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# The Legend of Malobiannah

At that time of the year when twittering swallows begin to gather in preparation for their long flight south, at the approach of the Moon of Falling Leaves, the Maliseet Indians of the upper St. John River had assembled in their palisaded fort at Meductic to feast and celebrate the corn harvest. For these nomadic hunting and fishing people, the corn grown on the fertile lands of the intervals added an important variety to their diet. The harvest time was also a joyful occasion for meeting again with friends and relatives.

In the midst of this feasting and jubilation a terriied and exhausted woman stumbled into the clearing. It was Malabeam the wife of one of the hunters who had not yet returned to the village. She told a chilling story of having been captured by the advance scouts of a Mohawk war party on the Madawaska River; her husband was slain in the struggle, and her life spared only on condition that she guide the enemy to the main Maliseet village. Boasting and declaring that they would wipe out every Maliseet on the river, they forced her into one of their canoes and set off.

As darkness fell, the flotilla of canoes carrying several hundred warriors and their unhappy prisoner glided easily down the river, and most of the Mohawks soon sank into slumber. As they approached Grand Falls, the great roaring of the water and the quickening current alarmed the steersmen, but Malabeam reassured them. She explained that it was only a waterfall on another river that here discharged into the St. John.

Biding her time and gauging the distance carefully, she flung herself into the water and at the last possible moment struggled to the bank. Most probably she came ashore at the familiar landing just past the present intake. The sleeping warriors awoke in a panic with the roar of the cataract in their ears. Caught in the rushing and unfamiliar waters, they strove to turn their canoes toward the darkened shore, but all efforts were useless. Chikaneakapeg, the Great Destroying Giant, seized them in his foaming embrace, and hurled them over the falls onto the rocks below. Turning and whirling, the canoes were smashed into splinters, and the helpless Mohawks plunged battered and drowning down the gorge. If there were any survivors, destitute and far from home, they were never heard of again. Malabeam fled as quickly as she could from the scene of destruction. Perhaps on foot, perhaps in a salvaged canoe, or more likely one that had been hidden by her own people beside the portage trail, she made the long lonely journey to her village and there told of her ordeal and of their deliverance.

Published on: 2007-08-19 (14079 reads)

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