Birth of the Water-Lily by Charles M. Skinner
Back from his war against the Tahawi comes the Sun, chief of the Lower
Saranacs,óback to the Lake of the Clustered Stars, afterward called, by
dullards, Tupper's Lake. Tall and invincible he comes among his people,
boasting of his victories, Indian fashion, and stirring the scalps that
hang at his breast. "The Eagle screams," he cries. "He greets the chief,
the Blazing Sun. Wayotah has made the Tahawi tremble. They fly from him.
Hooh, hooh! He is the chief." Standing apart with wistful glance stands
Oseetah, the Bird. She loves the strong young chief, but she knows that
another has his promise, and she dares not hope; yet the chief loves her,
and when the feasting is over he follows her footprints to the shore,
where he sees her canoe turning the point of an island. He silently
pursues and comes upon her as she sits waving and moaning. He tries to
embrace her, but she draws apart. He asks her to sing to him; she bids
He takes a more imperious tone and orders her to listen to her chief. She
moves away. He darts toward her. Turning on him a face of sorrow, she
runs to the edge of a steep rock and waves him back. He hastens after.
Then she springs and disappears in the deep water. The Sun plunges after
her and swims with mad strength here and there. He calls. There is no
answer. Slowly he returns to the village and tells the people what has
happened. The Bird's parents are stricken and the Sun moans in his sleep.
At noon a hunter comes in with strange tidings: flowers are growing on
the water! The people go to their canoes and row to the Island of Elms.
There, in a cove, the still water is enamelled with flowers, some as
white as snow, filling the air with perfume, others strong and yellow,
like the lake at sunset.
"Explain to us," they cry, turning to the old Medicine of his tribe, "for
this was not so yesterday."
"It is our daughter," he answered. "These flowers are the form she
takes. The white is her purity, the yellow her love. You shall see that
her heart will close when the sun sets, and will reopen at his coming."
And the young chief went apart and bowed his head.