WHY THE DIVER DUCK HAS SO FEW TAIL FEATHERS
Adapted from H. R. Schoolcraft
HAVING overcome the powerful Pearl Feather, killed his serpents and
escaped all is wiles and charms, the heart of Manabozho welled within
him. An unconquerable desire for further adventures seized upon him.
He had won in a great fight on land, so he determined -his next success
should come to him from the water.
He tried his luck as a fisherman and with such success that he captured
an enormous fish, a fish so -rich in fat that with the oil Manabozho
was able to -form a small lake. Wishing to be generous, and at the
same time having a cunning plan of his own, he invited all the birds
and beasts of his acquaintance to come and feast upon the oil, telling
them that the order in which they partook of the banquet -would decide
how fat each was to be for all time to -come.
As fast as they arrived he told them to plunge in and help themselves.
The first to make his appearance was the bear, -who took a long and
steady draft; then came the deer, the opossum, and such others of the
family as are noted for their comfortable covering. The moose and the
buffalo were late in arriving on the scene, and the partridge, always
lean in flesh, looked on till the supply was nearly gone. There was
not -a drop left by the time the hare and the marten appeared on the
shore of the lake, and they are, in consequence, the slenderest of all
When this ceremony was over Manabozho suggested to his friends, the
assembled birds and animals, that the occasion was proper for a little
merrymaking; and taking up his drum he cried out:
"New songs from the South! Come, brothers, dance!"
They all fell in and commenced their rounds. Whenever Manabozho, as he
stood in the circle, saw a fat fowl which he fancied pass him, he
adroitly wrung its neck and slipped it under his belt, at the same time
beating his drum and singing at the top of his lungs to drown the noise
of the fluttering, crying out in a tone of admiration:
"That's the way, my brothers; that's the way." At last a small duck of
the diver family, thinking there was something wrong, opened one eye
and saw what Manabozho was doing. Giving a spring, and crying: "Ha-ha-
a! Manabozho is killing us!" he made a dash for the water.
Manabozho was so angry that the creature should have played the spy
that he gave chase, and just as the Diver Duck was getting into the
water he gave him a kick, which is the reason that the diver's tail
feathers are few, his back flattened, and his legs straightened out, so
that when he is seen walking on land he makes a sorry looking figure.
The other birds, having no ambition to be thrust in Manabozho's belt,
flew off, and the animals scampered into the woods.