How Morning Star lost her Fish
by Mabel Powers
Once the Little People, the Indian fairies, ran with the Red Children
through the woods, and played with them beside the streams. Now they are
not often seen, for the white man drove them out of the woods with the
Indians, and away from the waters, with his big steam noises.
But before steamboats and great mills were on the streams, the Little
People were there. They were often seen paddling their tiny canoes, or
sliding down the great rocks on the banks. They loved to slide down a
bank where one rock jutted out, for then they had a big bounce. They
also liked to sport and jump with the fish.
There was a young Indian girl whose name was Morning Star. She was
called Morning Star because her face was so bright, and she was always
up early in the morning.
Morning Star lived with her father in a comfortable wigwam by a river.
Every day she would get up with the sun, and run down to the river where
the great rocks were, to catch fish for breakfast.
Morning Star caught her fish in a basket. At night, she would go and
fasten her basket between the rocks, in a narrow place of the stream.
Then, when the fish swam through in the night, they would get caught in
it, and Morning Star would find plenty of fish waiting for her. In the
morning, she would take the basket of fish back to the wigwam, and soon
the smell of fish frying on hot coals would come from the lodge.
Never since Morning Star began to fish with her basket, had Chief Little
Wolf, her father, had to wait for his fish breakfast before starting on
the chase. But one morning, neither Chief Little Wolf nor Morning Star
breakfasted on fish. This is how it happened.
On this morning, the Indian girl was up as usual with the sun. She ran
down the river just as the Great Spirit lifted the sun's smiling face.
Morning Star had such a light heart that she was glad just to be alive,
and she sang a song of praise as she ran. All true Indians at sunrise
lift their arms and faces to the sun, and thank the Great Spirit that he
has smiled upon them again.
Happy and fleet as a deer, Morning Star ran on until she came to the
great rocks. There she saw a whole tribe of tiny little folk gathered
about her basket. Some of them were perched on the sides of the basket,
laughing and singing. Others were lifting the fish from it and throwing
them into the stream. Still others were opening and closing the splints
of the basket for the fish to slip through.
Morning Star knew that these tiny folk were the Jo gah oh. She knew
also that these Little People were friends of the fish. They know every
twist of a fish net and every turn of a hook. Often they have been known
to set fish free, and to guide them into deep, quiet places, far away
from the men who fish.
Morning Star called to the Little People and begged them not to let all
the fish go. Then she began to climb down the rocks, as fast as she
could. The little Chief called up to her, "Fish, like Indian girls, like
to be alive."
Then he told the Little People to keep on setting the fish free.
When Morning Star reached her basket, a few fish were still in it. She
put out her hand to take them from the Little People,—and not a fish,
nor a Jo gah oh was to be seen. The Little People had darted into
the rocks, for they go through anything, and the fish had slipped
through the tiny spaces between the splints of the basket.
Morning Star heard the laughter of the Little People echo deep within
the rocks, for they like to play pranks with the earth children. And far
down the stream, she saw the fish leap with joy at being still alive.
She took up her empty basket and went back to the wigwam.
That morning for breakfast, Morning Star baked corn cakes on the hot
coals. As she ate the hot cakes, she thought they tasted almost as good
Ever after, when Morning Star saw a fish leap from the stream, she
remembered what the Jo gah oh had said: "Fish, like Indian girls, like
to be alive."