Part 2 out of 4
"She was a wise woman," said the Corn Woman; "she said that if they came
from near, the people of the towns might take them for spies, but they
would not fear travelers from so far off that their moccasins had
holes in them."
The Corn Woman had forgotten that she was telling a story older than the
oaks they sat under. When she came to the exciting parts she said "we"
and "us" as though it were something that had happened to them all
"It was a high white range that looked on the Country of Stone Houses,"
she said, "with peaks that glittered, dropping down ridge by ridge to
where the trees left off at the edge of a wide, basket-colored valley.
It hollowed like a meal basket and had a green pattern woven through it
by a river. Shungakela went with the women to the foot of the mountain,
and then, all at once, he would not let them go until Waits-by-the-Fire
promised to come back to the foot of the mountain once in every moon to
tell him how things went with us. We thought it very childish of him,
but afterward we were glad we had not made any objection.
"It was mid-morning when the Seven walked between the fields, with
little food in their bags and none whatever in their stomachs, all in
rags except Waits-by-the-Fire, who had put on her Shaman's dress, and
around her neck, tied in a bag with feathers, the Medicine of the Sun.
People stood up in the fields to stare, and we would have stared back
again, but we were afraid. Behind the stone house we saw the Hill of the
Sun and the priests moving up and down as Waits-by-the-Fire had
"Below the hill, where the ground was made high, at one side of the
steps that went up to the Place of Giving, stood the house of the Corn
Goddess, which was served by women. There the Seven laid up their
offering of poor food before the altar and stood on the steps of the
god-house until the head priestess noticed them. Wisps of incense smoke
floated out of the carved doorways and the drone of the priestess like
bees in a hollow log. All the people came out on their flat roofs to
watch--Did I say that they had two and even three houses, one on top of
the other, each one smaller than the others, and ladders that went up
and down to them?--They stood on the roofs and gathered in the open
square between the houses as still and as curious as antelopes, and at
last the priestess of the Corn came out and spoke to us. Talk went on
between her and Waits-by-the-Fire, purring, spitting talk like water
stumbling among stones. Not one word did our women understand, but they
saw wonder grow among the Corn Women, respect and amazement.
"Finally, we were taken into the god-house, where in the half dark, we
could make out the Goddess of the Corn, cut in stone, with green stones
on her forehead. There were long councils between Waits-by-the-Fire and
the Corn Woman and the priests that came running from the Temple of the
Sun. Outside the rumor and the wonder swelled around the god-house like
a sudden flood. Faces bobbed up like rubbish in the flood into the
bright blocks of light that fell through the doorway, and were shifted
and shunted by other faces peering in. After a long tune the note of
wonder outside changed to a deep, busy hum; the crowd separated and let
through women bearing food in pots and baskets. Then we knew that
Waits-by-the-Fire had won."
"But what?" insisted Dorcas; "what was it that she had told them?"
"That she had had a dream which was sent by the Corn Spirit and that she
and those with her were under a vow to serve the Corn for the space of
one growing year. And to prove that her dream was true the Goddess of
the Corn had revealed to her the speech of the Stone House tribe and
also many hidden things. These were things which she remembered from her
captivity which she told them."
"What sort of things?"
"Why, that in such a year they had had a pestilence and that the father
of the Corn Woman had died of eating over-ripe melons. The Corn Women
were greatly impressed. But she carried it almost too far ... perhaps
... and perhaps it was appointed from the beginning that that was the
way the Corn was to come. It was while we were eating that we realized
how wise she was to make us come fasting, for first the people pitied
us, and then they were pleased with themselves for making us
comfortable. But in the middle of it there was a great stir and a man in
chief's dress came pushing through. He was the Cacique of the Sun and he
was vexed because he had not been called earlier. He was that kind of
"He spoke sharply to the Chief Corn Woman to know why strangers were
received within the town without his knowledge.
"Waits-by-the-Fire answered quickly. 'We are guests of the Corn, O
Cacique, and in my dream I seem to have heard of your hospitality to
women of the Corn.' You see there had been an old story when he was
young, how one of the Corn Maidens had gone to his house and had been
kept there against her will, which was a discredit to him. He was so
astonished to hear the strange woman speak of it that he turned and went
out of the god-house without another word. The people took up the
incident and whispered it from mouth to mouth to prove that the strange
Shaman was a great prophet. So we were appointed a house to live in and
were permitted to serve the Corn."
"But what did you do?" Dorcas insisted on knowing.
"We dug and planted. All this was new to us. When there was no work in
the fields we learned the ways of cooking corn, and to make pots.
Hunting-tribes do not make pots. How should we carry them from place to
place on our backs? We cooked in baskets with hot stones, and sometimes
when the basket was old we plastered it with mud and set it on the fire.
But the People of the Corn made pots of coiled clay and burned it hard
in the open fires between the houses. Then there was the ceremony of the
Corn to learn, the prayers and the dances. Oh, we had work enough! And
if ever anything was ever said or done to us which was not pleasant,
Waits-by-the-Fire would say to the one who had offended, 'We are only
the servants of the Corn, but it would be a pity if the same thing
happened to you that happened to the grandfather of your next-door
"And what happened to him?"
"Oh, a plague of sores, a scolding wife," or anything that she chanced
to remember from the time she had been Given-to-the-Sun. _That_ stopped
them. But most of them held us to be under the protection of the Corn
Spirit, and when our Shaman would disappear for two or three days--that
was when she went to the mountain to visit Shungakela--_we_ said that
she had gone to pray to her own gods, and they accepted that also."
"And all this time no one recognized her?"
"She had painted her face for a Shaman," said the Corn Woman slowly,
"and besides it was nearly forty years. The woman who had been kind to
her was dead and there was a new Priest of the Sun. Only the one who had
painted her with the sign of the Sun was left, and he was doddering."
She seemed about to go on with her story, but the oldest dancing woman
"Those things helped," said the dancing woman, "but it was her thought
which hid her. She put on the thought of a Shaman as a man puts on the
thought of a deer or a buffalo when he goes to look for them. That which
one fears, that it is which betrays one. She was a Shaman in her heart
and as a Shaman she appeared to them."
"She certainly had no fear," said the Corn Woman, "though from the first
she must have known--
"It was when the seed corn was gathered that we had the first hint of
trouble," she went on. "When it was ripe the priests and Caciques went
into the fields to select the seed for next year. Then it was laid up in
the god-houses for the priestess of the Corn to keep. That was in case
of an enemy or a famine when the people might be tempted to eat it.
After it was once taken charge of by the priestess of the Corn they
would have died rather than give it up. Our women did not know how they
should get the seed to bring away from the Stone House except to ask for
it as the price of their year's labor."
"But couldn't you have just taken some from the field?" inquired Dorcas.
"Wouldn't it have grown just the same?"
"That we were not sure of; and we were afraid to take it without the
good-will of the Corn Goddess. Centcotli her name was. Waits-by-the-Fire
made up her mind to ask for it on the first day of the Feast of the Corn
Harvest, which lasts four days, and is a time of present-giving and
good-willing. She would have got it, too, if it had been left to the
Corn Women to decide. But the Cacique of the Sun, who was always
watching out for a chance to make himself important, insisted that it
was a grave matter and should be taken to Council. He had never forgiven
the Shaman, you see, for that old story about the Corn Maiden.
"As soon as the townspeople found that the Caciques were considering
whether it was proper to give seed corn to the strangers, they began to
consider it, too, turning it over in their minds together with a great
many things that had nothing to do with it. There had been smut in the
corn that year; there was a little every year, but this season there was
more of it, and a good many of the bean pods had not filled out. I
forgot," said the Corn Woman, "to speak of the beans and squashes. They
were the younger sisters of the corn; they grew with the corn and twined
about it. Now, every man who was a handful or two short of his crop
began to look at us doubtfully. Then they would crowd around the Cacique
of the Sun to argue the matter. They remembered how our Shaman had gone
apart to pray to her own gods and they thought the Spirit of the Corn
might have been offended. And the Cacique would inquire of every one who
had a toothache or any such matter, in such a way as to make them think
of it in connection with the Shaman.--In every village," the Corn Woman
interrupted herself to say, "there is evil enough, if laid at the door
of one person, to get her burned for a witch!"
"Was she?" Dorcas Jane squirmed with anxiety.
"She was standing on the steps at the foot of the Hill of the Sun, the
last we saw of her," said the Corn Woman. "Of course, our women, not
understanding the speech of the Stone Houses, did not know exactly what
was going on, but they felt the changed looks of the people. They
thought, perhaps, they could steal away from the town unnoticed. Two of
them hid in their clothing as much Seed as they could lay hands on and
went down toward the river. They were watched and followed. So they came
back to the house where Waits-by-the-Fire prayed daily with her hand on
the Medicine of the Sun.
"So came the last day of the feast when the sacred seed would be sealed
up in the god-house. 'Have no fear,' said Waits-by-the-Fire, 'for my
dream has been good. Make yourselves ready for the trail. Take food in
your food bags and your carriers empty on your backs.' She put on her
Shaman's dress and about the middle of the day the Cacique of the Sun
sent for them. He was on the platform in front of the god-house where
the steps go up to the Hill of the Sun, and the elders of the town were
behind him. Priests of the Sun stood on the steps and the Corn Women
came out from the temple of the Corn. As Waits-by-the-Fire went up with
the Seven, the people closed in solidly behind them. The Cacique looked
at the carriers on their backs and frowned.
"'Why do you come to the god-house with baskets, like laborers of the
fields?' he demanded.
"'For the price of our labor, O Cacique,' said the Shaman. 'The gods are
not so poor that they accept labor for nothing.'
"'Now, it is come into my heart,' said the Cacique sourly, 'that the
gods are not always pleased to be served by strangers. There are signs
that this is so.'
"'It may be,' said Waits-by-the-Fire, 'that the gods are not pleased.
They have long memories.' She looked at him very straight and somebody
in the crowd snickered."
"But wasn't it awfully risky to keep making him mad like that?" asked
Dorcas. "They could have just done anything to her!"
