How Algon Gained His Wife


Algon was a very brave and handsome young hunter. One day when he was roaming over the plains in search of game he suddenly came to a well-worn circular track in the grass, with no path leading to it from any quarter.

This seemed to him a strange sight. How could such a track be made without people to make it? And how could people come to make it without leaving any signs of a path, or even of footsteps, in the grass where they came?

While he was pondering on this mystery he heard a rushing sound in the air, as of a great bird flying, and looking up he saw a large wicker basket descending, with twelve beautiful maidens in it. He stepped back into the thicket, where he could conceal himself from sight, and remained there watching.

The basket or car containing the twelve girls came gently descending toward the ground, being let down by cords from above. As soon as it reached the ground the girls leaped out, and all immediately went to the ring and began dancing about it in a charming manner.

Algon watched them as they danced, and finally fixed his eyes and his heart upon the youngest of them, who seemed to him to be the most beautiful of them all. He came forth from his thicket intending to seize her, but as soon as the maidens saw him they seemed exceedingly terrified. They all with one accord sprang for the basket, and, climbing into it as nimbly as possible, they were drawn up again into the sky and disappeared.

The next day Algon went again to the place where he had seen the ring, in order to watch for the coming of the girls -- expecting to see them descend, as on the preceding day, from the sky.

This time, however, instead of going in his own proper form, he changed himself into an opossum, a very curious and artful animal which hides cunningly among the branches of a tree. In this guise he took his place in a tree near the ring. Before long he saw the basket coming down out of the sky. When it reached the earth the girls descended from it and began to dance again, but before Algon had time to come down from his tree and go toward them the youngest of the girls spied him and gave the alarm, and the whole bevy immediately sprang to their basket, climbed into it as nimbly as they had done before, and went drawn up into the sky again.

The next day Algon determined to go once more, but now he concluded to change into a smaller animal than the opossum, in order the more easily to escape observation. This time he resolved to be a mouse.

So when he reached the place where the ring was formed, he looked about in the thickets near, and presently found a piece of the hollow root of a tree lying upon the ground, with a nest of mice in it. He took up the piece of root, nest, mice and all, and carried it out of the thicket to the ring, and there laid it down upon the grass near the outside of the ring. Then he changed himself into a mouse, and took his place with the others in the nest.

He had not been there long before he saw the basket coming down out of the sky as before. The girls stepped out of it and came toward the ring. One of them saw the fragment of the root upon the ground.

"Ah!" said she, "what is this? This was not here before."

So they all stopped and looked at the root, and then began to pull it to pieces. At this the mice all came out of the nest, and ran about upon the ground, The girls immediately began to kill them. At last they killed all but Algon. He, in order to save himself, turned back into a man.

The girls, when they saw one of the mice expanding and assuming the form of a man, screamed and fled. In the meantime Algon's transformation was complete, and he sprang after them. He succeeded in seizing the youngest, his beloved, and in holding her, notwithstanding her struggles, until the others had reached the basket, and had gone off again into the sky.

Being thus made captive the girl soon concluded to resist Algon's love no longer, but became his wife, and the wedded pair lived for a long time together in peace and happiness.

A great many other narratives of this kind might be given, but these will be sufficient. They are pretty fair specimens of the tales and traditions which are related by parents to children around the wigwam fires, and so handed down from generation to generation.

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