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June: The Beautiful Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book] Why Wild Roses Have Thorns (Salteaux)   L ONG , long ago, Wild Roses had no tho...

June: The Beautiful Month

June: The Beautiful Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

June: The Beautiful Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

Why Wild Roses Have Thorns

(Salteaux)  

LONG, long ago, Wild Roses had no thorns. They grew on bushes the stems of which were smooth and fragrant, and the leaves a delicate green. The sweet-smelling pink blossoms covered the bushes. Oh! they were beautiful to see!

But they made such delicious eating, that the Rabbits and other creatures who loved grass and herbs, nibbled the pink petals and green leaves, and sometimes ate up the bushes. By and by there were only a few Rose-Bushes left in the whole world.

Well, the Rose-Bushes that were left met together to see what they could do about it, and they decided to go and find Nanahboozhoo, and ask him for help.

Now this Nanahboozhoo was a strange fellow. He had magic power and could make himself as tall as a tree or as small as a Turtle. He could not be drowned or burned or killed, and he had a very bad temper when he was displeased. He was hard to find, for sometimes he was an animal and at other times a man.

But the Rose-Bushes decided to look for him, and they hurried away on the back of a wind that they hired to carry them. And as they went along, they asked every tree and animal they met, "Have you seen Nanahboozhoo?" And all answered, "No."

The Rose-Bushes flew on and on, the wind blowing them along, and by and by they met a little animal that said, "Nanahboozhoo is in a valley among the mountains, where he is planting and taking care of a flower-garden."

The Rose-Bushes were delighted to hear this, and told the wind to blow them to that valley, and it did. As they drew near the flower-garden, they heard Nanahboozhoo shouting, for he was in a great rage. At this the Rose-Bushes were dreadfully frightened, and hid among some Balsam Trees. But they soon learned why Nanahboozhoo was angry.

Some weeks before he had planted a hedge of Wild Roses around his garden, and when they were covered with spicy pink blossoms, he had gone away for a few days. Just before the Rose-Bushes had arrived and hidden among the Balsams, he had returned to his garden. What was his anger to find that the Rabbits and other creatures had eaten up his hedge of Wild Roses, and trampled down all his flowers.

Now, when the Rose-Bushes knew why Nanahboozhoo was shouting with rage, they left their hiding-place, and a puff of wind blew them straight to Nanahboozhoo's feet. He was surprised to see them, for he thought that all Rose-Bushes had been eaten up; but before he could say a word, they told him their troubles.

Nanahboozhoo listened, and, after talking things over with the Rose-Bushes, he gave them a lot of small, thornlike prickles to cover their branches and stems close up to the flowers, so that the animals would not be able to eat them. After that Nanahboozhoo sent the Rose-Bushes to their home, on the back of the wind.

And ever since that day all Wild Roses have had many thorns.

 

How the Fairies Came

(Algonquin)

IN the country of the Wabanaki, ten sisters once lived in their father's lodge. Each was more beautiful than any other maiden in the land, and the youngest was the most beautiful of all.

Many handsome braves laid their gifts before the lodge door. So nine of the sisters married and went to live with their mothers-in-law. But the youngest refused all suitors, and stayed in her father's lodge.

One day an old man named Osseo came to woo the youngest. His eyes were bright and his thoughts keen, and he sang softly before her door. And as the maiden was willing, the marriage-feast was held.

The nine sisters came with their handsome husbands, and they laughed and jeered at the bride, because her husband was so old. But she only said: "Wait and see! Soon you shall know who has chosen most wisely."

After the marriage-feast was over, Osseo led his bride toward his lodge in the distant forest. The nine sisters and their husbands went with them along the path. Presently they passed a hollow log. Then Osseo gave a loud call, and leaving the side of his bride, dashed into the log.

Immediately he came out at the other end, no longer old and wrinkled, but younger and handsomer than the husbands of the nine sisters. He then led the party forward with a step as light as the Reindeer's.

Soon they reached a splendid lodge, and entered it. A delicious feast was spread in wooden dishes, and the sisters and their husbands sat down.

"The food you see before you is magic food," said Osseo; "eat it and receive a gift from the Evening Star, whose lodge this is."

And as they all ate, sweet music like the voices of birds fell from the Sky. The lodge began to rise in the air. Higher it rose through the trees, and as it did so, it changed into a wonderful cage. Its poles became glittering silver wires, and its covering was of the shining wings of blue, green, and yellow insects.