"She was a wise woman; she knew what she had to do. The Cacique _was_
angry. He began making a long speech at her, about how the smut had come
in the corn and the bean crop was a failure,--but that was because there
had not been water enough,--and how there had been sickness. And when
Waits-by-the-Fire asked him if it were only in that year they had
misfortune, the people thought she was trying to prove that she hadn't
had anything to do with it. She kept reminding them of things that had
happened the year before, and the year before. The Cacique kept growing
more and more angry, admitting everything she said, until it showed
plainly that the town had had about forty years of bad luck, which the
Cacique tried to prove was all because the gods had known in advance
that they were going to be foolish and let strangers in to serve the
Corn. At first the people grew excited and came crowding against the
edge of the platform, shouting, 'Kill her! Kill the witch!' as one and
then another of their past misfortunes were recalled to them.
"But, as the Shaman kept on prodding the Cacique, as hunters stir up a
bear before killing him, they began to see that there was something more
coming, and they stood still, packed solidly in the square to listen. On
all the housetops roundabout the women and the children were as still as
images. A young priest from the steps of the Hill, who thought he must
back up the Cacique, threw up his arms and shouted, 'Give her to the
Sun!' and a kind of quiver went over the people like the shiver of still
water when the wind smites it. It was only at the time of the New Fire,
between harvest and planting, that they give to the Sun, or in great
times of war or pestilence. Waits-by-the-Fire moved out to the edge of
"'It is not, O People of the Sun, for what is given, that the gods grow
angry, but for what is withheld,' she said, 'Is there nothing, priests
of the Sun, which was given to the Sun and let go again? Think, O
"The priests, huddled on the stairs, began to question among themselves,
and Waits-by-the-Fire turned to the people. 'Nothing, O Offspring of
"Then she put off the Shaman's thought which had been a shield to her.
'Nothing, Toto?' she called to a man in the crowd by a name none knew
him by except those that had grown up with him. She was
Given-to-the-Sun, and she stood by the carved stone corn of the
god-house and laughed at them, shuffling and shouldering like buffaloes
in the stamping-ground, and not knowing what to think. Voices began to
call for the man she had spoken to, 'Toto, O Toto!'
"The crowd swarmed upon itself, parted and gave up the figure of the
ancient Priest of the Sun, for they remembered in his day how a girl who
was given to the Sun had been snatched away by the gods out of sight of
the people. They pushed him forward, doddering and peering. They saw the
woman put back her Shaman's bonnet from her head, and the old priest
clap his hand to his mouth like one suddenly astonished.
"Over the Cacique's face came a cold glint like the coming of ice on
water. 'You,' he said, 'you are Given-to-the-Sun?' And he made a gesture
to the guard to close in on her.
"'Given-to-the-Sun,' she said. 'Take care how you touch that which
belongs to the gods, O Cacique!'
"And though he still smiled, he took a step backward.
"'So,' he said, 'you are that woman and this is the meaning of those
"'I am that woman and that prophet,' she said with her hand at her
throat and looked from priests to people. 'O People of the Sun, I have
heard you have a charm,' she said,--'a Medicine of the Sun called the
Eye of the Sun, strong Medicine.'
"No one answered for a while, but they began to murmur among themselves,
and at last one shouted that they had such a charm, but it was not for
witches or for runaway slave women.
"You _had_ such a charm,' she said, for she knew well enough that the
sacred charm was kept in the god-house and never shown to the people
except on very great occasions. She was sure that the priests had never
dared to tell the people that their Sacred Stone had disappeared with
the escaped captive.
"Given-to-the-Sun took the Medicine bag from her neck and swung it in
her fingers. _'Had!'_ she said mockingly. The people gave a growl;
another time they would have been furious with fright and anger, but
they did not wish to miss a syllable of what was about to happen. The
priests whispered angrily with the guard, but Given-to-the-Sun did not
care what the priests did so long as she had the people. She signed to
the Seven, and they came huddling to her like quail; she put them
"'Is it not true, Children of the Sun, that the favor of the Sun goes
with the Eye of the Sun and it will come back to you when the Stone
"They muttered and said that it was so.
"'Then, will your priests show you the Eye of the Sun or shall I show
"There was a shout raised at that, and some called to the priests to
show the Stone, and others that the woman would bring trouble on them
all with her offenses. But by this time they knew very well where the
Stone was, and the priests were too astonished to think of anything.
Slowly the Shaman drew it out of the Medicine bag--"
The Corn Woman waited until one of the women handed her the sacred
bundle from the neck of the Corn image. Out of it, after a little
rummaging, she produced a clear crystal of quartz about the size of a
pigeon's egg. It gave back the rays of the Sun in a dazzle that, to any
one who had never seen a diamond, would have seemed wonderfully
brilliant. Where it lay in the Corn Woman's hand it scattered little
flecks of reflected light in rainbow splashes. The Indian women made the
sign of the Sun on their foreheads and Dorcas felt a prickle of
solemnity along the back of her neck as she looked at it. Nobody spoke
until it was back again in the Medicine bundle.
"Given-to-the-Sun held it up to them," the story went on, "and there was
a noise in the square like a noise of the stamping-ground at twilight.
Some bellowed one thing and some another, and at last a priest of the
Sun moved sharply and spoke:--
"'The Eye of the Sun is not for the eyes of the vulgar. Will you let
this false Shaman impose on you, O Children of the Sun, with a
"Given-to-the-Sun stooped and picked up a mealing-stone that was used
for grinding the sacred meal in the temple of the Corn.
"'If your Stone is in the temple and this is a common pebble,' said she,
'it does not matter what I do with it.' And she seemed about to crush it
on the top of the stone balustrade at the edge of the platform. The
people groaned. They knew very well that this was their Sacred Stone and
that the priests had deceived them. Given-to-the-Sun stood resting one
stone upon the other.
"'The Sun has been angry with you,' she said, 'but the Goddess of the
Corn saves you. She has brought back the Stone and the Sacrifice. Do not
show yourselves ungrateful to the Corn by denying her servants their
wages. What! will you have all the gods against you? Priestess of the
Corn,' she called toward the temple, 'do you also mislead the people?'
"At that the Corn Women came hurrying, for they saw that the people were
both frightened and angry; they brought armsful of corn and seeds for
the carriers, they took bracelets from their arms and put them for gifts
in the baskets. The priests of the Sun did not say anything. One of the
women's headbands slipped and the basket swung sideways.
Given-to-the-Sun whipped off her belt and tucked it under the basket rim
to make it ride more evenly. The woman felt something hard in the belt
pressing her shoulder, but she knew better than to say anything. In
silence the crowd parted and let the Seven pass. They went swiftly with
their eyes on the ground by the north gate to the mountain. The priests
of the Sun stood still on the steps of the Hill of the Sun and their
eyes glittered. The Sacrifice of the Sun had come back to them.
"When our women passed the gate, the crowd saw Given-to-the-Sun restore
what was in her hand to the Medicine bag; she lifted her arms above her
head and began the prayer to the Sun."
* * * * *
"I see," said Dorcas after a long pause; "she stayed to keep the People
of the Sun pacified while the women got away with the seed. That was
splendid. But, the Eye of the Sun, I thought you saw her put that in the
buckskin bag again?"
"She must have had ready another stone of shape and size like it," said
the Corn Woman. "She thought of everything. She was a wise woman, and so
long as she was called Given-to-the-Sun the Eye of the Sun was hers to
give. Shungakela was not surprised to find that his wife had stayed at
the Hill of the Sun; so I suppose she must have told him. He asked if
there was a token, and the woman whose basket she had propped with her
girdle gave it to him with the hard lump that pressed her shoulder. So
the Medicine of the Sun came back to us.
"Our men had met the women at the foot of the mountain and they fled all
that day to a safe place the men had made for them. It was for that they
had stayed, to prepare food for flight, and safe places for hiding in
case they were followed. If the pursuit pressed too hard, the men were
to stay and fight while the women escaped with the corn. That was how
Given-to-the-Sun arranged it.
"Next day as we climbed, we saw smoke rising from the Hill of the Sun,
and Shungakela went apart on the mountain, saying, 'Let me alone, for I
make a fire to light the feet of my wife's spirit...' They had been
married twenty years.
"We found the tribe at Painted Rock, but we thought it safer to come on
east beyond the Staked Plains as Given-to-the-Sun had advised us. At Red
River we stopped for a whole season to plant corn. But there was not
rain enough there, and if we left off watching the fields for a day the
buffaloes came and cropped them. So for the sake of the corn we came
still north and made friends with the Tenasas. We bought help of them
with the half of our seed, and they brought us over the river, the
Missi-Sippu, the Father of all Rivers. The Tenasas had boats, round like
baskets, covered with buffalo hide, and they floated us over, two
swimmers to every boat to keep us from drifting downstream.
"Here we made a town and a god-house, to keep the corn contented. Every
year when the seed is gathered seven ears are laid up in the god-house
in memory of the Seven, and for the seed which must be kept for next
year's crop there are seven watchers"--the Corn Woman included the
dancers and herself in a gesture of pride. "We are the keepers of the
Seed," she said, "and no man of the tribe knows where it is hidden. For
no matter how hungry the people may become the seed corn must not be
eaten. But with us there is never any hunger, for every year from
planting time till the green corn is ready for picking, we keep all the
ceremonies of the corn, so that our cribs are filled to bursting. Look!"
The Corn Woman stood up and the dancers getting up with her shook the
rattles of their leggings with a sound very like the noise a radiator
makes when some one is hammering on the other end of it. And when Dorcas
turned to look for the Indian cribs there was nothing there but the
familiar wall cases and her father mending the steam heater.
[Illustration: SIGN OF THE SUN AND THE FOUR QUARTERS]
A TELLING OF THE SALT TRAIL, OF TSE-TSE-YOTE AND THE DELIGHT-MAKERS;
TOLD BY MOKE-ICHA
Oliver was so interested in his sister's account of how the corn came
into the country, that that very evening he dragged out a tattered old
atlas which he had rescued from the Museum waste, and began to look for
the places named by the Corn Woman. They found the old Chihuahua Trail
sagging south across the Rio Grande, which, on the atlas map, carried
its ancient name of River of the White Rocks. Then they found the Red
River, but there was no trace of the Tenasas, unless it might be, as
they suspected from the sound, in the Country of the Tennessee. It was
all very disappointing.. "I suppose," suggested Dorcas Jane, "they don't
put down the interesting places. It's only the ones that are too dull to
be remembered that have to be printed."
