Glooskap (the man from nothing) was an ancient mythical figure of the Abanaki peoples of northern New England and Eastern Canada. He was said to have been a giant who traveled the Maritimes and north-woods making life good for these people. We found these legends enjoyable and would like to share some of them with you.
Long before the coming of the great white swans that carried the fair skinned people to our shores and in a time when there were creatures much larger than they are today. There was an Indian village, far away in the mountains, little known to other men; and the dwellers therin were very comfortable. The men hunted every day; the women did the work at home, and all went well in all things save this: the town was by a brook, and except in it there was not a drop of water in all the country round, unless in a few rain puddles. No one there had ever found even a spring.
Now these Indians were very fond of good water. The brook was of a superior quality, and they became dainty over it.
But after a time they began to observe that the brook was beginning to run low; and that not in the summer time, but in autumn, even after the rains. And day by day it diminished, until its bed was as dry as a dead bone in the ashes of a warm fire.
Now it was said that far away up in the land, where no one had ever been, there was on this very stream another Indian village; but what manner of men dwelt therein no one knew. And thinking that these people in the upper country might be in some way concerned in the drought, they sent one of their number to go and see into the matter.
After he had traveled three days he came to the place; and there he had found that a dam had been raised across the rivulet, so that no water could pass, for it was all kept in a pond. Then asking them why they had made this mischief since the dam was of no use to them, they bade him go and see their chief, by whose order it had been built.
When he came to him, lo, there lay lazily in the mud, a creature who was more of a monster than a man, though he had a human form. He was immense to measure, like a giant, fat, bloated and brutal to behold. His great yellow eyes stuck from his head like pine knots, his mouth went almost from ear to ear, and he had broad skinny feet with long toes. The monster called himself Oglebamu.
The messenger complained to Oglebamu; who at first said nothing, and then croaked, and finally replied in a loud bellow what do I care. Then the messenger remonstrated, and described the sufferings of the people, who were dying of thirst. This seemed to please Oglebamu, who grinned. At last he got up, and, making a single spring to the dam, took an arrow and bored a hole in it so that a little water trickled out and then he bellowed up and begone! So the man departed, little comforted. He came to his home, and for a few days there was a little water in the stream; but this soon stopped, and there was great suffering again.
Now these Indians, who were the most honest fellows in all the world, and never did harm to anyone, save their enemies, were in a sorry plight. And the great Glooskap, the first man on this land, a man made from nothing, who knew all that was passing in the hearts of men and beasts, took note of this; and when he willed it he was among them, for he ever came as the wind comes, and no man wist how.
Just before he came, all of these good fellows had resolved in council that they would send the boldest man among them to certain death, to the village which built the dam that kept the water which filled the brook that quenched their thirst whenever it was not empty. And when there, he was to either obtain that they should cut the dam or do something desperate; and to this intent he should go armed, and sing his death song as he went. And they were all agog. Then Glooskap, who was much pleased with all this, for he loved a brave man, came among them looking terribly ferocious, in all the land there was not one who seemed half so terrible. He appeared ten feet high, with a hundred red and black feathers in his scalp-lock, his face painted like fresh blood with green rings around his eyes, a large clam shell hanging from each ear, a spread eagle, very awful to behold, flapping its wings from the back of his neck, so that as he strode into the village all hearts quaked.
Then Glooskap, having heard the whole story, bade them be of good cheer; declaring that he would soon set all to rights. And, without delay, he departed up the bed of the brook; and coming to the town, sat down and bade a boy to bring him something to drink; to which the boy replied that no water could be had in the town, unless it were given by the chief. Go then to your chief, said the master, and bid him hurry, or verily, I will know the reason why. And this being told, Glooskap received no reply for more than an hour, during which time he sat on a log and smoked his pipe. Then the boy returned with a small cup, and this not half full, of very dirty water.
So he arose and said to the boy, I will go and see your chief, and I think he will soon give me better water than this. And, having come to Oglebamu, he said, give me to drink, and that of the best, thou Thing Of Mud. But the chief reviled him, and said, set thee hence to find water where thou canst. Then Glooskap thrust a spear into him, and lo! There gushed forth a mighty river; even all the water which should have run on while in the rivulet, for he had made it unto himself. And Glooskap, rising high as a giant pine, caught the chief in his hand and crumpled in his back with a mighty grip. And lo! It was the Bull-Frog. So he hurled him with contempt into the stream, to flow with the current. Ever since that time, the Bull-Frogs back has crumpled wrinkles in the lower part, showing the print of Glooskaps awful squeeze.
Then he returned to the village, but there he found no people, not one. For a marvelous thing had come to pass in his absence, which shall be heard in every Indians speech throughout the ages. For the men, being as I said simple honest folk, did as boys do when hungry, and say unto one another, what would you like to have, and what you? Truly I would be pleased with a slice of hot venison, dipped in maple sugar and bear oil. Nay, give me for my share, succotash and honey.
Even so these villagers had said, suppose you had all the nice cool, fresh, sparkling, delicious water there is what would you do? One said that he would live in the soft mud, and always be wet and cool. Another said that he would plunge from the rocks, and take headers, diving into the deep cool water, drinking as he dived. And the third, that he would be washed up and down with the rippling waves, living on the land, yet ever in the water. Then the forth said, verily, you know how to wish, and I will teach you. I would live in the water all the time, and swim about in it forever.
Now it chanced that all these things were said in the hour in which, when it passes over the world, all the wishes uttered by men are granted. And so it was with these Indians; for the first became a leech; the second a Spotted Frog, the third a Crab, which is washed up and down with the tide, and the fourth a Fish. Ere this there had been in all the world none of the creatures that dwell in the water; and now they were there and of all kinds. And the river came rushing and roaring on, and they all went headlong down to the sea, to be washed into the many lands over all the world.
Glooskap and the baby
Now it came to pass when Glooskap had conquered all his enemies, even the Kewahqu, who were giants and sorcerers, and the Míteoulin, who were magicians, and the Pamola, who is the evil spirit of the night air, and all manner of ghosts, witches, devils, cannibals, and goblins, that he thought upon what he had done, and wondered if his work was at an end.
And he said this to a certain woman. But she replied, Not so fast, Master, for yet there remains one whom no one has ever conquered or got the better of in any way, and will remain unconquered to the end of time. And who is he, inquired Glooskap? It is the mighty Wasis, she replied, and there he sits; and I warn you if you meddle with him you will be sorry.
Now Wasis was a baby. And he sat on the floor sucking a piece of maple sugar, greatly contented and troubling no one.
As Glooskap had never married or had a child, he knew little in the way of managing children. But he was quite certain, as such people are, that he knew all about it. So he turned to the baby with a bewitching smile and bade him come to him.
The baby smiled again, but did not budge. And the Master spoke sweetly and made his voice like that of a summer bird, but to no avail, for Wasis sat still and sucked his maple-sugar.
Then the Master frowned and spoke terribly, and ordered Wasis to come crawling to him immediately. The baby burst out crying and yelling, but did not move for all of that.
Then, since he could do but one more thing, the Master turned to magic. He used his most awful spells, and sang the songs which raise the dead and scare the devils. And Wasis sat and looked on admiringly, and seemed to find it very interesting, but all the same he never moved an inch.
So Glooskap gave up in despair, and Wasis, sitting on the floor in the sunshine, went Goo Goo and crowed.
And to this day when you see a baby well contented, going Goo Goo and crowing, and no one can tell why, you will know it is because he remembers the time when he overcame the great Master who had conquered all the world. For of all the beings that have ever been since the beginning, the baby is alone the only invincible one