How The Fairies Worked Magic
A Tale from the Iroquois
Once a little Indian girl was very sad and unhappy. The Great Spirit had taken her father and mother, and she had gone to live with relatives who did not want her. Often she went to sleep hungry, for only the scraps of food that were left from a meal were given to her.
One day, the relatives of the little girl brought in a fine deer from the chase, and made ready for a feast. They told the girl to get out of the lodge, for there was neither room, nor meat for her.
The little girl ran and hid herself in a great field of corn. There she cried aloud.
Soon a band of strange Little People gathered about her, to comfort her. On all sides, from the folds of the green cornstalks they came.
They stroked her head, wiped the tears from her eyes, and said, "Don't cry, little girl. We will take care of you. You shall come and live with us. We will make a feast for you. We know why you are sad, for we can read the thoughts of all the earth children. Come with us, and we will show you more wonderful things than you have ever seen."
At this the little girl dried her tears, and smiled at the kind Little People.
"You are very good to me," she said. "Who are you?"
"We are the Jo gah oh," they replied, "the Little People. Come, and we will show you what we can do."
Then they slipped some winged moccasins upon her feet. They wrapped her in an invisible blanket and put a magic corn plume in her hair, and the next moment all were flying through the air.
They flew to a ledge of great rocks. At the touch of the Little People, the rocks opened, and they passed within.
The girl found herself in a beautiful lodge. Kind Jo gah oh mothers were baking cakes and roasting meat. They welcomed the girl, and soon a feast was spread in her honor.
Now the heart of the little girl was so light that she danced with joy.
"What wonderful people you are! Can you go anywhere, or do anything you wish?"
"Yes," said the little chief, "the Jo gah oh are small, but they are great. Come with us, and you shall see what we can do."
Again they were flying through the air. Soon they reached the lodge where the little girl had lived. It was night, and her relatives were asleep, but she could see the deer that hung outside ready for the feast.
"Now," said the Jo gah oh chief, "we will call out a pack of wolves from the wood yonder, and there will be no fat deer for this selfish feast, at sunrise."
Now no wolves had been seen in that wood for many moons. But at the call of the fairies, a pack sprang from it, ran to the lodge, seized the deer, and tore it into shreds. Then they again disappeared in the wood.
The little girl's eyes were large now with wonder, as they flew back to the fairy lodge in the rocks, but she was not afraid of these strange Little People. She was so happy with them she wished she might always live in a Jo gah oh lodge.
One morning, the little chief said, "Today we shall see more wonders."
This time a tiny canoe was waiting. They stepped into it and sailed down a river until they came to a great tree.
"In that tree," said the little chief, "lives a great, black bear. Every day he comes out that door you see high up in the bear tree. I will make the door fast so he cannot open it. A deep sleep will fall on him. He will sleep for many moons."
Then the chief threw three stones through the open door of the bear tree. Each time, a flame spread like a blanket over the door. A growling and scratching was heard within. Then all became still.
"Now," said the chief, "the bear will sleep until I call him in the spring. He is locked up for the winter. Come, let us go on."
The little girl drew her invisible blanket closer, as the canoe went sailing with the birds through the clouds. The birds that were swift of wing called loudly for a race.
"Come on!" said the fairy chief.
Then he spread wide the invisible sails of his canoe, and they flew past the birds like a streak of lightning. Even the eagle was left far behind. They seemed to shoot through the sky.
And, oh, what fun it was to be a bird! The little girl would have sailed on forever, but the little chief said, "You shall now return to your people. We have given them soft hearts and kind minds. They are calling for you. They will be glad to see you."
And soon the little girl was again in the wigwam of her relatives, sitting by the warm fire.
They greeted her with joy, spread a soft skin for her to sit upon, and gave her the best food. And the little girl lived with them, ever after, and was happy.
Sources And Further Reading
Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers