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February: The Month Of The Sky And Rocks  [The Red Indian Fairy Book]   The Rolling Rock (Flathead)   O NCE on a time, Coyote dress...

February: The Month Of The Sky And Rocks

February: The Month Of The Sky And Rocks [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

February: The Month Of The Sky And Rocks [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

 

The Rolling Rock

(Flathead)  

ONCE on a time, Coyote dressed himself in his best beaded clothes, and went for a walk. By and by he met Fox. So they went on together. Coyote had a fine new blanket, but Fox had none. Soon they came to a big smooth Rock. Coyote thought it a very nice Rock.

"Indeed," said he, "you are the nicest Rock I have ever seen. I'll give you my blanket to keep you warm."

So Coyote gave his blanket to the Rock. Then he and, Fox went on their way.

Pretty soon it began to thunder and lighten, and the rain poured down in streams. Coyote and Fox crept under the branches of a tree, but the rain came pouring through the leaves. As Coyote had no blanket, he was afraid that his beaded clothes would be spoiled. So he said to Fox:—

"Go and ask the Rock for my blanket."

Fox ran back, and asked the Rock, and it said, "No!" Then Fox hurried to Coyote, and told him what the Rock had said.

"Go," said Coyote, "and ask it to let me have the blanket for a little while."

Fox ran back, and asked Rock, and it said, "No!" Then Fox hurried back and told Coyote what the Rock had said.

"The Rock is very mean," said Coyote; "it might let me have the blanket for a little while! But why should I be wet, because of this greedy Rock? I'll get my blanket!"

So off rushed Coyote, and jerked his blanket from the Rock.

Well, Coyote and Fox went on again, and soon it cleared, and the Sun shone. The two sat down on the top of a hill to smoke, when suddenly they heard a crushing, and a crashing, and an awful rumbling noise. They looked up, and there was the Rock coming toward them, rolling along as fast as it could, and breaking everything in its path.

Up jumped Coyote and Fox, frightened almost to death, and away they ran down the hill, and the Rock came rolling after them. It came so fast that Fox had just time to leap into a hole, and the Rock touched the tip of his tail as it passed him. And ever since then, the tip of Fox's tail has been white.

As for Coyote, he ran down the hill with all speed, and sprang into the river, and swam across to the other bank. The Rock plunged into the water after him and Coyote thought, "Now it will be drowned!" But it was not drowned, and swam straight across, and rolled swiftly after Coyote.

Then Coyote ran into the thick timber, for he thought, "It cannot get through all these trees and bushes." But the Rock rolled right into the timber, and Coyote could hear the trees and bushes crackling and breaking, and he knew that the Rock was coming.

Coyote ran out on to the wide prairie, for he thought, "There is no path on the prairie, and I can run wherever I wish. The Rock cannot catch me there." But the Rock came swiftly rolling after.

Then Coyote ran and ran, until he met a huge Bear. And the Bear said, "I will save you!" So he stood in the way, and tried to stop the Rock, but it rolled right over him and went on after Coyote.

Well, Coyote ran and ran, until he met a great Buffalo. And the Buffalo said, "I will save you!" So he stood in the way to stop the Rock, but it rolled right over him, and went on after Coyote.

So Coyote ran and ran, until he came to a camp, where he met two old women with stone hatchets in their hands. The old women said, "We will save you!" Coyote ran between them, and the Rock rolled right after him. Then the old women struck the Rock with their hatchets, and broke it all to pieces.

Coyote sat down to rest, and lick his fur, when he heard one of the old women say: "He is fat and delicious! Let us have him for dinner!" So up he jumped, and ran out of the camp and across the prairie, and the old women went without their dinner that night.

 

The Boy in the Moon

(Vuntakutchin)  

DO you see the mark in the middle of the Moon, that looks like a man? Well, that is really a little Indian boy. It happened this way:—

Many years ago, there lived a Vuntakutchin boy. One Winter when he saw that his people had nothing to eat, he dreamed they killed a lot of Caribou. He told his dream in the morning, and the braves set out to hunt.

But before they went, the boy made his uncle promise that he would give him the meat of the leader Caribou. The uncle killed the leader, but when he came back from the hunt, he gave the boy the wrong meat, and kept the right meat for himself.

