When the Creative Spirit left the world he left Wolf with an emptiness he could not leave unfilled. Each animal spirit mourned the loss of the creator in his or her own way, but eventually all turned their thoughts to the joys life had to offer. All except for Wolf. The memory of his father's disappointment nipped at his heels, driving the feet of his soul to pace relentlessly with worry.
He had been selfish. He had been cruel. It was a wonder the other animal spirits could stand to have him in their presence. He felt, though part of him insisted it could not be true, that the ugliness he brought into the world was responsible for driving their father away. The aching feet of his soul prowled the deepest tracks of his mind for answers that would let them rest.
The fondest memory Wolf had of the creator was his reaction to the new coats he made for the animals he looked after. His father merely had to say, "Show me a wolf," and he could lead him to something new and beautiful. No longer were packs made of animals so drab and grey they could hardly be told apart. Here was one that looked like ashes, snow, and earth mixed together. Here was one white as a blizzard with only a few streaks of black on the back like treetops showing through in the distance. Here another black and brown like bark singed by a fire. The Creative Spirit drank in the sight of each and proclaimed it good. The feet of Wolf's soul danced.
Wolf swore he would be ready on the day his father returned to have more beautiful things to show him. Man and Woman, the first human children, grow up to raise their own children, and then died. What had he done to better their lives while they were with him? Looking back, he realized his distraction had prevented him from taking care of them as his father had instructed the animal spirits to do. Even that imbecile Coyote had involved himself in their teaching. If the creator returned to find that Coyote had been spending his time more wisely, Wolf felt he very well might fall apart with shame.
He sat in his lonely cave and thought about ways he could make up for his negligence. He thought about humans and he thought about wolves. If the diversity he introduced to the wolves brought his father so much pleasure, how much more so would it please him to see his most special creations made even more special? Wolf emerged from his cave and went to one of the human villages.
Enough time had passed for Man and Woman's children to be gone, and their children as well. It seemed every time Wolf turned around their descendants were building another village. The one he visited was quite close to his cave, which he had originally selected for its isolation when he was still allowing himself to be lost in his thoughts. The humans spilled out of their homes like excited pups, calling, "Grandfather! Grandfather! How good it is to see you! Please, come sit with us."
Wolf smiled at them. He searched the crowd until he found what he wanted. "You," he gestured to a woman who was with child. "I have come to give you something."
The crowd parted to let the woman through. She looked unsure of herself. "What have I done to deserve this honor?"
Wolf held out his paw. "It is I who am honored. Keep this with you. It will make your child beautiful."
She took a small stone from his paw. It was blue as the sky and smooth as polished ice. She thanked him, and then he left.
He went to another village and found another pregnant woman. He gave this one a piece of red grass. After a woman in each village had received a gift he returned to his cave and waited.
Several months passed, and then news reached him of the strange thing that had happened. Many human children had been born who in some way did not look like their parents. One had eyes as blue as the sky. One had red hair. Some had skin that was much lighter or darker than the brown shade that was normal for humans. Everyone knew who was responsible, but none understood how Wolf had managed to harness the Power needed for such an act. He struggled to remain humble while fascination with the unusual humans grew. It was, he kept telling himself, a gift for his father and nothing else.
The humans who were born different grew old enough to marry. Some chose people from their own villages, but many traveled to other villages to look for people who were different like them. Wolf watched, curious about the unexpected development. What could it reveal about the nature of humans that he did not yet understand?
Several generations passed. The new traits, which he had expected to blend in an infinite number of beautiful variations, began to clump together as the different humans married amongst themselves. The result was still beautiful, but Wolf felt it could be better. He visited a small village made entirely of different humans to try to uncover the reason for this behavior.
A wedding was underway when he arrived. After the ceremony was complete the people broke apart into clusters of joyful chattering. Wolf approached the bride with a smile. "Many blessings to you on this wonderful day. Would you mind telling me the story of how you found each other?"
She smiled back and a faint blush appeared on her pale cheeks. "Of course, Grandfather. When I was a girl back in the village where I was born I fell in love with a boy. He was the chief's son. I tried for years to get him to notice me. When he finally did he made it clear he wasn't interested in me as a wife because of
" Her green eyes drifted down, then she brought them back up and fixed them on her husband. The groom had hair the color of dry summer grass. "Anyway, we had known each other since we were children. I was lost in a great sadness for a while. He noticed and comforted me. We became more than friends, and he suggested we move here to start our new lives. I am glad he did. It is
very peaceful here."
Wolf thanked her and excused himself from the celebration. A growing sense of dread washed over him. For the first time, he wished he knew how to reverse the gifts he had given the humans.
