The Quelling of the Moose

by
Charles G.D. Roberts
divider

A Melicete Legend

When tent was pitched, and supper done,
And forgotten were paddle, and rod, and gun,
And the low, bright planets, one by one,

Lit in the pine-tops their lamps of gold
To us by the fire, in our blankets rolled,
This was the story Sac̣bi told—

"In those days came the moose from the east,
A monster out of the white north-east,
And as leaves before him were man and beast.

"The dark rock-hills of Saguenay
Are strong,—they were but straw in his way.
He leapt the St. Lawrence as in play.

"His breath was a storm and a flame; his feet
In the mountains thundered, fierce and fleet,
Till men's hearts were as milk, and ceased to beat.

"But in those days dwelt Clote Scarp with men.
It is long to wait till he comes again,—
But a Friend was near and could hear us, then!

"In his wigwam, built by the Oolastook,
Where the ash-trees over the water look,
A voice of trouble the stillness shook.

"He rose, and took his bow from the wall,
And listened; he heard his people's call
Pierce up from the villages one and all.

"From village to village he passed with cheer;
And the people followed; but when drew near
The stride of the moose, they fled in fear.

"Like smoke in a wind they fled at the last
But he in a pass of the hills stood fast,
And down at his feet his bow he cast.

"That terrible forehead, maned with flame,
He smote with his open hand,—and tame
As a dog the raging beast became.

"He smote with his open hand; and lo!
As shrinks in the rains of spring the snow,
So shrank the monster beneath that blow,

"Till scarce the bulk of a bull he stood.
And Clote Scarp led him down to the wood,
And gave him the tender shoots for food."

He ceased; and a voice said, "Understand
How huge a peril will shrink like sand,
When stayed by a prompt and steady hand!"

From In Divers Tones.

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Added 22 November 2008.
Updated 22 November 2008.