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Native American Legends

Little Dawn Boy and the Rainbow Trail

A Navajo Legend

When the World first began in Red Indian Land, Little Dawn Boy dwelt in Red Rock House by the side of a deep canon. And there he lived with his father, his mother, his brothers, his sisters, and a big Medicine Man.

Every morning, when the Sun rose, Little Dawn Boy sat on the edge of the canon, and looked far across to the other side. He saw in the distance a purple mountain and behind it a high, white cliff like a tower, which hid its head in the clouds.

And every morning he asked the Medicine Man, "Who lives on the top of the white cliff?"

And the Medicine Man answered, "First learn my magic songs, and then I will tell you."

So Little Dawn Boy learned the magic songs, and one day the Medicine Man said:- "Now that you know the songs, and are big enough, you may visit the Great-Chief-of-All-Magic, who lives in the House of Evening Light on the top of the white cliff.

"In the house are four rooms and four doors. The first door is guarded by two bolts of bright lightning; the second door is watched by two fierce Bears; the third door, by two red-headed Serpents; and the fourth door, by two angry Rattlesnakes.

"If a visitor goes there who does not know the magic songs, the lightning strikes him, and the animal watchers eat him up. But you know the magic songs so well that you may go safely to the House of Evening Light and ask for good gifts for your people."

"And how," asked Little Dawn Boy, "shall I reach the top of the white cliff?"

"You must take with you presents for the Great-Chief-of-All-Magic," replied the Medicine Man, "and you must strew the Pollen of Dawn on your trail. And when you get to the summit of the purple mountain, if you sing a magic song, you will see how to reach the top of the white cliff."

So Little Dawn Boy rose up and painted himself beautifully, and decked his head with feathers. He took his bow and arrows, and made ready to start. The Medicine Man gave him two bags. In one were gifts of strings of wampum and sky-blue turquoises, and in the other the golden Pollen of Dawn which the Medicine Man had gathered from the Larkspur flowers.

Little Dawn Boy set out on his way with dew about his feet and Grasshoppers skipping all around him. And as he went, he scattered the golden pollen on his trail.

All that day, and the second, and the third, he traveled, and early on the morning of the fourth day he climbed to the summit of the purple mountain. But still far off and high among the clouds towered the white cliff, and around its top flashed the red lightning.

But Little Dawn Boy was not afraid. He scattered more pollen on his trail, and began to sing his magic song:-

"Oh, Pollen Boy am I!
From Red Rock House I come!
With Pollen of Dawn on my trail!
With beauty before me,
With beauty behind me,
With beauty below me,
With beauty above me,
With beauty all round me,
Over the Rainbow Trail I go!
Hither I wander, thither I wander,
Over the beautiful trail I go!"

And as he finished the song an arch of shimmering light, all rose, violet, blue, and every color, and delicate as a veil, began to stretch from the summit of the purple mountain to the top of the white cliff. And in a minute Little Dawn Boy saw a bright Rainbow Bridge grow before his eyes.

Singing with delight he hastened over the Rainbow Bridge, and as he ran a wind sprang up and blew a many-coloured mist to the top of the cliff. And it blinded the eyes of the animal watchers at the four doors of the House of Evening Light.

And when Little Dawn Boy reached the house, he went in and the watchers did not see him. As he entered, he passed over a trail of daylight, and sprinkled the golden pollen, while he sang his magic song.

Then the Great-Chief-of-All-Magic looked at him angrily, and called out like thunder: "Who is this stranger who dares to come here unbidden? Is he one of the people from the Earth? No one has ever ventured to come here before."

And Little Dawn Boy answered and said, "See, I bring you beautiful gifts, and I trust to find many friends in this house." And he opened the gift-bag, and took out the strings of wampum and sky-blue turquoises.

And when the Great-Chief-of-All-Magic saw these, he was well pleased, and looked kindly at Little Dawn Boy, and welcomed him to the House of Evening Light. And he asked him what presents he would like in return.

And Little Dawn Boy answered: "Gifts for my kindred I wish. Give me, I pray, yellow and white and blue corn, green growing plants, fragrant flowers, black clouds and thunderstorms with lightning; also the soft Spring showers and the gentle Summer breezes, with pale mists, and golden Autumn hazes."

And so the Great-Chief-of-All-Magic gave him what he asked for, together with many other presents. He feasted him with good things to eat and drink, and afterward sent him on his way.

And as the boy stepped out of the House of Evening Light, he began to sing another magic song:-

"Oh, Little Dawn Boy am I!
From the House of Evening Light!
On the Trail of Evening Light!
To Red Rock House I return!
Held fast in my hands are gifts!
With soft rains above me,
With sweet flowers below me,
With white corn behind me,
With green plants before me,
With pale mists all round me,
Over the Rainbow Trail I go!
Hither I wander, thither I wander,
Over the beautiful trail I go!"

And as he sang, the Rainbow, all rose, violet, blue, and every color, began to span with its bright arch the space from the white cliff to the purple mountain. And over the Rainbow Bridge Little Dawn Boy hastened singing his magic song.

And for three days and three nights he traveled, until early on the fourth day, just as the Sun rose, he reached the edge of the deep canon, and entered Red Rock House.

And there he saw his people waiting for him. And joyfully they welcomed him, and spread a magic buckskin for him to sit upon. And he related all his adventures, and gave them the many good gifts that had come from the House of Evening Light.

And ever since that day his people have sung the magic song of Little Dawn Boy:-

"With soft rains above us,
With sweet flowers below us,
With white corn behind us,
With green plants before us,
With pale mists all round us,
Over the Rainbow Trail we go!
Hither we wander, thither we wander,
Over the beautiful trail we go!"

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