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Native American Legends

Legend of the Violet

An Iroquois Legend

Many Moons before the white man came to the land of the Red Indian, there lived a young warrior who was the pride of his tribe; for dangerous deeds had he accomplished for the good of his people. He had slain the Great Heron that destroyed their children, and he had brought back from the Mountain of the Witches the healing roots that cured the plague.

Once when he led a band of warriors against another tribe, he saw in the lodge of one of his enemies a maiden so gentle and lovely that he longed to have her for his wigwam. But because of the strife between the two tribes, he could not buy her with quills of the Wampum Bird.

So after he had returned victorious with his warriors to his own village, he often thought of the maiden, and how, unless he could light his wigwam with the brightness of her eyes, he would no longer lead out his young men to battle.

At last he went forth alone, and hid in the woods near the village of his enemies. There he watched patiently for the maiden whose eyes had softened his heart.

He sang her praises so often that the little birds took up his song and carried it in their flight, over valley and meadow. The Bear, the Fox, and the Beaver heard him murmur her name in his sleep, and thought that a bright new flower had been born in the woodland.

With the calls of the song-birds, he wooed the maiden from her lodge, and lifting her, bore her away toward the hunting-grounds of his people.

But, alas! a suitor of the maiden saw her carried swiftly off upon the shoulder of the dreaded warrior. He dared not follow, but fled to the village and gave the alarm. The braves left him-a coward-in the hands of the women, and hastened in pursuit of the maiden and her lover.

They followed them over mountains and plains all through the dark night. And as the morning dawned, they found them in the forest. And when the braves saw the maiden, they were filled with anger, for she had plaited her hair about the neck of the young man, to show that she was a willing captive and had given him her heart.

Then her people, enraged at their foe for his daring, and at the maiden because she had deserted her tribe, killed them both, and left their bodies lying where they fell.

And from this spot in the forest sprang up the first Blue Violets. And the winds and the birds carried the seeds of the flowers and scattered them over all the Earth. So they did, that in the Springtime youths and maidens might pluck the little blue flower that breathes of constant love.

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