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Frances Jenkins Olcott

The Wind-Blower


Far in the Northern Land, a great bird once sat on a rock at the edge of the Sky. And whenever he flapped his wings, the stormy wind blew across the sea, and caused the billows to rise, and roll to and fro.

Now, on the shore, not far from the rock, dwelt a man and his wife and two sons. It happened one year the weather was so bad that they could not fish and get food. The wind blew terribly night and day, and the waves were like dancing hills. Then one of the sons walked along the shore to see if the tide had cast up any fish. But there were none.

He wandered on and on, and the farther he went the worse the wind blew. At last he beheld a high and great rock, surrounded by water, and on it sat the Wind Bird himself, flapping his wings.

Then the young man, who was brave, waded out to the rock, and offered to carry the bird to the mainland where he might rest in the soft sand. The bird was willing, so the young man carried him on his back, stepping from slippery stone to stone, or wading through pools.

At the last rock the young man stumbled and fell, and broke one of the wings of the bird. He laid the hurt creature upon the sand, and set his wing. Then he bade him keep quiet and not move for many days.

So the bird sat still, and a calm fell upon the sea, for there was no wind in all the Northland. The Indians in their canoes glided smoothly over the glassy water, and no breeze blew. No wave rose, and no billow appeared. The Indians caught Fish by the thousand, and gazed through the clear water to the bottom of the sea, and saw the Eels twisting and wriggling about. And the Wind Bird sat still and nursed his broken wing.

But after many days the water slept. Thick slime grew on its surface. The Fish sickened and died. The Indians could eat Fish no longer, and no more could they see the Eels on the bottom of the sea. They had no food and were starving.

Then the young man went to the Wind Bird and begged him to try his broken wing, and see if it was well. So the bird gave it a little flap, and, lo, a slight ripple passed over the surface of the sleeping water. Then the bird struck his two wings lightly together, and straightway a wind moved over the sea. The slime was blown away. The waves rose and tossed, and the Fish grew well. Then the Indians in their canoes paddled out on the water and caught many Fish. And so they were happy and had plenty to eat.

As for the Wind Bird, they had him for a friend, and he blew smooth or stormy weather, just as he willed.