Mikko the Squirrel, his tale I rehearse,
Whose morals are doubtful, whose language is worse.
When fresh was our world from the Manitou's hand,
When Gluskap the Mighty was lord of the land,
Before there was wisdom in Mowene the Bear,
Or timorous caution in Wapoos the Hare,
Or Ahdook the Red Deer had learned to be fleet,
Or snow-shoes were fixed on the Caribou's feet,
Or Askook the Serpent was Death in the Hills,
Or Kag the slow Porcupine quivered with quills,
Or, frighting the Minnows, that helmet of dread
The Kingfisher's war bonnet grew on his head--
The terror of beasts and the terror of men
Was Mikko the Squirrel who dwelt in the glen!
For long-toothed was Mikko and ruddy of hair,
As fierce as the Panther, as huge as the Bear;
And, leaping and pouncing and snapping his tail,
He ravaged the forest, he ravaged the vale;
The wilderness shivered when, savage and grim,
He uttered his war cry of "Chim, chim, chim, chim!"
Now Mikko the Squirrel was swollen with pride;
And out from the forest he sallied and cried,
"Oh, come in your prowess and come in your might!
O Gluskap the Feeble, I dare you to fight!"
Then Gluskap the Mighty strode forth on the plain;
He seized upon Mikko, who struggled in vain;
In spite of his anger, relentless and calm,
He stroked him and stroked him with finger and palm,
He stroked raging Mikko, the ruddy of hue,
That smaller and smaller and smaller he grew,
Till even the Marten that dwells in the tree,
Aye, even the Rabbit, is greater than he!
Then gently said Gluskap, "Small Brother of mine,
Your food be the seed in the cone of the pine;
The fruit of the hazel I give you to eat;
The nut be your quarry, the acorn your meat.
And since you are wrathful, to lessen the smart
That impotent fury shall breed in your heart,
I charge you, when angered at beast or at man,
To say, "Chim, chim, chim, chim!" as fast as you can!"
So Mikko the Squirrel, the jest of the Jay,
As small as the smallest that once were his prey,
Still chatters and scolds from his perch on the limb
And utters his war-cry of "Chim, chim, chim, chim!"
His manners are awful, his language as bad,
But vain is the fury of Mikko the Mad!