Long ago, when the creatures ruled the land, all animals lived in harmony with each other and were ruled by the Goddess of Creatures Great and Small. Each morning the Goddess awoke to the call of the birds and animals and slept with the songs of the night creatures in her ears. The animals' music was her rhythm of life.
Her favorite song was the Beebird's; he had especially beautiful music. And Beebird sang day and night with only tiny pauses while he slept. Beebird's wings were a blur of color as he darted here and there, sipping nectar from each flower.
One sunny morning Wolf and Squirrel went to the Goddess with a complaint. "Goddess, we can't get any sleep," said Wolf. "Beebird has a beautiful song, but it keeps us awake when we need to rest."
"Yes," agreed Squirrel. "All the animals elected us to come before you. No one is sleeping because Beebird is too loud."
The Goddess said she would talk to Beebird and immediately sent for him. When the Goddess told Beebird about the complaints, Beebird buzzed in circles around the Goddess.
"Oh, Goddess, what shall I do? I love to sing. It makes me feel happy. I thought it made others happy, too. But I don't want the animals to be angry at me. What can I do?"
"I don't know what you can do. But I do know that, for a while at least, you must not sing."
"I will try to be quiet," promised Beebird. "I will try very hard."
And Beebird did try hard. For three days he did not make a sound. But inside him his song grew. It began as a little nut in his toes and then grew branches into his legs. Soon his song had blossomed into a leafy tree in his belly and wings and he couldn't hold it back any longer.
Beebird's song filled the air, floating and swirling through the trees. Glorious notes danced among the flowers, leaped over rocks, trickled over streams, and spun in the air.
Once again Wolf and Squirrel complained. The Goddess called Beebird before her and scolded him.
"Beebird, you leave me no choice. If you cannot control your song, I will take it from you."
Even though the Goddess loved Beebird's song, she had to think of the other animals. "The day I stop your song will be a sad day for everyone," she said.
Beebird was ashamed as he left the Goddess. "There must be a way to sing quieter," he thought. But his problem was time. He could already feel another song building inside him.
Two days passed, and Beebird had not figured out how to sing quietly. He felt like popcorn ready to burst. Beebird closed his eyes, willing the song back down. When he opened his eyes he spotted a thick, green vine wrapped around the branch he was perched on. "Maybe," he thought "there is a way I can make my song quiet!"
He flew through the forest, looking for the Goddess. When he found her, she granted him an audience.
"Goddess, I can't stop singing," said Beebird. "But I may have the answer."
"I hope so, Beebird. Your song is too beautiful to silence."
"Perhaps if you wrap a piece of vine around my beak," suggested Beebird, "it might hold back my song."
The Goddess was willing to try, so she broke a piece of thin vine off a bush and tied Beebird's beak together. When she was done she sent him on his way with good wishes. The next day Beebird held his song as long as he could. At first only a note or two leaked out. Soon, the song started, and Beebird could not stop. But his song had no words -- and it was not at all loud. It was soft!
All day Beebird sang as he tried to gather food. The vine prevented most of the food from going into his beak. But Beebird was happy anyway. He could sing!
The other animals noticed his song and they told the Goddess. Once more the Goddess sent for Beebird. She commanded that he sing and she listened to the happiness in Beebird's song. She saw the joy he felt in singing and she was delighted.
She removed the vine from Beebird's beak.
"Beebird, how do you feel about your song now?"
"Oh, Goddess, it is wonderful! And I can sing without bothering anyone. But there is one problem."
"With the vine on my beak it is hard to eat," said Beebird. "To drink the 'sweet flower juices, I need to open my mouth. But I can't do that with the vine on." Beebird's shoulders slumped. "I wish I could have my song," he sighed. "But I must eat."
"Your wish is granted," said the Goddess.
Suddenly Beebird's beak began to grow. It grew long and thin, like a flower stalk.
"Sing, Beebird," the Goddess commanded.
And sing he did. It wasn't the ordinary warble or tweet of a bird. Beebird hummed so high you felt like you were at the top of the tallest tree and so low you could feel the grass surround you.
"One more thing," the Goddess said. "You shall not be called Beebird anymore. To remind everyone of your unique song, you will be called Hummingbird."
And from that day Hummingbird hummed his soft song, and all the animals of wood enjoyed hearing it.
(by Peggy Langgle, Brilliant Star September – October 1989)