And as the silver cage passed above the tree-tops, the wooden dishes became scarlet shells, and the nine sisters and their husbands were transformed into birds. Some became Bluebirds, others Red-Breasted Robins, still others Golden Orioles, and birds with scarlet wings. Immediately they all began to hop about the cage showing their bright feathers and singing songs sweeter than those sung in the woodland.

As for Osseo's bride, she grew more lovely than ever, so that she shone like a star. Her garments were of shimmering green, and in her hair was a silver feather.

Higher rose the cage, until it reached the home of the Evening Star.

"Welcome, my son," said he to Osseo. "Bring in your lovely bride, but hang the cage of coloured birds at the door. Because the nine sisters laughed at the bride, they must stay outside.

"Be careful that you never open the cage, nor let the ray of light from the little Star dwelling near us, fall upon you. For the ray of light is the little Star's bow and arrow, and if it touches you, your wife and the birds will become enchanted."

So Osseo hung up the cage of coloured birds at the door of the lodge; and he and his wife lived there in happiness. In time a son was born to them, who was brighter than the starlight. And when he grew older, Osseo made for him a little bow and arrows.

One day to please the child who wished to shoot something, Osseo opened the door of the silver cage, and let the coloured birds go free, and they flew singing toward the Earth. The little boy shot an arrow after them, and immediately a ray of light struck Osseo. Then the little boy began to float downward through the Sky. Soon he passed the soft white clouds, and fell gently upon a green island in the middle of a wide blue lake. The coloured birds came swiftly flying to him, with songs of joy.

As for the silver cage, it descended after, its glittering insect wings fluttering from its sides. And in it were Osseo and his wife. As the cage touched the green island, it became a shining lodge, and Osseo and his wife, the little boy, and all the coloured birds, were changed into bright and joyous Fairies.

And ever since that day, on Summer starlit nights, the little Fairies join hands, and dance around. Their shining lodge may still be seen when the Moon's beams light the green island. And by night the Indian fisher-boys, on the blue lake, hear the sweet voices of the Fairy dancers.

 

The Summer Fairies

(Algonquin)

IN the long ago, when people lived in the Early Red Morning, the little Fairies of Light played in the forest and meadows. Their Queen was Summer, and wherever they danced the most beautiful flowers sprang up, the reddest berries ripened in the green grass, and the sweetest birds sang in the trees.

Once Glooskap, the mighty Indian, left the Land of Summer and Fairies, and journeyed to the Northland, where all was ice and snow. And there where the coldest winds blew hard he found an ancient wigwam. He entered the wigwam and saw a great Giant sitting.

"Welcome! O Glooskap!" said the Giant. "Welcome to my land of cold. My name is Winter. Sit here beside me, and I will tell you many tales of the old time."

So Glooskap seated himself, and Winter gave him a pipe, and while they both smoked the great Giant told stories of the old time. As he did so, he wove a magic spell of Frost, and froze Glooskap's tongue so that he could not speak, and bound his limbs so that he could not move.

Winter talked on and froze, and Glooskap fell into a magic slumber. For six months he slept like a toad. Then the charm fled, and he awoke and arose, and, leaving the Land of Winter, began to travel Southward.

At every step the air grew warmer, and the little flowers sprang up in his path, and talked to him. And so he travelled on until at last he came to the Forest where the Fairies of Light were dancing with Summer, their Queen,—Summer, the most beautiful of all the Fairies.

When Glooskap saw her, he caught her up and hid her in his bosom, and then hastened away. All the little Fairies of Light hurried after, but Glooskap cut a moose-hide into a long cord and let it trail behind him. The Fairies of Light pulled at the cord, but as he went Glooskap let it run out, and though the Fairies pulled hard, soon he left them far behind.

Northward he hurried until he came once more to the land of ice and snow, and to the wigwam of Winter, the Giant.

Winter welcomed him as before, for he hoped to freeze Glooskap again into a magic sleep. But this time Glooskap had Summer hidden in his bosom. This time Glooskap told all the tales of the old time. He told stories of the hot Southland, and wove a magic spell of sunshine. He took Summer, the Queen, from his bosom.

Soon Winter began to thaw, and the water ran down his face. He melted more and more until he melted quite away. The wigwam, too, dissolved into little streams of water.

