Star Maiden (A Native American Folk Tale)
by: Wheeler, Les
A lang, lang time ago, in the days fan fowk hid mair time for ither fowk, Waupee the Fite Hawk bade in a deep, derk forest far there wis plenty a beasts an birds. Ilka day he cam back fae huntin wi plenty o maet, for he wis the maist skeely hunter in his tribe. Nae pairt o the forest wis ower derk for him tae win intill an there wis nae track he couldna follow.
Ae day he gaed ayont ony pint he hid bin till afore, throu an open bittie o forest that let him see farrer nor he’d iver seen afore. He saa that he wis on the verra edge o a great muckle plain covert wi girss. He daunert aboot for a file takkin nae paths, for there wis neen tae be funn, till he cam tae a ring worn doon in the yird. Fit got him fair raised wis that there wis nae path leading tae the ring nor ony awa fae it. He couldna fine ony trace o fitsteps on the girss or any brukken twigs an the like. It wis a gey mystery for Waupee tae think ower.
Waupee thocht he wid hide an watch tae see if he could see fa hid made the ring in the grun. He hidna bin there lang fan he heard the soond o music gettin nearer an nearer. It seemed tae be comin fae abeen him an he leukit up an saa something gey wee gettin nearer an nearer the yird. Fae a wee, wee speck it got bigger an bigger an the music got looder an looder an sweeter an sweeter. Syne Waupee saa that comin taewards him wis a basket an in the basket wis twal a the bonniest lassies ye iver saa.
Nae seener did the basket hit the yird that the lassies loupit oot. Syne they began tae dance roan the magic ring hittin a shinin baa as they gaed past.
Waupee wis fair teen wi the gracefu wye they moved. He thocht they wir aa richt bonnie, but maist o aa the youngest een. He jist couldna stop himsel an derted oot a his hidin place an tried tae grab the youngest quine. But the sisters wir quicker, an as seen as Waupee moved they loupit intae the basket an rose up in the lift.
Waupee watched till he could see them nae mair. He wis sair pitten oot that they’d gaen. “I’ll nivver see them again, noo,” he said wi a hivvy hert. It wis a gey sad Waupee that gaed hame till his lonely lodge. But his mine widna bide at peace. He eesed tae love huntin but noo he couldna be bothered, he niver sat doon roon the fire wi the ither fowk tae hear the story-tellers an he lost aa interest in the lassies o the tribe fan eence he’d bin een o thir freens. The sicht o the lassies fae the lift hid fair connached Waupee.
The neist day Waupee gaed back tae the prairie tae wait near-haun the ring. This time, tae try an deceive the lassies, he made on that he wis an opossum. The basket cam floatin doon eence mair tae the middle o the magic ring, an eence mair Waupee heard the douce music. The lassies loupit oot o the basket an eence mair began tae dance. Waupee thocht they wir even bonnier than they’d bin afore an wis fair enchanted.
In his disguise he craawled forrit taewirds the ring, but the meenit he appeared, ready tae grab the youngest lassie, aa the quines loupit intae thir basket. Up it gaed, but it wisna at much o a hicht fan Waupee heard een o the auler lassies spik. “Maybe,” says she, “it cam tae show us foo oor game is played doon there on earth.”
“Och, na!” said the youngest lassie, “Come on, let’s get awa fae here as quick’s we kin.” An eence mair the basket raise up intae the lift.
Waupee changed back tae his ain shape an gaed back tae his lodge wi a hivvy hert. The nicht seemed tae lest foriver, but syne the sun cam up an back Waupee gaed richt back tae the magic ring. Jist fu could he get the youngest lassie aa till himsel? As he wis thinkin aboot his problem, he noticed an aul tree stump an saa that mice wir rinnin aboot it. He cairted the stump ower aside the ring. “Sae sma a cratur widna cause ony bother,” he thocht, an there an then he turnt himsel intae a moose.
Jist as on the day afore the lassies floated doon in thir basket an began tae play thir game an dance aboot the ring. “Look,” cried the youngest een. “That stump wisna there yesterday.” She got a gey fleg for she ran an loupit intae the basket. The ither lassies, tho, jist lauched an gaithert roon it. They began tae play wi the stump an the youngest lassie jined in. They gave the stump twa-three cracks wi a stick an aa the mice, includin Waupee, ran oot. The lassies killt ivery een except een an that wis Waupee. The youngest lassie wis chasin him an jist as she wis awa tae kill him wi her stick he rose up an clasped her in his airms. Her sisters loupit richt intae thir basket an gaed fleein up intae the sky. The youngest lassie ruggit an tuggit but Waupee hid her fest.
Waupee hid tae use aa his cherm tae win the lassie tae his wyes. He tellt her o the gran life they could hae thegither an dried her tears. He wis determined that she wid forget her sisters. Fae the meenit she gaed intae his lodge there wis nae happier man.
Winter an summer cam an passed an the lassie grew rael fond o her young hunter an thir happiness couldna hae bin bettered fan a fine strappin bairn wis born tae them.
But Waupee’s wife wis the dother o een o the stars an she hid a langin tae visit her aul hame. Fin Waupee wis oot huntin she managed tae mak a basket an she took it oot tae the magic ring an pit it richt in the middle.
Syne she collected bits an bobs an things ye hae on earth but nae in the stars, including some maet, an pit them in the basket sae as tae please her faither. The neist time Waupee wint huntin she taen her laddie wi her intae the magic ring. As seen as they hid clammert intae the basket, she began tae sing an the basket rose up intae the lift.
The wind cairried her song tae Waupee’s lugs. He kent it wis his wife singin an he ran tae the prairie, but he couldna reach the ring afore his wife an bairn wir raised aff the yird. He could only watch the basket till it wis as sma as a speck o dust and syne vanished. He wis hert-brukken an lay doon on the grun wishin he wis deid.
Aa throu the lang winter an the lang summer, Waupee mourned the loss o his wife an even mair his son.
In the meantime his wife reached her hame among the stars an hid near forgot that she hid a man on earth. But she jist hid tae leuk at her loon tae be reminded, for as he grew up he winted tae visit his faither. The lassie’s faither could see that things wirna jist richt sae ae day he said tae his dother, “Tak yir son tae see his faither, an ask him if he’ll come an bide wi us. Tell him tae bring een o ilka bird an beast he kills fan he’s huntin.”
Sae, Waupee’s wife teen her laddie an gaed back tae earth. Waupee, fa spent maist days at the magic ring, heard her singin as she cam doon fae the lift. They hid nae seener landed than he hid them baith in his airms.
His wife gaed him her faither’s message an Waupee began his hunt. Hale nichts as weel as days he hunted for ivery bonnie or different bird or beast. He taen ainly a tail, fit or wing -jist eneuch sae that ye’d ken far they’d come fae. Fan he’d gotten aa he could he wint wi his wife an bairn tae the ring an rose up intae the lift in the basket.
They got a gran welcome in the warld o the starns. The Chief o the Starns invited aabody tae a gran feast an fan aabody wis thegither he said each een could tak een o the earthly gifts, fativer een they maist admired. Some took a fit, ithers a tail an een or twa a claw. Them that taen a tail or a claw becam beasts an wint rinnin aff. The ithers taen the form o birds an wint fleein up in the air. Waupee pickit a fite haak’s feather an his wife an son taen the same. Aa three becam fite haaks an spread thir muckle wings. They floated doon tae earth wi aa the ither birds an if ye leuk aroon in the nicht places ye’ll still see them there the day.