Gateway to the Classics: The Red Indian Fairy Book by Frances Jenkins Olcott
The Red Indian Fairy Book by  Frances Jenkins Olcott

The Meadow Dandelion


When the Earth was very young, says the Chippewa Grandmother, Mudjekeewis the Mighty kept the West Wind for himself and gave the three other winds to his sons. To Wabun he gave the East Wind; to the rollicking Kabibonokka he gave the Northwest Wind. But he made the lazy Shawondasee ruler of the South Wind and of the Southland. And very sad was Shawondasee to leave the cool and pleasant Northland, and, sorrowing, he set out on his way.

"Farewell, Brother," roared the Northwest Wind Kabibonokka. "Many's the time in your hot land you will long for my cooling breath."

But the lazy Shawondasee gave no answer, and slowly making his way to the Southland, built his lodge of branches. There in the flowery tangle of the forest, he sat sleepy and lazy in his lodge. He did not see the bright birds and flowers. He did not feel the fragrant airs, but ever he looked toward the North, and longed and sighed for its people and cool hills.

And when he sighed in the Springtime, flocks of eager birds flew northward to feast in the grainfields. In the Summer when he sighed the hot winds rushed to the North to ripen the waiting ears of corn and to fill meadows and woods with flowers. And in the Autumn when he sighed a golden glow drifted northward, and the purple haze of Indian Summer draped the hills.

But Shawondasee, too lazy to follow in the paths of birds and winds, lay in his lodge and sighed with longing.

One Spring, while looking northward, he beheld a slender maiden, standing in a grassy meadow. Her garments were green and waving, and her hair was as yellow as gold.

And each night Shawondasee whispered, "To-morrow I will seek her." And each morning he said, "To-morrow I will win her for my bride." But always on the morrow he looked and sighed and said, "To-morrow I will go." But, sleepy and lazy, he never left his lodge to travel northward.

One morning as he gazed he saw that the maiden's hair was no longer yellow, but her head was white like snow. Full of grief, he gave out many short and rapid sighs. Then the air was filled with something soft and silvery like thistledown, and the slender maiden vanished forever.

And Kabibonokka, the Brother Northwest Wind, came rollicking southward. Jolly and brisk was he, and laughing loudly.

"Ho, lazy one!" cried he, as he blew around the lodge of Shawondasee. "It was no maiden that you gazed upon, but a Meadow Dandelion!"

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