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Story of a Kookwes

This version of the legend comes from Silas Rand's 1894 collection Legends of the Micmacs.

Some little boys were out hunting. A kookwes (giant) was prowling round, watching for his prey, hunting for people. In order to attract the boys, he imitated the noise of the cock-partridge, the drummer; this he did by slapping the palms of his hands upon his breast. The little boys heard the noise, were deceived by it, and fell into the trap. The huge giant (the giants are amazingly strong) was a cannibal, and covered with hair like a regular gorilla; he seized the boys, and intended to dash their heads against a stone; but he mistook an ant-hill for a stone, and so merely stunned them all, except one, who was killed. The giant then placed them all in a huge boochkajoo' (birchen vessel), strapped them on his back, and started for home. The boys soon recovered, and began to speculate upon their chances for escape; it certainly must have seemed rather a hopeless undertaking, but we never know what we can do until we try. One of the boys had a knife with him, and it was agreed that he should cut a hole through the boochkajoo', and that they should jump out one after another, and scud for home. In order not to awaken suspicion, they waited until they heard the limbs rattling on the bark, as the giant passed under the trees, before the process of cutting commenced. As soon as the hole was large enough, one slipped out, and another and another, until all were gone but the dead one; the giant was so strong that he never perceived the difference in the weight of his load.

When he arrived home, he left his load outside and went into his wigwam, where he had a comrade waiting for him, to whom he communicated his good success. On opening the cage, the birds had flown, all but one (tokoo sogoobahsijik). They proceeded to roast the prey by impaling him on a stick and placing him before a hot fire; then they sat down by the fire to watch and wait till he was cooked.

The children soon reached their home and spread the alarm. A number of the men armed in hot haste, and pursued the giant; before the meal was cooked, they reached the place. Whiz! came an arrow, and struck in the side the giant who had carried off the children; he made a slight movement, and complained of a stitch in the side. Soon another arrow followed, and another, but so silently and so swiftly that neither perceived what they were. The fellow fell slowly over, as though falling asleep; and his companion rallied him on being so sleepy and going to sleep before his tender morsel had been tasted. Soon he also began to be troubled; sharp pains began to shoot through him, and as the arrows pierced him he also fell dead.

[The above story was related to me by Peter Toney, as an illustration of the stupidity as well as the physical strength of the giants. It will be observed how in this they resemble their brethren of European fiction; those that "our renowned Jack" slew were some of them remarkably stupid, — the Welsh giant, for instance.]

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