More generations passed. The villages became increasingly segregated, with only stray different humans living among those who looked as the creator had made them. Wolf was disappointed, but he did not know how to make the situation better. There was still so much to learn about why human acted the way they did. He could spend the rest of his immortality trying to figure it out and still be left with unanswerable questions.
He was in his cave trying to think of more ways to make the world beautiful when Coyote barged in. "Hey guess what? Your special projects have really messed up this time. Want to come see?"
A flare of anger shredded Wolf's tranquil thoughts. His ears flattened against his head, and he had to struggle to resist the urge to strike Coyote. He took a deep breath, then followed him.
Coyote led him to a forest situated between two villages. He heard the shouting before he could see any humans. There were two hunting parties, one composed of normal people and one of those he had created. Members on both sides were brandishing their weapons at each other, and from the tone of their voices he did not doubt they were coming close to using them. He threw back his head and howled so he could be heard above the yelling.
The humans instinctively turned their heads toward him and cowered. He waited until he could have heard a pine needle dropping from a branch. "Who wants to explain why you are disturbing each other's peace?"
The leader of the different men leapt up and shook his bow at the other group. "We keep telling them how important this land is to our village. We just want them to give us a bit more space. Tell them to leave, Grandfather!"
The other leader sneered. "How dare you lie to one of the First Ones? They think they are too good for us, Grandfather. They have shunned us from the beginning!"
Wolf's hair bristled in a coarse mane from his neck to his tail.
Coyote took this as his cue to slink away, a mischievous grin drawing up the corners of his lips.
Wolf looked from one leader to the other. "I cannot compare myself to Father, Creator of us All, and yet
" He sighed, and the hair on his back began to smooth once more. "You people make me feel so ancient. How long have I watched you mistreat each other? Perhaps it is best if I followed Father's example and punished you."
The humans trembled.
Wolf sighed again. "You do not need to fear me. I only want you to be happy. I tried to make you happy by making you different and beautiful, but now you won't leave each other alone about it and I don't know what to do any more."
His ears drooped.
The leader of the different people stepped forward. His face bore a mixture of surprise and fear, as if he did not know a First One could feel so upset and hated to be the cause of it. "My deepest apologies, Grandfather. Perhaps we could find a new place to live until we show we are worthy of your trust and will not disappoint you."
Wolf gave this some thought. "That may be best. Go among your villages and ask the people there what they think."
The humans disbanded, leaving Wolf alone with his thoughts. He remembered how his father used the manitous to survey the world for him. He closed his eyes and held out his arms, palms up and fingers spread. The leaves rustled as if a giant snake was winding its way through the trees.
The wind condensed around him and a voice whistled past his ear directly into his head. Heelp?
Wolf gave thanks to the wind spirit for its attentiveness. He had not been sure they would obey anyone but their maker. "I need to find a place large enough to be the home of many families of humans. It has to be someplace where there are no other humans."
The wind spirit disappeared so quickly he thought he would be pulled off his feet after it. Within minutes it was back. Goo eeaassst. Croosss sssaalt waateer. Muuch laand.
Wolf cocked his head. Those were the strangest directions he had ever been given. Still, he could not bring himself to doubt one of his father's trusted servants.
Several days later he returned to the village of his people, for he could think of them as no less now that he had accepted responsibility for what he had done to them. The gathering was larger than he expected, composed of seemingly everyone who had been born with one of his gifts. With all the beautiful colors finally gathered in one place he felt even sadder that it hadn't worked out. He stood tall and addressed them. "Children, I am so sorry to be a disappointment to you. Yes, I blame myself. I never asked your ancestors if they wanted to be this way, and I have no way to take it back from those who did not want it. For those who love themselves as they are, I share your joy. Since I cannot change minds any more than I can undo my gift, I give you the option to find peace in seclusion. I will lead those who wish to go into a new home, far away. You will not have to do this alone. I will stay with you. This is how I show my love and ask for your apology."
The people cheered him. Relief loosened the tension in his soul. They were ready to go, and he was ready to take them. It was how his father would want it.
Animal spirits and humans followed the group until they reached the shores of the enormous salt lake, across which lay the unknown. They helped them build canoes and load them with supplies, then said their farewells. Wolf called up manitous that dwelled in the air and water, and the spirits took hold of the boats and carried them to their destination with such speed that all they could do was hunker down, hold tight, and wait for it to be over.
Animal spirits and humans waited until the day the different people felt they were ready to return. Many generations passed. The humans forgot their long lost kin, as well as the respect they once held for the First Ones.
Eventually even the memories of the immortals grew dull and Wolf was, if not forgotten, put aside from their concerns. Most had not thought of him for a long time until the strange ships began landing on the shore of the salt lake. The ships were full of pale skinned humans with hair and eyes of every color.
Sometimes when Coyote is sneaking around among them in an imitation of their form he asks about Wolf, but none ever say they have heard of him.