The Medicine Man and the Rainbow

By James P. Mullen
© 1999; All first rights reseved.

        One morning, after a long night of raining, the first medicine man walked out of his tent, and into the damp morning. The sun streamed down from between the clouds, and warmed his body. He looked around, and took in the beauty of the dawn. How the rain left little drops of water on the grass. The chirping in the morning woods, and how the sun had just parted the clouds, letting it's rays stream down all around him, made him feel very good.

        Then, as the Medicine man watched, he saw the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life. A woman came down on the beams of the sun, dressed in all the colors he had ever seen: the red of the cardinals, the yellows of the sun, oranges of which the wildflowers glowed , greens of a hundred forests, blues brighter then the brightest lake, and the purples of the distant mountains. Standing there breathless, he watched as she walked across the sky, chasing the clouds. She laughed and scooted at the lagging clouds, moving them further along, and as the last of the storm was moved away, the vision of beauty went with them, disappearing from sight.

        No, the Medicine Man had seen many people in his life, and many women. He however had never seen anyone, or anything as beautiful in his life. At once, the Medicine Man made up his mind. Knowing then that he was in love, he wanted to spend his life with her.

        So, when the next rain came, the Medicine Man waited in the same place as he woke up at the first time. Sure enough, from the sun the woman came again. This time, however, he chased after her. The Medicine Man ran and ran, but try as he might, he could not get close to her. All the time the Medicine Man was yelling, "Wait! I want to talk to you! What is your name?". She never was close enough to her him, even though he could hear her laughter for miles and miles. She looked behind her one more time, gave him a smile, and disappeared with the clouds.

        All spring the Medicine Man did this, and all spring, the woman evaded them. Then as summer came, the rains stopped, and she no longer appeared. For a long time, the Medicine Man wouldn't eat. He wouldn't go back to the tribes and heal the sick. He sat and mourned, for he could not think of how he could live without the woman's love.

        Then one day, in the middle of that summer, a hawk landed near the Medicine Man, as he was crying. "Pardon me. I know you are crying, but you look as thin as a sapling. I have taken down a rabbit, and I would share it with you, if you would tell me why you cry so."

        So, the Medicine Man agreed. Over a fire, as he cooked the rabbit, he told of how he saw the woman come from the sky, and that he had fallen in love with her. The Hawk listened carefully to every word. "You speak of Rainbow. Rainbow is the daughter of the sun, and she lives with him in the sky. She chases clouds, and make sure they are always moving, taking the rain where others need it. She is a very flighty one."

        Hawk thought some more. "I, too, was in love once, with a very elusive man. I tried many things to get his attention, but I also could never get his attention. It was only when I was not paying attention to him, that he finally noticed me."

        So, over the rabbit, the Man and the Hawk ate in peace. He thought about what she said, and as he finished his meal, he started coming up with a plan to get the Rainbow to notice him. The Medicine Man thanked the Hawk, and he went back home.

        The Medicine Man went back to his tribe, and returned to his duties. Summer became Fall, and then Winter, and when the Winter Thaw came, the Medicine Man went back to where he first saw Rainbow, and waited for her return.

        He waited outside, as he saw the clouds come, facing towards the sun. All the time while it rained, he sat stone still, and when the rain stopped, and Rainbow came, he still sat there. She started to chase the clouds, and she waited for him to chase her, as she knew he always did when he saw her come, but this time he didn't. He was looking at something far away.

        She slowed, and then stopped. "What is he looking at?", she thought to herself. She had grown so used to the way he always looked at her, that she was confused. She stopped, and got closer to the ground, so she could see herself in the lake. "I don't look different, do I?", she said to her reflection. The reflection replied back, "You look as beautiful as always.". And so she got closer to the Medicine Man, so close that she knew she could hear him if he said anything, and yet he didn't move. He was shivering a little, being completely soaked from the rain. Still curious, she crept up quietly to the Medicine man, and looked over his shoulder, to see what held his attention so intently.

        The Medicine Man, who had been waiting for her, could almost feel her radiance as she stood real near him. Softly, in a whisper, he spoke. "I love you, you know."

        Rainbow took a step back, startled. She stammered for a bit, unsure of what to say, and turned around like she was about to flee, when the hand of the Medicine Man reached back, and touched her hand softly. "Please, stay?" His eyes looked up into hers with a fire that matched the sun, and she finally saw that he did love her.

        Rainbow nodded back to the medicine man, and took his hand in hers. She lifted him up, and looked into his eyes. "Affectionate one, I can only stay for a short while. If I stay any longer, the rain clouds will not move, and they will cause great floods." The Medicine Man frowned at this, and it brought him great sorrow that she could not stay. However, Rainbow's smile caused his sorrow to fade away. Lifting him up to his feet, Rainbow asked, "Please, dance with me? Just for a little while.". He agreed, and so, while the clouds grazed over distant mountains, with the sun shining down upon them, they danced. Distant thunder were their drums, birds chirping sang their song, and in circles they danced. They danced and danced, until the sun prepared to disappear from the sky. She then started to drift away, but continued dancing as if she was dancing with him..

        "Love, I must go. But remember me, and this dance. It is my gift to you." And with those words being just a whisper in his ears, Rainbow faded into the sky, and night fell.

        The Medicine Man returned back to the village, who was thankful to have him back, and held a great celebration in his honor, all while he told his story. All that season one could see the medicine man out on the plains, after every rain fall, dancing in joy. Soon, the musicians of the tribe constructed drums and flutes, and pretended to be like the thunder and the birds that sang during the first dance, and the village was happy.

