A Basket Full Of Stars

Long, long ago when the world was new, there was no light at night unless the Moon was in the right mood. She came and went as she pleased--at least until she married the Sun and had to visit his lodge regularly; but even then, the nights that she spent with her mate were too dark for anything but burrowing animals to get around easily.

Baradezhada decided to put some extra lights in the sky. Fire is the brightest thing next to the Sun and Moon, and she had control of all of it. She had made the magical spears that the thunder giants hurl from the sky, and the big firestone that lit and heated her lodge. There were a lot of small bits and pieces left over from that. They would do nicely for lamps, she thought, so she gathered a big basket full of them.

That night her sister the Moon was away. Baradezhada took her basket of shining fragments out and began to set them one by one in the sky, fastening them to the outermost sphere, the great bowl that turns with the seasons. She arranged them in patterns that told stories and marked the directions.

Raven happened to wake up, and he saw all the new lights in the sky. He loves shiny things and he is always curious. Of course he had to go see what was happening, even though Raven is not fond of being out and about at night. There was enough light to fly by. He headed for the glowing beam that rose from a mountaintop. It turned out to come from a basket. Baradezhada was taking bits of light out of it to stick to the sky. Raven found a handy perch to watch from a safe distance. Baradezhada was friendly enough in her way, but she did not like being pestered. He didn't care to have his feathers singed another time, though he had gotten used to being black and thought he was handsomer that way.

When Baradezhada was done putting up all the beautiful lamps, she saw that there was a good deal of dust left in the basket. It would be too tedious to set the tiniest pieces into the sky bowl one by one, but it occurred to her that she could use the dust as paint. The night sky would be lighter and even more pleasant to look at, with patterns painted between the stars. She left the basket on the mountaintop and went back to her lodge to get brushes and other things.

Raven flew over to take a closer look at the basket. Light poured out of it, so bright it made him blink. What a marvelous addition this would make to his nest! He had to have it.

With his feet firmly gripping the rim of the basket, Raven took off. But Raven's talons are not made for carrying heavy things, like Eagle's, and the basket was made to be carried with a hand on each side, not two bird feet on one. It tipped and slipped as he flew across the sky, and the dust spilled out in a long trail behind him. He felt the basket getting lighter, and stopped to see what was the matter. Och! All his pretty light was gone, drifted away to stick to the sky, mostly in a wide band of pale light, some in little patches here and there. He felt very foolish.

Baradezhada returned to find her basket gone, and the stardust spilled out in a mess all over the sky. Owoo, she was angry! But when she saw the sorry look on Raven's face, she almost fell over laughing.

Raven laughed too, because if you can't laugh at yourself, you don't really know what's funny.

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