Oliver, who did not believe this was quite the principle on which
atlases were constructed, had made a discovery. Close to the Rio Grande,
and not far from the point where the Chihuahua Trail, crossed it, there
was a cluster of triangular dots, marked Cliff Dwellings. "There was
corn there," he insisted. "You can see it in the wall cases, and Cliff
Dwellings are the oldest old places in the United States. If they were
here when the Corn Woman passed, I don't see why she had to go to the
Stone Houses for seed." And when they had talked it over they decided to
go that very night and ask the Buffalo Chief about it.
"There was always corn, as I remember it," said the old bull, "growing
tall about the tipis. But touching the People of the Cliffs--that would
be Moke-icha's story."
The great yellow cat came slipping out from the over-weighted thickets
of wild plum, and settled herself on her boulder with a bound.
Stretching forth one of her steel-tipped pads toward the south she
seemed to draw the purple distance as one draws a lady by her scarf. The
thin lilac-tinted haze parted on the gorge of the Rio Grande, between
the white ranges. The walls of the cañon were scored with deep
perpendicular gashes as though the river had ripped its way through them
with its claws. Yellow pines balanced on the edge of the cliffs, and
smaller, tributary cañons, that opened into it, widened here and there
to let in tall, solitary trees, with patches of sycamore and wild cherry
and linked pools for trout.
"That was a country!" purred Moke-icha. "What was it you wished to know
"Ever so many things," said Oliver promptly--"if there were people
there, and if they had corn--"
"Queres they were called," said Moke-icha, "and they were already a
people, with corn of four colors for the four corners of the earth, and
many kinds of beans and squashes, when they came to Ty-uonyi."
"Where were they when the Corn Woman passed? Who were the Blanket
People, and what--"
"Softly," said Moke-icha. "Though I slept in the kivas and am called
Kabeyde, Chief of the Four-Footed, I did not know _all_ the tales of the
Queres. They were a very ancient people. On the Salt Trail, where it
passed by Split Rock, the trail was bitten deep into the granite. I
think they could not have been more than three or four hundred years in
Ty-uonyi when I knew them. They came from farther up the river where
they had cities built into the rock. And before that? How should I know?
They said they came from a hole in the ground, from Shipapu. They traded
to the south with salt which they brought from the Crawling Water for
green stones and a kind of white wool which grew on bushes, from which
they made their clothes. There were no wandering tribes about except the
Diné and they were all devils."
"Devils they may have been," said the Navajo, "but they did not say
their prayers to a yellow cat, O Kabeyde."
"I speak but as the People of the Cliffs," said Moke-icha soothingly.
"If they called to Diné devils, doubtless they had reason; and if they
made prayers and images to me, it was not without a reason: not without
good reason." Her tail bristled a little as it curled at the tip like a
snake. Deep yellow glints swam at the backs of her half-shut eyes.
"It was because of the Diné, who were not friendly to the Queres, that
the towns were built as you see, with the solid outer wall and the doors
all opening on a court, at the foot of the cliff. It was hot and quiet
there with always something friendly going on, children tumbling about
among the dogs and the turkeys, an old man rattling a gourd and singing
the evil away from his eyes, or the _plump, plump_ of the mealing-stone
from the doorways. Now and then a maiden going by, with a tray of her
best cooking which she carried to her young man as a sign that she had
accepted him, would throw me a morsel, and at evenings the priests would
come out of the kivas and strike with a clapper of deer's shoulder on a
flint gong to call the people to the dancing-places."
The children turned to look once more at the narrow rift of Ty-uonyi as
it opened from the cañon of the Rio Grande between two basalt columns to
allow the sparkling Rito to pass where barely two men could walk
abreast. Back from the stream the pale amber cliffs swept in smooth laps
and folds like ribbons. Crowded against its sheer northern face the
irregularly terraced heaps of the communal houses looked little as ant
heaps at the foot of a garden wall. Tiers and tiers of the T-shaped
openings of the cave dwellings spotted the smooth cliff, but along the
single two-mile street, except for an occasional obscure doorway, ran
the blank, mud-plastered wall of the kivas.
Where the floor of the cañon widened, the water of the Rito was led out
in tiny dikes and ditches to water the garden patches. A bowshot on the
opposite side rose the high south wall, wind and rain washed into tents
and pinnacles, spotted with pale scrub and blood-red flowers of nopal.
Trails spidered up its broken steep, and were lost in the cloud-drift or
dipped out of sight over the edge of the timbered mesa.
"We would go over the trail to hunt," said Moke-icha. "There were no
buffaloes, but blacktail and mule deer that fattened on the bunch grass,
and bands of pronghorn flashing their white rumps. Quail ran in droves
and rose among the mesas like young thunder.
"That was my cave," said the Puma, nodding toward a hole high up like a
speck on the five-hundred-foot cliff, close up under the great
ceremonial Cave which was painted with the sign of the Morning and the
Evening Star, and the round, bright House of the Sun Father. "But at
first I slept in the kiva with Tse-tse-yote. Speaking of devils--there
was no one who had the making of a livelier devil in him than my young
master. Slim as an arrow, he would come up from his morning dip in the
Rito, glittering like the dark stone of which knives are made, and his
hair in the sun gave back the light like a raven. And there was no man's
way of walking or standing, nor any cry of bird or beast, that he could
not slip into as easily as a snake slips into a shadow. He would never
mock when he was asked, but let him alone, and some evening, when the
people smoked and rested, he would come stepping across the court in the
likeness of some young man whose maiden had just smiled on him. Or if
some hunter prided himself too openly on a buck he had killed, the first
thing he knew there would be Tse-tse-yote walking like an ancient
spavined wether prodded by a blunt arrow, until the whole court roared
"Still, Kokomo should have known better than to try to make him one of
the Koshare, for though laughter followed my master as ripples follow a
skipping stone, he laughed little himself.
"Who were the Koshare? They were the Delight-Makers; one of their secret
societies. They daubed themselves with mud and white paint to make
laughter by jokes and tumbling. They had their kiva between us and the
Gourd People, but Tse-tse-yote, who had set his heart on being elected
to the Warrior Band, the Uakanyi, made no secret of thinking small of
"There was no war at that time, but the Uakanyi went down with the
Salt-Gatherers to Crawling Water, once in every year between the
corn-planting and the first hoeing, and as escort on the trading trips.
They would go south till they could see the blue wooded slope below the
white-veiled mountain, and would make smoke for a trade signal, three
smokes close together and one farther off, till the Men of the South
came to deal with them. But it was the Salt-Gathering that made
Tse-tse-yote prefer the Warrior Band to the Koshare, for all that
country through which the trail lay was disputed by the Diné. It is true
there was a treaty, but there was also a saying at Ty-uonyi, 'a sieve
for water and a treaty for the Diné.'"
[Illustration: Tse-tse-yote and Moke-icha]
The Navajo broke in angrily, "The Tellings were to be of the trails, O
Kabeyde, and not of the virtues of my ancestors!" The children looked at
"Are you the Diné?" they exclaimed both at once. It seemed to bring the
Cliff People so much nearer.
"So we were named, though we were called devils by those who feared us,
and Blanket People by the Plainsmen. We were a tree whose roots were in
the desert and whose branches were over all the north, and there is no
Telling of the Queres, Cochiti, or Ty-uonyi, O Kebeyde,"--he turned to
the puma,--"which I cannot match with a better of those same Diné."
"There were Diné in this Telling," purred Moke-icha, "and one puma.
There was also Pitahaya, the chief, who was so old that he spent most of
the time singing the evil out of his eyes. There was Kokomo, who wished
to be chief in his stead, and there was Willow-in-the-Wind, the turkey
girl, who had no one belonging to her. She had a wind-blown way of
walking, and her long hair, which she washed almost every day in the
Rito, streamed behind her like the tips of young willows. Finally, there
was Tse-tse-yote. But one must pick up the trail before one settles to
the Telling," said Moke-icha.
"Tse-tse-yote took me, a nine days' cub, from the lair in Shut Cañon and
brought me up in his mother's house, the fifth one on the right from the
gate that was called, because of a great hump of arrow-stone which was
built into it, Rock-Overhanging. When he was old enough to leave his
mother and sleep in the kiva of his clan, he took me with him, where I
have no doubt, we made a great deal of trouble. Nights when the moon
called me, I would creep out of Tse-tse's arms to the top of the ladder.
The kivas opened downward from a hole in the roof in memory of Shipapu.
Half-awake, Tse-tse would come groping to find me until he trod on one
of the others by mistake, who would dream that the Diné were after him
and wake the kiva with his howls. Or somebody would pinch my tail and
Tse-tse would hit right and left with his pillows--"
"Pillows?" said Oliver.
"Mats of reed or deerskin. They would slap at one another, or snatch at
any convenient ankle or hair, until Kokomo, the master of the kiva,
would have to come and cuff them apart. Always he made believe that
Tse-tse or I had started it, and one night he tried to throw me out by
the skin of my neck, and I turned in his hand--How was I to know that
the skin of man is so tender?--and his smell was the smell of a man who
"After that, even Tse-tse-yote saw that I was too old for the kiva, so
he made me a cave for myself, high up under the House of the Sun Father,
and afterward he widened it so that he could sit there tying prayer
plumes and feathering his arrows. By day I hunted with Tse-tse-yote on
the mesa, or lay up in a corner of the terrace above the court of the
Gourd Clan, and by night--to say the truth, by night I did very much as
it pleased me. There was a broken place in the wall-plaster by the gate
of the Rock-Overhanging, by which I could go up and down, and if I was
caught walking on the terrace, nobody minded me. I was Kabeyde, and the
hunters thought I brought them luck."
Thus having picked up the trail to her satisfaction, Moke-icha tucked
her paws under her comfortably and settled to her story.
"When Tse-tse-yote took me to sleep with him in the kiva of his clan,
Kokomo, who was head of the kiva, objected. So Tse-tse-yote spent the
three nights following in a corner of the terrace with me curled up for
warmth beside him. Tse-tse's father heard of it and carried the matter
to Council. Tse-tse had taken me with his own hands from the lair,
knowing very well what my mother would have done to him had she come
back and found him there; and Tse-tse's father was afraid, if they took
away the first fruits of his son's courage, the courage would go with
it. The Council agreed with him. Kokomo was furious at having the
management of his kiva taken out of his hands, and Tse-tse knew it.
Later, when even Tse-tse's father agreed that I was too old for the
kiva, Tse-tse taught me to curl my tail under my legs and slink on my
belly when I saw Kokomo. Then he would scold me for being afraid of the
kind man, and the other boys would giggle, for they knew very well that
Tse-tse had to beat me over the head with a firebrand to teach me
"It was a day or two after I had learned it, that we met
Willow-in-the-Wind feeding her turkey flock by the Rito as we came from
hunting, and she scolded Tse-tse for making fun of Kokomo.
"'It is plain,' she said, 'that you are trying to get yourself elected
to the Delight-Makers.'
"'You know very well it is no such thing,' he answered her roughly, for
it was not permitted a young man to make a choice of the society he
would belong to. He had to wait until he was elected by his elders. The
turkey girl paddled her toes in the Rito.
"'There is only one way,' she said, 'that a man can be kept from making
fun of the Koshare, and that is by electing him a member. Now, _I_
thought you would have preferred the Uakanyi,'--just as if she did not
know that there was little else he thought of.
"Tse-tse pulled up the dry grass and tossed it into the water. 'In the
old days,' he said, 'I have heard that Those Above sent the
Delight-Makers to make the people laugh so that the way should not seem
long, and the Earth be fruitful. But now the jests of the Koshare are
scorpions, each one with a sting in its tail for the enemies of the
Delight-Makers. I had sooner strike mine with a knife or an arrow.'
"'Enemies, yes,' said Willow-in-the-Wind, 'but you cannot use a knife on
those who sit with you in Council. You know very well that Kokomo wishes
to be chief in place of Pitahaya.'
"Tse-tse looked right and left to see who listened. 'Kokomo is a strong
man in Ty-uonyi,' he said; 'it was he who made the treaty with the Diné.
And Pitahaya is blind.'
"'Aye,' said the turkey girl; 'when you are a Delight-Maker you can make
a fine jest of it.'
"She had been brought up a foundling in the house of the old chief and
was fond of him. Tse-tse, who had heard and said more than became a
young man, was both angry and frightened; therefore he boasted.
"'Kokomo shall not make me a Koshare,' he said; 'it will not be the
first time I have carried the Council against him.'
"At that time I did not know so much of the Diné as that they were men.
But the day after Willow-in-the-Wind told Tse-tse that Kokomo meant to
have him elected to the Koshare if only to keep him from making a mock
of Kokomo, we went up over the south wall hunting.
"It was all flat country from there to the roots of the mountains; great
pines stood wide apart, with here and there a dwarf cedar steeping in
the strong sun. We hunted all the morning and lay up under a dark oak
watching the young winds stalk one another among the lupins. Lifting
myself to catch the upper scent, I winded a man that was not of
Ty-uonyi. A moment later we saw him with a buck on his shoulders,
working his way cautiously toward the head of Dripping Spring Cañon.
'Diné!' said Tse-tse; 'fighting man.' And he signed to me that we must
"For an hour we slunk and crawled through the black rock that broke
through the mesa like a twisty root of the mountain. At the head of
Dripping Spring we smelled wood smoke. We crept along the cañon rim and
saw our man at the bottom of it. He had hung up his buck at the camp and
was cutting strips from it for his supper.
"'Look well, Kabeyde,' said my master; 'smell and remember. This man is
my enemy.' I did not like the smell in any case. The Queres smell of the
earth in which they dig and house, but the Diné smelled of himself and
the smoke of sagebrush. Tse-tse's hand was on the back of my neck.
'Wait,' he said; 'one Diné has not two blankets.' We could see them
lying in a little heap not far from the camp. Presently in the dusk
another man came up the cañon from the direction of the river and
"We cast back and forth between Dripping Spring and the mouth of the
Ty-uonyi most of the night, but no more Diné showed themselves. At
sunrise Willow-in-the-Wind met us coming up the Rito.
"'Feed farther up,' Tse-tse told her; 'the Diné are abroad.'
"Her face changed, but she did not squeal as the other women did when
they heard it. Therefore I respected her. That was the way it was with
me. Every face I searched, to see if there was fear in it, and if there
was none I myself was a little afraid; but where there was fear the back
of my neck bristled. I know that the hair rose on it when we came to
tell our story to the Council. That was when Kokomo was called; he came
rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, pretending that Tse-tse had made a
tale out of nothing.
"'We have a treaty with the Diné,' he said. 'Besides, I was out
rehearsing with the Koshare last night toward Shut Cañon; if there had
been Diné _I_ should have seen them.'
"It was then that I was aware of Tse-tse's hand creeping along my
shoulders to hide the bristling.
"'He is afraid,' said Tse-tse to me in the cave; 'you saw it. Yet he is
not afraid of the Diné. Sometimes I think he is afraid of me. That is
why he wished me to join the Koshare, for then he will be my Head, and
without his leave I can do nothing.'
"This was a true saying. Only a few days after that, I found one of
their little wooden images, painted and feathered like a Delight-Maker,
in my cave. It was an invitation. It smelled of Kokomo and I scratched
dirt on it. Then came Tse-tse, and as he turned the little Koshare over
in his hand, I saw that there were many things had come into his head
which would never come into mine. Presently I heard him laugh as he did
when he had hit upon some new trick for splitting the people's sides,
like the bubble of a wicker bottle held under water. He took my chin in
his hand. 'Without doubt,' he said, 'this is Kokomo's; he would be very
pleased if you returned it to him.' I understood it as an order.
"I carried the little Delight-Maker to Kokomo that night in the inner
court, when the evening meal was over and the old men smoked while the
younger sat on the housetops and moaned together melodiously. Tse-tse
looked up from a game of cherry stones. 'Hey, Kokomo, have you been
inviting Kabeyde to join the Koshare? A good shot!' he said, and before
Kokomo could answer it, he began putting me through my tricks."
"Tricks?" cried the children.
"Jumping over a stick, you know, and showing what I would do if I met
the Diné." The great cat flattened herself along the ground to spring,
put back her ears, and showed her teeth with a snarly whine, almost too
wicked to be pretended. "I was very good at that," said Moke-icha.
"'The Delight-Maker was for you, Tse-tse,' said the turkey girl next
morning. 'Kokomo cannot prove that you gave it to Kabeyde, but he will
never forgive you.'
"True enough, at the next festival the Koshare set the whole of Ty-uonyi
shouting with a sort of play that showed Tse-tse scared by rabbits in
the brush, and thinking the Diné were after them. Tse-tse was furious
and the turkey girl was so angry on his account that she scolded _him_,
which is the way with women.
"You see," explained Moke-icha to the children, "if he wanted to be made
a member of the Warrior Band, it wouldn't help him any to be proved a
bad scout, and a bringer of false alarms. And if he could be elected to
the Uakanyi that spring, he would probably be allowed to go on the salt
expedition between corn-planting and the first hoeing. But after I had
carried back the little Delight-Maker to Kokomo, there were no signs of
the four-colored arrow, which was the invitation to the Uakanyi, and
young men whom Tse-tse had mimicked too often went about pretending to
discover Diné wherever a rabbit ran or the leaves rustled.
"Tse-tse behaved very badly. He was sharp with the turkey girl because
she had warned him, and when we hunted on the mesa he would forget me
altogether, running like a man afraid of himself until I was too winded
to keep up with him. I am not built for running," said Moke-icha, "my
part was to pick up the trail of the game, and then to lie up while
Tse-tse drove it past and spring for the throat and shoulder. But when I
found myself neglected I went back to Willow-in-the-Wind who wove
wreaths for my neck, which tickled my chin, and made Tse-tse furious.
"The day that the names of those who would go on the Salt Trail were
given out--Tse-tse's was not among them--was two or three before the
feast of the corn-planting and the last of the winter rains.
Tse-tse-yote was off on one of his wild runnings, but I lay in the back
of the cave and heard the myriad-footed Rain on the mesa. Between
showers there was a soft foot on the ladder outside, and
Willow-in-the-Wind pushed a tray of her best cooking into the door of
the cave and ran away without looking. That was the fashion of a
love-giving. I was much pleased with it."
"Oh!--" Dorcas Jane began to say and broke off. "Tell us what it was!"
"Breast of turkey roasted, and rabbit stew with pieces of squash and
chia, and beans cooked in fat,--very good eating; and of course thin,
folded cakes of maize; though I do not care much for corn cakes unless
they are well greased. But because it was a love-gift I ate all of it
and was licking the basket-tray when Tse-tse came back. He knew the
fashion of her weaving,--every woman's baskets had her own mark,--and as
he took it from me his face changed as though something inside him had
turned to water. Without a word he went down the hill to the chief's
house and I after him.
"'Moke-icha liked your cooking so well,' he said to the turkey girl,
'that she was eating the basket also. I have brought it back to you.'
There he stood shifting from one foot to another and Willow-in-the-Wind
turned taut as a bowstring.
"'Oh,' she said, 'Moke-icha has eaten it! I am very glad to hear it.'
And with that she marched into an inner room and did not come out again
all that evening, and Tse-tse went hunting next day without me.
"The next night, which was the third before the feast of planting, being
lonely, I went out for a walk on the mesa. It was a clear night of wind
and moving shadow; I went on a little way and smelled man. Two men I
smelled, Diné and Queresan, and the Queresan was Kokomo. They were
together in the shadow of a juniper where no man could have seen them.
Where I stood no man could have heard them.
"'It is settled, then,' said Kokomo. 'You send the old man to Shipapu,
for which he has long been ready, and take the girl for your trouble.'
"'Good,' said the Diné. 'But will not the Ko-share know if an extra man
goes in with them?'
"'We go in three bands, and we have taken in so many new members that no
one knows exactly.'
