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

Legends of the Pleiades

The Singing Maidens


Once the Sun and the Moon had seven little girls, as beautiful as Starlight. They were kind and loving, and as they grew older they went about the Sky Land singing so sweetly that they were called the "Singing Maidens."

The Seven Sisters often looked down upon the Earth, and longed to go there and wander about. "O Sun," said they, "let us go down to the Great Island, and sing to men."

The Sun said: "I forbid you to go down to the Great Island. Remain in your home and be content walking about the Sky Land."

But the Singing Maidens were not content; and one day, when the Sun was gone to give heat and light to the Earth, they looked down and saw a happy Wyandot village. All around it were trees full of scarlet Autumn leaves, and it stood near the shore of a lake. The glittering waves rolled over the pebble-strewn beach, while flocks of Sea-Birds flew over the lake, or floated on the waves, and the great Herons waded about among the Water-Lily pads. Then little children ran from the village down to the shore, and swam or splashed in the waves, or tossed the scarlet leaves into the air.

And the Singing Maidens saw all this, and cried: "Here is a more beautiful land than we can find in the Sky! Let us go down and dance with the children and sing among the trees by the shore of the lake!"

So they slid down a Sunbeam to the shining sand. They sang to the laughing children, and danced on the rippling waves. And the children clapped their hands and skipped for joy, and their laughter was wafted through the trees to the lodges of the Wyandots.

Then all the people stood entranced, and said one to the other: "What sweet music is that? We have never heard such a lovely song! Come, let us see who is visiting our children." And they all went down to the shore.

And when they reached the water, they saw the Singing Maidens. Then suddenly the Sky became black, and the loud wind roared. It was the Autumn Storm that rolled over the lake. For the Sun had seen his disobedient daughters, and had sent the Storm to carry them back to the Sky.

Very sad were the Singing Maidens when they met their angry father. "I will set you in a spot, far away," said he; "then you can never visit the Great Island again."

So he placed them in the distant Sky Land, where their bright forms may be dimly seen from the Earth. And the Pale-Face children call them "the Pleiades."

The Singing Maidens still look down with love upon the lake where they once danced and sang with the children on the shining sand.

And on calm and silent nights, the Wyandot Grandmother says to the little Indian boys and girls: "Be quiet, and sit at my feet. Soon we shall hear the Singing Maidens, as they dance in the scarlet leaves!"

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