Gateway to the Classics: Canadian Wonder Tales by Cyrus MacMillan
Canadian Wonder Tales by  Cyrus MacMillan

The First Pig and Porcupine

A MAN and his wife lived once long ago in the Canadian forest. They lived far away from other people, and they found it very lonely. They were very poor, for game was not plentiful, yet they were always happy and contented. They had only one child, a boy, whom they loved well. The boy grew up to be very strong and clever. But he was often lonely without any companions but his parents. The birds and the animals of the woods were his friends, because he was kind to them and they looked upon him as a comrade. At last he grew tired of his lonely life. He longed for adventure. So one day he said to his parents, "I am going far away to see other men and women and to do great deeds." His parents did not want to let him go at first, for they would be very lonely without him. But they knew that he could never become great where he was, and they consented to let him go.

The next morning he set out on his journey. He travelled all day. At night he slept on the ground under the stars. In the morning Rabbit came to where he lay and woke him up. Rabbit said, "Hello, friend; where are you going?" "I am going to find people," said the boy. "That is what I want to do too," said Rabbit; "we shall go together." So they went on together. They travelled a long distance through the forest. They crossed many small streams and climbed many hills. At last they heard voices through the trees, and soon they saw not far in front of them an Indian village. Rabbit hid among the trees, but the boy went forward alone to see the people. The people were all kind to him and gave him food and asked him to stay with them. But they were all very sad and many of them were weeping. The boy asked them what was the matter. They said, "The Chief has a very beautiful daughter, and word has come to us that to-morrow a great giant is coming to eat her up. It will be useless to send her away, for the giant will follow her. He is a very terrible monster and cannot be killed." Then they continued to weep and lament.

The boy went out to the woods and told Rabbit what he had heard. He said, "We had better go on our way so that we may be far off when the giant comes." But Rabbit said, "No. Go back to the people and tell them you can save the Chief's daughter. Have no fear. When night comes bring the girl here to me and I will save her." So the boy went back to the people and told them not to fear, for he would save the girl from the giant. They laughed at him at first, for everyone who had attempted to stop the giant had been killed. But when they saw that the boy was quite sure of his power, they listened to him. They went to the Chief and told him what the stranger had said. Then the Chief sent for him and said, "If you can save my daughter from the giant, she shall be yours."

When evening came, the boy brought the girl to where Rabbit was waiting. Rabbit had a little carriage ready, drawn by two little squirrels. When he spoke to the squirrels they grew until they were as large as dogs. They all got into the carriage, the boy and the girl and Rabbit, and away went the squirrels. It was a clear summer night and the moon was full. The road was hard, and they ran along rapidly over the road among the trees, and soon they reached a village far away. They came to a tent on the bank of a stream. The boy went in and found only an old woman. She said, "Death is not far away from you. The giant is close on your heels." Then she wept. She told them to go to the river, for her husband was there. So they went to the river. Rabbit and his squirrels stayed behind to see what the giant would do. The boy and girl found an old man fishing from the bank. He said, "Death is not far away from you, for the giant is close on your tracks. But I will help you." He sprang into the water, and lay there and spread out his arms and legs. Then he said, "Stand on my back." So they stepped to his back. They feared at first that they would fall off; but at once he grew as large as a big canoe, and he swam with them across the river. When they landed on the other side they turned to look at him and they saw then that he was old Sea Duck, the boy's friend. He pointed to a high mountain. "Go to the mountain," he said, "and there you will find Rabbit." Then he swam away.

The boy and the girl went towards the mountain. But they heard the giant roaring behind them and splashing in the stream as he crossed. When they reached the foot of the mountain, he was almost upon them. At the foot of the mountain Rabbit was waiting for them. The side of the mountain was very steep. It was almost perpendicular. Rabbit took a long pole and held it up. "Climb this," he said. As the boy and the girl climbed, the pole lengthened until they stepped from it to the top of the mountain. Rabbit climbed up after them with his squirrels. The giant saw them all from the foot of the mountain and climbed up the pole after them. But when he was near the top, the boy pushed the pole out and it fell backwards, taking the giant with it. The giant was killed by the fall. Then the boy and the girl and Rabbit got into the squirrel carriage. They went quickly down the other side of the mountain, and over the moonlit road until they came to the girl's native village. When they reached the border of the village, Rabbit said, "Now, old friend, good-bye. I must go away. But if ever again you are in trouble, I will help you if I can." Then Rabbit and his squirrels went away. The boy brought the girl back to the Chief's home. The people all wondered greatly to see her alive. The Chief said to the boy, "You may have her as your wife." So they were married and a great wedding feast was held.

But two young men of the girl's village were very angry because the girl had married a stranger. Each wanted her for himself. So they decided to kill her husband. They asked him to go fishing with them far out to sea. The next day the boy went with them to the deep-sea fishing place. It was a long sail. When they were almost out of sight of land, the boy's enemies threw him overboard before he could defend himself, and sailed away leaving him struggling in the water. The boy called for help. Not far away was a small island, and from the beach came a large white Sea Gull in answer to his cries. When Sea Gull saw his plight he said, "Have no fear, old friend, I will help you." Sea Gull flew away and the boy lay on his back and floated with the tide. Soon Sea Gull came back carrying a long cord. He let down one end of it and told the boy to hold on to it tight. Then he said, "It is a long swim to the island. But I will tow you there." And Sea Gull towed him to the island, and left him there, saying, "I am very tired after such a long pull. I can go no farther. Good-bye, old friend. Others will help you."


from the beach came a large white sea gull.

As the boy sat shivering on the island beach, Fox came along. "Hello, old friend," said Fox. "What are you doing here?" The boy told him what had happened, and said, "I am very hungry." Fox said, "I have no food for you, but I can help you in another way." Then Fox picked a blade of grass from the bank and said, "Eat it." The boy ate it and at once he was changed into a horse and ate grass until he was full and his hunger had left him. When Fox saw that he was full, he gave him another blade of grass, and said, "Eat it." He ate it and at once he was changed back to a boy. Then Fox said, "When night comes, I will take you home, for there is no boat on the island." So they waited for the evening. When night came and the moon came out they went to the water's edge. They could see the lights of the village far away across the sea. "Catch hold of my tail," said Fox, "and hang on tight." The boy caught Fox's tail and Fox swam away, towing the boy behind him. The sea was very rough, and the waves ran high, and the boy thought he would never reach the land. But he held on tight and after some hours they came to the shore. Fox said, "Good-bye, old friend. I must go no farther. But if you are ever again in trouble, call me and I will help you." Then Fox ran away along the beach.

The boy made a fire and dried his clothes and then went to the village. The people all wondered greatly to see him alive. They thought he was dead. They said, "To-morrow one of the men who took you fishing is to marry your wife. He told her you had drowned yourself because you were sorry you had married her. Then he asked her to be his wife and she consented." The boy went to his old home and there found his wife. She was very frightened when she saw him, for she thought he had come back from the land of the dead. He told her of the treachery of the two men. She wept, but he said, "Do not weep, but rejoice, for I shall punish the two men to-morrow. There will be no wedding feast for them as they expected." The next morning the boy went to the Chief, his father-in-law, and told him what had happened. The Chief said, "Put the two men to death." But the boy said, "No, I have a better form of punishment." Then he called Fox. When Fox came, he said to him, "Bring me two blades of grass that can change men into beasts, such as you used to change me yesterday." Fox ran away and soon came back with the grass. The boy took the two blades, and went to the men who had tried to drown him. He said, "Here is some sweet grass I found under the sea. Taste it." And each took a blade and ate it. At once they were changed. One became a pig and the other became a porcupine, and both had coarse hair or bristles all over them, and they had noses of a strange and funny shape. The boy's punishment of his enemies was then complete. He said, "Live now despised by men, with your noses always to the ground." So the first pig and the first porcupine appeared upon the earth.

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