How Glooscap Found Summer


Once, in the land of the Wabanaki, it was winter all the time, with dark windy days and bitter nights and never a glimpse of the sun at all. It was a terrible time for the Indians, and for a while Glooscap was at his wits' end to know what to do.

You have heard how Glooscap came to earth from Skyland, how he defeated his wicked brother Malsum, and how he made the Indians and animals. Now when he did all this, the land was warm and pleasant, with trees in leaf and sun light sparkling on the running streams.

Then, soon after Glooscap departed for Blomidon, suddenly almost overnight, all was changed. It grew cold. The sun disappeared behind the clouds and snow fell from the darkened sky. The lakes grew stiff with ice, and in all the land there was not a flower nor a leaf to be seen. The snow kept the Indians from their hunting grounds, and soon they became weak and ill from hunger and cold. Their Great Chief, Glooscap, seeing all this from his lodge on Blomidon, knew at once that the cold was caused by a giant wizard named Winter, the Ice King. Knowing too that if the cold continued all his people would die, and loving besides to pit his strength against other giants, Glooscap strapped on his giant snowshoes and set out eagerly to find the Ice King.

Deep in the forest, Glooscap came to Winter's wigwam and saw the giant himself leaning in the doorway. The Ice King stood as tall as Glooscap, with long white hair and beard, and a cloak of hoarfrost edged with icicles.

"Winter, you ruffian!" thundered Glooscap, "Lift your icy hand from my people, or I shall drive you away!"

The Ice King laughed.

"We shall see, my brother. Come into my lodge and we will talk the matter over." And he showed Glooscap to the back of the wigwam, which is a place of honour for guests.

When Glooscap was seated, Winter gave him a pipe and began to tell stories. Now Glooscap loved stories, and could not help listening, thinking there was plenty of time to come to the main business. But the Ice King was playing a trick on him. All the while he told his marvellous tales, his servants Frost and Slumber were throwing a charm on Glooscap. The Great Chief began to feel very drowsy. His head felt heavy and his eyelids began to close. Aware at last of his danger, he tried to rise, but his limbs failed him. Suddenly he was fast asleep. Then Winter went away, exulting, to make the world colder than ever.

Glooscap slept for six months, but at last the charm fled, and he awoke. Angry that Winter had tricked him, he hurried to the lodge of a brother giant called Coolpujot and asked for his help in driving Winter away. Coolpujot was a very huge, very fat old man with no bones, not able to move by himself, but he had certain magic powers.

"I might make the world warm," he told the Great Chief, "but only for a little while. Afterwards, the Ice King's power would be greater than ever, and I should not be able to prevail against him again."

"Work the charm anyway," said Glooscap, for he knew that many of his people were already dead and others dying.

But the fat old giant sighed.

"I can only make the charm work by turning over, and you know I cannot move." So Glooscap called his servant Marten and together, with the aid of handspikes, they rolled the giant over on his other side. Suddenly the sun came out and it was warm again.

"Is there no way Winter can be permanently defeated?" demanded Glooscap.

"There is only one way," said Coolpujot hesitantly.

"Tell me!"

"Far to the south there lives a queen called Summer, who is said to be as strong as Winter, and of whom the Ice King is much afraid. But she may be hard to find."

"I'll find her!" cried Glooscap.

"And perhaps she will not come."

"She'll come!" said Glooscap firmly.

Now it was a very long way to the Southland and Glooscap knew he must get there and back quickly if he were to save the rest of his people. Winter's power would return in a few short months and never go away again.

Glooscap hurried to the edge of the land and sang the magic song which called Bootup the Whale from the ocean.

"What is your will, Master?" asked Bootup, who was one of Glooscap's most faithful servants.

"Take me to the Southland," replied Glooscap, "as quickly as possible." And leaping on Bootup's back, away he went over the waves at a tremendous speed.

The great whale swam and swam and swam, and each day the water grew warmer, and the air, blowing off sunny shores, smelled of spice and flowers. Soon the water became shallow and, in the sand below, the clams called out a warning, "Oh, Whale, keep out to sea, for the water here is shallow and you will go aground."

