New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Whales and the Robbers

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From the blog at

This is another in a series of occasional Mi’kmaq stories from Legends of the Micmacs by Silas T. Rand, Wellesey Philological Publications, New York, 1894. This edition presents a story of cleverness, which operates more like cunning and deceit.

There is a short introduction to these Mi’kmaq stories in the first blog posting entitled Robbery and Murder Revenged

 011 Mrs Mitchell Dominick

 Mrs. Mitchell Dominick at Burnt Church, 1896 – N.B. Museum


[Following is an interesting note by Silas Rand:

[I have learned to-day several important points in natural history,

  1. The whales, so says Nancy Jeddore, often, and especially when struck with a harpoon and in the agonies of death, utter sounds that resemble the sound of a wind instrument with a great variety of intonations, very musical and delightful to hear.
  2. The fish-hawk will not eat fish that has fallen out of his claws. He will not take any that are dead, though they lie in plenty on the shore.
  3. There are three kinds of loons. The largest kind inhabit the fresh-water lakes. This is called in Micmac Coosgěmeāwach. It is this that makes such a doleful, dismal howl. It is a very handsome bird, spotted, and having a bluish-black neck and head.
  4. All the birds that feed on fish and flesh have the faculty of disgorging themselves at will. The paunch is a long sack. They swallow bones and all, and when the flesh is digested, throw up the bones. A crow or an owl will do the same thing. An owl will swallow the leg-bone of a rabbit; this cannot pass the small intestines, and so after the flesh has been dissolved in the stomach, the bone is disgorged as well as the fur. There is a bird of the gull kind that will swallow a mackerel, and then be unable to fly. If alarmed, it will disgorge the fish and fly.]

And now, to the story:

The Whales and the Robbers

There were once seven towns not very far apart, belonging to one tribe. On a certain occasion a company of young people, composed of a young woman and a young man from each of these towns, started on an excursion to the sea-shore. They told the chief of the town from which the company set out that they were going to the sea-side, and would bring to him a faithful report of all they saw and heard; and should they find anything to bring away, they would bring that to him also.

Away they went down to the shore, and while there they heard most delightful music. It was so sweet and charming that they thought it surely came from heaven; but they were mistaken. It was the crying of whales; so one of the parties told the rest. Presently they saw a shoal of whales spouting in the distance, crying and coming in towards the shore. The noise affected the girls, and made them feel very sad. This the young men perceived, and warned them. “Look at them,” said they, “but do not pay any attention to the music they are making. If yon do, you will be overpowered by their enchantment and carried off.” The girls, however, could not help listening; but when they saw the whales approaching the shore at full speed, they fled alarmed, and concealed themselves in the woods, but the men remained.

One whale seemed to be the chief and leader of the rest; and finding that he could converse with them, they conceived a very high opinion of his abilities. He was certainly, so they learned, some supernatural agent, and could grant them whatever they asked.

So one by one they proffered their requests. The first one wanted to obtain one of the most beautiful girls for a wife; the second desired shrewdness and wisdom; the third, that he might be endowed with great strength; the fourth, that he might be victorious and successful in all he undertook; the fifth, that he might live long; the sixth, that he might be a magician; and the seventh, that he might become a king. The friendly whale promised all that they asked for, and then retired. Now said the one who had been dubbed king, “let us go and look for the girls.” Away they went, and soon found the frightened girls; but they did not tell them what had happened. They let them know, however, that they had nothing to fear from the whales.

But the young man who had been promised a beautiful bride immediately made his selection, for the choice of his heart was one of the company; and when he proffered his heart and hand, she, nothing loath, accepted the offer, and they walked home together as man and wife.

When they reached the town whence they had set out, this girl told the chief all that she had seen and heard. “We heard,” said she, “the most enchanting music as we sat by the sea-shore. We verily believed that the enrapturing strains proceeded from the sky; but we were mistaken. It was produced by a shoal of whales. These approached the shore. We looked at them and listened until we got frightened, and then we girls all ran away. Thus have I told you, as I promised, all that we saw and heard. We did not find anything to bring home, except that I found a husband; but him I must keep myself, I cannot give him to you.”

The young man who had been promised a kingdom told a dream to his father. Noo pāwei’ (“Father, I have had a dream”). “And pray what did you dream?” asked the old man. “I dreamed that I became a king and was made immediately rich.” “Very well,” was the father’s response, “all right;” and he encouraged the son to hope for the fulfillment of his dream.

Now, there was one girl of the company who had listened to the sweet music made by the whales, and who could not get the music out of her head. It haunted her night and day, but especially in the night. The would-be king heard of this, and he became enamored of the beautiful maid. “That is the girl for me,” said he to himself, “if I can only manage to get her.” So he called on the young lady, and made proposals. She at first rejected him. She would not marry until she had found the man who had been destined for her husband, as had been intimated to her by some supernatural means. She had the name of the man, and until she was sought in marriage by one of that name, she intended to remain single. “What is his name?” he asked her. “Nādădásoode (Wisdom),” she answered. “If that is the case,” said he, “then I am your man, for that is my name. It was given me by the whale on the day of our visit to the sea-shore.” Still she hesitated. But one day while the seven men were together, she heard one of them address one of the others by that name. She was struck with the name and the circumstance, and thought her suitor might be right. She had been told that there was no such name in any of the seven towns. But it seemed there was such a name; and her wily suitor, though it was addressed to the one who had requested to be “wise,” had appropriated it to himself, and said to her, “Didn’t I tell you so? You heard that fellow addressing me and calling me Nādădásoode. Now I hope you will believe that I am the man destined to be your husband.” Not only did he appropriate to himself the name of Nādădásoode, but he took all the other names. He was the husband of the beauteous bride, he was the “mighty one,” he was “the conquer all,” he was “long life,” he was “Booöin,” and he was “king.” Thus deceived, the poor girl consented to become his wife; and so they were married and their union celebrated with all the usual festivities.

Some time after this, he proposed to go with her again to the sea-shore, and see if they could have another interview with their marine friend. They arrived at the place in due time, and heard the music of the whales. But she, poor woman! was overpowered by it, and fell dead to the ground. This adventure affected him but little. “Let her go,” said he; “I can easily get another wife.” But the whale made his appearance again, and confirmed his previous promise. “You will be king,” said he, “in due time.” “How many servants shall I have?” “You will have seven servants,” said the whale. Satisfied with this confirmation of his aspirations, he returned home, and reported that the whale had carried off his wife. He had this report circulated about the town, and warned the people not to go down to the enchanted shore.

In the mean time the would-be king consulted his father, and recommended him to go in quest of his kingdom. So he started; but he obtained the companionship of Nādădásoode *, and the two set out together [* may be translated as wisdom, but shrewdness, cleverness and subtlety may be nearer the real meaning]. On their way they had to pass through a forest where there were a number of large ferocious wild-beasts. “Oh, what shall we do?” said the terrified would-be king, when he saw the wild beasts making at them. “Climb the nearest tree with all haste,” said the other. This direction was immediately put into execution. The animals were not of a kind to follow them up the trees, and they were safe. They remained in this lofty perch until the enemy had retired. Then they came down and went on their way.

By and by they reached a large town where a king dwelt; they found the palace and sought an interview with his Majesty. But previously the would-be king had asked advice of his wily comrade, as to the best plan of procedure. He had proposed the following: “Tell the king you are his brother, and that you were carried off by Indians when a little boy, and that you have lately discovered who you are, and have come to make yourself known to him.” This plan he followed. Having been introduced to the king, he informed him, when he was questioned, who he was, whence he came, wither he was going, what his business was. “I am your brother,” he said. “Did your parents ever tell you when you were a child, you had a brother that was carried off by the Indians?” “No they did not” said the king; “I have never heard of such an event.” But suddenly, as if just recollecting himself (for Nādădásoode, who has a touch of magical about him, and could use enchantment, now brought his powers to bear upon the king), the latter exclaimed “Certainly, certainly! I remember all about it. I did have a brother carried off by the Indians, and have often heard my parents speak of it.” “Well,” said the other, “I am the man.” I have been often told that you are my brother and have come to make you a visit. He was received with the utmost cordiality and confidence. The king had it proclaimed all over the place that a long-lost brother had been found. The king also told him that he would divide the kingdom with him, and said, “Should you outlive me, you shall have the kingdom in my place.” A house was furnished him, and seven men given him as servants.

Thus established, he and his wily servant began to plot further. “Our affairs are now going on prosperously,” said they to each other. “When we shall have succeeded in obtaining all the wealth we need, we can return to our own home.”

Now the king had a very fair daughter, and a plot was laid between the two to draw her into the trap; the plan was carried out in this way: The pseudo-king often rode out with his brother, who treated him with the greatest attention, all the family doing the same, and often visiting him and his friend at their own residence. One day the king was asked by his pseudo-brother if he would be willing that his niece should reside permanently with them and oversee the house, as it was rather dull and lonely there. No objection was made to the proposal. The young and beautiful princess could keep house for her own uncle without any seeming impropriety, and she was soon installed accordingly. To get her for his own wife or mistress was of course out of the question, but he would manage to get her for his friend. This was planned, and the plot went on.

“Uncle,” said the young lady one day, “who is this man, and what is he, that you have with you here?” “Oh, he is the son of the parties who brought me up,” he answered, “and he is my servant.”

One day when the two kings were about going out for a drive, the pretended uncle told the niece that he wanted her to come out and meet them when they returned, and Nādădásoode, his servant, would escort her. To this she agreed, and accordingly at the proper time they set out. But Nādădásoode led her along to where there were beautiful flowers growing by the wayside, to which he called her attention; she went forward gathering the flowers and admiring them, until he had led her away into the forest, and roamed and roamed until he knew she would never find her way out alone. He then slipped out of sight and left her. He soon heard her call. He knew she was lost, and gave no answer, but took the way that would bring him to meet the kings. They inquired after the princess, and he said he had left her back a small distance gathering flowers. When they came to the place, she was not there, and he said she must have gone home. But when they reached the palace, nothing had been heard of her. The king and all were alarmed. “Can you find her in the forest?” said the king to Nādădásoode. “I will do my best,” said he. “Find her,” said the father, “and she shall be yours.” “Agreed,” said the other. “Remember your promise;” and he darted off to the place where he had left her. He called, and she soon answered, and was overjoyed to find her way back.” I lost you, “said he,” and thought you had gone home.”

When they returned home, the king, her father, did not fail to fulfill his engagement. The princess was given to the fellow in marriage. A great festival was made in honor of the occasion; the citizens were sorely displeased, but the king had his own way.

Soon after this the two rascals concluded that their game must be soon played out. “Let us wind up the business,” said they, “and retire.” So the pretended brother told the king that his friend had had an alarming dream; and from what he knew of him, he had reason to believe that what he had dreamed would come to pass, for he had never known it to fail. The dream was that they were to be attacked in a few days by an invading army. The town would be sacked and the people destroyed. “Your barns will be burned on the night preceding the attack.”

The warning note having been sounded, preparations were made accordingly. It was arranged that the two kings should remain in one house, and that should be the king’s palace.

When all was ready, Nādădásoode one night watched his opportunity and set fire to the king’s barn. All was commotion and confusion. The king ran to assist in getting out the horses and cattle; while he was out and the house was left alone, the wily robbers laid their hands on as much as they could carry off, and then ran away. When the king returned, they were not to be found. He could not imagine what had become of them, but concluded that they had probably perished in the fire. Here the story ends.

[Related by Nancy Jeddore, Feb. 10, 187 1. She says that she learned it from her mother.]


Written by johnwood1946

December 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Hi there – Is there any way I can reach you directly? Either by phone or email? I am researching information I believe you may have access to. Thanks very much!! Misty McLaughlin.

    Misty McLauglin

    December 1, 2013 at 5:49 PM

  2. Looking for information re: Sarah Tracy. Can I call/email you?

    Misty McLauglin

    December 2, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    • All I have, besides the info from John C. Tracy’s book, is: Sarah Jane Tracy, abt.1838-22 Aug. 1818 m. John E. Boone, b. 1832 in Blissville. I have no ancestry for Sarah. No further info available on Sarah.


      December 2, 2013 at 9:41 AM

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