How The Daylight Came

: Indian Legends Retold

A long, long time ago the son of the first chief of the animal people

set out upon a journey. Dressed in the skin of a raven, and carrying

in his beak a magic bag which his father had given him, he flew

eastward over a dark and watery waste. When he had flown far and was

tired, he dropped a stone in the sea, and it became an island, upon

which he rested.

Again he rose up and flew onward upon slow black wi
gs, no blacker

than the gloom that covered the face of the world. As he skimmed the

surface of the waves, he scattered from his enchanted bag the spawn

of every kind of fish, so that the sea was filled with finny life.

Then he turned toward shore, and over the dry land he cast berries and

seeds of all plants that are good for food, so that the earth too was

ready to burst with fruitfulness, only there was no sun to warm it

into life.

Raven became very tired of the eternal darkness, and at last he flew

straight upward until he found the hole in the sky, and went right

through the hole. There he left the raven's skin lying and flew on

till he came to a spring of clear water, bubbling up with a sound like

maidens' laughter near the wigwam of the Chief of Heaven. He turned

himself into a leaf and floated in the pool, waiting for the chief's

daughter. When she came, she was indeed very beautiful. Stooping, she

dipped up the leaf in her bucket and drank it with the water.

Now the maiden returned to her home, and not long after a child was

born to her. The baby grew very fast. He was stronger than any child

ever seen, yet he cried continually. Soon he was creeping about the

floor and crying all the time in a loud voice. The wise old men were

called in to explain these cries, and the wisest one of all told the

princess that her son was crying for a large box that hung under the

roof. This was the box that held the daylight.

Since nothing else would do, they took down the box and gave it to the

child to play with. For four days he rolled it about the floor; then

one day, when no one was looking, he lifted it to his shoulders, got

to his feet, and ran out of the door with it. He sped as fast as he

could to the hole in the sky, put on the raven's skin that he found

lying there, and flew down to earth with the precious box.

Now the Frog people were fishing down there, and they made a great

noise and confusion in the darkness. Raven called upon them to be

silent, but they paid no attention to him. The big frogs were

bellowing very loud, and the little frogs were piping high and shrill,

and there was no peace or quiet anywhere. Raven told them twice to be

less noisy, and when they would not, he said, "Then I shall open the


So he opened it, and daylight overspread the earth.