Why The Goldfinches Look Like The Sun
A Tale from the Iroquois
It was some moons after the coon outwitted the fox, before they again met. The coon was hurrying by, when the fox saw him.
Now the fox had not forgotten the trick the coon had played on him. His head was still sore from that great thump against the apple tree. So the fox started after the coon. He was gaining, and would have caught him, had they not come to a tall pine tree.
The coon ran to the very tiptop of the pine tree. There he was safe, for the fox could not climb.
The fox lay down on the soft pine needles and waited for the coon to come down. The coon stayed up in the pine tree so long that the fox grew tired and sleepy. He closed his eyes and thought he would take a short nap.
The coon watched, until he saw that the fox was sound asleep. Then he took in his mouth some of the pitch from the pine tree. He ran down the tree and rubbed the pitch over the eyes of the sleeping fox.
The fox awoke. He sprang up and tried to seize the coon, but, alas! he could not see what he was doing. The lids of his eyes were held fast with the pine gum. He could not open them.
The coon laughed at the fox's plight, then ran and left him.
The fox lay for some time under the tree. The pine gum, as it dried, held the lids of his eyes closer and closer shut. He thought he should never again see the sun.
Some birds were singing near by. He called them, and told them of his plight. He asked if they would be so kind as to pick open his eyes.
The birds flew off and told the other birds. Soon many of the little dark songsters flew back to where the fox lay. Then peck, peck, peck, went the little bills on the eyelids of the fox. Bit by bit they carefully pecked away the pine gum. If one grew tired, another bird would take its place.
At last the fox saw a streak of light. Soon the lid of one eye flew open, then the other. The sun was shining, and the world looked very beautiful to the fox, as he opened his eyes.
He was very grateful to the little birds for bringing him light. He told them to ask what they would, and he would give it to them.
The little birds said, "We do not like the plain, dark suits which the Turkey Buzzard brought us. Make us look like the sun we have brought to you."
The fox looked about him. Beautiful yellow flowers were growing near. He pressed some of the sun color from them, and with the tip of his tail as a brush, he began to paint the dark little birds like the sun.
The birds fluttered so with joy, he thought he would paint the bodies first. Before he could brush the wings and tails with the sun paint, each little bird had darted away, like a streak of sunshine. So happy and light of heart were the birds, that they could not wait for the fox to finish the painting.
This is why goldfinches are yellow like the sun. It is why they have black wings and tails, why they flutter so with joy, and why they never finish their song.
Sources And Further Reading
Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers