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Quarrel of the Sun and the Moon

An Eskimo Legend

Long ago, in a cold land far away, there lived a brother and sister who loved each other very much. But they quarreled all the time. They argued about anything and everything. "It's cold," the sister would say. Her brother would shake his head. "It's not too cold." "Spring will be here soon," the sister would say happily. "It's spring already, foolish sister." the brother argued. Day in and day out they quarreled. Now we would say they were as different from each other as night from day.

One day the sister awoke and said to her brother, "We must change." "We must NOT change," he disagreed. But she was determined. "I think we should transform ourselves into wolves and travel together in harmony as they do."

"Wolves howl," he said. "We must not become wolves."

"We'll become bears," she suggested. "Bears are amiable creatures."

"Bears are blunderers," he said.

"We'll become salmon and swim together down river."

"The water is cold. We should not become salmon," the brother said firmly.

"Beavers, then," she said. "The Great Spirit praises the beaver who works with his brothers."

"We do not want to have sharp teeth," said the brother. "We must not become beavers."

"Seals, then," said the sister. "Their great soft eyes are evidence that they are as kind as we should become."

"Slithery creature," the brother shuddered. "We should not become seals." All day they argued. Each time the sister suggested an animal they might become, the brother scowled and said, "No, no, no!" She recommended caribou and musk, oxen, eagles, and deer, but he was not convinced. Each Arctic animals the sister suggested brought argument from her brother.

"All right," she said at last, "I will become the sun and rule the skies!" She snatched a flaming torch of moss from the fire and ran outside. "No, I shall rule the skies," he cried, and he too grabbed a torch and began to chase her. They ran round and round their igloo, their torches flaming brightly.

The sister turned and ran toward the frozen fields, and all the animals watched in wonder as the brother gave chase after her. Deep into the tundra they ran- faster and until their torches looked like shooting flames. Suddenly the sister began to rise into the sky. "Oh," she cried as she rose, and gazed down at the land to see that her brother, too, had begun to rise.

"We're moving to the sky," she called, "and I will rule," and with that she reached and put out her brother's torch with the touch of her cold hand. Higher and higher they flew in their chase. "I put out your light because you need no light. You will not rule the sky," the sister called.

"I will," he argued, but his torch, darkened now, grew silvery in the chilled air. As they rose, the sister help her golden torch and her brother raised his silver flame. Higher and higher they drifted, still arguing until at last they were so high that down below the people and all the village igloos looked like toys dotting the cold, snowy land.

"I will warm the land for our people," the sister said, and her brother looked and felt a pang of longing for the people and the land he loved. "I have no warmth," he said. "But I will offer light when you are resting."

"That is what we shall do," the sister agreed, for they both loved their people and the land, and they knew they must now share the sky.

And so the brother and the sister became the Sun and the Moon, sharing the task of lighting the world. They still watch over their people, and if you look closely you'll se their faces looking down on the earth. Brother's light is cold and clear and gazed longingly below. Sister's light is the brightest of smiles, for she knows their transformation helped the world to grow. Both of them cherish the power and wisdom of their light and the pleasure it brings to all the people of the Earth.

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