Then everything awoke. Warm breezes began to blow. The snow vanished and the snow-water ran away to the sea. The little Fairies, guided by the moose-cord, came trooping from the South to find Summer, their Queen. The birds flocked to the North, and everywhere the flowers sprang up.

Then Glooskap, rejoicing, left Summer the Queen and the Fairies of Light to make the North beautiful for the people, and returned once more to his home.

 

Leelinau the Fairy Girl

(Chippewa)

ONCE on the shore of Lake Superior, there lived a lovely Indian girl, named Leelinau. She was slender and tiny, with soft dark eyes, and little feet. And whenever the Moon rose faint and white while the Sun was setting, she danced in a Pine grove by the shore.

And when she danced thus, her mother called: "Come into the lodge, Leelinau, for the silver Moon is rising. Soon the Little People, the Fairies, will come out to play among the trees. And they carry away dancing maidens." And Leelinau returned sorrowfully to the lodge, for she longed to see the Fairies.

Summer after Summer, on moonlit nights, the Little People joined hands and danced in the Pine grove, and their sweet voices were heard by Leelinau sitting in the lodge. And when the Indians slept, the mischievous Fairies came creeping in, and Leelinau, waking, heard their low laughter in the dark. They rustled about, and hid the fisher-boy's paddle, plucked the feather from the headdress of the hunter, and carried away nuts and fruit. And in the morning Leelinau saw their tiny footprints in the sand dunes by the lake. And so it happened Summer after Summer.

When the long cold Winter nights came, the mother sat by the fire, and told tales of Fairyland. How deep in the Earth, all was warm and the flowers bloomed and the birds sang, and the Little People feasted and were happy. And Leelinau's heart was filled with longing to visit Fairyland. And so it happened Winter after Winter.

Now, on a Summer day, a handsome brave came to woo Leelinau. Her mother dressed her for the marriage. She braided her hair with sweet grasses, and put her best garments upon her, and led her out to the marriage-feast. And the braves and squaws and youths and maidens of the Chippewas, for miles around, came to the feast.

But Leelinau sighed and wept, and begged that she might go alone once more to the Pine grove before she became a bride. Her mother said, "Yes." So at evening time Leelinau wound wild flowers in her hair, and filled her arms with tassels of the Pine. Then she hastened to the grove.

Darkness fell, and Leelinau did not return. The Moon rose and shed its white beams on the lake, but the maiden did not come. The bridegroom and guests went to search for the bride. They wandered through the grove, and sought up and down the shore, but Leelinau was gone.

And no one saw her go, except one poor fisher-lad, who was paddling his canoe near the land. He watched her wandering through the grove, and dancing with a bright Fairy Chief, whose green plumes nodded high above his head. And Leelinau was never seen again on the shore of Lake Superior.

 

The Sky Elk

(Iroquois)

A MIGHTY hunter was Sosondowah. His form was lithe, his step noiseless, and his hair black like the Crow's wing. His keen eyes saw every track made by wild things, and he knew the songs of birds and the calls of all creatures. He roved through the forest, his bow bent, and his feathered arrow ready for flight, his soft step never stirring a leaf nor breaking a twig.

One day in the hush of the noon hour, he forced his way through a thicket, and entered a glade encircled with trees and fringed with low bushes. And under an Oak, in the centre of the glade, he saw a great Sky Elk that had escaped from the Elk grazing-fields that shine far beyond the path of the Sun. It was turning its watchful eyes from side to side. It was dusky and huge like a shadow, and its spreading antlers brushed back the boughs of the Oak.

And when Sosondowah saw the Sky Elk, his eyes flashed, and he made ready to shoot. But first in order to obey the law of the forest,—which commands hunters to warn a beast before shooting so that it may have a chance to escape,—he shook a small sapling, and its rustling leaves bade the Sky Elk flee for its life.

June: The Beautiful Month [The Red Indian Fairy Book]

The animal heard the sound, and, lifting its head, snuffed the air. Then with a snort it bounded away. Through the tangled paths of the forest it fled, pursued by Sosondowah's swift arrows. But as the arrows struck the dusky sides of the Elk, they fell blunted and harmless to the ground.

Unwounded, the animal hastened on hour after hour. Along forest paths and through meadow land it sped, up hills and down into valleys it ran, and it leaped streams and ravines. And after it with swift, noiseless feet Sosondowah followed.

The noonday passed, the afternoon waned, the sunset painted the Western Sky, darkness fell, the Moon arose and cast mocking white beams on the land. But ever, like a winged shadow, the Sky Elk silently fled before, and Sosondowah, shooting his feathered arrows, followed after.

And when the Sky showed that day was near, and the Dawn Maid arose and began to paint the East with the red plumes of light, the Sky Elk quickened its pace. Reaching the edge of the world, it leaped up the rosy-white cloud-hills, and hastened to the Dawn Maid's lodge in the Land of the Early Red Morning.

When Sosondowah saw this, he caught hold of the wing of a Night-Bird that soared with him into the Sky. And as he went up he shot many sighing arrows from his bow. Then the evil Night-Bird suddenly shook Sosondowah from its wing, and he fell toward the Earth.

But the Dawn Maid from her lodge saw him fall, and, stretching out her arms, caught him, and drew him safely into the Land of the Early Red Morning. She placed him at the door of her lodge, and commanded him to watch and guard it forever.

But Sosondowah never saw the Sky Elk again, for it had returned to the Elk grazing-fields that shine far beyond the path of the Sun.

 

Legend of the Morning Star

(Iroquois)  

SOSONDOWAH guarded well the Dawn Maid's lodge, but as the days passed, he began to long to visit the Earth again. He begged the Dawn Maid to let him depart, but she would not.

One morning, when the East was painted with the red plumes of light, he looked down on the Earth, and saw a beautiful maiden standing by a river's brink. And as he looked, tenderness as swift as an arrow quivered in his heart. And after that he could not forget the River-Maiden, for he saw her face each morning in the mists that rose to the Sky.

Once in the Springtime, while the Dawn Maid was sleeping, Sosondowah left her lodge, and entered into the heart of a Bluebird that was dipping its wings in the blue of the Sky. Singing sweetly the bird flew down to the river and the meadows echoed with its song.

The River-Maiden, standing by the river's brink, saw the bird coming, and heard its sweet song. "It is a Bluebird!" she cried. "The Spring is here! Now the Windflowers will dance on their stems, and the Violets will peep from the leaves, and the berries will ripen in the grass!"

And at her cry the Bluebird came, and sat upon her shoulder, and nestled its head against her cheek. And as she caressed it, the heart of Sosondowah, under the wing of the bird, beat quick with happiness.

But the Sun was near, and he was forced to return to the Dawn Maid's lodge. And as the Bluebird flew upward, its sweet song was wafted down to the river.

When the Summer was come, once again while the Dawn Maid was sleeping, Sosondowah entered into the heart of a Blackbird that was flying through the woodland whistling its song. On the Elm, the Ash, and the Oak it swung in the branches whistling with joy, until there came a faint call from the river.

Swiftly the Bird flew to the river's brink, and there was the River-Maiden standing. "It is a Blackbird!" she whispered. "The Summer is here! Now the Fruit will ripen in the trees, and the Maize will grow high toward the Sun!"

And she held out her hand, and the Blackbird flew at her call. And as she caressed it the bird lifted its beak close to her lips. "It is I!" Sosondowah plaintively whispered, from the heart of the bird. But she heard him not.

The Sun was near, and he was forced to return to the Dawn Maid's lodge. And as the Blackbird flew upward, its rich, whistling notes were wafted down to the river.

In the Autumn, when the trees shed their bright leaves and the fur of the Elk grows long, Sosondowah crept into the heart of a huge Night Hawk that was searching the waters for its prey. Through the mists of the night, all over the land was heard its harsh cry. Down to the river it flew, uttering piteous calls until it found the River-Maiden sleeping on the river's brink.

"It is she! 'T is my bride!" whispered Sosondowah in the heart of the Hawk. And the bird, swooping down, lifted the River-Maiden on its broad wings, and bore her away to the Sky. And all the waters of Earth heard his harsh cries of triumph wafted down with the dew.

And meanwhile the Dawn Maid awoke and found the lodge empty, and Sosondowah gone. Rising in anger, she painted the East with the red plumes of light.

And soon Sosondowah left the heart of the Hawk, and returned to the lodge bearing his bride in his arms. And when the Dawn Maid saw him, she uttered many reproaches. With her magic arts she touched the River-Maiden, and turned her into a large and bright Star, and placed her forever on Sosondowah's forehead.

And there, each day at dawn, she shines beautiful and bright, and the Pale Face Children call her "The Morning Star."

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