ONE CLEAR NIGHT, long after the chokeberries ripened, but before the winds shook the leaves from the trees, Cloud Boy saw the star flutter in the western sky, then fall. The boy watched it come to rest on the mountain that lined the horizon where the sun set. He mounted his pony and raced over meadows and brooks and rolling hills until, at last, he stopped at the mountain’s top. But the star was not there. Perhaps she was too cold on the mountain top. Perhaps she was too lonely on the rocky ledge. Cloud Boy’s heart ached, just a little, because he had wanted to touch the star, to hold her beauty in his hands.
A second night the boy watched the skies and again a star shivered, then fell. This time she dropped to the east and floated toward the soft grasses of the open fields. Cloud Boy mounted his pony and raced to the east, past the regal pines, through the tall oak forest, over streams, until he came to the place of tall grasses. But the star was not there. Perhaps she had seen the buffalo or heard the hooves of many horses and was afraid of being trampled. Cloud Boy slackened his grip on his pony’s reins. The boy and his horse slowly made their way back to camp.
A third night the boy watched and a third night the star shimmered, then fell. This time the boy was waiting, mounted on his horse. He sped away in pursuit, following the star as it dropped out of the northern night sky. The boy rode out to the string of shimmering lakes where the children loved to splash and play and paddle their canoes. Cloud Boy dismounted and gazed across the waters. There, floating on the surface, were hundreds of lily white flowers. Cloud Boy waded into the lake and cupped his hands around one of the blossoms. Inside, shining in the moonlight, was a tiny star. A star Cloud Boy could hold in his hands.