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Folktale

THE WATER LILY

American Indian Legends

One summer evening, many years ago, some Indians were sitting out under the stars, telling stories.

All at once they saw a star fall. It fell halfway down the sky.

That night one of the Indians had a dream about the star. It seemed to come and stand beside him, and it was like a young girl, dressed all in white.

She said, “I have left my home in the sky because I love the Indians and want to live among them. Call your wise men together and ask them what shape I shall take.”

The Indian woke up and called all the wise men together.

Then he told them his dream.

The wise men said, “Let her choose what shape she will take. She may live in the top of a tree, or she may live in a flower, or she may live where she will.”

Every night the star came down a little lower in the sky, and stood over the valley where the Indians lived, and made it very bright.

Then one night it fell down upon the side of the mountain and became a white rose.

But it was lonely on the mountain. The rose could see the Indians, but it could not hear them talk. So one day it left the mountain and came down into the plain and became a great white prairie flower.

Here it lived for a time. But the buffaloes and the other wild beasts of the prairie ran all around it and over it, and it was afraid.

One night the Indians saw a star go up from the prairie.

They knew that it was the prairie flower and they thought that it was going back into the sky.

But it floated toward them until it came over the lake that lay just beside them.

It looked down into the lake, and there it saw its shadow and the shadows of the other stars that live in the sky.

It came down lower and lower, and at last floated on the top of the water.

The next morning the lake was covered with water lilies.

“See! the stars have blossomed!” said all the children.

But the wise men answered:

“It is the white star and her sisters. They will stay with us.”

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