrupted by little Sagastao with the honest and
candid remark, spoken in a way which, while perfectly
fearless, was yet devoid of all rudeness or impertinence:
“O, father dear, you needn’t
feel badly about us at all, as Mary has been with
us all day and has told us lovely stories.”
“And Mary brought us taffy candy,”
broke in darling Minnehaha, with equal candor; “and
some currant cakes and other nice things, so we got
on very well after all.”
These candid utterances on the part
of the two children not only amazed but amused the
parents, and were another revelation of Mary’s
wonderful love for the children and her defiance of
disciplinary measures which she thought might cause
the slightest pain or sorrow. And here she stood
in the open door, and as soon as their father’s
words and their own rather startling “confessions”
were ended she called them to her and away they went
for a long walk along the beautiful shore of the lake,
leaving their parents to conjecture whether the punishment
that had been inflicted would produce any very salutary
When the children were gathered that
evening in the study with their parents little Sagastao
“Papa, Minnehaha and I have
been talking it all over with Mary and she has shown
us that it was naughty on our parts to run away as
we did; and we are sorry that we did anything that
caused you and mamma sorrow and anxiety about us,
and so, ... Well, we know you will forgive us.”
And as the four little arms went twining around the
parents’ necks there was joy and gladness all
round, and it was evident that there was no danger
of the escapade being repeated.
The following are a couple of the
legends that Mary told them while they were prisoners
in their own room that day.
THE LEGEND OF THE SWALLOWS.
“Long ago,” said Mary,
“there were some Indian families who lived on
the top of a very high hill, like a mountain.
They had quite a number of small children, and I am
sorry to say they were very naughty and would often
disobey their parents. One of their bad deeds
was to run away, and thus make the father and mother
very unhappy until they returned. Their parents
were very much afraid that some of the Windegoos or
wild animals would catch them when they thus ran away
by themselves, with no strong man to guard them.
“So the parents tried to make
their homes as nice as possible for them. They
made all sorts of toys for them and gave them nice
little bows and arrows, and other things, that ought
to have amused them and kept them happy at home.
All the efforts of their parents, however, were of
no use. They soon were tired of their home amusements,
and when their parents’ backs were turned they
would run away.
“At length their conduct became
so bad, and the parents found themselves so powerless
to prevent it, that they decided to appeal to the Indian
Council for assistance. For a time the stern
commands of the Chief were listened to and obeyed.
Then they neglected his words, and about as frequently
as ever they were found playing truant from their
homes and parents.
“At length, on one occasion
when they had all run away and had been off for several
days and could not be found, their fathers and mothers
called upon Wakonda to look for them and to send them
home. Wakonda was very angry when he heard about
these naughty children running away so much, and so
he set off in a hurry to find them. After a long
search he discovered them on the bank of a muddy river
making mud huts and mud animals. He was so angry
at them that he at once turned them into swallows,
and said, ’From this time forward you will ever
be wanderers and your homes will always be made of
mud,’ and so it has been.”
“I say, Mary, did you remember
that yarn because Minnehaha and I ran away?”
“Well, we were not making mud huts,” said
Mary was not to be caught, however,
even if she did love them so much, and she did not
answer Sagastao’s question, although in her heart
she was not sorry if he saw something in the legend
that would deter him from again running away.
HOW SOME CRUEL MEN WERE PUNISHED WHO TEASED AN ORPHAN BOY.
“There was once an old grandmother
who was left alone with only an orphan grandson.
All of her other relatives were dead. This boy
was a very industrious little fellow, and did all
that he could to help his grandmother. They both
had to work very hard to have sufficient to keep them
from starving. Together they would go out in their
canoe and catch fish. They also set many snares
in the forest to catch rabbits, partridges, and other
“Because they were so poor the
clothing of this orphan boy was made partly of rabbitskins
and partly of the skins of birds. When he was
not busy helping his grandmother he, like other little
boys, was pleased to go out and play with the other
children of the village. Some of the men of the
village were very fond of teasing him, and some were
even cruel to him, because of the poor clothing he
had to wear. Often the poor boy would return
to the wigwam of his grandmother crying and weeping
because the men of the village had not only teased
him on account of his poor clothing but had almost
torn his coat into pieces. His grandmother entreated
the men to stop teasing the poor boy, who could not
help his poverty. She would patiently mend his
poor torn clothes and try to cheer him up with the
hope that soon these foolish, cruel men would see
how wrong it was to treat him thus.
“But they only seemed to get
worse instead of better, and so the grandmother got
very angry at last and determined to have it stopped.
“So she went off to Wakonda
and told him all about it. Wakonda was very busy
just then, but he gave her some of his magical powers
and told her what to do when she reached her home.
“When she arrived there she
found her grandson almost naked from the abuse of
the cruel men, who, finding that she was absent, had
been more cruel than ever to him. She then informed
him that she was able now to put a stop to all their
cruel actions. So she told him to dive into a
pool of water that was near at hand. He did as
she had commanded, and there he found an underground
channel that led out into the great lake.
“When he came up to the top
of the water in the lake he found himself transformed
into a beautiful seal. He at once begun playing
about in the waves as seals are often seen doing.
“It was not long before he was
seen by the people of the village, and, of course,
the men were very anxious to secure this valuable seal.
Canoes were quickly launched and away the men paddled
with their spears to try and capture it. But
the boy, now transformed into the seal, quickly swam
away from them, as instructed by his grandmother,
and so kept them busy paddling on and on farther from
the shore. When they seemed almost discouraged
the seal would suddenly dive down, and then reappear
in the water just behind them. Then, before the
men could turn around and spear him, he as suddenly
dived under the water again. The pursuit was so
exciting that these cruel men did not notice how far
out from land they had now come. They did, however,
after a time see their danger, for suddenly a fierce
gale sprang up, and the waves rose in such fury that
they upset the canoes and all of the wicked men were
drowned. When the old grandmother saw this she
once more exerted the magical powers with which she
had been intrusted by Wakonda, and calling to her
grandson to return home he instantly complied with
her request. He speedily swam back to her, and
she at once transformed him into his human form.
“Thus freed from his tormentors,
he very rapidly grew up to manhood and became a great
hunter, and was kind to his grandmother as long as