Published on June 3, 2013 by Casey
“The Native American Story of the Legend of the Morning Star
The Red Indian Fairy Book by Frances Jenkins Olcott
An Iroquois Story”
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Sosondowah guarded well the Dawn Maid’s lodge, but as the days passed, he began to long to visit the Earth again. He begged the Dawn Maid to let him depart, but she would not.
One morning, when the East was painted with the red plumes of light, he looked down on the Earth, and saw a beautiful maiden standing by a river’s brink. And as he looked, tenderness as swift as an arrow quivered in his heart. And after that he could not forget the River-Maiden, for he saw her face each morning in the mists that rose to the Sky.
Once in the Springtime, while the Dawn Maid was sleeping, Sosondowah left her lodge, and entered into the heart of a Bluebird that was dipping its wings in the blue of the Sky. Singing sweetly the bird flew down to the river and the meadows echoed with its song.
The River-Maiden, standing by the river’s brink, saw the bird coming, and heard its sweet song. “It is a Bluebird!” she cried. “The Spring is here! Now the Windflowers will dance on their stems, and the Violets will peep from the leaves, and the berries will ripen in the grass!”
And at her cry the Bluebird came, and sat upon her shoulder, and nestled its head against her cheek. And as she caressed it, the heart of Sosondowah, under the wing of the bird, beat quick with happiness.
But the Sun was near, and he was forced to return to the Dawn Maid’s lodge. And as the Bluebird flew upward, its sweet song was wafted down to the river.
When the Summer was come, once again while the Dawn Maid was sleeping, Sosondowah entered into the heart of a Blackbird that was flying through the woodland whistling its song. On the Elm, the Ash, and the Oak it swung in the branches whistling with joy, until there came a faint call from the river.
Swiftly the Bird flew to the river’s brink, and there was the River-Maiden standing. “It is a Blackbird!” she whispered. “The Summer is here! Now the Fruit will ripen in the trees, and the Maize will grow high toward the Sun!”
And she held out her hand, and the Blackbird flew at her call. And as she caressed it the bird lifted its beak close to her lips. “It is I!” Sosondowah plaintively whispered, from the heart of the bird. But she heard him not.
The Sun was near, and he was forced to return to the Dawn Maid’s lodge. And as the Blackbird flew upward, its rich, whistling notes were wafted down to the river.
In the Autumn, when the trees shed their bright leaves and the fur of the Elk grows long, Sosondowah crept into the heart of a huge Night Hawk that was searching the waters for its prey. Through the mists of the night, all over the land was heard its harsh cry. Down to the river it flew, uttering piteous calls until it found the River-Maiden sleeping on the river’s brink.
“It is she! ‘T is my bride!” whispered Sosondowah in the heart of the Hawk. And the bird, swooping down, lifted the River-Maiden on its broad wings, and bore her away to the Sky. And all the waters of Earth heard his harsh cries of triumph wafted down with the dew.
And meanwhile the Dawn Maid awoke and found the lodge empty, and Sosondowah gone. Rising in anger, she painted the East with the red plumes of light.
And soon Sosondowah left the heart of the Hawk, and returned to the lodge bearing his bride in his arms. And when the Dawn Maid saw him, she uttered many reproaches. With her magic arts she touched the River-Maiden, and turned her into a large and bright Star, and placed her forever on Sosondowah‘s forehead.
And there, each day at dawn, she shines beautiful and bright, and the Pale Face Children call her “The Morning Star.”