Native American Legends
How the Mockingbird became the best singer
A Mayan Legend
When X-chol-col-chek, the mockingbird, was young, her family was
very poor, and she could only dress in dingy feathers. Since she
was hatched, however, X-col had displayed a magnificent voice. She
wanted to take singing lessons but could not afford them.
The mockingbird was fortunate to obtain work with a rich and noble
family of cardinals. That winter, a famous singing professor, Dr.
Xcau, the melodious blackbird, came to Maya Land. The father cardinal
immediately imagined that his daughter, Col-pol-che, could become
a fine singer. She was lazy vain and hated to study. But by promising
her many fine gifts, the father convinced her to try singing lessons.
When Col-pol-che went with Dr. Xcau to a quiet part of the woods
to begin her music course, X-col followed and hid in the bushes
to listen and learn. Then she raced back to finish her chores. For
weeks, the professor tried to make the girl cardinal sing sweetly,
but without success. He soon realized she had neither the voice
nor the ambition. He was afraid to tell her wealthy father after
such a long time, having accepted a lot of money. So, he finally
flew far away an forgot the whole affair.
Meanwhile, X-col had been practicing. One morning, Col-pol-che
happened to hear her and was very surprised at her little maid's
ability. That same day, the father cardinal decided his daughter
should give a concert for their friends. The indolent girl was terrified,
yet she dared not tell her parents that she couldn't sing. She thought
of the mockingbird's lovely voice and decided to ask her for help.
The two birds asked Colote, the woodpecker, to bore a hole into
the tree trunk where Col-pol-che would perch. Then the mockingbird
would hide inside. While Col-pol-che pretended to be singing, the
real voice would come from X-col within.
On the day of the concert, all the nobles, singers, artists and
musicians among the birds came. Col-pol-che hopped out on a limb
of the purple-flowering tree chosen by her father, bowed to the
audience and opened her bill. The most exquisite voice ever heard
in the Maya World came pouring out and echoed through the woods.
The birds in the audience flapped their wings and cried for curtain
call after curtain call.
The father, however, was not applauding. He had discovered the
truth just before the concert began when he saw X-col crawl into
the little hole. When the applause ended and the cardinal finished
many bows, her father flew up beside her and asked for silence.
He hopped over to the hole and called the mockingbird to come out.
The small, colorless bird was trembling with fright, but Col-pol-che's
father gently led her to a perch in front of the entire audience.
Then he explained that his daughter had tricked everyone, including
"It was really this shy little 'nightingale' who sang the
whole time,"he announced.
The crowd went wild and demanded that X-col sing again. This time,
outside and free of her fright, the mockingbird sang as never before
and won every bird's heart. From that time on, all her descendants
inherited her lovely voice, but the cardinals have never learned
how to sing.
"The moral of this legend is about ability, identity and the
pursuit of dreams."
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