        However, once again Spring became Summer, and then Fall gave way to Winter, and when winter went away, Spring returned to the world. The snow melted, the grasses turned green. However, it was a very dry year, and the rain didn't come at all. The grasses dried quickly, and didn't grow very tall. The river that was always near the tribe dried up to a bare trickle. The buffalo and the antelope, who had always been plentiful, soon disappeared, heading off for greened pastures. The Medicine Man was busy fighting off many sicknesses that befell the tribe when the Chief fell ill.

        The Medicine Man did his best to find a cure for his illness, but could not find any. "Medicine Man", the chief said, "We can not go on. The rain has forsaken us, and if it does not come soon, we shall all die. Please, you are friends with Rainbow, who you said herds the clouds. You must get her to come."

        The Medicine Man nodded, and comforted his Chief, and went out of the tent, and took a spot out by the dry river to think. He didn't know how he could reach Rainbow. So he got up, and walked out into the woods. He walked for a long ways, till he was almost lost, when he heard a cry come from above. Looking up, he saw Hawk swoop down from the branches high above.

        "Greetings, Man. It has been a long time since I have seen you. What brings you this far from your home? Did you meet Rainbow?". The Medicine Man was glad to see her, and told her all about what had happened over the year, and told her of his new problem.

        "I would help if I could, Medicine Man, but I am afraid I can not. I am not fast enough to chase Rainbow, and even then, I do not know how to find her." The Medicine Man was saddened that his friend couldn't help him. "Hawk, if we can not find someone to find her, how can we let her know we need her now?"

        Hawk thought about it for a little while, then said, "I believe she already showed you the way to find her, but you need to get everyone to help you. Go back home, Medicine Man. You will find what you need there." With that, she flapped her wings and took of into the sky. The Medicine Man was confused, unsure of what to do. He thought over what Hawk had said, then it occurred to him. The dance! It was the dance that could bring her to him.

        Excitedly, he ran back to the village, and ran to the chieftain. The chief was happy to see him, and wondered if he had found Rainbow. "No, I haven't found Rainbow, my Chief, but I have discovered a way to bring her here. However, I will need the tribes help. Have everyone meet at the campfire tonight, and I will tell everyone."

        That night, everyone gathered around, and the Medicine Man told them of how he found Hawk, and his plan to bring Rainbow to him. He had the drummers go fetch their drums, and he started to gather around dancers, and showed them how to dance like Rainbow taught him. He did this long into the night, and it was very late when he headed back to his tent to rest the night. He was surprised to find a woman sitting alone in the dark at the entrance.

        She smiled up at him, and held up a basket. "I made these for you." He took the basket and opened it up. Inside, it was like looking at Rainbow, for all the colors he saw in her were in the basket. He picked up braided armlets, and a colorful cloth to wear over his body, and held it next to him. He was flattered by the gift, and didn't know what to say. The woman smiled. "Then please, let me have the honor of dancing with the tribe tomorrow morning with you."

        The Medicine Man couldn't refuse. So even though he was tired, he stayed up all night and danced with the woman. The moon in the sky was their only light. As they danced, he would look into her eyes, and he began to see the same fire that he had had for Rainbow burn in her eyes. Soon, he began to feel love for her in return. They danced closer together, and when neither of them could dance no more, they held each other close.

        The next morning, the tribesman were surprised to see the Medicine Man come out with the woman, but they didn't think to much about it. They were all excited. Many people were decorating the center of the village with colorful ribbons. The drummers gathered around, and people with flutes joined them. All the dancers wore a different color, and gathered around in the center. The Medicine Man put on the clothes that his love gave to him, and waited patiently for her return.

        The crowd parted as she came into the circle. She had on a blue dress, and hanging off it were a hundred ribbons, just like the ribbons that were on the armlets of the Medicine Man. He smiled at her and thought her beautiful.

        He smiled, and beckoned her to come close. The crowd shushed down, and then he began to chant. The drummers began to drum in time to the chanting, and as dancers began to dance. The flutes joined in, and the people started to clap with the drums. Soon, the whole crowd was as one voice. Together, they called out to Rainbow, where ever she may be, to come help them.

        They danced, and sang, and chanted till their throats were dry, and their feet were sore. Just as the Medicine Man was about to give up, he felt something cool strike across his forehead. The crowd grew quiet as he stopped dancing and looked up. Then he felt it again. Then he felt something sprinkle into his eyes. Clouds started appearing overhead, and soon the sprinkles turned into rain.

        The tribe cheered and celebrated, hugging each other, and patting the Medicine Man on the back. They gathered jars to catch the rain, and watched as they all filled themselves.

        The Medicine Man took the hand of the Woman, and took her away from the crowd. "Come with me. I want you to meet someone." She smiled, and nodded, and together, they went to the Place where he met Rainbow and waited.

        After a while, the clouds decided to graze the distant peaks of the mountains, and moved away, and shepherding behind them, Rainbow came. She slowed down and smiled, looking down, and seeing the Medicine Man. She came down. "It is nice to see you again. I had heard your cry, and had to come."

        The Medicine Man smiled. "I am glad you heard." He brought his love closer. "This is the person that made what I am wearing, and helped decorated the village for you. She is beautiful, and I can see in her that she loves me like I loved you." He held her hand in his. "I have grown fond of her, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her, is she would have me."

        The woman was overjoyed, and hugged him close to her. Rainbow smiled, and drew back into the clouds, and herd them back so they could have some time alone.

        The next day, the Chieftain joined them together in marriage, and the lived a long time together. They had many children, and they taught them the dance. Then their children taught the dance to their children, and they taught their children.

        And to this day, every child of that Medicine Man has learned the dance, and Rainbow, who has never forgotten the love of that man, comes and visits his grandchildren, always herding her rain clouds ahead of her.

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