Algernon Blackwood

The Wendigo

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The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood - s a novella by Algernon Blackwood, first published in The Lost Valley and Other Stories (Eveleigh Nash, 1910). Synopsis In the wilderness north of Rat Portage in Northwestern Ontario, two Scotsmen - divinity student Simpson and his uncle, Dr. Cathcart, an author of a book on collective hallucination - are on a moose-hunting trip with guides Hank Davis and the wilderness-loving French "Canuck", Joseph Défago. While their Indian cook, Punk, stays to tend the main camp, the others split up into two hunting-parties; Dr. Cathcart goes with Hank, while Défago guides Simpson in a canoe down the river to explore the vast territory beyond. Simpson and Défago make camp, and it soon becomes clear that Défago senses - or at least thinks he senses - some strange and fearful odour on the wind. That night, Simpson wakes to find Défago cowering in terror from something outside the tent. Later Défago runs off into the night, forcing Simpson to go and look for him. He follows his footprints in the snow for many miles, realising that Défago's are not the only set of tracks. The larger set of footprints are not human, and gradually it seems that Défago's own tracks have metamorphosed into smaller versions of the larger set. Eventually, both sets of tracks vanish, and Simpson believes he hears Défago's distant voice calling out from somewhere in the sky above: "Oh! oh! This fiery height! Oh, my feet of fire! My burning feet of fire ...!" Simpson finally manages to make his way back to the main camp, where he is reunited with the others. Dr. Cathcart and Hank go back with him to search for Défago, and when camping once more out in the wilderness, Défago - or some hideous parody of Défago - appears before them before vanishing once again into the night. Conflicted and disturbed about what they have witnessed, they return to the main camp to find that Défago - the real Défago this time - has made his own way back, suffering from delirium, exposure, and frostbite. He dies soon after, and the three men are left in a state of bafflement and uncertainty about what has occurred. Punk alone could have explained it to them, but he fled home as soon as he caught the terrible odour that Défago carried with him. As an Indian, he instantly understood that Défago had seen the Wendigo.
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1 hour 59 minutes
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