The Frolic Of The Flames
: The Book Of Nature Myths
For many and many a moon the people of the village lived at the foot of
the great fire-mountain. On summer evenings, the children watched the
light, and when a child asked, "Father, what makes it?" the father said,
"That is the home of the Great Spirit of Fire, who is our good friend."
Then all in the little village went to sleep and lay safely on their
beds till the coming of the morning.
But one night w
en all the people in the village were asleep, the flames
in the mountain had a great frolic. They danced upon the sea of fire as
warriors dance the war-dance. They seized great rocks and threw them at
the sky. The smoke above them hid the stars; the mountain throbbed and
trembled. Higher and still higher sprang the dancing flames. At last,
they leaped clear above the highest point of the mountain and started
down it in a river of red fire. Then the gentle Spirit of Fire called,
"Come back, my flames, come back again! The people in the village will
not know that you are in a frolic, and they will be afraid."
The flames did not heed her words, and the river of fire ran on and on,
straight down the mountain. The flowers in its pathway perished. It
leaped upon great trees and bore them to the earth. It drove the birds
from their nests, and they fluttered about in the thick smoke. It hunted
the wild creatures of the forest from the thickets where they hid, and
they fled before it in terror.
At last, one of the warriors in the village awoke. The thick smoke was
in his nostrils. In his ears was the war-cry of the flames. He sprang to
the door of his lodge and saw the fiery river leaping down the mountain.
"My people, my people," he cried, "the flames are upon us!" With cries
of fear the people in the village fled far away into the forest, and the
flames feasted upon the homes they loved.
The two hunters went to look upon the mountain, and when they came back,
they said sadly, "There are no flowers on the mountain. Not a bird-song
did we hear. Not a living creature did we see. It is all dark and
gloomy. We know the fire is there, for the blue smoke still floats up to
the sky, but the mountain will never again be our friend."