The Windmaker





Once there was a tribe of Indians who had always lived in the

mountains. Their village was built at the foot of a very large

mountain, and their lodges were made from branches of the pine-trees,

covered with the skins of animals.



One day one of their hunters followed a bear's track for many miles.

By evening he found himself a great distance from the village. He

noticed that the hills around him were much smaller than those he had

left, so he made up his mind to continue in the direction he had been

going, which was eastwards, to see if the hills would grow smaller as

he went. He rested during the night, and when the sun rose next

morning, he continued walking towards the east. For several days he

travelled, and at last he found himself on the edge of a very large

plain. Miles and miles of green prairie lay before him, and he

wondered what was beyond, on the other side of this vast plain.



He travelled back joyfully to the village and told the others of the

tribe what he had discovered. As they listened they became anxious to

see this great prairie and what lay beyond it. So they went to their

chief and begged him to let them all go and travel until they should

reach the other side of the prairie. The chief told them that this was

a wrong thing to ask, because they were mountain Indians and so would

never be happy away from the mountains. Still they begged and coaxed,

and at length he said:



"I shall grant your request, my children, because my greatest wish is

to see you happy. To-morrow we shall all make ready for our journey to

this great prairie. I shall go with you, although it grieves me very

much to leave my mountains, but your wish shall be granted."



By evening the next day the tribe was ready for the journey. They had

taken down their lodges, and the branches of the pine-trees and the

skins of the animals were packed on the mountain ponies. The chief

rode in front on a small, white pony. His face looked very sad as they

set out.



For many days they travelled, and at length they reached the edge of

the prairie, as the hunter before them had done. They were all much

astonished to see the great plain of green grass, and they told their

chief that this land was much more beautiful than their mountains. He

did not make them any reply. For several days they travelled across

the prairie in the daytime and camped at night. Each morning they said

as they prepared to move forward, "To-day we shall surely reach the

other side of this prairie."



Each night, however, found them with as many miles in front of them as

there were behind them. At last they grew weary, and began to wonder

how long they would have to travel before they could see what was

beyond this prairie. They had made their camp for the night on the

bank of a river. This river was too wide and deep for them to cross,

and they did not know what they would do. During the night a strange

thing happened. Their lodges were caught as if by unseen hands, lifted

high in the air, and tossed into the river. The little children clung

to their mothers in terror, while these unseen hands seemed trying to

pull them away and toss them after the lodges. The Indians, terrified,

gathered around their chief.



"What is this?" they cried. "What is this awful thing that has such

strength and which we cannot see?"



"It is the wind, my children," said the chief. "Far up on the mountain

lives the Windmaker. This is his message to us, to tell us that he is

angry, because we have left our mountain home. Let us all go back to

our home and be happy once more."



But the Indians murmured at this. They did not wish to go back to the

mountains. They wished to see what was beyond the great prairie. The

chief sadly shook his head and said, "Well, my children, you must

suffer what the Windmaker sends us."



Then up spoke a young warrior named Broken Arrow. He had long wished

for a chance to show the chief that he was brave, for he loved the

chief's daughter and knew he could not wed her until he had proven his

bravery.



"Oh, chief," he said, "let me go to this Windmaker. Let me shoot my

sharpest arrows at him, so that I may kill this wicked one who is

causing so much sorrow."



The chief smiled at the brave youth and said, "My son, you may go, but

it is a useless quest. This Windmaker cannot be killed."



Broken Arrow replied proudly, "We shall see. My arrows carry far and

fly straight. This Windmaker shall feel their point."



The women of the tribe put food in a bag and several pairs of

moccasins, and the young warrior set out on his journey. Day and night

he travelled, and at last, after his food was all gone and his last

pair of moccasins was nearly worn out, he reached the foot of the great

mountain where the Windmaker lived. Looking up, he saw the monster,--a

great, gray creature that seemed a part of the mountain itself. His

head was crowned with snow-white hair that lay around his shoulders

like drifts of snow. His huge ears stood out from the sides of his

head, and as he waved them, a breeze came down the mountain side that

almost took the warrior off his feet. Fitting an arrow into his bow,

he let it fly. It was aimed for the Windmaker's heart, and was going

straight there, when the monster moved one ear and the arrow flew to

one side. The same fate overtook the next arrow, and the next. Still

the warrior shot bravely on, but as each one came near the monster he

waved his ears and blew it aside. At last every arrow had been spent,

and the Windmaker was uninjured. There was nothing for the young

warrior to do but to go back and tell of his failure. Sadly he turned

away, and after many days' travelling he arrived at the camp, faint

with hunger, and with bare and bleeding feet.



The chief smiled proudly as he saw him. "Welcome, my son," he said.

"Do not feel sad. You have done nobly, and have proven to me how great

a warrior you are. You shall be my son, and I am proud to call you

that."



After the wedding feast that night, the chief told the Indians that on

the morrow he was going to the mountain to see if he could kill the

Windmaker.



When they heard this, there was great weeping, and they begged him not

to go. But he was firm, so they said, "Then we shall go with you.

Where our chief goes, we go too, and we shall watch you fight this

wicked one."



So, after many days' travelling, they all reached the foot of the great

mountain where the Windmaker lived. Looking up, they could see him

just as Broken Arrow had told them they would. The chief turned to

them and said, "My children, you must remain here at the foot of this

mountain, while I climb up to the top. There is no use in trying to

shoot this great monster, for he will but blow my arrows away, so I

must climb up and strike him with my tomahawk."



Again they begged him not to go, but again he was firm, and they sadly

watched him begin to climb up the rocky side of the mountain. Little

by little, he ascended the steep, rough hill, until at last he was

almost at the feet of the Windmaker. All this time the monster had

been perfectly still. Then suddenly, just as the chief was within

reach of him, he waved both his ears, and a terrible gale tore down the

mountain side, carrying rocks and stones with it. It caught the chief,

lifted him off his feet and carried him down. When he reached the

bottom he lay as if insensible for a few moments. Then, recovering his

breath, he began to climb again. Once more the Windmaker let him

nearly reach his feet before he made a movement. This time he sent a

current of air against a large boulder resting on a narrow ledge. The

chief leaped just in time, for it fell with a terrible noise on the

very spot where he had stood.



Angered by this, the chief grasped his tomahawk more firmly, and

dashing up a few paces, aimed a blow at the monster's feet. But before

it fell, the Windmaker waved both ears again. With a roar like thunder

the gale swept down, carrying the brave chief with it. It tossed him

in the air, turned him around two or three times, and hurled him into a

clump of fir-trees at the foot of the mountain. The Indians ran

frantically to the spot and picked him up, but he was quite dead. They

buried him sadly where he had fallen, at the foot of the tender firs.

Then they went quietly back to their village in the mountains and have

been content to live there ever since.





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