The Star Family Or Celestial Sisters





SHAWNEE.





Waupee, or the White Hawk, lived in a remote part of the forest, where

animals and birds were abundant. Every day he returned from the chase

with the reward of his toil, for he was one of the most skilful and

celebrated hunters of his tribe. With a tall, manly form, and the fire

of youth beaming from his eye, there was no forest too gloomy for him

to penetrate, and no track made by the numerous kinds of birds and

beasts which he could not follow.



One day he penetrated beyond any point which he had before visited. He

travelled through an open forest, which enabled him to see a great

distance. At length he beheld a light breaking through the foliage,

which made him sure that he was on the borders of a prairie. It was a

wide plain covered with grass and flowers. After walking some time

without a path, he suddenly came to a ring worn through the sod, as if

it had been made by footsteps following a circle. But what excited his

surprise was, that there was no path leading to or from it. Not the

least trace of footsteps could be found, even in a crushed leaf or

broken twig. He thought he would hide himself, and lie in wait to see

what this circle meant. Presently he heard the faint sounds of music in

the air. He looked up in the direction they came from, and saw a small

object descending from above. At first it looked like a mere speck, but

rapidly increased, and, as it came down, the music became plainer and

sweeter. It assumed the form of a basket, and was filled with twelve

sisters of the most lovely forms and enchanting beauty. As soon as the

basket touched the ground, they leaped out, and began to dance round

the magic ring, striking, as they did so, a shining ball as we strike

the drum. Waupee gazed upon their graceful forms and motions from his

place of concealment. He admired them all, but was most pleased with

the youngest. Unable longer to restrain his admiration, he rushed out

and endeavored to seize her. But the sisters, with the quickness of

birds, the moment they descried the form of a man, leaped back into the

basket and were drawn up into the sky.



Regretting his ill luck and indiscretion, he gazed till he saw them

disappear, and then said, "They are gone, and I shall see them no

more." He returned to his solitary lodge, but found no relief to his

mind. Next day he went back to the prairie, and took his station near

the ring; but in order to deceive the sisters, he assumed the form of

an opossum. He had not waited long, when he saw the wicker car descend,

and heard the same sweet music. They commenced the same sportive dance,

and seemed even more beautiful and graceful than before. He crept

slowly towards the ring, but the instant the sisters saw him they were

startled, and sprang into their car. It rose but a short distance, when

one of the elder sisters spoke. "Perhaps," said she, "it is come to

show us how the game is played by mortals." "Oh no!" the youngest

replied; "quick, let us ascend." And all joining in a chant, they rose

out of sight.



Waupee returned to his own form again, and walked sorrowfully back to

his lodge. But the night seemed a very long one, and he went back

betimes the next day. He reflected upon the sort of plan to follow to

secure success. He found an old stump near by, in which there were a

number of mice. He thought their small form would not create alarm, and

accordingly assumed it. He brought the stump and sat it up near the

ring. The sisters came down and resumed their sport. "But see," cried

the younger sister, "that stump was not there before." She ran

affrighted towards the car. They only smiled, and gathering round the

stump, struck it in jest, when out ran the mice, and Waupee among the

rest. They killed them all but one, which was pursued by the youngest

sister; but just as she had raised her stick to kill it, the form of

Waupee arose, and he clasped his prize in his arms. The other eleven

sprang to their basket and were drawn up to the skies.



He exerted all his skill to please his bride and win her affections. He

wiped the tears from her eyes. He related his adventures in the chase.

He dwelt upon the charms of life on the earth. He was incessant in his

attentions, and picked out the way for her to walk as he led her gently

towards his lodge. He felt his heart glow with joy as she entered it,

and from that moment he was one of the happiest of men. Winter and

summer passed rapidly away, and their happiness was increased by the

addition of a beautiful boy to their lodge. She was a daughter of one

the stars, and as the scenes of earth began to pall her sight, she

sighed to revisit her father. But she was obliged to hide these

feelings from her husband. She remembered the charm that would carry

her up, and took occasion, while Waupee was engaged in the chase, to

construct a wicker basket, which she kept concealed. In the mean time

she collected such rarities from the earth as she thought would please

her father, as well as the most dainty kinds of food. When all was in

readiness, she went out one day, while Waupee was absent, to the

charmed ring, taking her little son with her. As soon as they got into

the car, she commenced her song and the basket rose. As the song was

wafted by the wind, it caught her husband's ear. It was a voice which

he well knew, and he instantly ran to the prairie. But he could not

reach the ring before he saw his wife and child ascend. He lifted up

his voice in loud appeals, but they were unavailing. The basket still

went up. He watched it till it became a small speck, and finally it

vanished in the sky. He then bent his head down to the ground, and was

miserable.



Waupee bewailed his loss through a long winter and a long summer. But

he found no relief. He mourned his wife's loss sorely, but his son's

still more. In the mean time his wife had reached her home in the

stars, and almost forgot, in the blissful employments there, that she

had left a husband on the earth. She was reminded of this by the

presence of her son, who, as he grew up, became anxious to visit the

scene of his birth. His grandfather said to his daughter one day, "Go,

my child, and take your son down to his father, and ask him to come up

and live with us. But tell him to bring along a specimen of each kind

of bird and animal he kills in the chase." She accordingly took the boy

and descended. Waupee, who was ever near the enchanted spot, heard her

voice as she came down the sky. His heart beat with impatience as he

saw her form and that of his son, and they were soon clasped in his

arms.



He heard the message of the Star, and began to hunt with the greatest

activity, that he might collect the present. He spent whole nights, as

well as days, in searching for every curious and beautiful bird or

animal. He only preserved a tail, foot, or wing of each, to identify

the species; and, when all was ready, they went to the circle and were

carried up.



Great joy was manifested on their arrival at the starry plains. The

Star Chief invited all his people to a feast, and, when they had

assembled, he proclaimed aloud, that each one might take of the earthly

gifts such as he liked best. A very strange confusion immediately

arose. Some chose a foot, some a wing, some a tail, and some a claw.

Those who selected tails or claws were changed into animals, and ran

off; the others assumed the form of birds, and flew away. Waupee chose

a white hawk's feather. His wife and son followed his example, when

each one became a white hawk. Pleased with his transformation, and new

vitality, the chief spread out gracefully his white wings, and followed

by his wife and son, descended to the earth, where the species are

still to be found.





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