"'It is a risk,' said the Diné.
"And as he moved into the wind I knew the smell of him, and it was the
man we had seen at Dripping Spring; not the hunter, but the one who had
"'Not so much risk as the chance of not finding the right house in the
dark,' said Kokomo; 'and the girl has no one belonging to her. Who shall
say that she did not go of her own accord?'
"'At any rate,' the Diné laughed, 'I know she must be as beautiful as
you say she is, since you are willing to run the risk of my seeing her.'
"They moved off, and the wind walking on the pine needles covered what
they said, but I remembered what I had heard because they smelled
"Two nights later I remembered it again when the Delight-Makers came out
of the dark in three bands and split the people's sides with laughter.
They were disguised in black-and-white paint and daubings of mud and
feathers, but there was a Diné among them. By the smell I knew him. He
was a tall man who tumbled well and kept close to Kokomo. But a Diné is
an enemy. Tse-tse-yote had told me. Therefore I kept close at his heels
as they worked around toward the house of Pitahaya, and my neck
bristled. I could see that the Diné had noticed me. He grew a little
frightened, I think, and whipped at me with the whip of feathers which
the Koshare carried to tickle the tribesmen. I laid back my ears--I am
Kabeyde, and it is not for the Diné to flick whips at me. All at once
there rose a shouting for Tse-tse, who came running and beat me over the
head with his bow-case.
"'They will think I set you on to threaten the Koshare because they
mocked me,' he said. 'Have you not done me mischief enough already?'
"That was when we were back in the cave, where he penned me till
morning. There was no way I could tell him that there was a Diné among
"But I thought--" began Oliver, he looked over to where Arrumpa stood
drawing young boughs of maple through his mouth like a boy stripping
currants. "Couldn't you just have told him?"
"In the old days," said Moke-icha, "men spoke with beasts as brothers.
The Queres had come too far on the Man Trail. I had no words, but I
remembered the trick he had taught me, about what to do when I met a
Diné. I laid back my ears and snarled at him.
"'What!' he said; 'will you make a Diné of _me_?' I saw him frown, and
suddenly he slapped his thigh as a man does when thought overtakes him.
Being but a lad he would not have dared say what he thought, but he took
to spending the night on top of the kiva. I would look out of my cave
and see him there curled up in a corner, or pacing to and fro with the
dew on his blanket and his face turned to the souls of the prayer plumes
drifting in a wide band across the middle heaven.
"I would have been glad to keep him company, but as neither Tse-tse nor
Willow-in-the-Wind paid any attention to me in those days, I decided
that I might as well go with the men and see for myself what lay at the
other end of the Salt Trail.
"I gave them a day's start, so that I might not be turned back; but it
was not necessary, since no man looked back or turned around on that
journey, and no one spoke except those who had been over the trail at
least two times. They ate little,--fine meal of parched corn mixed with
water,--and what was left in the cup was put into the earth for a thank
offering. No one drank except as the leader said they could, and at
night they made prayers and songs.
"The trail leaves the mesa at the Place of the Gap, a dry gully snaking
its way between puma-colored hills and boulders big as kivas. Lasting
Water is at the end of the second day's journey; rainwater that slips
down into a black basin with rock overhanging, cool as an olla. The
rocks in that place when struck give out a pleasant sound. Beyond the
Gap there is white sand in waves like water, wild hills and raw, red
cañons. Around a split rock the trail dips suddenly to Sacred Water,
shallow and white-bordered like a great dead eye."
"I know that place," said the Navajo, "and I think this must be true,
for there is a trail there which bites deep into the granite."
"It was deep and polished even in my day," said Moke-icha, "but that did
not interest me. There was no kill there larger than rabbits, and when I
had seen the men cast prayer plumes on the Sacred Water and begin to
scrape up the salt for their packs, I went back to Ty-uonyi. It was not
until I got back to Lasting Water that I picked up the trail of the
Diné. I followed it half a day before it occurred to me that they were
going to Ty-uonyi. One of the smells--there were three of them--was the
Diné who had come in with the Koshare. I remembered the broken plaster
on the wall and Tse-tse asleep on the housetops. _Then_ I hurried.
"It was blue midnight and the scent fresh on the grass as I came up the
Rito. I heard a dog bark behind the first kiva, and, as I came opposite
Rock-Overhanging, the sound of feet running. I smelled Diné going up the
wall and slipped back in my hurry, but as I came over the roof of the
kiva a tumult broke out in the direction of Pitahaya's house. There was
a scream and a scuffle. I saw Tse-tse running and sent him the puma cry
at which does asleep with their fawns tremble. Down in the long passage
between Pitahaya's court and the gate of Rock-Overhanging, Tse-tse
answered with the hunting-whistle.
"There was a fight going on in the passage. I could feel the cool
draught from the open gate,--they must have opened it from the inside
after scaling the wall by the broken plaster,--and smelled rather than
saw that one man held the passage against Tse-tse. He was armed with a
stone hammer, which is no sort of weapon for a narrow passage. Tse-tse
had caught bow and quiver from the arms that hung always at the inner
entrance of the passage, but made no attempt to draw. He was crouched
against the wall, knife in hand, watching for an opening, when he heard
me padding up behind him in the darkness.
"'Good! Kabeyde,' he cried softly; 'go for him.'
"I sprang straight for the opening I could see behind the Diné, and felt
him go down as I cleared the entrance. Tse-tse panted behind
me,--'Follow, follow!' I could hear the men my cry had waked, pouring
out of the kivas, and knew that the Diné we had knocked over would be
taken care of. We picked up the trail of those who had escaped, straight
across the Rito and over the south wall, but it was an hour before I
realized that they had taken Willow-in-the-Wind with them. Old Pitahaya
was dead without doubt, and the man who had taken Willow-in-the-Wind
was, by the smell, the same that had come in with Kokomo and
"We were hot on their trail, and by afternoon of the next day I was
certain that they were making for Lasting Water. So I took Tse-tse over
the rim of the Gap by a short cut which I had discovered, which would
drop us back into the trail before they had done drinking. Tse-tse, who
trusted me to keep the scent, was watching ahead for a sight of the
quarry. Thus he saw the Diné before I winded them. I don't know whether
they were just a hunting-party, or friends of those we followed. We
dropped behind a boulder and Tse-tse counted while I lifted every scent.
"'Five,' he said, 'and the Finisher of the Paths of Our Lives knows how
many more between us and Lasting Water!'
"We did not know yet whether they had seen us, but as we began to move
again cautiously, a fox barked in the scrub that was not a fox. Off to
our left another answered him. So now we were no longer hunters,
"Tse-tse slipped his tunic down to his middle and, unbinding his queue,
wound his long hair about his head to make himself look as much like a
Diné as possible. I could see thought rippling in him as he worked, like
wind on water. We began to snake between the cactus and the black rock
toward the place where the fox had last barked."
"But _toward_ them---" Oliver began.
"They were between us and Lasting Water,"--Moke-icha looked about the
listening circle and the Indians nodded, agreeing. "When a fox barked
again, Tse-tse answered with the impudent folly of a young kit talking
back to his betters. Evidently the man on our left was fooled by it, for
he sheered off, but within a bowshot they began to close on us again.
"We had come to a thicket of mesquite from which a man might slip
unnoticed to the head of the gully, provided no one watched that
particular spot too steadily. There we lay among the thorns and the
shadows were long in the low sun. Close on our right a twig snapped and
I began to gather myself for the spring. The ground sloped a little
before us and gave the advantage. The hand of Tse-tse-yote came along
the back of my neck and rested there. 'If a puma lay up here during the
sun,' he whispered, 'this is the hour he would go forth to his hunting.
He would go stretching himself after sleep and having no fear of man,
for where Kabeyde lies up, who expects to find man also.' His hand came
under my chin as his custom was in giving orders. This was how I
understood it; this I did--"
The great cat bounded lightly to the ground, took two or three stretchy
steps, shaking the sleep from her flanks, yawned prodigiously, and
trotted off toward a thicket of wild plums into which she slipped like a
beam of yellow light into water. A moment later she reappeared on the
opposite side, bounded back and settled herself on the boulder. Around
the circle ran the short "Huh! Huh!" of Indian approval. The Navajo
shifted his blanket.
"A Diné could have done no more for a friend," he admitted.
"I see," said Oliver. "When the Diné saw you coming out of the mesquite
they would have been perfectly sure there was no man there. But anyway,
they might have taken a shot at you."
"And the twang of the bowstring and the thrashing about of the kill in
the thicket would have told Tse-tse exactly where _they_ were," said the
Navajo. "The Diné when they hunt man do not turn aside for a puma."
"The hardest part of it all," said Moke-icha, "was to keep from showing
I winded him. I heard the Diné move off, fox-calling to one another, and
at last I smelled Tse-tse working down the gully. He paid no attention
to me whatever; his eyes were fixed on the Diné who stood by the spring
with his back to him looking down on the turkey girl who was huddled
against the rocks with her hands tied behind her. The Diné looked down
with his arms folded, evil-smiling. She looked up and I saw her spit at
him. The man took her by the shoulder, laughing still, and spun her up
standing. Half a bowshot away I heard Tse-tse-yote. 'Down! Down!' he
shouted. The girl dropped like a quail. The Diné, whirling on his heel,
met the arrow with his throat, and pitched choking. I came as fast as I
could between the boulders--I am not built for running--Tse-tse had
unbound the girl's hands and she leaned against him.
"Breathing myself before drinking, I caught a new scent up the Gap where
the wind came from, but before I had placed it there came a little
scrape on the rocks under the roof of Lasting Water, small, like the
rasp of a snake coiling. I had forgot there were three Diné at Ty-uonyi;
the third had been under the rock drinking. He came crawling now with
his knife in his teeth toward Tse-tse. Me he had not seen until he came
round the singing rock, face to face with me...
"When it was over," said Moke-icha, "I climbed up the black roof of
Lasting Water to lick a knife cut in my shoulder. Tse-tse talked to the
girl, of all things, about the love-gift she had put in the cave for me.
'Moke-icha had eaten it before I found her,' he insisted, which was
unnecessary. I lay looking at the Diné I had killed and licking my wound
till I heard, around the bend of the Gap, the travel song of the Queres.
