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At their roots the long black tresses;
There alone can he be wounded!"
Winged with feathers, tipped with jasper,
Swift flew Hiawatha's arrow,
Just as Megissogwon, stooping,
Raised a heavy stone to throw it.
Full upon the crown it struck him,
At the roots of his long tresses,
And he reeled and staggered forward,
Plunging like a wounded bison,
Yes, like Pezhekee, the bison,
When the snow is on the prairie.
Swifter flew the second arrow,
In the pathway of the other,
Piercing deeper than the other,
Wounded sorer than the other;
And the knees of Megissogwon
Shook like windy reeds beneath him,
Bent and trembled like the rushes.
But the third and latest arrow
Swiftest flew, and wounded sorest,
And the mighty Megissogwon
Saw the fiery eyes of Pauguk,
Saw the eyes of Death glare at him,
Heard his voice call in the darkness;
At the feet of Hiawatha
Lifeless lay the great Pearl-Feather,
Lay the mightiest of Magicians.
Then the grateful Hiawatha
Called the Mama, the woodpecker,
From his perch among the branches
Of the melancholy pine tree,
And, in honor of his service,
Stained with blood the tuft of feathers
On the little head of Mama;
Even to this day he wears it,
Wears the tuft of crimson feathers,
As a symbol of his service.
Then he stripped the shirt of wampum
From the back of Megissogwon,
As a trophy of the battle,
As a signal of his conquest.
On the shore he left the body,
Half on land and half in water,
In the sand his feet were buried,
And his face was in the water.
And above him, wheeled and clamored
The Keneu, the great war eagle,
Sailing round in narrower circles,
Hovering nearer, nearer, nearer.
From the wigwam Hiawatha
Bore the wealth of Megissogwon,
All his wealth of skins and wampum,
Furs of bison and of beaver,
Furs of sable and of ermine,
Wampum belts and strings and pouches,
Quivers wrought with beads of wampum,
Filled with arrows, silver-headed.
Homeward then he sailed exulting,
Homeward through the black pitch water,
Homeward through the weltering serpents,
With the trophies of the battle,
With a shout and song of triumph.
On the shore stood old Nokomis,
On the shore stood Chibiabos,
And the very strong man, Kwasind,
Waiting for the hero's coming,
Listening to his song of triumph.
And the people of the village
Welcomed him with songs and dances,
Made a joyous feast and shouted:
"Honor be to Hiawatha!
He has slain the great Pearl-Feather,
Slain the mightiest of Magicians,
Him who sent the fiery fever,
Sent the white fog from the fen lands,
Sent disease and death among us!"
Ever dear to Hiawatha
Was the memory of Mama!
And in token of his friendship,
As a mark of his remembrance,
He adorned and decked his pipestem
With the crimson tuft of feathers,
With the blood-red crest of Mama.
But the wealth of Megissogwon
All the trophies of the battle,
He divided with his people,
Shared it equally among them.
-HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW: The Song of Hiawatha.
stat'ure, height; de ris'ion, contempt; a sun'der, apart; de spond'ing, in despair; mel'an cho ly, sad; clam'ored, cried loudly.
1. What other hero was advised by a bird? 2. Tell in your own words the Indian legend of how the woodpecker comes to have a red crest. 3. What other hero have you read about that could be
wounded in one spot only? 4. Why is the pine tree called "melancholy"? 5. Describe the battle between Hiawatha and PearlFeather.
Composition. I. Write the Indian legend, How the Woodpecker got his Red Crest. II. Tell about some bird that you have watched. Describe its appearance, its nest, its habits, its song. Try to make your description so accurate that your hearers will recognize the bird the next time they see it.
THE HUNTING OF PAU-PUK-KEEWIS
[Pau-Puk-Keewis, a mischief-maker who had frequently upset the whole village with his pranks, finally entered the lodge of Hiawatha, strangled his pet raven, left its body hanging from the ridgepole, and then slaughtered dozens of Hiawatha's "mountain chickens."]
FULL of wrath was Hiawatha
When he came into the village,
Found the people in confusion,
Heard of all the misdemeanors,
All the malice and the mischief,
Of the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis.
Hard his breath came through his nostrils,
Through his teeth he buzzed and muttered
Words of anger and resentment,
Hot and humming, like a hornet.
"I will slay this Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Slay this mischief-maker!" said he.