From the Galpoghor Series:
Fairies of the Evening Star
In the past there was no winter with its cold blasts and piercing chill, and men and beasts lived in peace and contentment. There was food in plenty for everyone, for many deer roamed the forests around the Great Lakes, herds of buffalo grazed on the prairies of the west and fish abounded in the streams that flow from the mountains towards the rising Sun. Flowers blossomed everywhere and the birds, clad in brighter plumage than today, filled the air with happy song.
There was no war.
There was no fear between men, since no one had cause to harm another.
One time in this long-ago land, there was an Indian chief who had ten daughters, all as lovely as the Moon. When they grew to be women, nine daughters, married young Indian braves. But the youngest would not listen to the handsome braves who came to woo her; she told them simply, 'I am happy as I am'.
And yet, in the course of time, she married an old, old man, with snow-white hair and bandy legs. This made her father and sisters angry, but she just smiled and told them simply, 'I am happy as I am.'
One day the father held a party for his daughters and their husbands. And on the way to their father's lodge the sisters taunted the youngest maid, 'Poor girl, what a pity she married that ugly old man. See, he can hardly walk; were he to stumble he would surely be unable to get up.'
As they walked along they noticed the old man glancing up at the Evening Star and, every now and then, uttering a soft low call.
'See now, a sister laughed, 'the old fool thinks the Star's his father and will protect him.'
And they all laughed in scorn.
Presently, they passed a hollow log about as wide as a boy or girl. How surprised they were to see the old man fall to his hands and knees and crawl in at one end. But when he emerged at the other, lo and behold, he was no longer an aged man; he was tall and handsome, a proud young Indian brave. His wife, however, was no longer a youthful maid; she was now a bent old woman hobbling with a stick.
As the sisters walked on in wonder, they saw the handsome brave take good care of his aged wife, helping her gently along the way. He seemed to love her more dearly than before.
The ten wives and their men came to the father's lodge and began the meal. All was forgotten in the merry feasting until a voice spoke to the handsome brave. It seemed to come down from the skies. Glancing up they saw the Evening Star shining through the smoke hole of the lodge.
'My son,' the Star began. 'Many moons ago, as you well know, an evil spirit changed you into a bent old man. That spirit has lost its power now because of the sacrifice of your wife and you are free. You may come home to live with me and bring all your relatives as well; your wife shall regain her youth and you shall both have all that you desire.'
All at once, the lodge rose into the air. As it floated upwards the wooden bark changed to the gossamer wings of a million tiny insects. And as the young chief gazed upon his wife he saw that she was a lovely squaw once more. Her buckskin dress was now of shining satin, and her wooden stick became a silver feather in her hair. But the scornful father, sisters and their menfolk and turned into brightly colored birds: some were jays and some were parrots, some were orioles and some parakeets. And all sang most divinely.
Up, up sailed the lodge until it reached the Evening Star, the son sat down at his father's feet with his young squaw by his side. The father welcomed them into his home and gave them all they wanted. They lived happily together for several years and in time a son was born.
As the boy grew up he yearned to hunt and shoot with bows and arrows. Since the Evening Star loved his little his little grandson he taught him all the skills of hunting; but he gave a solemn warning, 'On no account should you shoot a bird; woe betide you if you do.'
For many days the little brave shot his arrows into the air, at trees and shrubs and longed to fire at moving bird. So when no one was looking he aimed his arrows at the birds; they were much harder to hit than a standing tree. One day, however, he crept up behind an oriole and caught it unawares. He let loose an arrow that flew straight and true, and sank deep into the oriole's breast. How proud he was of his success.
Imagine his horror when he saw the bird, before his eyes, turn into an Indian maid with an arrow sticking from her breast. It was one of his mother's sisters who now took her earthly form. No sooner has her red blood touched the pure white ground than the spell was broken and all of them had to leave the paradise of the Evening Star.
The young brave felt himself slowly falling through the sky as if on wings. At last his feet touched earth and he found himself on a mountain top, high above the plains. As he looked up he saw his aunts and uncles floating down towards him; soon they too were standing safe and sound upon the rocky mountain. Then came the silvery lodge, its walls shimmering with the go..... landed gently on the rock and out stepped his parents.
All had now regained their earthly forms, but not entirely as before: for they were all no bigger than butterflies. Because of the powers of the Evening Star, to bring good out of bad, they had become the mountain fairies. And the mountain top which had been bare before now grew a carpet of feather grass sprinkled with brightly-colored blooms and blue pools of water here and there. The fairies were happy to have such a home on Earth and thanked the Evening Star. His kind gaze bathed them all in starlight and they heard him softly say, 'Be happy, little children, I shall watch over you from the sky.'
From that time on they lived together in calm contentment. In the warm summer evenings they would gather by the lodge to dance and sing and gaze up at the stars.
And when the Moon is shining brightly you too may see the silvery lodge upon the mountain top; and you may also, if you listen closely, hear the singing of the fairies of the Evening Star.
(Retold by James Riordan)
(R) thedailystar.net 2007