How Summer Conquered Winter

By Eleanor L. Skinner

Once upon a time the Great Chief, Glooscap, who brought many blessings to the Red Men, made a journey far into the Northland. For days he traveled over frozen wastes of ice and snow, where the keen wind blew without ceasing.

At last he came to a lodge hollowed out of the icebergs, where Winter, the Giant of the Northland, dwelt. Quietly, Glooscap stalked into the glittering lodge and sat down. There was silence for several moments, then the Winter Manito laid aside his scepter of ice, filled a pipe, and, offering it to his guest, said, “Thou art welcome. Tell me, why comest thou to the Northland?”

“To learn about the power of the Winter Giant,” answered Glooscap.

“Who can measure the strength of the Winter King?” said the giant, shaking his white locks, on which rested a crown of icicles.

For a long while the King and his guest sat smoking in silence. Then the Winter Giant began the story of his mighty deeds.

“I cover the Northland with ice, and pile up great snowdrifts which look like mountains. I send forth the Storm Blast, which fills the air with sleet and snow, and makes the white bear creep into a cave for shelter. I build the glittering icebergs, out of which my chieftains make their lodges.”

The enchantment of the frost was in Giant Winter’s words, and his guest sat spellbound. After Glooscap had listened to many works of wonder, he nodded his head and fell into a deep sleep. Like an image of death he lay in Winter’s lodge for six months.

Then one morning the charm of the frost spirit was broken, and Glooscap, who awoke with renewed vigor, left the Winter King’s lodge and journeyed toward the Southland. After a few days of travel he was beyond the reach of the Storm Blast. The air grew wondrously mild and warm; instead of frozen wastes, he saw stretches of meadowlands and green forests, where the birds were nesting. He walked deep into the woodland until he came to a dell, which was thick with flowers and bright butterflies. On soft green moss the Sun-Fays, led by the Fairy Queen of Summer, were dancing gaily. For a few moments Glooscap stood and marveled at the beauty of the scene.

Suddenly he sprang into the midst of the dancers, seized the Fairy Queen of Summer, and slipped her under his blanket. Then away he fled with her. As he ran, Glooscap, by magic power, dropped one end of a slender cord, made from a moose-hide, and let it trail behind him. When the Sun-Fays saw what had happened, they uttered a great cry, and darted after the intruder. They seized the end of the cord, and tugged at it with all their fairy might, hoping to hold fast Glooscap and rescue their Fairy Queen. But the magic cord had no end, and the Sun-Fays were left in the valley, while Glooscap fled through the forest and retraced his steps to the frozen Northland.

Again he silently entered the giant’s lodge hollowed out of the icebergs. The Winter Manito laid aside his ice scepter, filled a pipe, and offered it to his guest, saying, “Thou art welcome. Hast thou returned to the Northland to hear more about the strength of the Winter Manito?”

“The Frost King’s might is great,” said Glooscap, “but I have seen a power which is greater than his!”

The Winter Giant looked scornfully at his guest and said nothing.

“I have seen the wonder and beauty of the Summer Queen’s land,” said Glooscap. “There the quickening dews and gentle showers soften the brown earth, and the grass leaps forth. Myriad sunbeams touch the flower buds, and unfold them into full blossoms. Birds build their nests and rear their young in the branches of the sheltering forests. Light and warmth abound, and the earth is filled with gladness.”

By magic power Glooscap cast a spell over Giant Winter. He could neither speak nor move. As the Great Chief talked, the iceberg lodge grew warm and big ice drops ran down the giant’s checks. Gradually the air grew warmer and warmer. Winter’s icy figure and his wigwam melted and, in a great flood, flowed away to the sea.

Then, from her hiding place under Glooscap’s blanket, stepped forth the Summer Queen. At her command the Sun Fairies joined her, and together they began the marvelous work of making the grasses grow and the flowers bloom. Brooks and rivers flowed through the green meadows. Birds hastened back from the Southland and built their nests in the forests. Soon the whole land was filled with the joys and blessings of summer.

From The turquoise story book; stories and legends of summer and nature, by Ada M. Skinner and Eleanor L. Skinner.
New York: Duffield & Company, 1918.

# Age group unknown

North AmericaNative American TribesIroquois

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