[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Tejas Legends unit. Story source: When the Storm God Rides: Tejas and Other Indian Legends retold by Florence Stratton and illustrated by Berniece Burrough (1936).
The Maiden Who Loved a Star
One star was much brighter than the others, and seemed closer to earth than the others. The Indian maiden stopped in the sand and watched it. Was the star winking down at her? She thought it was. She dreamed of the shining star that night, and she saw in her dream that the star was the home of a fine, tall youth, a sky dweller.
The next day the maiden went again into the desert to gather the fruit of the prickly pear. Again she stayed until the sun had gone down behind the distant hills on the far edge of the desert, and she watched her star winking once more at her. That was the sky youth, she knew.
For seven days she visited the desert and each night she dreamed of this fair young man. She dreamed that he spoke of his love to her, but he could not join her on earth as long as she lived there and as long as he lived in the sky. He could not come down to the desert. She could not visit him in his star home.
The maiden was full of love, but she was unhappy because she was so far away from her lover in the star-frosted sky. She decided she did not want to live any longer. An old witch woman lived with the tribe, and the Indian maiden went to her and asked the woman how to die in order that she might be taken up to the sky to live in the star with her lover.
"Life is too great a gift to be flung aside," said the witch woman as she looked at the poor girl weeping on the other side of the old woman's fire. "You must live out the life the Great Spirit has given to you, but I can change you into a form that will permit you to live always out upon the desert under the loving smiles of the star youth."
Her words filled the maiden with joy. She went with the witch woman upon the desert that night. There the old woman made a powerful drink from desert plants and told the maiden to drink it.
As soon as she had done so, her feet began to take root in the dry, sandy soil. Her arms turned to branches. Her black hair turned to leaves, and the maiden had become a new shrub which no Indian had seen in the desert before. As the wind blew, the shrub seemed to murmur thanks to the witch woman.
When the sky youth saw what had happened, he leaned far out of an opening in his star lodge. He leaned so far out that the edges of the star broke with his weight, and he fell with sparkling pieces of star straight towards the maiden who had become a bush. The starry bits were shattered to fine dust that powdered the leaves of the bush with white. The youth was changed to purple blossoms. At last the maiden and the sky youth were together.
The bush with white-dusted leaves and beautiful blossoms became known as the cenisa, or ash-covered bush. Today it is called the purple sage. Not many white people know the story of how it came to the desert.
Next: Old Quanah's Gift