The Fairies Cliff





An Indian chief once had ten daughters. They were all very beautiful,

especially the youngest. When they grew to be women, nine of them

married handsome, young warriors. But the youngest maiden would not

listen to any of the young men who came to see her at her father's

lodge. After a while, she married an old man with gray hair, and so

feeble that he could hardly walk. Her father and sisters were very

angry, but she would not listen to them. She said only, "I am very

happy, and so nothing else matters."



One evening, the father asked his ten daughters and their husbands to

come to his lodge for a feast. On the way there, the nine sisters kept

saying, as they looked at the youngest maiden and her husband: "Our

poor sister, is it not a pity she is married to such an old man? See,

he can hardly walk. Would it not be a good thing if he were to fall

and kill himself?"



As they were saying this, they noticed that the old man kept looking up

at the Evening Star, and every once in a while he would utter a low

call.



"See," said one of the sisters, "he thinks the Evening Star is his

father and is calling to him."



Just then, they were passing a hollow log which lay by the roadside.

When the old man noticed it, he suddenly dropped on his hands and knees

and crawled in at one end. When he came out at the other end, he was

no longer an old man; he had been changed into a tall, handsome, young

chief. But his wife was no longer a beautiful maiden. She had been

changed into a bent, old woman, hobbling along with a stick. The young

husband was very kind to her and took good care of her all the rest of

the way to the father's lodge. He seemed very sorry that she had been

changed like this, but he loved her just the same as before. During

the feast the young husband heard a voice speak to him. It seemed to

come from the skies. Looking up, he saw the Evening Star shining in

through a crack in the roof.



"My son," the Star said to him, "many years ago an evil spirit changed

you into an old man, but that spirit has now lost its power. You are

free, and may come home and live with me. Your wife shall be beautiful

once more, and you shall have everything you can wish for."



The others had not heard this voice, so they were very much surprised

when they felt the lodge begin to rise in the air. As it floated

upwards, the bark changed into beautiful silver gauze. It was now a

lodge made of wings of insects. The young chief looked at his wife and

saw that she was a beautiful maiden once more. Her dress was changed

into one of shining, green silk, and her stick became a silver feather.

The sisters and their husbands had been changed into birds with

bright-colored feathers. Some were parrots, some blue jays, some

singing birds that flew around and sang their sweet songs. At the side

of the lodge was a large cage for the birds. Upwards, the lodge

floated till they found themselves in the Evening Star. Everything was

silvery white here and very peaceful. The Star was very glad to see

his son.



"Hang up that cage of birds which you have brought with you by the

lodge door, and then come and sit down while we talk."



The young chief did as he was told. He sat on one side of his father,

while his wife sat on the other, and the Star father told them many

stories.



"You must be careful," he said, "not to let the beams of the next star

shine on you. That is the Evil Star which turned you into an old man.

If it shines on you again, you might once more be changed, so be very

careful."



The young chief promised to remember his father's warnings, and he

always kept away from the Evil Star. They lived happily together for

several years. Then one day their young son wanted to learn to hunt.

He had heard that the people on the earth could shoot with bow and

arrows, and he wished to learn. The Evening Star did not like to

refuse his young grandson anything, so he made him a little bow and

arrows. He showed him how to use them; then said, "I shall open the

bird-cage and let out the birds. You may try to shoot them, if you

like."



This delighted the young boy, and so for many days he tried to shoot a

bird. His arrows always fell to one side. But he kept on trying, and

one day the arrow sank deep in the breast of one of the birds. The boy

was very proud, but what was his surprise, when he went to pick up the

bird, to find that it had changed into a beautiful maiden with an arrow

sticking in her breast. It was one of his aunts, who had been changed

back into her earthly form. As her blood fell on the ground of this

pure and spotless planet, the spell was broken.



The boy felt himself sinking down through the air. He fell slowly, as

if he had wings. At last his feet touched the ground, and he found

himself on a high, rocky island. He was delighted to see his aunts and

uncles all following him. They floated down through the air until at

last they too reached the rock. Then came the silvery lodge, with his

father and mother, with its bark looking like the shining wings of

insects. The lodge sank down until it reached the cliff, and there

they all made their home. They had been given back their earthly

bodies, but were only the size of fairies.



The top of the cliff, which had been bare before, now grew soft with

green grass. In the grass, bright flowers blossomed, and tiny pools of

water glistened here and there. The fairies were all very happy to

have been given such a beautiful home, and, looking up, they thanked

the Evening Star. His soft beams fell on them and they heard his

gentle voice say, "Be happy, my children, until I call you again to

your home in the sky. I shall keep watch over you until then." So

from that time they have been very contented.



On calm summer evenings, they always come out on top of the rock to

dance and sing. And when the moon is shining very brightly, you may

see the silver lodge on the very highest part of the cliff; you may

also, if you listen very hard, hear the voices of the happy little

dancers.





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