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The Daughters Of The Star






Source: Thirty Indian Legends

There once lived, in a deep forest, a hunter named Waupee, or the White
Hawk. Every day he returned from the chase with birds and animals
which he had killed, for he was very skilful.

One day he walked through the forest till at last he reached the edge
of it, and there before him lay the wide prairie. The grass was so
soft and green, and there were so many flowers, that he wandered on for
a while. He could see that no one lived there, as no trace of
footsteps was to be seen. Suddenly he came to a circle on the prairie.
It looked as if people had run around in a ring until the grass was
trampled down. As he could see no marks of footsteps leading away from
the ring, he wondered very much whose feet could have marked out the
circle. Then he made up his mind to hide, so that he might see if any
one came.

After awhile, he heard the sound of beautiful music. It seemed to come
from the sky. As he looked up he saw something coming down through the
air, and the music sounded like the singing of girls. As the object
came closer, he saw that it was a wicker basket, and in it were twelve
beautiful maidens. When the basket reached the ground, they all jumped
out and began to dance around the circle. They were all very
beautiful, but Waupee picked out the youngest as the one he liked best.
He watched them as long as he could, then ran out to clasp the youngest
in his arms. But as soon as the maidens saw the figure of a man, they
ran to the basket, jumped in, and were at once drawn up to the sky.

Waupee was left alone on the prairie, and he felt very sad to think he
had frightened away the beautiful maidens. He went back slowly to his
lodge, but could not rest all night. The next day he came again to the
magic circle.

This time he changed himself into an opossum. He had not waited long
when the wicker basket again floated down. The sisters jumped out and
began the same dance. Waupee crept towards them; but when they saw
him, they at once ran to the basket and climbed in. It began to
ascend, but stopped when a short distance up.

"Perhaps," said the oldest sister, "he has come to show us the way the
mortals dance."

"Oh, no!" said the youngest; "let us go up quickly." They all began to
sing their sweet song, and the basket rose out of sight.

Again Waupee was sad, but he made up his mind that the next day he
would act more wisely. So, when he came back, he found the stump of a
tree where a family of mice lived. He moved the stump over near the
circle and changed himself into one of the mice. Again the sisters
came, and began their dance.

"Look," said the youngest sister, "that stump was not there before."
But the other sisters laughed at her and ran over to it. Then out came
all the mice, Waupee among them. The sisters began to chase and kill
the mice, and at last only one was left alive. The youngest sister ran
after it, and was just about to hit it, when it changed into Waupee.
He clasped her in his arms, while the other sisters sprang for the
basket and were drawn up to the sky.

The maiden wept at being left alone, but Waupee wiped away her tears
and took her home to his little lodge. He was very good to her and at
last she grew very happy. But a few years afterwards, when her little
son was able to walk, she took him to the magic ring. She felt very
lonely when she thought of her sisters and of her father, the Star. So
she made up her mind to go back to them. She made a basket of reeds,
and putting her little son in it, she seated herself and began to sing
the old chant. The basket at once rose in the air and floated out of
sight.

When Waupee was coming home, he heard this sweet song. He knew it was
one the sisters used to sing, so he ran at once to the magic circle,
but the basket had almost disappeared. He called and called, but no
answer came down to him, and at last it was gone.

He threw himself down on the ground and wept. Then, when night came,
he rose and went home to his empty lodge.

As the years went on the maiden was very happy in her old home, but the
son wished to go and see his birthplace. The grandfather heard him,
and said to the maiden, "Go down to the earth and show your son his
birthplace, and when you are coming back, bring your husband with you.
But when he comes, tell him to bring a part of each kind of bird and
animal he has killed."

This the maiden did. Waupee was delighted to have them return, and at
once set to work to hunt and kill one of every kind of bird and animal.
It took him many days to do this, but at last all were gathered. He
took a claw of some birds, a wing of others, a tail of some animals,
and the feet of others. Then they all stepped into the basket and it
took them up to the sky.

The Star grandfather was so pleased with Waupee's gift, that he called
all his people to a feast. After it was over, he told them to choose
what they liked best from the earthly things. Some chose a wing,
others a paw, and so on, and as they did so they were at once changed
into an animal or bird like the one they had chosen.

Waupee was pleased with this idea and chose the feather of a white
hawk. His wife and son chose the same, and all were changed into these
graceful birds. They slowly spread out their white wings and floated
away towards the earth.

Passing through the clouds they found themselves above the snow-capped
mountains. They flew on, until at length they saw the green tops of
trees far below them. In great circles they began to descend, and in a
few minutes alighted in the topmost branches of a tall tree.

Waupee then spoke: "We shall build our nest in this tree, and into it
we shall weave parts of our old lodge, where we lived so happily
together. Let us go now and gather these; then we shall begin our
nest."





Next: Koto And The Bird

Previous: Moowis



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