Well, the boy felt so badly that he cried for two nights. And on the third night he disappeared. He wore Marten-skin pants, and in the morning his uncle saw the left leg of the pants, hanging to the tent pole in the hole where the smoke goes out. And when the uncle went outside the tent, he found that all the Caribou, which had been killed the day before, had come to life again, and run away.

As for the boy, he had gone up to the Moon, and there he is now, with one leg bigger than the other, because the right leg has pants on it. From his hand hangs a little bag full of the wrong Caribou meat, and during the Autumn and Winter, when the sky is clear, you may see him standing in the Moon.

 

The Discontented Rock

 (Iroquois)

FROM the beginning of the Earth, Gustahote, the great Rock, had overhung the valley. He watched and guarded the land, but he was not content, and longed to be something mightier and stronger than he was.

"If I could be the wide river that flows through the valley," he thought, "then surely I should be mighty and strong! The river winds happy and free through its broad lands; and green grass and flowers follow its course. If I could only be that river!"

And instantly Gustahote the Rock became the river. Down the valley he sped, leaping with joy, and the singing brooks from the hills ran into his stream. Through rocky gorges he tossed his foaming waves toward the Sky, and they returned to him in a rainbow spray. He wound around the bases of lofty mountains, and leaped down precipices. Then through the silent forest he glided, and the trees dipped their branches in his cool waters.

On and on he hastened, faster and faster, growing wider as he went, until at last he plunged into the billowing ocean. It encircled him with its broad, hungry arms, and drew him down and mingled his waters with the deep, so that he was the river no longer.

Then suddenly Gustahote found himself again the Rock, overhanging and guarding the valley. And he rejoiced to have escaped from the hungry deep.

But he was not content. He still longed to be something mightier and stronger than he was.

"If I could have wings, and live in the Sky," he thought, "then surely I should be mighty and strong! The Sky is open and pathless, and leads to unseen heights. It has no billowing deep to swallow the unfortunate."

And even as he thought thus, Gustahote the Rock became a bird, and the air was caressing and delicious as he tried his wings. He plumed them, and fluttered them, and spreading them wide, soared into the Sky. Beneath him were the valleys and the forests and the mountains, growing smaller and smaller as he flew upward.

The air became cold, as he rose above the clouds and entered the Land of Mists. A whirling wind rushed past him, breaking his wings. They drooped at his sides, and he fell heavily toward the Earth. But a fiercer blast caught him, and tore his body to fragments, and whirled the pieces over and over through the endless grey Sky.

Then suddenly Gustahote found himself again the Rock, overhanging and guarding the valley. And he rejoiced that he had escaped from the pathless Sky.

But still he was not content. He longed to be something mightier and stronger than he was.

"If I could be a creature, and wander about on the Earth," thought he, "then surely I should be mighty and strong. Fair are the valleys of the Earth, and wide its green forests, and beautiful and fruitful its meadows. It has no fierce rushing wind to rend in pieces the unfortunate."

And even as he thought thus, Gustahote the Rock became a creature walking upon the Earth. He wandered up and down the world, so strange to him, and soon grew lonely and desired a companion.

First he sought the beasts, but they were too busy getting their food to stop and talk to a strange creature. After that he went to the birds, but they were nesting, and could not stop to talk to a strange creature. Weary, lonely, and despairing, he wandered about.

Then suddenly Gustahote found himself again the Rock overhanging and guarding the valley. And he rejoiced that he was a Rock once more. And he heard a voice whisper:—

"Be content, O Gustahote the Rock! The waters may overflow you, but they cannot drown you. The Sun may look upon you with its hottest rays, but he cannot burn you. The tempest may strike you, but it cannot rend you. Old age cannot wrinkle you. The rivers may dry up in their beds, the forests may fall into dust, but you will stand stanch and true, and always watching, and forever remain unchanged and changeless."

So Gustahote the Rock rejoiced exceedingly; and he still overhangs and guards the valley. The river flows from him, and the Sky smiles or frowns, and the Earth heeds him not. But he is content.

 

Legends of the Pleiades

The Singing Maidens

(Wyandot)  

ONCE the Sun and the Moon had seven little girls, as beautiful as Starlight. They were kind and loving, and as they grew older they went about the Sky Land singing so sweetly that they were called the "Singing Maidens."

The Seven Sisters often looked down upon the Earth, and longed to go there and wander about. "O Sun," said they, "let us go down to the Great Island, and sing to men."

