Friday, November 12, 2010

The Flute Player-Apache Tale

I was in the children's section of my library and caught the title of a book, "The Flute Player: an Apache Tale." I already have interest in Native American lore because of my adopted Cherokee brother, and if it's about a flute player as well, I have to read it!

The tale was a rather tragic Romeo and Juliet-esque story. At a hoop dance, one boy and girl were noticed to be dancing only with each other. The others wondered if they liked each other. During the course of the dance, the boy told the girl he was a flute player. He told her that, in the mornings, he would play. She told him that, when she heard him, if she liked his song, she would send a leaf down the river to him.
He played the next morning. From the fields where the girl was at work, everyone stopped when they noticed the sound like wind through the trees, but was really a far off flute. Pleased, the girl dropped a leaf in the river. When the boy received it, he was glad.

The same thing happened the next morning; the boy played, and the girl sent a leaf. The boy was very happy, and he wondered if the fact that the girl liked his playing meant that she really liked him.

The boy's father told him it was time for him to go on a hunt, not stay home every day with the women. The boy left for a hunt, all the time dreaming of the girl at home and how he would play for her when he returned.

The girl, though, did not know that the boy had left on a hunt. She listened every morning for his flute, and heard nothing. She got up extra early and went to the fields to catch the sound, and still heard nothing. Eventually she grew depressed and ill. Nothing could make her well, and she died.

When the boy returned from the hunt, he was so anxious to play his flute again. The next morning he played and played and waited for a leaf...and received nothing. The following morning he got up extra early and played again, to find nothing. Finally the boy went to the girl's family to ask after her. He is horrified that she is dead. He found her grave and played his flute for it. After that, he turned and left and was never seen by the people again.

But often, in the morning, when we hear a sound like the wind whistling through the trees, almost like a faraway flute, we remember the boy, and that the girl still likes him.

Here's the flute geek in me nerding out with some samples of Native American flutes:

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