“‘And we,’ said Da-hin-da the Bull Frog, ’will afflict men with colds and coughs, which shall make them weak and short of breath.’
“‘We, the birds,’ declared E-kes-ke the Blue Jay, ’will afflict them with sores and diseases of the skin.’
“And so it went on. Each of the tribes of the wild folk agreed to afflict mankind with some sort of sickness.
“A-bal-ka the Chipmunk alone spoke in favor of the men. But he had hardly said ten words, before the others became so enraged that they fell upon and drove him from the council. He barely escaped with his life.
“And as it was, Up-wee-kis the Lynx fastened his claws on A-bal-ka’s neck and tore four gashes the length of his back. You can see the marks to this day. That is the way the chipmunk got his black stripes.”
XVI. HOW A-BAL-KA THE CHIPMUNK HELPED MEN
“The wounded ground squirrel hid himself in his den beneath the roots of a great oak, where his enemies could not get at him. There he remained until the other creatures had departed and his wounds were somewhat healed.
“When he was well enough to get about again, he visited the villages of the Red Men. Everywhere he went, he found sickness and death. The kind-hearted chipmunk was sorry to see so much suffering and sorrow. So he revealed the secret plans which had been formed in the councils of the wild folk.
“Men now knew what was the cause of their troubles. But this knowledge did little good, since it did not heal their diseases or save them from death. For a time, it seemed as if the human race would be entirely destroyed.
“In their despair, they appealed to their kind friend A-bal-ka the little ground squirrel. ‘What shall we do?’ they wailed. ’Cannot you, who are so kind of heart and so wise, help us?’
“‘I will do my best,’ he replied, ’but I must take time to think about it.’ After turning the matter over in his mind carefully, he went about among the plants and trees and told them what had been done by the wild folk against their friends the men.
“‘Cannot you,’ said he, ’do something to heal their diseases and save the human race from destruction?’
“After much coming and going on the part of A-bal-ka the ground squirrel, and much talking and thinking on the part of the plants and trees, it was resolved that they, too, should hold councils, to see what they could do toward checking and overcoming the evils which had befallen the human race.
* * * * *
“First the big trees of the forest and the shrubs held their council. They talked over the matter and agreed that each should do all in its power to furnish remedies to cure the diseases which the wild folk had inflicted upon men.
“‘We,’ said the pine, the spruce, and the balsam trees, ’will give our gums and our balsam.’ The slippery elm offered its bark; the sassafras its roots; the cherry tree its bark and its berries. One after another, the other trees and shrubs offered their berries, their bark, their leaves, or their roots as medicine to heal the diseases of men.