IN one of his wanderings through the wooded lands, Iktomi saw

a rare bird sitting high in a tree-top. 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. Iktomi hurried hither with his eyes fast on the bird.

He 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 side.

"I beg of you make me into a bird with green and purple

feathers like yours!" implored Iktomi, tired now of playing the

brave in beaded buckskins. The peacock then spoke to Iktomi: "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! yes!" shouted Iktomi, 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!"

Hereupon the peacock spread out both his wings, and scarce

moving them, he sailed slowly down upon the ground. Right beside

Iktomi he alighted. Very low in Iktomi's ear the peacock

whispered, "Are you willing to keep one condition, though hard it


"Yes! yes! I've told you ten of them if need be!" exclaimed

Iktomi, with some impatience.

"Then I pronounce you a handsome feathered bird. No longer

are you Iktomi the mischief-maker." Saying this the peacock

touched Iktomi with the tips of his wings.

Iktomi 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.

After 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.

"Oh!" 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."

"Oh, 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.

"Oh, 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, no!" clucked the elder bird. The flock of chattering

birds flew by with whirring wings. "Oop! oop!" called some to

their mates.

Possessed by an irrepressible impulse the Iktomi 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 buckskins.

"I am my old self again!" groaned Iktomi in a sad voice.

"Make me over, pretty bird. Try me this once again!" he pleaded in


"Old Iktomi wants to fly! Ah! We cannot wait for him!" sang

the birds as they flew away.

Muttering unhappy vows to himself, Iktomi 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 Iktomi

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!"

"Can you keep a condition? One condition, though hard it be?"

the arrow turned to ask.

"Yes! Yes!" shouted Iktomi, delighted.

Hereupon the slender arrow tapped him gently with his sharp

flint beak. There was no Iktomi, 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.

At once he set about to teach the new arrow how to shoot in a

long straight line.

"This is the way to pierce the Blue overhead," said he; and

off he spun high into the sky.

While 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 Iktomi 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 Iktomi. 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

Iktomi in brown buckskins, and the strange talking arrow was gone.

"Oh! I am myself. My old self!" cried Iktomi, pinching

himself and plucking imaginary pieces out of his jacket.

"Hin-hin-hin! I wanted to fly!"

The real arrow now returned to the earth. He alighted very

near Iktomi. From the high sky he had seen the fawns playing on

the green. He had seen Iktomi make his one leap, and the charm was

broken. Iktomi became his former self.

"Arrow, my friend, change me once more!" begged Iktomi.

"No, no more," replied the arrow. Then away he shot through

the air in the direction his comrades had flown.

By this time the fawns gathered close around Iktomi. They

poked their noses at him trying to know who he was.

Iktomi's 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.

"Oh, 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?"

"Yes," 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."

"Now, fawn, my friend, will you do the same for me? Won't you

mark my face with brown, brown spots just like yours?" asked

Iktomi, always eager to be like other people.

"Yes. 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.

"Say," 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."

"Oh, yes. I'll pile up grass and willows once oftener than my

mother did."

"Now let us dig the hole, pull the grass, and gather sticks,"

cried Iktomi in glee.

Thus with his own hands he aids in making his grave. After

the hole was dug and cushioned with grass, Iktomi, 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 far-away 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.

"Is that Iktomi's spirit?" asked one fawn of another.

"No! I think he would jump out before he could burn into

smoke and cinders," answered his comrade.