The Singing Suitor

Once upon a time a young warrior known as Heron Feather for he wore a headdress of heron feathers fell in love with a maiden in a neighboring village. Heron Feather was determined to make her his bride, but he talked so often and so long of his own virtues that his friends grew tired of his pride. “You’ll never win her love,” their friends told him. “You’re far too in love with yourself.”

Heron Feather laughed at his friends. “Who could resist me?” he asked. “I’m handsome, I’m brave, and I’m strong and courageous and look at these clothes!” He pointed with pride at his white buckskin shirt and leggings and his beautiful headdress. “No one could say no to me.”

With that, he sprang upon his horse and set off down the path toward his beloved’s village. As he rode, he sang songs about himself. “I am Heron Feather, handsome, brave and strong,” he sang. “Heron Feather is the finest warrior. Heron Feather is the man of your dreams.” On his way, he stopped at a stream. “I shall fish and bring my fine catch to my sweetheart’s mother as a gift,” he said as he cast his fishing line into the water.

Even his friends admitted that Heron Feather had away with the world. Everything he touched magically worked. Within moments of casting his line, he filled his bag with fish. He set off on the path, singing of his own marvels at the top of his lungs.

Every animal and person within a mile could hear his songs. Many of the people plugged their ears, for everyone was tired of hearing him. The animals dashed away, for they were fearful of his bow and arrow.

As he trotted along, he happened to ride past Fox, who crouched low in the bush, hiding from Heron Feather. But when Fox smelled those fish, his mouth began to water and his eyes grew wide. He was one hungry fox, and those fish smelled very good.

Fox suddenly had an idea. He dashed through the woods until he passed Heron Feather. There, in the road ahead of him, Fox lay upon the ground and pretended he was dead.

Heron Feather would have passed Fox, for he was so busy singing of his wonders that he did not even notice. But his horse came to a sudden halt, and that’s when Heron Feather spotted Fox.

“Can this be? A dead fox?” Heron Feather said, and he poked Fox with a stick. Fox did not move. “He must be newly dead, for he doesn’t stink at all,” said Heron Feather, and with that, he picked Fox up by the tail and tossed him into his bag. Then he began to sing again.

“I’m a fisherman without peer,” he sang, “and a hunter of foxes. I bring my bounty to my beloved, for I am a handsome, strong, brave warrior who comes bearing gifts.” On and on he sang, never noticing what Fox was up to.

Fox, meanwhile, began to gnaw at the bag. He gnawed until he had gnawed a hole, and then, one by one, he pushed the fish through the hole onto the ground. Heron Feather was so busy singing his own praises that he never noticed his bag growing light.

When all the fish were gone, Fox gnawed the hole a bit bigger and squirmed out of the bag himself. Ah, he had a feast that day. He trotted along the road, eating one fish after another. Fox had never felt so full and satisfied.

Meanwhile, Heron Feather approached his beloved’s village, and because he was still loudly singing, all the villagers came out to see.

“Look at that handsome fellow,” the maidens whispered, impressed by his white buckskin clothes, his beautiful voice, and his impressive face.

Heron Feather galloped toward his beloved’s home, and outside he called out to her mother. “Come, honored woman, come see the gifts I’ve brought for you. You will love your Heron Feather, you will.”

Heron Feather leaped from his horse and bowed before his beloved and her mother. The villagers gathered close to watch. Heron Feather pulled open his bag, but lo and behold, it was empty.

“What’s this?” his sweetheart’s mother cried. “Do you mock us?”

Heron Feather looked inside his bag, and his once proud face flushed with shame. He mounted his horse and turned around and rode back home, but this time he was not singing, and he vowed that the next time he fell in love; he would pay closer attention, not to himself, but to the world around him. He never again bragged or boasted.