"It was the Salt Pack coming back, every man with his load on his
shoulders. They put their hands in their mouths when they saw Tse-tse.
There was talk; Willow-in-the-Wind told them something. Tse-tse turned
the man he had shot face upward. There was black-and-white paint on his
body; the stripes of the Koshare do not come off easily. I saw Tse-tse
look from the man to Kokomo and the face of the Koshare turned grayish.
I had lived with man, and man-thoughts came to me. I had tasted blood of
my master's enemies; also Kokomo was afraid, and that is an offense to
me. I dropped from where I lay ... I had come to my full weight ... I
think his back was broken.
"It is the Way Things Are," said Moke-icha. "Kokomo had let in the Diné
to kill Pitahaya to make himself chief, and he would have killed Tse-tse
for finding out about it. That I saw and smelled in him. But I did not
wait this time to be beaten with my master's bow-case. I went back to
Shut Cañon, for now that I had killed one of them, it was not good for
me to live with the Queres. Nevertheless, in the rocks above Ty-uonyi
you can still see the image they made of me."
YOUNG-MAN-WHO-NEVER-TURNS-BACK: A TELLING OF THE TALLEGEWI, BY ONE OF
It could only have been for a few moments at the end of Moke-icha's
story, before the cliff picture split like a thin film before the
dancing circles of the watchmen's lanterns, and curled into the shadows
between the cases. A thousand echoes broke out in the empty halls and
muffled the voices as the rings of light withdrew down the long gallery
in glimmering reflections. When they passed to the floor below a very
remarkable change had come over the landscape.
The Buffalo Chief and Moke-icha had disappeared. A little way ahead the
trail plunged down the leafy tunnel of an ancient wood, along which the
children saw the great elk trotting leisurely with his cows behind him,
flattening his antlers over his back out of the way of the low-branching
maples. The switching of the brush against the elk's dun sides startled
the little black bear, who was still riffling his bee tree. The children
watched him rise inquiringly to his haunches before he scrambled down
the trail out of sight.
"Lots of those fellows about in my day," said the Mound-Builder. "We
used to go for them in the fall when they grew fat on the dropping nuts
and acorns. Elk, too. I remember a ten-pronged buck that I shot one
winter on the Elk's-Eye River..."
"The Muskingum!" exclaimed an Iroquois, who had listened in silence to
the puma's story. "Did you call it that too? Elk's-Eye! Clear brown and
smooth-flowing. That's the Scioto Trail, isn't it?" he asked of the
"You could call it that. There was a cut-off at Beaver Dam to Flint
Ridge and the crossing of the Muskingum, and another that led to the
mouth of the Kanawha where it meets the River of White-Flashing."
"He means the Ohio," explained the Iroquois to the children. "At flood
the whole surface of the river would run to white riffles like the flash
of a water-bird's wings. But the French called it La Belle Rivière. I'm
an Onondaga myself," he added, "and in my time the Five Nations held all
the territory, after we had driven out the Talle-gewi, between the Lakes
and the O-hey-yo." He stretched the word out, giving it a little
different turn. "Indians' names talk little," he laughed, "but they
"Like the trails," agreed the Mound-Builder, who was one of the
Tallegewi himself, "every word is the expression of a need. We had a
trade route over this one for copper which we fetched from the Land of
the Sky-Blue Water and exchanged for sea-shells out of the south. At the
mouth of the Scioto it connected with the Kaskaskia Trace to the
Missi-Sippu, where we went once a year to shoot buffaloes on
"When the Five Nations possessed the country, the buffaloes came to us,"
said the Onondaga.
"Then the Long Knives came on the sea in the East and there was neither
buffaloes nor Mengwe," answered the Mound-Builder, who did not like
these interruptions. He went on describing the Kaskaskia Trail. "It led
along the highlands around the upper waters of the Miami and the drowned
lands of the Wabash. It was a wonderful trip in the month of the Moon
Halting, when there was a sound of dropping nuts and the woods were all
one red and yellow rain. But in summer...I should know," said the
Mound-Builder; "I carried a pipe as far as Little Miami once..."
He broke off as though the recollection was not altogether a happy one
and began to walk away from the wood, along the trail, which broadened
quickly to a graded way, and led up the slope of a high green mound.
The children followed him without a word. They understood that they had
come to the place in the Story of the Trails, which is known in the
schoolbooks as "History." From the top of the mound they could see
strange shapes of earthworks stretching between them and the shore of
Erie. Lakeward the sand and the standing grass was the pale color of the
moon that floated above it in the midday sky. Between them the blue of
the lake melted into the blue horizon; the turf over the mounds was
thick and wilted.
"I suppose I must remember it like this," said the Tallega, "because
this is the way I saw it when I came back, an old man, after the fall of
Cahokia. But when this mound was built there were towns here, busy and
crowded. The forest came close up on one side, and along the lake front,
field touched field for a day's journey. My town was the middle one of
three of the Eagle Clan. Our Town House stood here, on the top of this
mound, and on that other, the tallest, stood the god-house, with the
Sacred Fire, and the four old men watchers to keep it burning."
"I thought," said Oliver, trying to remember what he had read about it,
"that the mounds were for burials. People dig into them, you know."
"They might think that," agreed the Tallega, "if all they know comes
from what they find by digging. They were for every purpose that
buildings are used for, but we always thought it a good omen if we could
start a Town Mound with the bones of some one we had loved and
respected. First, we laid a circle of stones and an altar with a burnt
offering, then the bones of the chief, or some of our heroes who were
killed in battle. Then the women brought earth in baskets. And if a
chief had served us well, we sometimes buried him on top and raised the
mound higher over him, and the mound would be known by his name until
another chief arose who surpassed him.
"Then there were earthworks for forts and signal stations. You'll find
those on the high places overlooking the principal trails; there were
always heaps of wood piled up for smoke signals. The circles were for
meeting-places and for games."
"What sort of games?" demanded Oliver.
"Ball-play and races; all that sort of thing. There was a game we played
with racquets between goals. Village played against village. The people
would sit on the earthworks and clap and shout when the game pleased
them, and gambled everything they had on their home-town players.
"I suppose," he added, looking around on the green tumuli, "I remember
it like this, because when I lived here I was so full of what was going
on that I had no time for noticing how it looked to me."
"What did go on?" both the children wished immediately to know.
"Something different every time the moon changed. Ice-fishing,
corn-husking. We did everything together; that was what made it so
interesting. The men let us go to the fur traps to carry home the pelts,
and we hung up the birch-bark buckets for our mothers at the
sugar-boiling. Maple sugar, you know. Then we would persuade them to
ladle out a little of the boiling sap into plates that we patted out of
the snow, which could always be found lingering in the hollows, at
sugar-makings. When it was still waxy and warm, we rolled up the cooled
syrup and ate it out of hand.
"In summer whole families would go to the bottom lands paw-paw
gathering. Winter nights there was story-telling in the huts. We had a
kind of corn, very small, that burst out white like a flower when it was
"Pop-corn!" cried both the children at once. It seemed strange that
anything they liked so much should have belonged to the Mound-Builders.
"Why, that was what _we_ called it!" he agreed, smiling. "Our mothers
used to stir it in the pot with pounded hickory nuts and bears' grease.
Good eating! And the trading trips! Some of our men used to go as far as
Little River for chert which they liked better for arrow-points than our
own flints, being less brittle and more easily worked. That was a canoe
trip, down the Scioto, down the O-hey-yo, up the Little Tenasa as far as
Little River. There was adventure enough to please everybody.
"That bird-shaped mound," he pointed, "was built the time we won the
Eagle-Dancing against all the other villages."
The Mound-Builder drew out from under his feather robe a gorget of pearl
shell, beautifully engraved with the figure of a young man dancing in an
eagle-beaked mask, with eagles' wings fastened to his shoulders.
"Most of the effigy mounds," he said, taking the gorget from his neck to
let the children examine it, "were built that way to celebrate a treaty
or a victory. Sometimes," he added, after a pause, looking off across
the wide flat mounds between the two taller ones, "they were built like
these, to celebrate a defeat. It was there we buried the Tallegewi who
fell in our first battle with the Lenni-Lenape."
"Were they Mound-Builders, too?" the children asked respectfully, for
though the man's voice was sad, it was not as though he spoke of
"People of the North," he said, "hunting-people, good foes and good
fighters. But afterward, they joined with the Mengwe and drove us from
the country. _That_ was a Mingo,"--he pointed to the Iroquois who had
called himself an Onondaga, disappearing down the forest tunnel. They
saw him a moment, with arrow laid to bow, the sunlight making tawny
splotches on his dark body, as on the trunk of a pine tree, and then
they lost him.
"We were planters and builders," said the Tallega, "and they were
fighters, so they took our lands from us. But look, now, how time
changes all. Of the Lenni-Lenape and the Mengwe there is only a name,
and the mounds are still standing."
"You said," Oliver hinted, "that you carried a pipe once. Was
"It might be peace or war," said the Mound-Builder. "In my case it was
an order for Council, from which war came, bloody and terrible. A
Pipe-Bearer's life was always safe where he was recognized, though when
there is war one is very likely to let fly an arrow at anything moving
in the trails. That reminds me..." The Tallega put back his feathered
robe carefully as he leaned upon his elbow, and the children snuggled
into a little depression at the top of the mound where the fire-hole had
been, to listen.
"There was a boy in our town," he began, "who was the captain of all our
plays from the time we first stole melons and roasting-ears from the
town gardens. He got us into no end of trouble, but no matter what came
of it, we always stood up for him before the elders. There was nothing
_they_ could say which seemed half so important to us as praise or blame
from Ongyatasse. I don't know why, unless it was because he could
out-run and out-wrestle the best of us; and yet he was never pleased
with himself unless the rest of us were satisfied to have it that way.
"Ongyatasse was what his mother called him. It means something very
pretty about the colored light of evening, but the name that he earned
for himself, when he was old enough to be Name-Seeking, was
"He was the arrow laid to the bow, and he could no more take himself
back from the adventure he had begun than the shaft can come back to the
"Before we were old enough to go up to the god-house and hear the sacred
Tellings, he had half the boys in our village bound to him in an
unbreakable vow never to turn back from anything we had started. It got
us into a great many difficulties, some of which were ridiculous, but it
had its advantages. The time we chased a young elk we had raised, across
the squash and bean vines of Three Towns, we escaped punishment on the
ground of our vow. Any Tallega parent would think a long time before he
expected his son to break a promise."
Oliver kept to the main point of interest. "Did you get the elk?"
"_Of course_. You see we were never allowed to carry a man's hunting
outfit until we had run down some big game, and brought it in alive to
prove ourselves proper sportsmen. So partly for that and partly because
Ongyatasse always knew the right words to say to everybody, we were
forgiven the damage to the gardens.
"That was the year the Lenni-Lenape came to the Grand Council, which was
held here at Sandusky, asking permission to cross our territory toward
the Sea on the East. They came out of Shinaki, the Fir-Land, as far as
Namae-Sippu, and stood crowded between the lakes north of the river. For
the last year or two, hunting-parties of theirs had been warned back
from trespass, but this was the first time we youngsters had seen
anything of them.
"They were fine-looking fellows, fierce, and tall appearing, with their
hair cropped up about their ears, and a long hanging scalp-lock tied
with eagle feathers. At the same time they seemed savage to us, for they
wore no clothing but twisty skins about their middles, ankle-cut
moccasins, and the Peace Mark on their foreheads.
"Because of the Mark they bore no weapons but the short hunting-bow and
wolfskin quivers, with the tails hanging down, and painted breastbands.
They were chiefs, by their way of walking, and one of them had brought
his son with him. He was about Ongyatasse's age, as handsome as a young
fir. Probably he had a name in his own tongue, but we called him White
Quiver. Few of us had won ours yet, and his was man's size, of white
deerskin and colored quill-work.
"Our mothers, to keep us out of the way of the Big Eating which they
made ready for the visiting chiefs, had given us some strips of venison.
We were toasting them at a fire we had made close to a creek, to stay
our appetites. My father, who was Keeper of the Smoke for that
occasion,--I was immensely proud of him,--saw the Lenape boy watching us
out of the tail of his eye, and motioned to me with his hand that I
should make him welcome. My father spoke with his hand so that White
Quiver should understand--" The Mound-Builder made with his own thumb
and forefinger the round sign of the Sun Father, and then the upturned
palm to signify that all things should be as between brothers. "I was
perfectly willing to do as my father said, for, except Ongyatasse, I had
never seen any one who pleased me so much as the young stranger. But
either because he thought the invitation should have come from himself
as the leader of the band, or because he was a little jealous of our
interest in White Quiver, Ongyatasse tossed me a word over his shoulder,
'We play with no crop-heads.'
"That was not a true word, for the Lenni-Lenape do not crop the head
until they go on the war-path, and White Quiver's hair lay along his
shoulders, well oiled, with bright bits of shell tied in it, glittering
as he walked. Also it is the rule of the Tellings that one must feed the
stranger. But me, I was never a Name-Seeker. I was happy to stand fourth
from Ongyatasse in the order of our running. For the rest, my brothers
used to say that I was the tail and Ongyatasse wagged me.
"Whether he had heard the words or not, the young Lenape saw me stutter
in my invitation. There might have been a quiver in his face,--at my
father's gesture he had turned toward me,--but there was none in his
walking. He came straight on toward our fire and _through_ it. Three
strides beyond it he drank at the creek as though that had been his only
object, and back through the fire to his father. I could see red marks
on his ankles where the fire had bitten him, but he never so much as
looked at them, nor at us any more than if we had been trail-grass. He
stood at his father's side and the drums were beginning. Around the
great mound came the Grand Council with their feather robes and the tall
headdresses, up the graded way to the Town House, as though all the gay
weeds in Big Meadow were walking. It was the great spectacle of the
year, but it was spoiled for all our young band by the sight of a slim
youth shaking off our fire, as if it had been dew, from his
"You see," said the Mound-Builder, "it was much worse for us because we
admired him immensely, and Ongyatasse, who liked nothing better than
being kind to people, couldn't help seeing that he could have made a
much better point for himself by doing the honors of the village to this
chief's son, instead of their both going around with their chins in the
air pretending not to see one another.
"The Lenni-Lenape won the permission they had come to ask for, to pass
through the territory of the Tallegewi, under conditions that were made
by Well-Praised, our war-chief; a fat man, a wonderful orator, who never
took a straight course where he could find a cunning one. What those
conditions were you shall hear presently. At the time, we boys were
scarcely interested. That very summer we began to meet small parties of
strangers drifting through the woods, as silent and as much at home in
them as foxes. But the year had come around to the Moon of Sap Beginning
before we met White Quiver again.
"A warm spell had rotted the ice on the rivers, followed by two or three
days of sharp cold and a tracking snow. We had been out with Ongyatasse
to look at our traps, and then the skin-smooth surface of the river
"We came racing home close under the high west bank where the ice was
thickest, but as we neared Bent Bar, Young-Man-Who-Never-Turns-Back
turned toward the trail that cut down to the ford between the points of
Hanging Wood. The ice must have rotted more than we guessed, for halfway
across, Ongyatasse dropped through it like a pebble into a pot-hole.
Next to him was Tiakens, grandson of Well-Praised, and between me and
Tiakens a new boy from Painted Turtle. I heard the splash and shout of
Tiakens following Ongyatasse,--of course, he said afterward that he
would have gone to the bottom with him rather than turn back, but I
doubt if he could have stopped himself,--and the next thing I knew the
Painted Turtle boy was hitting me in the nose for stopping him, and
Kills Quickly, who had not seen what was happening, had crashed into us
from behind. We lay all sprawled in a heap while the others hugged the
banks, afraid to add their weight to the creaking ice, and Ongyatasse
was beating about in the rotten sludge, trying to find a place firm
enough to climb out on.
"We had seen both boys disappear for an instant as the ice gave under
them, but even when we saw them come to the surface, with Ongyatasse
holding Tiakens by the hair, we hardly grasped what had happened. The
edge of the ice-cake had taken Tiakens under the chin and he was
unconscious. If Ongyatasse had let go of him he would have been carried
under the ice by the current, and that would have been the last any one
would have seen of him until the spring thaw. But as fast as Ongyatasse
tried to drag their double weight onto the ice, it broke, and before the
rest of us had thought of anything to do the cold would have cramped
him. I saw Ongyatasse stuffing Tiakens's hair into his mouth so as to
leave both his hands free, and then there was a running gasp of
astonishment from the rest of the band, as a slim figure shot out of
Dark Woods, skimming and circling like a swallow. We had heard of the
snowshoes of the Lenni-Lenape, but this was the first time we had seen
them. For a moment we were so taken up with the wonder of his darting
pace, that it was not until we saw him reaching his long shoeing-pole to
Ongyatasse across the ice, that we realized what he was doing. He had
circled about until he had found ice that held, and kicking off his
snowshoes, he stretched himself flat on it. I knew enough to catch him
by the ankles--even then I couldn't help wondering if the scar was still
there, for we knew instantly who he was--and somebody caught my feet,
spreading our weight as much as possible. Over the bridge we made,
Ongyatasse and Tiakens, who had come to himself by this time, crawled
out on firm ice. In a very few minutes we had stripped them of their wet
clothing and were rubbing the cramp out of their legs.
"Ongyatasse, dripping as he was, pushed us aside and went over to White
Quiver, who was stooping over, fastening his snowshoes. It seemed to
give him a great deal of trouble, but at last he raised his head.
"'This day I take my life at your hands,' said Ongyatasse.
"'Does Young-Man-Who-Never-Turns-Back take so much from a Crop-Head?'
said the Lenni-Lenape in good Tallegewi, which shows how much they knew
of us already and how they began to hate us.
"But when he was touched, Ongyatasse had no equal for highness.
"'Along with my life I would take friendship too, if it were offered,'
he said, and smiled, shivering as he was, in a way we knew so well who
had never resisted it. We could see the smile working on White Quiver
like a spell. Ongyatasse put an arm over the Lenape's shoulders.
"'Where the life is, the heart is also,' he said, 'and if the feet of
Ongyatasse do not turn back from the trail they have taken, neither does
his heart.' From his neck he slipped off his amulet of white deer's horn
which brought him his luck in hunting, and threw it around the
"'Ongyatasse, you have given away your luck!' cried Tiakens, whose head
was a little light with the blow the ice-cake had given him.
"'Both the luck and the life of Young-Man-Who-Never-Turns-Back are safe
in the hands of a Lenni-Lenape,' said White Quiver, as high as one of
his own fir trees, but he loosed a little smile at the corner of his
mouth as he turned to Tiakens, chattering like a squirrel. 'Unless you
find a fire soon, Young-Man-Who-Never-Turns-Back will have need of
another friend,' he said; and picking up his shoeing-pole, he was off in
the wood again like a weasel darting to cover. We heard the swish of the
boughs, heavy with new snow, and then silence.
"But if we had not been able to forget him after the first meeting, you
can guess how often we talked of him in the little time that was left
us. It was not long. Tiakens nearly died of the chill he got, and the
elders were stirred up at last to break up our band before it led to
more serious folly. Ongyatasse was hurried off with a hunting-party to
Maumee, and I was sent to my mother's brother at Flint Ridge to learn
"Not that I objected," said the Tallega. "I have the arrow-maker's
hand." He showed the children his thumb set close to the wrist, the long
fingers and the deep-cupped palm with the callus running down the
middle. "All my family were clever craftsmen," said the Tallega. "You
could tell my uncle's points anywhere you found them by the fine, even
flaking, and my mother was the best feather-worker in Three Towns,"--he
ran his hands under the folds of his mantle and held it out for the
children to admire the pattern. "Uncle gave me this banner stone as the
wage of my summer's work with him, and I thought myself overpaid at
"But what did you do?" asked both children at once.
