THE chief of an Indian tribe had two sons whom he loved very dearly. This chief was at war with another tribe, and one dark night two of his enemies crept softly through the trees till they came to where the two boys lay sound asleep. The warriors caught the younger boy up gently, and carried him far away from his home and his friends.
When the chief woke, he cried, "Where is my son? My enemies have been here and have stolen him."
All the Indians in the tribe started out in search of the boy. They roamed the forest through and through, but the stolen child could not be found.
The chief mourned for his son, and when the time of his death drew near, he said to his wife, "Moneta, my tribe shall have no chief until my boy is found and taken from our enemies. Let our oldest son go forth in search of his brother, and until he has brought back the little one, do you rule my people."
Moneta ruled the people wisely and kindly. When the older son was a man, she said to him, "My son, go forth and search for your brother, whom I have mourned these many years. Every day I shall watch for you, and every night I shall build a fire on the mountain top."
"Do not mourn, mother," said the young man. "You will not build the fire many nights on the mountain top, for I shall soon find my brother and bring him back to you."
He went forth bravely, but be did not come back. His mother went every night to the mountain top, and when she was so old that she could no longer walk, the young men of the tribe bore her up the mountain side in their strong arms, so that with her own trembling hand she could light the fire.
One night there was a great storm. Even the brave warriors were afraid, but Moneta had no fear, for out of the storm a gentle voice had come to her that said, "Moneta, your sons are coming home to you."
"Once more I must build the fire on the mountain top," she cried. The young men trembled with fear, but they bore her to the top of the mountain.
"Leave me here alone," she said. "hear a voice. It is the voice of my son, and he is calling, 'Mother, mother.' Come to me, come, my boys."
Coming slowly up the mountain in the storm was the older son. The younger had died on the road home, and he lay dead in the arms of his brother.
In the morning the men of the tribe went to the mountain top in search of Moneta and her sons. They were nowhere to be seen, but where the tears of the lonely mother had fallen, there was a brightness that had never been seen before. The tears were shining in the sunlight as if each one of them was itself a little sun. Indeed, they were no longer tears, but diamonds.
The dearest thing in all the world is the tear of mother-love, and that is why the tears were made into diamonds, the stones that are brightest and clearest of all the stones on the earth.