BNA: Origin of the Pleiades

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Origin of the Pleiades

A YOUNG man was out fasting. His fasting lodge stood at the end of a lake, where no one ever came. There was a broad bench on both sides.

Now, one evening he heard something. Sounds of songs, faint and distant, came to his ear. He did not know what it was. He looked everywhere. There was no one to be seen.

Then the sounds were clearer. They came from the sky over the lake. The young man listened. Now he thought the voices came from the beach near by. He crept slowly down to the lake, through the reeds and grasses. The singing grew more distant.

Then through the reeds he saw seven maidens, dancing about in the light of the stars. Then a pebble slipped under his foot. The maidens sprang into a large basket, and vanished into the sky.

Now the young man went back to his fasting lodge. The next evening he listened. The air was very still. The water was very quiet. The stars were shining. Then he heard again the sound of far-away voices. He heard distant songs. So he crept to the edge of the lake, through the reeds and grasses.

He saw a great basket come down with the seven maidens. They danced together, under the light of the stars. The air was very quiet as they sang. Then they danced along, each dancing in turn. And one maiden was more beautiful than her sisters. Then the young man forgot; he made a sound with his voice and the maidens vanished into the sky.

Now every evening the maidens came down to dance on the beach. It was a broad beach. No one ever came to that end of the lake. They danced under the stars, when the air was still, and they sang their songs. So the young man watched them.

Now they came again, and the young man rushed among them — rushed among them as they danced when the air was quiet, and seized the most beautiful sister. Then the maidens sprang into the basket, and the young man caught the maiden, and held the basket edge with one hand. Then they fell to the earth together, and the maiden was grieved.

The maiden said, "We are seven sisters. We live in the Sky Land. Often you see us when you look into the sky. But at this season, when the air is still and the lake is quiet, we come here to dance in the starlight."

She said also, "I cannot marry you until you come and live with me in the Sky Land."

So the young man went into the Sky Land with her. Everything there happened just as one wished it. We know this is true, because even today the seven sisters are in the sky. Six are clearly seen, but the seventh sits back in the shadow with her husband.

(500 words)

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