Step into a world of wonder and bravery as we invite you to discover The Boy Who Snared the Sun, a captivating American Indian fairy tale that will inspire and enthrall children of all ages. At KidsGen, we embark on a mesmerizing journey through the realms of folklore and adventure, where courage, determination, and the triumph of the human spirit take center stage.
Follow the extraordinary story of a young boy who sets out on a daring quest to capture the sun. Armed with unwavering determination and ingenuity, he faces tremendous challenges and overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles. This enchanting tale celebrates the power of courage, resourcefulness, and the indomitable human spirit.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of imaginative storytelling as we explore the depths of bravery and resilience. The Boy Who Snared the Sun will ignite young minds, teaching them the value of perseverance, the importance of believing in oneself, and the rewards that come from facing fears and embracing challenges.
Join us on this captivating journey as we delve into a world where ordinary individuals achieve extraordinary feats. Let the captivating tale of The Boy Who Snared the Sun inspire children to reach for the impossible, to dream big, and to discover the remarkable strength within themselves.
Illustrated by John Rae
A deep, crusted snow covered the earth, and sparkled in the light of a wintry moon. The wind had died away; it was very cold and still. Not a sound came from the forest; the only noise that broke the perfect quiet of the night was the cracking of the ice on the Big-sea-water, Gitche Gumee, which was now frozen solid.
But inside old Iagoo's teepee it was warm and cheerful. The teepee, as the Indians call a tent, was covered with the thick, tough skin of the buffalo; the winter coat of Muk-wa, the bear, had now become a pleasant soft rug for Iagoo's two young visitors, Morning Glory and her little brother, Eagle Feather. Squatting at their ease on the warm fur, they waited for the old man to speak.
Suddenly a white-footed mouse crept from his nest in a corner, and, advancing close to the children, sat up on his hind-legs, like a dog that begs for a biscuit. Eagle Feather raised his hand in a threatening way, but Morning Glory caught him by the arm.
"No, no!" she said. "You must not harm him. See how friendly he is, and not a bit afraid. There is game enough in the forest for a brave boy's bow and arrow. Why should he spend his strength on a weak little mouse?"
Eagle Feather, pleased with anything that seemed like praise of his strength, let his hand fall.
"Your words are true words, Morning Glory," he answered. "Against Ahmeek, the beaver, or Wau-be-se, the wild swan, it is better that I should measure my hunter's skill."
At this, Iagoo, turning around, broke his long silence. "There was a time," he said, mysteriously, "when a thousand boys such as Eagle Feather would have been no match at all for that mouse as he used to be."
"When was that?" asked Eagle Feather, looking uneasily at his sister.
"In the days of the great Dormouse," answered Iagoo. "In the days, long ago, when there were many more animals than men on the earth, and the biggest of all the beasts was the Dormouse. Then something strange happened - something that never happened before or since. Shall I tell you about it?"
"O, please do!" begged Morning Glory.
"The story I am going to tell you," began Iagoo, "is not so much a story about the Dormouse as it is a story about a little boy and his sister. Yet had it not been for the Dormouse, I would not be here to tell about it, and you would not be here to listen.
"To begin with, you must understand that the world in those days was a different sort of place from what it is now.
O yes, a different sort of place. People did not eat the flesh of animals. They lived on berries, and roots, and wild vegetables. The Great Spirit, who made all things on land, and in the sky and water, had not yet given men Mon-da-min, the Indian corn. There was no fire to give them heat, or to cook with. In all the world there was just one small fire, watched by two old witches who let nobody come near it; and until Coyote, the prairie wolf, came along and stole some of this fire, the food that people could manage to get was eaten raw, the way it grew."
"They must have been pretty hungry," said Morning Glory..
"O, yes, they were hungry," agreed Iagoo. "But that was not all. There were so many animals, and so few men, that the animals ruled the earth in their own way. The biggest of them all was Bosh-kwa-dosh, the Mastodon. He was higher than the highest trees, and he had an enormous appetite. But he did not stay long on earth, or there would not have been food enough even for the other animals."
"I thought you said the Dormouse was the biggest," interrupted Eagle Feather.
Iagoo looked at him severely.
"At the time I speak of," he continued, "Bosh-kwa-dosh, the Mastodon, had just gone away. He had not gone a bit too soon, either; for, by this time, the only people left on the whole earth were a young girl and her little brother."
"Like Eagle Feather and me?" asked Morning Glory. "The girl was much like you," said Iagoo, patiently. "But the boy was a dwarf, who never grew to be more than three feet high. Being so much stronger and larger than her brother, she gathered all the food for both, and cared for him in every way. Sometimes she would take him along with her, when she went to look for berries and roots. 'He's such a very little boy,' she said to herself, 'that if I leave him all alone, some big bird may swoop down, and carry him off to its nest.'
"She did not know what a strange boy he was, and how much mischief he could do when he set his mind upon it. One day she said to him: 'Look, little brother! I have made you a bow and some arrows. It is time you learned to take care of yourself; so when I am gone, practice shooting, for this is a thing you must know how to do.'
"Winter was coming, and to keep himself from freezing the boy had nothing better than a light garment woven by his sister from the wild grasses. How could he get a warm coat? As he asked himself that question, a flock of snow birds flew down, near by, and began pecking at the fallen logs, to get the worms. 'Ha!' said he. 'Their feathers would make me a fine coat.' Bending his bow, he let an arrow fly; but he had not yet learned how to shoot straight. It went wide of the mark. He shot a second, and a third; then the birds took fright, and flew away.
"Each day he tried again - shooting at a tree when there was nothing better to aim at. At last he killed a snow bird, then another and another. When he had shot ten birds, he had enough. 'See, sister,' he said, 'I shall not freeze. Now you can make me a coat from the skins of these little birds.'
"So his sister sewed the skins together, and made him the coat, the first warm winter coat he had ever had. It was fine to look at, and the feathers kept out the cold. Eh-yah! he was proud of it! With his bow and arrows, he strutted up and down, like a little turkey cock. 'Is it true?' he asked, 'that you and I are the only persons living on earth? Perhaps if I look around, I may find someone else. It will do no harm to try.'
"His sister feared he would come to some harm; but he had made up his mind to see the world for himself, and off he went. But his legs were short, he was not used to walking far, and he soon grew tired. When he came to a bare place, on the edge of a hill, where the sun had melted the snow, he lay down, and was soon fast asleep.
"As he slept, the sun played him a trick. It was a mild winter's day. The bird skins of which the coat was made were still fresh and tender, and under the full glare of the sun they began to shrivel and shrink. 'Eh-yah! What's wrong?' he muttered in his sleep, feeling the coat become tighter and tighter. Then he woke, stretched out his arms, and saw what had happened.
"The sun was nearly sinking now. The boy stood up and faced it, and shook his small fist. 'See what you have done!' he cried, with a stamp of his foot. 'You have spoiled my new birdskin coat. Never mind! You think yourself beyond my reach, up there; but I'll be revenged on you. Just wait and see!'"
"But how could he reach the sun?" asked Morning Glory, her eyes growing rounder and rounder.
"That is what his sister asked, when he told her about it," said Iagoo. "And what do you think he did? First, he did nothing at all but stretch himself out on the ground, where he lay for ten days without eating or moving. Then he turned over on the other side, and lay there for ten days more. At last he rose to his feet. 'I have made up my mind,' he said. 'Sister, I have a plan to catch the sun in a noose. Find me some kind of a cord from which I can make a snare.' "She got some tough grass, and twisted it into a rope. 'That will not do,' he said. 'You must find something stronger.' He no longer talked like a little boy, but like one who was to be obeyed. Then his sister thought of her hair. She cut enough from her head to make a cord, and when she had plaited it he was much pleased, and said it would do. He took it from her, and drew it between his lips, and as he did this it turned into a kind of metal, and grew much stronger and longer, till he had so much that he wound it around his body.
