Now, among the birds who were there was a big blue-jay. He was a very saucy fellow, just full of mean tricks. When he came to the drum, he kicked it so hard that he broke it all to pieces. Of course this caused a great commotion. Every one was so provoked by his rudeness that they threw him out of the door.
It was raining hard and the impudence was soon washed out of Mr. Blue-Jay. He begged at the door in vain, and at last he huddled up on the branch of a tree, thinking himself greatly abused.
As he sat there, suddenly,
far off, he saw a strange light.
Now the Blue-Jay has an infinite amount of curiosity, so away
he flew to investigate, quite forgetting his troubles.
It was fire which the Indian
god had brought down to earth.
The Jay got a piece and soon came flying back to the great
cabin where the dance was still going on.
When he called now at the door, saying that he had something wonderful to show them, they knew that he was telling the truth. They let him come in, crowding about him to see this wonderful thing. They did not know what to make of this strange new thing. Lest anything should happen to it, they dug a hole and buried the fire most carefully.
Tired out with the night’s dancing the Indians all went off to rest, leaving the birds to watch the precious fire. But the birds were tired too, and it was not long before they were fast asleep. All except the owl. He was wide awake and he, being very wise, knew that the fire must be put in a safer place. He went out and calling the yellow snake, the rat, and the little “hummer” bird, he explained what he wanted them to do. The snake was to worm his way in under the logs and wait there till the hummer-bird brought him the fire. The rat was to go in and chew all the birds’ wings so that they should not be able to catch the little hummer. They were all so fast asleep that the rat was able to do this very easily.
All went just as they planned. The snake took the fire and hid a little spark of it in every buckeye tree. And there the Indians found it when they needed it. For rubbing a piece of cedar and buckeye together, they very quickly make the spark, and produce fire.
The following legend was published some years ago in Sunset Magazine. It was written by Miss Nonette V. McGlashan, who heard it from a Washoe squaw. The story was told with strange gestures and weird pathos: