How the Animals got the Sun

How the Animals got the sun.

(Once this part of the world was continually dark, and all the animals kept fumbling around and knocking into one another, and they never knew where they were in such darkness.  Finally they called a great council to decide how to solve the problem.

“What we need is light,” the Owl said.  The Owl presided over the meeting because he could see better in the dark than the other animals.

“That’s right! We need light,” everyone cried. “But where do we get it?”

“It’s not an easy thing,” warned Owl. “They say there is light on the other side of the world.  But that’s a long way away.  The journey will be dangerous.  Whoever goes may well never come back.”

“Then who should go?” Everyone cried at once. “Who will risk the journey?”

There was a long silence.  All the birds and beasts shuddered in the blackness.

At last they heard a lowly voice.  “I’ll try,” Possum offered. “I have a long bushy tail.  I can wrap some light inside its fur and carry it home behind me.”

So Possum set out alone, traveling to the east.  He walked for days and days across the back earth, never knowing where he really was, until finally he began to see a little glow in the sky.

He hurried toward it, and it grew lighter and lighter.  Soon it was so bright it hurt his eyes, and he had to squint to keep it from blinding him.  And even today, possums often close their eyes in narrow slits, so that they look as though they are sleeping.

Finally when he’d gone all the way to the other side of the world, the Possum found the sun.  He grabbed a piece of it as fast as he could and wrapped it up in his long bushy tail, and turned for home.

But the journey home was just as long, of course, and the piece of sun was too hot and bright for poor Possum.  It burned all the fur off his tail, and fell onto the ground.  That’s why, today, the Possum’s tail is long and bare.

“Possum tried and failed.” All the animals cried when he came home in darkness.  “Now we’ll never have any light.”

“I’ll try now,” offered the Vulture.  “Maybe this journey calls for someone with wings.”

So the vulture set the piece of sun on his head and turned for home, but the sun was so hot that before long it had burned away all the feathers on his head.  He grew dizzy and lost his way and began wandering around and around until the piece of sun tumbled to the ground.  That is why today a vulture’s head is bald, and you’ll still see him drifting in circles high overhead.

Now we’re truly finished,” the animals cried when Vulture returned in darkness. “Possum and Vulture tried as best they could, but it wasn’t enough.”

“Maybe we need to try one more time,” a tiny voice rose from the weeds.  “I’ll go this time.”

“Who is that?” The animals asked. “Who said that?”

“It’s me, Old Lady Spider.  I know I’m small and slow, but perhaps I’m the one who can make it.”

Before she started out, she gathered a bit of wet clay, and with her eight tiny hands she made a little pot.

“Possum and Vulture had nothing to carry the sun in,” she said.  “I’ll put it in this pot.”

Then she spun a thread and fastened the end to a rock. “The sun’s bright light hurt Possum’s eyes and the heat made Vulture so dizzy he lost his way,” she said. “But I’ll follow this thread home.”

So she se out, traveling east, spinning her thread behind her as she walked.  When she reached the sun, she pinched off a small piece and put it in her clay pot.  It was still so bright she could hardly see, but she turned and followed her thread home.

She came walking out of the east all aglow, looking like the sun itself. And even today, when Old Lady Spider spins her web, it looks like the rays of the rising sun.

She reached home at last.  All the animals could see for the first time.  They saw how tiny and old Spider was, and they wondered that she could make the journey alone.  They they saw how she carried the sun in the little pot, and that was when the world learn to make pots out of clay and set them in the sun to dry.

But Old Lady Spider had had enough of being in the sun.  That is why, today, she spins her web in the early morning hours, before the sun is too high and hot.

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