The Sun said: "I forbid you to go down to the Great Island. Remain in your home and be content walking about the Sky Land."

But the Singing Maidens were not content; and one day, when the Sun was gone to give heat and light to the Earth, they looked down and saw a happy Wyandot village. All around it were trees full of scarlet Autumn leaves, and it stood near the shore of a lake. The glittering waves rolled over the pebble-strewn beach, while flocks of Sea-Birds flew over the lake, or floated on the waves, and the great Herons waded about among the Water-Lily pads. Then little children ran from the village down to the shore, and swam or splashed in the waves, or tossed the scarlet leaves into the air.

And the Singing Maidens saw all this, and cried: "Here is a more beautiful land than we can find in the Sky! Let us go down and dance with the children and sing among the trees by the shore of the lake!"

So they slid down a Sunbeam to the shining sand. They sang to the laughing children, and danced on the rippling waves. And the children clapped their hands and skipped for joy, and their laughter was wafted through the trees to the lodges of the Wyandots.

Then all the people stood entranced, and said one to the other: "What sweet music is that? We have never heard such a lovely song! Come, let us see who is visiting our children." And they all went down to the shore.

And when they reached the water, they saw the Singing Maidens. Then suddenly the Sky became black, and the loud wind roared. It was the Autumn Storm that rolled over the lake. For the Sun had seen his disobedient daughters, and had sent the Storm to carry them back to the Sky.

Very sad were the Singing Maidens when they met their angry father. "I will set you in a spot, far away," said he; "then you can never visit the Great Island again."

So he placed them in the distant Sky Land, where their bright forms may be dimly seen from the Earth. And the Pale-Face children call them "the Pleiades."

The Singing Maidens still look down with love upon the lake where they once danced and sang with the children on the shining sand.

And on calm and silent nights, the Wyandot Grandmother says to the little Indian boys and girls: "Be quiet, and sit at my feet. Soon we shall hear the Singing Maidens, as they dance in the scarlet leaves!"

 

Legends of the Pleiades

The Star Maiden

(Wyandot)  

LISTEN to the Wyandot Grandmother, as she tells of the lovely Star Maiden:—

In the olden days when the Earth was young, an Indian brave sat at the door of his lodge, not far from a lake. Soon faint and distant sounds of music came to his ears. He looked on all sides, but could not tell from whence the sounds came. Then they grew clearer and louder, and seemed to fall from the Sky to the lake.

The young man listened closely, and thought he heard voices by the water. So he crept through the grasses and reeds that grew along the shore. And when he parted the reeds, he saw seven lovely maidens singing and dancing, hand in hand, upon the beach.

They were as beautiful as Starlight, and one was more lovely than the rest. And as the young man crept nearer, a pebble slipped beneath his hand, and at the sound the maidens sprang into a large osier basket, that rose with them to the Sky. And so they disappeared from his sight.

The young man returned in sorrow to his lodge. All that night he did not sleep, but thought of the maiden who was lovelier than the rest. And all the next day he wandered about lonely and sad. But when evening came, he went down again to the water, and hid among the reeds.

Soon he heard the music falling sweetly from the Sky, and the osier basket came floating downward. The Seven Maidens stepped out on the beach, and began to dance and sing as before. And as the young man watched them, his delight was so great that he exclaimed with joy. The maidens heard the sound, and sprang into the basket, that rose with them to the Sky.

Again on the third night, the young man watched, and the maidens came. And as they danced to and fro, he rushed in among them. Filled with terror, they ran to their basket, and six of them sprang in, and the basket began to rise. But the young man caught the loveliest maiden by her girdle, as she clung to the side of the basket; and they were both lifted into the air. Soon she lost her hold, and they fell gently to the ground.

Then the young man led her to his lodge and begged her to become his bride. Very grieved she was, but not angry. "We are the Seven Star Sisters," she said, "the Singing Maidens. We have always lived together in the Sky Land where you have seen us dancing above you. If you will go with me to the lodge of the Sun, I will become your bride."

So the next night, when the basket descended again, the Star Maiden took the young man with her into the Sky Land, and there he saw many wonderful things. After which they returned once more to the Earth, and the Star Maiden became his bride.

That is why to-day the Indian children see only six Singing Maidens among the Pleiades; and why sometimes the shadow of the seventh is faintly seen.

 

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