GLOOSCAP AND HIS BROTHER, MALSUM
When Glooscap came from the Sky in a stone canoe, he came with his brother, Malsum. The two were giants twelve feet tall and both could make themselves larger at will. Glooscap was manlike but Malsum had the head of a wolf.
Glooscap was a good and powerful Chief but Malsum, banished from the Skyland for his evil ways, had been sent to redeem himself in Glooscap’s service. But he was jealous of his brother and, if he could, he would kill Glooscap and become Chief in his place.
Glooscap set to work and created the small people, the megumoowesoos, and then he created men and women by shooting arrows into the trunks of ash trees. Finally, out of clay, Glooscap created the animals. Secretly, Malsum touched Glooscap’s belt and whispered an evil charm. The last of the clay twisted itself and fell to the ground where it came to life as a strange animal – not badger, not beaver, not wolverine, but something of all three, a creature as restless and wild as its maker. “His name is Lox!” said Malsum. “I made him!”.
Malsum instructed Lox to stir up trouble for Glooscap and so Lox went stirring up the animals to make mischief. Glooscap summoned all the animals and warned them. The animals muttered angrily among themselves. “It is clear that as long as Glooscap is master, we can do nothing. Malsum would let us do as we please.”
Lox knew that both giants lived charmed lives and that neither could be killed except in one certain way. Lox noticed how each of the giants talked at times, privately, to the people of the Sky. He overheard Glooscap saying that he can never die unless he was struck in the heart by a flowering bush. He also heard Malsum saying “I am safe, for nothing can harm me but a fern root piercing my throat.”
Lox saw how he could turn things to his own end and went to Malsum and revealed Glooscap’s life secret. Lox then hurried to Glooscap saying “Master, Malsum knows your secret and is about to kill you. He will die if his throat is pierced with a fern root.”
Glooscap had barely torn the root from the ground, when Malsum appeared, flowering rush in hand. Touching their belts, both grew in a flash so tall their heads touched the clouds. What a battle that was! Each blow made the earth tremble and pine trees shake at their roots.
At last Malsum risked all in a mighty thrust but, stubbing his toe on an island, he lost his balance. Swift as light, Glooscap’s fern root pierced the wolflike throat, and Malsum, his brother, died.
Excerpts from ‘More Glooscap Stories, Legends of the Wabanaki Indians’, Kay Hill, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970, p. 1 to 7.
Medium: Airbrush with acrylics
Size: 38 ½” x 27”