"In the middle of the night he made his way to the hill, and there he fixed a noose at the place where the sun would rise. He had to wait a long time in the cold and darkness. But at last a faint light came into the sky. As the sun rose it was caught fast in the noose, and there it stayed."
Iagoo stopped talking, and sat looking into the fire. One might have supposed that when he did this he saw pictures in the flames, and in the red coals, and that these pictures helped him to tell the story. But Morning Glory was impatient to hear the rest.
"Iagoo," she said, timidly, at last. "Did you forget about the Dormouse?"
"Eh-yah! the Dormouse! No. I have not forgotten," answered the old man, rousing himself. "When the sun did not rise as usual, the animals could not tell what had happened. Ad-ji-dau-mo, the squirrel, chattered and scolded from the branch of a pine tree. Kah-gah-gee, the raven, flapped his wings, and croaked more hoarsely than ever, to tell the others that the end of the world had come. Only Muk-wa, the bear, did not mind. He had crept into his cave for the winter, and the darker it was the better he liked it.
"Wa-bun, the East Wind, was the one who brought the news. He had drawn from his quiver the silver arrows with which he chased the darkness from the valleys. But the sun had not risen to help him, and the arrows fell harmless to the earth. 'Wake, wake!' he wailed. 'Someone has caught the sun in a snare. Which of all the animals will dare to cut the cord?'
"But even Coyote, the prairie wolf, who was the wisest of them all, could think of no way to free the sun. So great was the heat thrown out by its rays that he could not come within an arrow's flight of where it was caught fast in the magical noose of hair.
"'Leave it to me!' screamed Ken-eu, the war-eagle, from his nest on the cliff. 'It is I alone who soar to the sky, and look the sun in the face, without winking. Leave it to me!'
"Down he darted through the darkness, and up he flew again, with his eagle feathers singed. Then they woke the Dormouse. They had a hard time doing it, because when he once went to sleep he stayed asleep for six months, and it was almost impossible to arouse him. Coyote crept close to his ear, and howled with all his might. It would have split the eardrum of almost any other animal. But Kug-e-been-gwa-kwa, the Dormouse, only groaned and turned over on the other side, and Coyote had a narrow escape from being mashed flat, like a corn-cake.
"'There is only one thing that will wake him,' said Coyote, getting up and shaking himself. 'I will run to the mountain cave of An-ne-mee-kee, the Thunder. His voice is even more terrible than mine.' So off he went at a gallop.
"Soon they could hear An-ne-mee-kee coming. Boom, boom! When he shouted in the ear of the Dormouse, the biggest beast on earth rose slowly to his feet. In the darkness he looked bigger than ever, almost as big as a mountain. An-ne-mee-kee, the Thunder, shouted once more, to make sure that the Dormouse was really wide awake, and would not go to sleep again.
"'Now,' said Coyote to the Dormouse, 'it is you that will have to free the sun. If he burned one of us, there would be little left but bones. But you are so big that if part of you is burned away there will still be enough. Then, in that case you would not have to eat so much, or work so hard to get it.'
"The Dormouse was a stupid animal, and Coyote's talk seemed true talk. Besides, as he was the biggest animal, he was expected to do the biggest things. So he made his way to the hill, where the little boy had snared the sun, and began to nibble at the noose. As he nibbled away, his back got hotter and hotter. Soon it began to burn, till all the upper part of him burned away, and became great heaps of ashes. At last, when he had cut through the cord with his teeth, and set the sun free, all that was left of him was an animal no larger than an ordinary mouse. What he became then, so he is today. Still, he is big enough for a mouse; and perhaps that is what Coyote really meant. Coyote, the prairie wolf, is a cunning beast, up to many tricks, and it is not always easy to tell exactly what he means."
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