Step into a world of magic and wonder as we invite you to uncover the secrets of How the Summer Came, a delightful American Indian fairy tale that will captivate children and spark their imagination. At KidsGen, we embark on a captivating journey that unravels the mysteries of the changing seasons and celebrates the beauty of nature, friendship, and the magic of summer.
Follow the enchanting story that unveils the extraordinary transformation of a barren land into a vibrant, sun-kissed summer paradise. This tale weaves together the power of friendship, the resilience of nature, and the joy that comes with embracing the changing seasons.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of imaginative storytelling as we explore the wonders of nature and the interconnectedness of all living things. How the Summer Came will inspire young minds to appreciate the natural world, cherish their friendships, and find joy in the simplest pleasures.
Join us on this captivating journey as we delve into the magical realm of summer and the transformative power it brings. Let the captivating tale of How the Summer Came ignite a sense of wonder and appreciation for the ever-changing beauty of the world around us.
Illustrated by John Rae
Morning Glory was tired of the winter, and longed for the spring to come. Sometimes it seemed as if Ka-bib-on-okka, the fierce old North Wind, would never go back to his home in the Land of Ice. With his cold breath he had frozen tight and hard the Big-Sea-Water,Gitche Gumee, and covered it deep with snow, till you could not tell the Great Lake from the land.
Except for the beautiful green pines, all the world was white - a dazzling, silent world in which there was no musical murmur of waters and no song of birds.
"Will O-pee-chee, the robin, never come again?" sighed Morning Glory. "Suppose there was no summer anywhere, and no Sha-won-dasee, the South Wind, to bring the violet and the dove. O, Iagoo, would it not be dreadful?"
"Be patient, Morning Glory," answered the old man. "Soon you will hear Wa-wa, the wild goose, flying high up, on his way to the North. I have lived many moons. Sometimes he seems long in coming, but he always comes. When you hear him call, then O-pee-chee, the robin, will not be far behind."
"I'll try to be patient" said Morning Glory. "But Ka-bib-on-okka, the North wind, is so strong and fierce. I can't help wondering whether there ever was a time when his power was so great that he made his home here always. It makes me shiver to think of it!"
Iagoo rose from his place by the fire, and drew to one side the curtain of buffalo-hide that screened the doorway. He pointed to the sky - clear, and sparkling with stars.
"Look!" he said. "There, in the North. See that little cluster of stars. Do you know the name we give it?"
"I know," said Eagle Feather. "It is O-jeeg An-nung - the Fisher stars. If you look right, you can see how they make the body of the Fisher. He is stretched out flat, with an arrow through his tail. See, sister!"
"The Fisher," repeated Morning Glory. "You mean the furry little animal, something like a fox? Is Marten another name for it?"
"That's it," said Eagle Feather.
"Yes, I see," nodded Morning Glory. "But why is the Fisher spread out flat that way, in the sky, with an arrow sticking through his tail?"
"I don't know just exactly why," admitted Eagle Feather. "I suppose some hunter was chasing him. Perhaps Iagoo can tell us."
Iagoo closed the curtain, and went back to the fire.
"You thought there might have been a time when there was no summer on the earth," he said to Morning Glory. "And you were right. Until O-jeeg, the Fisher, found a way to bring the summer down from the sky, the earth was everywhere covered with snow, and it was always cold. If O-jeeg had not been willing to give his life, so that all the rest of us could be warm, Ka-bib-on-okka, the North Wind, would have ruled the world, as he now rules the Land of Ice."
Then Morning Glory and Eagle Feather sat down on the soft rug that was once the winter coat of Muk-wa, the bear, and Iagoo told them the story of How the Summer Came:
In the wild forest that borders the Great Lake there once lived a mighty hunter named O-jeeg. No one knew the woods so well as he; where others would be lost without a trail to guide them, he found his way easily and quickly, by day or night, through the trackless tangle of trees and underbrush. Where the red deer fled, he followed; the bear could not escape his swift pursuit. He had the cunning of the fox, the endurance of the wolf, the speed of the wild turkey when it runs at the scent of danger.
When O-jeeg shot an arrow, it always hit the mark. When he set out on a journey, no storm or snow could turn him back. He did everything he said he would do, and did it well.
Thus it was that some men came to believe that O-jeeg was a Manito - the Indian name for one who has magic powers. This much was certain: whenever O-jeeg wished to do so, he could change himself into the little animal known as the Fisher, or Marten.
Perhaps that is why he was on such friendly terms with some of the animals, who were always willing to help him when he called upon them. Among these were the otter, the beaver, the lynx, the badger and the wolverine. There came a time, as we shall see, when he needed their services badly, and they were not slow in coming to his assistance.
O-jeeg had a wife whom he dearly loved, and a son, of thirteen years, who promised to be as great a hunter as his father. Already he had shown great skill with the bow and arrow; if some accident should prevent O-jeeg from supplying the family with the game upon which they lived, his son felt sure that he himself could shoot as many squirrels and turkeys as they needed to keep them from starving. With O-jeeg to bring them venison, bear's meat and wild turkey, they had thus far plenty to eat. Had it not been for the cold, the boy would have been happy enough. They had warm clothing, made from deerskin and furs; to keep their fire burning, they had all the wood in the forest. Yet, in spite of this, the cold was a great trial; for it was always winter, and the deep snow never melted.
Some wise old men had somewhere heard that the sky was not only the roof of our own world, but also was the floor of a beautiful world beyond; a land where birds with bright feathers sang sweetly through a pleasant, warm season called Summer. It was a pretty story that people wished to believe; and likely enough they said, when you came to think that the sun was so far away from the earth, and so close to the sky itself.
The boy used to dream about it, and wonder what could be done. His father could do anything; some men said he was a Manito. Perhaps he could find some way to bring Summer to the earth. That would be the greatest thing of all.
Sometimes it was so cold that when the boy went into the woods his fingers would be frost-bitten. Then he could not fit the notch of his arrow to the bowstring, and was obliged to go back home without any game whatever. One day he had wandered far in the forest, and was returning emptyhanded, when he saw a red squirrel seated on his hind-legs on the stump of a tree. The squirrel was gnawing a pine cone, and did not try to run away when the young hunter came near. Then the little animal spoke:
"My grandson," said he, "there is something I wish to tell you that you will be pleased to hear. Put away your arrows, and do not try to shoot me, and I shall give you some good advice."
The boy was surprised; but he unstrung his bow, and put the arrow in his quiver.
"Now," said the squirrel, "listen carefully to what I have to say. The earth is always covered with snow, and the frost bites your fingers, and makes you unhappy. I dislike the cold as much as you do. To tell the truth, there is little enough for me to eat in these woods, with the ground frozen hard all the time. You can see how thin I am, for there is not much to eat in a pine cone. If someone could manage to bring the Summer down from the sky, it would be a great blessing." "Is it really true, then," asked the boy, "that up beyond the sky is a pleasant warm land, where Winter only stays for a few moons?"
"Yes, it is true," said the squirrel. "We animals have known it for a long time. Ken-eu, the war-eagle, who soars near the sun, once saw a small crack in the sky. The crack was made by Way-wass-i-mo, the Lightning, in a great storm that covered all the earth with water. Ken-eu, the war-eagle, felt the warm air leaking through; but the people who live up above mended the crack the very next moment, and the sky has never leaked again."
"Then our wise old men were right," said the boy. "O-jeeg, my father, can do most anything he has a mind to. Do you suppose if he tried hard enough, he could get through the sky, and bring the Summer down to us?"
"Of course!" exclaimed the squirrel. "That is why I spoke to you about it. Your father is a Manito. If you beg him hard enough, and tell him how unhappy you are, he is sure to make the attempt. When you go back, show him your frostbitten fingers. Tell him how you tramp all day through the snow, and how difficult it is to make your way home. Tell him that some day you may be frozen stiff, and never get back at all. Then he will do as you ask, because he loves you very much."
The boy thanked the squirrel, and promised to follow this advice. From that day he gave his father no peace. At last O-jeeg said to him:
"My son, what you ask me to do is a dangerous thing, and I do not know what may come of it. But my power as a Manito was given me for a good purpose, and I can put it to no better use than to try to bring the Summer down from the sky, and make the world a more pleasant place to live in." Then he prepared a feast to which he invited his friends, the otter, the beaver, the lynx, the badger, and the wolverine; and they all put their heads together, to decide what was best to be done. The lynx was the first to speak. He had travelled far on his long legs, and had been to many strange places.
Besides, if you had good strong eyes, and you looked at the sky, on a clear night when there was no moon, you could see a little group of stars which the wise old men said was exactly like a lynx. It gave him a certain importance, especially in matters of this kind; so when he began to speak, the others listened with great respect.
"There is a high mountain," said he, "that none of you has ever seen. No one ever saw the top, because it is always hidden by the clouds; but I am told it is the highest mountain in the world, and almost touches the sky."
The otter began to laugh. He is the only animal that can do this; sometimes he laughs for no particular reason, unless it is that he thinks himself more clever than the other animals, and likes to "show off."
"What are you laughing at?" asked the lynx.
"Oh, nothing," answered the otter. "I was just laughing." "It will get you into trouble some day," said the lynx. "Just because you never heard of this mountain, you think it is not there."
"Do you know how to get to it?" asked O-jeeg. "If we could climb to the top, we might find a way to break through the sky. It seems a good plan."
"That is what I was thinking," said the lynx. "It is true I don't know just where it is. But a moon's journey from here, there lives a Manito who has the shape of a giant. He knows, and he could tell us."
So O-jeeg bade good-bye to his wife and his little son, and the next day the lynx began the long journey, with O-jeeg and the others following close behind. It was just as the lynx had said. When they had travelled, day and night, for a moon, they came to a lodge, as the white men call an Indian's tent; and there was the Manito standing in the doorway. He was a queer-looking man, such as they had never seen before, with an enormous head and three eyes, one eye being set in his forehead above the other two.
He invited them into the lodge, and set some meat before them; but he had such an odd look, and his movements were so awkward, that the otter could not help laughing. At this, the eye in the Manito's forehead grew red, like a live coal, and he made a leap at the otter, who barely managed to slip through the doorway, out into the bitter cold and darkness of the night, without having tasted a morsel of supper.
When the otter had gone, the Manito seemed satisfied, and told them they could spend the night in his lodge. They did so; and O-jeeg, who stayed awake while his friends slept, noticed that only two of the Manito's eyes were closed, while the one in his forehead remained wide open.
In the morning the Manito told O-jeeg to travel straight toward the North Star, and that in twenty suns - the Indian name for days - they would reach the mountain. "As you are a Manito yourself," he said, "you may be able to climb to the top, and to take your friends with you. But I cannot promise that you will be able to get down again."
"If it is close enough to the sky," answered O-jeeg, "that is all I ask."
Once more they set out. On their way they met the otter, who laughed again when he saw them; but this time he laughed because he was glad to find them, and glad to get some meat that O-jeeg had saved from the Manito's supper.
In twenty days they came to the foot of the mountain. Then up and up they climbed, till they passed quite through the clouds; up once more, till at last they stopped, all out of breath, and sat down to rest on the highest peak in the world. To their great delight, the sky seemed so close that they could almost touch it.
O-jeeg and his comrades filled their pipes. But before smoking, they called out to the Great Spirit, asking for success in their attempt. In Indian fashion they pointed to the earth, to the sky overhead, and to the four winds.
"Now," said O-jeeg, when they had finished smoking, "which of you can jump the highest?"
The otter grinned.
"Jump, then!" commanded O-jeeg.
The otter jumped, and, sure enough, his head hit the sky. But the sky was the harder of the two, and back he fell When he struck the ground, he began to slide down the mountain; soon he was out of sight, and they saw him no more.
"Ugh!" grunted the lynx. "He is laughing on the other side of his mouth."
It was the beaver's turn. He, too, hit the sky, but fell down in a heap. The badger and the lynx had no better luck, and their heads ached for a long time afterward.
"It all depends on you," said O-jeeg to the wolverine. "You are the strongest of them all. Ready, now - jump!" The wolverine jumped, and fell, but came down on his feet, sound and whole.
"Good!" cried O-jeeg. "Try again!"
This time the wolverine made a dent in the sky.
"It's cracking!" exclaimed O-jeeg. "Now, once more!" For the third time the wolverine jumped. Through the sky he went, passing out of sight, and O-jeeg quickly followed him.
Looking around them, they beheld a beautiful land.
O-jeeg, who had spent his life among the snows, stood like a man who dreams, wondering if it could be true. He had left behind him a bare world, white with winter, whose waters were always frozen, a world without song or color. He had now come into a country that was a great green plain, with flowers of many hues; where birds of bright plumage sang amid the leafy branches of trees hung with golden fruit. Streams wandered through the meadows, and flowed into lovely lakes. The air was mild, and filled with the perfume from a million blossoms. It was Summer.
Along the banks of a lake were the lodges in which lived the people of the sky, who could be seen some distance away. The lodges were empty, but before them were hung cages in which there were many beautiful birds. Already the warm air of Summer had begun to rush through the hole made by the wolverine, and O-jeeg now made haste to open the cages, so that the birds could follow.
The sky-dwellers saw what was happening, and raised a great shout. But Spring, Summer and Autumn had already escaped through the opening into the world below, and many of the birds as well.
The wolverine, too, had managed to reach the hole, and descend to the earth, before the sky-dwellers could catch him. But O-jeeg was not so fortunate. There were still some birds remaining that he knew his son would like to see, so he went on opening the cages. By this time the sky dwellers had closed the hole, and O-jeeg was too late.
As the sky-dwellers pursued him, he changed himself into the Fisher, and ran along the plain, toward the North, at the top of his speed. In the form of the Fisher he could run faster. Also, when he took this shape, no arrow could injure him unless it hit a spot near the tip of his tail.
But the sky-dwellers ran even faster, and the Fisher climbed a tall tree. They were good marksmen, and they shot a great many arrows, until at last one of these chanced to hit the fatal spot. Then the Fisher knew that his time had come.
Now he saw that some of his enemies were marked with the totems, or family arms, of his own tribe. "My Cousins!" he called to them. "I beg of you that you go away, and leave me here alone."
The sky-dwellers granted his request. When they had gone, the Fisher came down from the tree, and wandered around for a time, seeking some opening in the plain through which he might return to the earth. But there was no opening; so at last, feeling weak and faint, he stretched himself flat on the floor of the sky, through which the stars may be seen from the world below.
"I have kept my promise," he said with a sigh of content. "My son will now enjoy the summer, and so will all the people who dwell on the earth. Through the ages to come I shall be set as a sign in the heavens, and my name will be spoken with praise. I am satisfied."
So it came about that the Fisher remained in the sky, where you can see him plainly for yourself, on a clear night, with the arrow through his tail. The Indians call them the Fisher Stars - O-jeeg An-nung; but to white men are they known as the constellation of the Plough.
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