How The Bluebird Came





Nana-bo-jou, that some think is the Indian name for El Sol and some say is Mother Carey, was sleeping his winter's sleep in the big island just above the thunder-dam that men call Niagara. Four moons had waned, but still he slept. The frost draperies of his couch were gone; his white blanket was burnt into holes. He turned over a little; then the ice on the river cracked like near-by thunder. When he turned again, it began to slip over the big beaver-dam of Niagara, but still he did not awake.



How the Bluebird Came How the Bluebird Came


The great Er-Beaver in his pond, that men call Lake Erie, flapped his tail, and the waves rolled away to the shore, and set the ice heaving, cracking, and groaning; but Nana-bo-jou slept on.



Then the Ice-demons pounded the shore of the island with their clubs. They pushed back the whole river-flood till the channel was dry, then let it rush down like the end of all things, and they shouted together:



"Nana-bo-jou! Nana-bo-jou! Nana-bo-jou! Wake up!"



But still he slept calmly on.



Then came a soft, sweet voice, more gentle than the mating turtle of Miami. It was in the air, but it was nowhere, and yet it was in the trees, in the water, and it was in Nana-bo-jou too. He felt it, and it awoke him. He sat up and looked about. His white blanket was gone; only a few tatters of it were to be seen in the shady places. In the sunny spots the shreds of the fringe with its beads had taken root and were growing into little flowers with beady eyes, Spring Beauties as they are called now. The small voice kept crying: "Awake! the spring is coming!"



Nana-bo-jou said: "Little voice, where are you? Come here."



But the little voice, being everywhere, was nowhere, and could not come at the hero's call.



So he said: "Little voice, you are nowhere because you have no place to live in; I will make you a home."



So Nana-bo-jou took a curl of birch bark and made a little wigwam, and because the voice came from the skies he painted the wigwam with blue mud, and to show that it came from the Sunland he painted a red sun on it. On the floor he spread a scrap of his own white blanket, then for a fire he breathed into it a spark of life, and said: "Here, little voice, is your wigwam." The little voice entered and took possession, but Nana-bo-jou had breathed the spark of life into it. The smoke-vent wings began to move and to flap, and the little wigwam turned into a beautiful Bluebird with a red sun on its breast and a shirt of white. Away it flew, but every year it comes as winter wanes, the Bluebird of the spring. The voice still dwells in it, and we feel that it has lost nothing of its earliest power when we hear it cry: "Awake! the spring is coming!"







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