An Indian girl gathering berries on the side of Mount Katahdin looked up at its peak, rosy in the afternoon light, and sighed, “I wish that I had a husband. If Katahdin were a man he might marry me.”
Her companions laughed at this quaint conceit, and,filled with confusion at being overheard, she climbed higher up the slope and was lost to sight. For three years her tribe lost sight of her; then she came back with a child in her arms, a beautiful boy with brows of stone. The boy had wonderful power: he had only to point at a moose or a duck or a bear, and it fell dead, so that the tribe never wanted food. For he was the son of the Indian girl and the spirit of the mountain, who had commanded her not to reveal the boy’s paternity.
Through years she held silence on this point, holding in contempt, like other Indians, the prying inquiries of gossips and the teasing of young people, and knowing that Katahdin had designed the child for the founder of a mighty race, with the sinews of the very mountains in its frame, that should fill and rule the earth.
Yet, one day, in anger at some slight, the mother spoke: “Fools! Wasps who sting the fingers that pick you from the water! Why do you torment me about what you might all see? Look at the boy’s face—his brows: in them do you not see Katahdin? Now you have brought the curse upon yourselves, for you shall hunt your own venison from this time forth.”
Leading the child by the hand she turned toward the mountain and went out from their sight. And since then the Indians who could not hold their tongues, and who might otherwise have been great, have dwindled to a little people.