one of his wanderings through the wooded lands, Inktomi saw a rare
bird sitting high in a treetop. Its long fan-like tail feathers
had caught all the beautiful colors of the rainbow. Handsome in
the glistening summer sun sat the bird of rainbow plumage. Inktomi
hurried hither with his eyes fast on the bird.
stood beneath the tree looking long and wistfully at the peacock's
bright feathers. At length he heaved a sigh and began: "Oh, I wish
I had such pretty feathers! How I wish I were not I! If only I were
a handsome feathered creature how happy I would be! I'd be so glad
to sit upon a very high tree and bask in the summer sun like you!"
said he suddenly, pointing his bony finger up toward the peacock,
who was eyeing the stranger below, turning his head from side to
beg of you make me into a bird with green and purple feathers like
yours!" implored Inktomi, tired now of playing the brave in beaded
buckskins. The peacock then spoke to Inktomi: "I have a magic power.
My touch will change you in a moment into the most beautiful peacock
if you can keep one condition."
yes!" shouted Inktomi, jumping up and down, patting his lips with
his palm, which caused his voice to vibrate in a peculiar fashion.
"Yes! yes! I could keep ten conditions if only you would change
me into a bird with long, bright tail feathers. Oh, I am so ugly!
I am so tired of being myself! Change me! Do!"
the peacock spread out both his wings, and scarce moving them, he
sailed slowly down upon the ground. Right beside Inktomi he alighted.
Very low in Inktomi's ear the peacock whispered, "Are you willing
to keep one condition, though hard it be?"
yes! I've told you ten of them if need be!" exclaimed Inktomi, with
I pronounce you a handsome feathered bird. No longer are you Inktomi
the mischief-maker." Saying this the peacock touched Inktomi with
the tips of his wings.
vanished at the touch. There stood beneath the tree two handsome
peacocks. While one of the pair strutted about with a head turned
aside as if dazzled by his own bright-tinted tail feathers, the
other bird soared slowly upward. He sat quiet and unconscious of
his gay plumage. He seemed content to perch there on a large limb
in the warm sunshine.
a little while the vain peacock, dizzy with his bright colors, spread
out his wings and lit on the same branch with the elder bird.
he exclaimed, "how hard to fly! Brightly tinted feathers are handsome,
but I wish they were light enough to fly!" Just there the elder
bird interrupted him. "That is the one condition. Never try to fly
like other birds. Upon the day you try to fly you shall be changed
into your former self."
what a shame that bright feathers cannot fly into the sky!" cried
the peacock. Already he grew restless. He longed to soar through
space. He yearned to fly above the trees high upward to the sun.
there I see a flock of birds flying thither! Oh! oh!" said he, flapping
his wings, "I must try my wings! I am tired of bright tail feathers.
I want to try my wings."
no!" clucked the elder bird. The flock of chattering birds flew
by with whirring wings. "Oop! OOP!" called some to their mates.
by an irrepressible impulse the Inktomi peacock called out, "He!
I want to come! Wait for me!" and with that he gave a lunge into
the air. The flock of flying feathers wheeled about and lowered
over the tree whence came the peacock's cry. Only one rare bird
sat on the tree, and beneath, on the ground, stood a brave in brown
am my old self again!" groaned Inktomi in a sad voice. "Make me
over, pretty bird. Try me this once again!" he pleaded in vain.
Inktomi wants to fly! Ah! We cannot wait for him!" sang the birds
as they flew away.
unhappy vows to himself, Inktomi had not gone far when he chanced
upon a bunch of long slender arrows. One by one they rose in the
air and shot a straight line over the prairie. Others shot up into
the blue sky and were soon lost to sight. Only one was left. He
was making ready for his flight when Inktomi rushed upon him and
wailed, "I want to be an arrow! Make me into an arrow! I want to
pierce the blue Blue overhead. I want to strike yonder summer sun
in its center. Make me into an arrow!"
you keep a condition? One condition, though hard it be?" the arrow
turned to ask.
Yes!" shouted Inktomi, delighted.
the slender arrow tapped him gently with his sharp flint beak. There
was no Inktomi, but two arrows stood ready to fly. "Now, young arrow,
this is the one condition. Your flight must always be in a straight
line. Never turn a curve nor jump about like a young fawn," said
the arrow magician. He spoke slowly and sternly.
once he set about to teach the new arrow how to shoot in a long
is the way to pierce the Blue over- head," said he; and off he spun
high into the sky.
he was gone a herd of deer came trotting by. Behind them played
the young fawns together. They frolicked about like kittens. They
bounced on all fours like balls. Then they pitched forward, kicking
their heels in the air. The Inktomi arrow watched them so happy
on the ground. Looking quickly up into the sky, he said in his heart,
"The magician is out of sight. I'll just romp and frolic with these
fawns until he returns. Fawns! Friends, do not fear me. I want to
jump and leap with you. I long to be happy as you are," said he.
The young fawns stopped with stiff legs and stared at the speaking
arrow with large brown wondering eyes. "See! I
can jump as well as you!" went on Inktomi. He gave one tiny leap
like a fawn. All of a sudden the fawns snorted with extended nostrils
at what they beheld. There among them stood Inktomi in brown buckskins,
and the strange talking arrow was gone.
I am myself. My old self!" cried Inktomi, pinching himself and plucking
imaginary pieces out of his jacket.
I wanted to fly!"
real arrow now returned to the earth. He alighted very near Inktomi.
From the high sky he had seen the fawns playing on the green. He
had seen Inktomi make his one leap, and the charm was broken. Inktomi
became his former self.
my friend, change me once more!" begged Inktomi.
no more," replied the arrow. Then away he shot through the air in
the direction his comrades had flown.
this time the fawns gathered close around Inktomi. They poked their
noses at him trying to know who he was.
tears were like a spring shower. A new desire dried them quickly
away. Stepping boldly to the largest fawn, he looked closely at
the little brown spots all over the furry face.
fawn! What beautiful brown spots on your face! Fawn, dear little
fawn, can you tell me how those brown spots were made on your face?"
said the fawn. "When I was very, very small, my mother marked them
on my face with a red hot fire. She dug a large hole in the ground
and made a soft bed of grass and twigs in it. Then she placed me
gently there. She covered me over with dry sweet grass and piled
dry cedars on top. From a neighbor's fire she brought hither a red,
red ember. This she tucked carefully in at my head. This is how
the brown spots were made on my face."
fawn, my friend, will you do the same for me? Won't you mark my
face with brown, brown spots just like yours?" asked Inktomi, always
eager to be like other people.
I can dig the ground and fill it with dry grass and sticks. If you
will jump into the pit, I'll cover you with sweet smelling grass
and cedar wood," answered the fawn.
interrupted Ikto, "will you be sure to cover me with a great deal
of dry grass and twigs? You will make sure that the spots will be
as brown as those you wear."
yes. I'll pile up grass and willows once oftener than my mother
let us dig the hole, pull the grass, and gather sticks," cried Inktomi
with his own hands he aids in making his grave. After the hole was
dug and cushioned with grass, Inktomi, muttering something about
brown spots, leaped down into it. Lengthwise, flat on his back,
he lay. While the fawn covered him over with cedars, a faraway voice
came up through them, "Brown, brown spots to wear forever!" A red
ember was tucked under the dry grass. Off scampered the fawns after
their mothers; and when a great distance away they looked backward.
They saw a blue smoke rising, writhing upward till it vanished in
the blue ether.
that Inktomi's spirit?" asked one fawn of another.
I think he would jump out before he could burn into smoke and cinders,"
answered his comrade.
and Color Your Own Peacock