But Bootup did not understand the language of the clams, and when he asked Glooscap what they said, the Chief answered with a song:

"They tell you to hurry To hurry, hurry along Over the water As fast as you can!"

Then the whale went like lightning until, all at once, with a terrible shudder, he struck hard and fast

"I can never leave the land. I shall swim in the sea no more!" And big tears streamed down his face.

"Have no fear, my friend," sang Glooscap cheerfully. "You shall not suffer. You shall swim in the sea once more," and, being now on shore, he placed his bow against the whale's side and with a tremendous push, sent old Bootup off again into deep water. Then he tossed the happy whale his second-best pipe and a bag of Indian tobacco as a reward. Bootup, very pleased, lighted the pipe and, smoking it, swam away to sea. And that is why, to this day, when you see a whale spout, you may say, "There! See? Bootup is smoking his pipe!"

Glooscap now travelled on foot, the sun warm on his face, the forest green and leafy overhead, until he came to a grove of orange blossom where many fair maidens were dancing. In their midst danced one fairer than all the rest, a smiling maid with long golden hair and a crown of flowers, and Glooscap knew at once it was the Queen of Summer. Hiding a little way off, he touched his magic belt and began to sing a song so sweet and tender it made Summer turn her head and move away from her friends.

"Come back!" they cried, but Summer did not heed them. She heard only the voice of Glooscap and ran to him in the forest.

"Come with me to the Northland," said Glooscap. "Help me defeat the giant, Winter."

"I will come," said Summer, "but only for a while, for this land will be sad and cold without me. How shall I find my way back?"

Now Glooscap knew that with Summer beside him, they could travel swiftly through the forest and would not need Bootup. He took a large moose hide and cut it round and round into a single long cord.

"We will let this run out behind us," he said. "Then, by winding it up again, you will be able to find your way back."

As they ran through the forest, the snow melted before them and the ice disappeared, and soon they came to Glooscap's own land. But here the cold was stubborn and Summer's magic failed, for Coolpujot's charm had run out and Winter's power was great in his own land.

"We must meet Winter and defeat him in his own lodge!" cried Glooscap and, putting her behind him, he strode up to the Ice King's wigwam and called out the Indian greeting in a loud voice:

"Kwah-ee!"

Winter's servants Frost and Slumber saw Summer as she passed, and they fled, but to the Ice King, as he came to meet Glooscap, she was invisible.

Eager to defeat Glooscap again, Winter cordially invited him to enter his lodge, but no sooner were they seated than the Ice King noticed something strange. His cloak of frost was melting! He called out for his servants Frost and Slumber, but there was no reply. He heard water begin to trickle Heard a bird sing! He heard buds whispering and laughing as they pushed their way through the bark of a million tree branches. He jumped to his feet in dismay.

"What magic is this?" he cried, feeling his crown of ice drip down his cheeks and his spear shrink in his hand.

Glooscap, with a triumphant smile, stood aside and showed him Summer.

Then Winter knew his power was gone, and he wept.

Summer, who was kind, felt sorry for him.

"We do not want the old man to die," said she to Glooscap. "Is there no way to save him without danger to your people?"

The Great Chief nodded.

"There is a way--a way that will be good for my people too, for too much ease and pleasure leads to laziness." Then he turned to the Ice King and said, "Winter, you will move your lodge at once to the Far North and rule there all year without interruption. At the end of Autumn, when Coolpujot is rolled over, you may come back here and stay six months."

"Hurrah!" cried the giant.

"But at the end of six months," Glooscap went on, "Coolpujot will roll over again and Summer will come from her home in the south, to bring my people the warmth and joy that only she can bring." And, ever since then, Coolpujot is rolled over with hand-spikes each Spring and Fall by Glooscap's order, so that the giant Winter and the lovely Queen of Summer may rule the Wabanaki country in turn, between them. Kespeadooksit--the story ends.


Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker




This site has been accessed 10,000,000 times since February 8, 1996.