Whence these stories?

It had been a long, long, dreary summer, and Algy had often found himself hopelessly lost in the dense Scotch mist which smothered the land and the sea, blown hither and yon by the gales and drenched by the persistent rain, but as the world turned and the wind swung round to the north at last, a bitter squall from the arctic swept down across the ocean and drove all before it as it chased the clinging mists away. And when the wind finally dropped the sun came out and lit up the land in all its autumn glory, and Algy found himself safely at home once more… Tired but happy, he picked a comfortable spot on a bed of drying grasses and fallen leaves, and settled down comfortably in the sunshine to enjoy the unusual luxury of a quiet afternoon’s reading:

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations,
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fenlands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.

[Algy is reading the famous opening lines from The Song of Hiawatha by the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

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