Cloud Catcher, a handsome youth of the Ojibwa, offended his family by refusing to fast during the ceremony of his coming of age and was put out of the paternal wigwam.
It was so fine a night that the sky served him well as a roof. He had a boy's confidence in his ability to make a living, and something of fame and fortune, maybe. He dropped on a tuft of moss to plan for his future and drowsily noted a mysterious face in the bright moon.
He suddenly awoke to find that it was not day and the darkness was half dispelled by light that rayed from a figure near him. It was the form of a lovely woman.
"Cloud Catcher, I have come for you," she said.
As she turned as if to walk away, he felt impelled to rise and follow. But, instead of walking, she began to move into the air with the flight of an eagle, and endowed with a new power, he too ascended beside her. The earth was dim and vast below, stars blazed as they drew near them, yet the radiance of the woman seemed to dull their glory.
Presently they passed through a gate of clouds and stood on a beautiful plain with crystal clear ponds and brooks watering noble trees and leagues of flowery meadow; birds of brightest colors darted here and there, singing like flutes; the stones were agate, jasper and chalcedony. An immense lodge stood on the plain, and within were embroideries and ornaments, couches of rich furs, pipes and arms cut from jasper and tipped with silver.
While the young man was gazing around him with delight, the brother of his guide appeared and reproved her, advising her to send the young man back to earth at once. But she flatly refused to do so. Relenting to the wishes of his sister, the brother gave a pipe, a bow and arrows to Cloud Catcher as a token of his consent to their marriage. Her wished the couple happiness.
Cloud Catcher could hardly look at the brother who was commandingly tall and dazzling in his gold and silver ornaments. The brother could not be seen most of the day while his sister was absent part of the night.
One day, the bother permitted Cloud Catcher to go with him on one of his daily walks. As they crossed the endless and beautiful Sky Land, they glanced down through open valley bottoms on the green earth below. The rapid pace they struck gave to Cloud Catcher an appetite and he asked if there were no game. "Patience," counseled his companion.
On arriving at a spot where a large hole had been broken through the sky, they descended from the sky and reclined on mats. A silver ornament on the brother's dazzling regalia came off and he flung it into group of children playing in front of a lodge. One of the little ones fell and crying as he was carried inside the lodge.
Upon hearing of the incident, all the villagers left their sports and labors and looked up at the sky. The tall brother cried in a voice of thunder, "Offer a sacrifice and the child shall be well again."
So a white dog was killed, roasted, and in a twinkling it shot up the feet of Cloud Catcher, who, being empty, attacked it voraciously. Many such walks and feasts came after, and the sights of earth and taste of meat filled the mortal with longing to see his people again.
Later Cloud Catcher told his wife that he wanted to go back to the earth. She consented after a time saying, "Since you are better pleased with the cares, the ills, the labor, and the poverty of the world than with the comfort and abundance of Sky Land, you may return; but remember you are still my husband, and beware how you venture to take an earthly maiden for a wife." She then rose lightly and clasped Cloud Catcher by the wrist and began to move with him through the air.
The motion lulled him and he fell asleep, waking at the door of his father's lodge. His relatives gathered and gave him welcome, and he learned that he had been in the sky for a year. He took the privations of a hunter's and warrior's life less kindly than he though to, and after a time he enlivened its monotony by taking to wife a bright-eyed girl of his tribe. In four days she was dead. The lesson was unheeded and he married again. Shortly after, he stepped from his lodge one evening and never came back. The woods were filled with a strange radiance on that night, and it is asserted that Cloud Catcher was taken back to the lodge of the Sun and Moon, and is now content to live in heaven.
From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.