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Native American Legends

Legend of the Jumping Mouse

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

There once was a little mouse. He and his friends loved to spend the evenings listening to the old ones tell stories. His favorite story by far was the story of the Far Off Lands. So much did he love this tale, he would dream of the Far Off Lands every night.

One day, the little mouse said to himself, "I simply must see these Far Off Lands!" That very morning, he set off on his journey. He would travel almost the entire day, stopping only for rest or food or drink. He came to a riverbank, and his heart fell. "Oh, how will I ever get across this river?" he said to himself.

From behind him, he heard a gravely voice. "Don't you know how to swim?"
He looked, and saw a frog standing among some cat-tails.

"Swim? What is that?" asked the mouse.

The frog jumped into the water, and began to kick her legs. "This is swimming, silly," the frog said.

"Now, why do you want to cross the river anyway?"

"I have been dreaming of the Far Off Lands for many nights. I simply must see it!" explained the mouse.

"My name is Magic Frog," said the frog, "and I will help you. Bend down low, and jump as far as you can."

The mouse jumped, and he felt a strange feeling in his legs. They seemed much stronger than before, and he noticed that he had jumped farther than he had ever been able to before.

"Why, thank you Magic Frog, that was good medicine you gave to me."

Magic Frog said, "You will experience many hardships on your journey, but if you keep hope alive within you, you will reach the Far Off Lands. And I give you a new name. You are now called Jumping Mouse."

She waved, and hopped back off into the cat-tails. Jumping Mouse leaped across the river, and turned to wave, but Magic Frog was gone.

In the back of his mind, he could still hear Magic Frog's words: "Keep hope alive within you..." Jumping Mouse continued on until nightfall, then dug a hole and went to sleep.

The next day, Jumping Mouse reached the prairie. He was walking along when he saw a huge boulder ahead. As he got closer, he saw that it was not a boulder, but a large buffalo lying on the ground.

"My friend," said Jumping Mouse, "why are you lying here as if you were dying?"

"I am dying," said Buffalo. "I drank from a poisoned pool of water, and now I have lost my sight; I cannot find the cool waters to drink or the sweet grass to eat. I am lying here waiting for the end."

Jumping Mouse said, " I am Jumping Mouse. My friend Magic Frog gave me some medicine powers. I am not as strong as her, but I will help you. I name you Eyes of a Mouse."

No sooner had he said this when the buffalo stood, looked about and blinked his eyes in amazement. He snorted with happiness. Jumping Mouse heard this, but he could not see it, for he had given away his sight.

"Why thank you, my small friend," said Eyes of a Mouse. "This is a wonderful gift you have given me. Climb onto my back, and I shall carry you to the edge of the prairie." Jumping Mouse climbed onto the mighty buffalo's back and in this way, he reached the edge of the prairie.

When they arrived, Eyes of a Mouse said, "I am a creature of the prairies, so I must stop here. My friend, how will you make it over the mountains if you can not see?"

Jumping Mouse said, "There will be a way; I have hope alive within me." He waved good-bye to Eyes of a Mouse and turned to the mountains. He walked away, and when night fell, he dug a hole and went to sleep.

Jumping Mouse awoke with the sun, and felt his way along the mountain path, sniffing for, and occasionally nibbling on small grasses. Suddenly he bumped into something. He felt fur beneath his little paws. He sniffed, and realized that he had just stumbled upon a wolf.

"H-h-hello? I am Jumping Mouse, who are you?"

The wolf replied, "I am a wolf."

Jumping Mouse asked, "why are you just sitting there in the middle of the path?"

The wolf sighed. "I was once a very proud creature, with a very good sense of smell. Because I was too proud, I have had this gift taken away.

I have learned to be humble, but now I cannot smell to find food to eat. I will surely die." Jumping mouse was saddened by the wolf's story. "I have... just a little medicine left. Please let me help you. I name you Nose of a Mouse.

The wolf breathed in. He sniffed the mountain air. He howled with joy and danced in a circle. "I can smell the trees and the flowers again!"

Jumping Mouse heard the wolf's joy, but alas, he could not smell the trees or flowers; he had given his sense of smell away.

"This is truly a wonderful gift you have given me," said Nose of a Mouse. "You must let me repay you. Climb onto my back and I will carry you over the mountains to the Far Off Lands."

Jumping Mouse was carried over the mountains, and soon his wolf friend knelt down so he could carefully climb down. "Little friend, I am a creature of the mountains, so I can not go on. But you... how will you get along, not being able to smell or see?"

Jumping Mouse said, "There will be a way; hope is alive within me." The two said good-bye, and Nose of a Mouse trotted back up into the mountains.

"I am here at last," said Jumping Mouse. "I hear the leaves rustling through the trees. The sun warms my body. I feel the wind. But.. I will never be as I was. What am I to do?" Jumping Mouse began to cry.

"Jumping Mouse," he heard a gravely voice. "M-Magic Frog, is... is that you?" "Yes, my friend, it is Magic Frog. You have suffered greatly on your long journey, and experienced many hardships. But it was your unselfish heart, and your generosity that helped to bring you here. You have nothing to fear, my little friend."

Next, Magic Frog said, "Jump high, Jumping Mouse, jump HIGH!" Jumping Mouse leapt straight up, and he felt himself changing. His paws stretched out and became very powerful. He moved them up and down, and soon he was feeling the wind streaming over him and under him. He looked down, and he could see the mountains far below. He breathed in, and could smell the pines and the earth. From far below, he heard Magic Frog calling.

"Jumping Mouse, I give to you a new name. You are now called Eagle... and you will live in the Far Off Lands forever!"

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