Published on May 29, 2013 by Casey
“The Native American Story of the Discontented Rock
The Red Indian Fairy Book by Frances Jenkins Olcott
An Iroquois Story”
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From the beginning of the Earth, Gustahote, the great Rock, had overhung the valley. He watched and guarded the land, but he was not content, and longed to be something mightier and stronger than he was.
“If I could be the wide river that flows through the valley,” he thought, “then surely I should be mighty and strong! The river winds happy and free through its broad lands; and green grass and flowers follow its course. If I could only be that river!”
And instantly Gustahote the Rock became the river. Down the valley he sped, leaping with joy, and the singing brooks from the hills ran into his stream. Through rocky gorges he tossed his foaming waves toward the Sky, and they returned to him in a rainbow spray. He wound around the bases of lofty mountains, and leaped down precipices. Then through the silent forest he glided, and the trees dipped their branches in his cool waters.
On and on he hastened, faster and faster, growing wider as he went, until at last he plunged into the billowing ocean. It encircled him with its broad, hungry arms, and drew him down and mingled his waters with the deep, so that he was the river no longer.
Then suddenly Gustahote found himself again the Rock, overhanging and guarding the valley. And he rejoiced to have escaped from the hungry deep.
But he was not content. He still longed to be something mightier and stronger than he was.
“If I could have wings, and live in the Sky,” he thought, “then surely I should be mighty and strong! The Sky is open and pathless, and leads to unseen heights. It has no billowing deep to swallow the unfortunate.”
And even as he thought thus, Gustahote the Rock became a bird, and the air was caressing and delicious as he tried his wings. He plumed them, and fluttered them, and spreading them wide, soared into the Sky. Beneath him were the valleys and the forests and the mountains, growing smaller and smaller as he flew upward.
The air became cold, as he rose above the clouds and entered the Land of Mists. A whirling wind rushed past him, breaking his wings. They drooped at his sides, and he fell heavily toward the Earth. But a fiercer blast caught him, and tore his body to fragments, and whirled the pieces over and over through the endless grey Sky.
Then suddenly Gustahote found himself again the Rock, overhanging and guarding the valley. And he rejoiced that he had escaped from the pathless Sky.
But still he was not content. He longed to be something mightier and stronger than he was.
“If I could be a creature, and wander about on the Earth,” thought he, “then surely I should be mighty and strong. Fair are the valleys of the Earth, and wide its green forests, and beautiful and fruitful its meadows. It has no fierce rushing wind to rend in pieces the unfortunate.”
And even as he thought thus, Gustahote the Rock became a creature walking upon the Earth. He wandered up and down the world, so strange to him, and soon grew lonely and desired a companion.
First he sought the beasts, but they were too busy getting their food to stop and talk to a strange creature. After that he went to the birds, but they were nesting, and could not stop to talk to a strange creature. Weary, lonely, and despairing, he wandered about.
Then suddenly Gustahote found himself again the Rock overhanging and guarding the valley. And he rejoiced that he was a Rock once more. And he heard a voice whisper:—
“Be content, O Gustahote the Rock! The waters may overflow you, but they cannot drown you. The Sun may look upon you with its hottest rays, but he cannot burn you. The tempest may strike you, but it cannot rend you. Old age cannot wrinkle you. The rivers may dry up in their beds, the forests may fall into dust, but you will stand stanch and true, and always watching, and forever remain unchanged and changeless.”
So Gustahote the Rock rejoiced exceedingly; and he still overhangs and guards the valley. The river flows from him, and the Sky smiles or frowns, and the Earth heeds him not. But he is content.