"Everything, from knocking out the crude flakes with a stone hammer to
shaping points with a fire-hardened tip of deer's horn. The ridge was
miles long and free to any one who chose to work it, but most people
preferred to buy the finished points and blades. There was a good trade,
too, in turtle-backs." The Tallega poked about in the loose earth at the
top of the mound and brought up a round, flattish flint about the size
of a man's hand, that showed disk-shaped flakings arranged like the
marking of a turtle-shell. "They were kept workable by being buried in
the earth, and made into knives or razors or whatever was needed," he
"That summer we had a tremendous trade in broad arrow-points, such as
are used for war or big game. We sold to all the towns along the north
from Maumee to the headwaters of the Susquehanna, and we sold to the
Lenni-Lenape. They would appear suddenly on the trails with bundles of
furs or copper, of which they had a great quantity, and when they were
satisfied with what was offered for it, they would melt into the woods
again like quail. My uncle used to ask me a great many questions about
them which I remembered afterward. But at the time--you see there was a
girl, the daughter of my uncle's partner. She was all dusky red like the
tall lilies at Big Meadow, and when she ran in the village races with
her long hair streaming, they called her Flying Star.
"She used to bring our food to us when we opened up a new working, a
wolf's cry from the old,--sizzling hot deer meat and piles of boiled
corn on bark platters, and meal cakes dipped in maple syrup. I stayed on
till the time of tall weeds as my father had ordered, and then for a
while longer for the new working, which interested me tremendously.
First we brought hickory wood and built a fire on the exposed surface of
the ridge. Then we splintered the hot stone by throwing water on it, and
dug out the splinters. In two or three days we had worked clean through
the ledge of flint to the limestone underneath. This we also burnt with
fire, after we had protected the fresh flint by plastering it with clay.
When we had cleared a good piece of the ledge, we could hammer it off
with the stone sledges and break it up small for working. It was as good
sport to me as moose-hunting or battle.
"We had worked a man's length under the ledge, and one day I looked up
with the sun in my eyes, as it reddened toward the west, and saw
Ongyatasse standing under a hickory tree. He was dressed for running,
and around his mouth and on both his cheeks was the white Peace Mark. I
made the proper sign to him as to one carrying orders.
"'You are to come with me,' he said. 'We carry a pipe to Miami.'"
HOW THE LENNI-LENAPE CAME FROM SHINAKI AND THE TALLEGEWI FOUGHT THEM:
THE SECOND PART OF THE MOUND-BUILDER'S STORY
"Two things I thought as I looked at Never-Turns-Back, black against the
sun. First, that it could be no very great errand that he ran upon, or
they would never have trusted it to a youth without honors; and next,
that affairs at Three Towns must be serious, indeed, if they could spare
no older man for pipe-carrying. A third came to me in the night as I
considered how little agreement there was between these two, which was
that there must be more behind this sending than a plain call
"Ongyatasse told me all he knew as we lay up the next night at Pigeon
Roost. There had not been time earlier, for he had hurried off to carry
his pipe to the village of Flint Ridge as soon as he had called me, and
we had padded out on the Scioto Cut-off at daybreak.
"What he said went back to the conditions that were made by Well-Praised
for the passing of the Lenni-Lenape through our territory. They were to
go in small parties, not more than twenty fighting men to any one of
them. They were to change none of our landmarks, enter none of our towns
without permission from the Town Council, and to keep between the lake
and the great bend of the river, which the Lenni-Lenape called
Allegheny, but was known to us as the River of the Tallegewi.
"Thus they had begun to come, few at first, like the trickle of melting
ice in the moon of the Sun Returning, and at the last, like grasshoppers
in the standing corn. They fished out our rivers and swept up the game
like fire in the forest. Three Towns sent scouts toward Fish River who
reported that the Lenape swarmed in the Dark Wood, that they came on
from Shinaki thick as their own firs. Then the Three Towns took council
and sent a pipe to the Eagle villages, to the Wolverines and the Painted
Turtles. These three kept the country of the Tallegewi on the north from
Maumee to the headwaters of the Allegheny, and Well-Praised was their
"Still," said the Mound-Builder, "except that he was the swiftest
runner, I couldn't understand why they had chosen an untried youth for
He felt in a pouch of kit fox with the tail attached, which hung from
the front of his girdle like the sporran of a Scotch Highlander. Out of
it he drew a roll of birch bark painted with juice of poke-berries. The
Tallega spread it on the grass, weighting one end with the turtle-back,
as he read, with the children looking over his shoulder.
[Illustration: Well-Praised, war-chief of the Eagle Clan to the Painted
[Illustration: Come to the Council House at Three Towns.]
[Illustration: On the fifth day of the Moon Halting.]
[Illustration: We meet as Brothers.]
"An easy scroll to read," said the Tallega, as the released edges of the
birch-bark roll clipped together. "But there was more to it than that.
There was an arrow play; also a question that had to be answered in a
certain way. Ongyatasse did not tell me what they were, but I learned at
the first village where we stopped.
"This is the custom of pipe-carrying. When we approached a settlement we
would show ourselves to the women working in the fields or to children
playing, anybody who would go and carry word to the Head Man that the
Pipe was coming. It was in order to be easily recognized that Ongyatasse
wore the Peace Mark."
The Mound-Builder felt in his pouch for a lump of chalky white clay with
which he drew a wide mark around his mouth, and two cheek-marks like a
parenthesis. It would have been plain as far as one could see him.
"That was so the villages would know that one came with Peace words in
his mouth, and make up their minds quickly whether they wanted to speak
with him. Sometimes when there was quarreling between the clans they
would not receive a messenger. But even in war-times a man's life was
safe as long as he wore the White Mark."
"Ours is a white flag," said Oliver.
The Mound-Builder nodded.
"All civilized peoples have much the same customs," he agreed, "but the
Lenni-Lenape were savages.
"We lay that night at Pigeon Roost in the Scioto Bottoms with wild
pigeons above us thick as blackberries on the vines. They woke us going
out at dawn like thunder, and at mid-morning they still darkened the
sun. We cut into the Kaskaskia Trail by a hunting-trace my uncle had
told us of, and by the middle of the second day we had made the first
Eagle village. When we were sure we had been seen, we sat down and
waited until the women came bringing food. Then the Head Man came in
full dress and smoked with us."
Out of his pouch the Tallega drew the eagle-shaped ceremonial pipe of
red pipestone, and when he had fitted it to the feathered stem, blew a
salutatory whiff of smoke to the Great Spirit.
"Thus we did, and later in the Council House there were ceremonies and
exchange of messages. It was there, when all seemed finished, that I saw
the arrow play and heard the question.
"Ongyatasse drew an arrow from his quiver and scraped it. There was
dried blood on the point, which makes an arrow untrue to its aim, but it
was no business for a youth to be cleaning his arrows before the elders
of the Town House; therefore, I took notice that this was the meat of
his message. Ongyatasse scraped and the Head Man watched him.
"'There are many horned heads in the forest this season,' he said at
"'Very many,' said Ongyatasse; 'they come into the fields and eat up the
"'In that case,' said the Head Man, 'what should a man do?'
"'What can he do but let fly at them with a broad arrow?' said
Ongyatasse, putting up his own arrow, as a man puts up his work when it
"But as the arrow was not clean, and as the Lenni-Lenape had shot all
the deer, if I had not known that Well-Praised had devised both question
and answer, it would have seemed all foolishness. There had been no
General Council since the one at which the treaty of passage was made
with the Lenni-Lenape; therefore I knew that the War-Chief had planned
this sending of dark messages in advance, messages which no
Young-Man-Who-Never-Turns-Back had any right to understand.
"'But why the Painted Scroll?' I said to Ongyatasse; for if, as I
supposed, the real message was in the question and answer, I could not
see why there should still be a Council called.
"'The scroll,' said my friend, 'is for those who are meant to be fooled
"'But who should be fooled?'
"'Whoever should stop us on the trail.'
"'My thoughts do not move so fast as my feet, O my friend,' said I. 'Who
would stop a pipe-carrier of the Tallegewi?" "'What if it should be the
Horned Heads?' said Ongyatasse.
"That was a name we had given the Lenni-Lenape on account of the
feathers they tied to the top of their hair, straight up like horns
sprouting. Of course, they could have had no possible excuse for
stopping us, being at peace, but I began to put this together with
things Ongyatasse had told me, particularly the reason why no older man
than he could be spared from Three Towns. He said the men were
rebuilding the stockade and getting in the harvest.
"The middle one of Three Towns was walled, a circling wall of earth half
man high, and on top of that, a stockade of planted posts and wattles.
It was the custom in war-times to bring the women and the corn into the
walled towns from the open villages. But there had been peace so long in
Tallega that our stockade was in great need of rebuilding, and so were
the corn bins. Well-Praised was expecting trouble with the Lenni-Lenape,
I concluded; but I did not take it very seriously. The Moon of Stopped
Waters was still young in the sky, and the fifth day of the Moon Halting
seemed very far away to me.
"We were eleven days in all carrying the Pipe to the Miami villages, and
though they fed us well at the towns where we stopped, we were as thin
as snipe at the end of it. It was our first important running, you see,
and we wished to make a record. We followed the main trails which
followed the watersheds. Between these, we plunged down close-leaved,
sweating tunnels of underbrush, through tormenting clouds of flies. In
the bottoms the slither of our moccasins in the black mud would wake
clumps of water snakes, big as a man's head, that knotted themselves
together in the sun. There is a certain herb which snakes do not love
which we rubbed on our ankles, but we could hear them rustle and hiss as
we ran, and the hot air was all a-click and a-glitter with insects'
wings; ... also there were trumpet flowers, dusky-throated, that made me
think of my girl at Flint Ridge... Then we would come out on long ridges
where oak and hickory shouldered one another like the round-backed
billows of the lake after the storm. We made our record. And for all
that we were not so pressed nor so overcome with the dignity of our
errand that we could not spare one afternoon to climb up to the
Wabashiki Beacon. It lies on the watershed between the headwaters of the
Maumee and the Wabash, a cone-shaped mound and a circling wall within
which there was always wood piled for the beacon light, the Great Gleam,
the Wabashiki, which could be seen the country round for a two days'
journey. The Light-Keeper was very pleased with our company and told us
old tales half the night long, about how the Beacon had been built and
how it was taken by turns by the Round Heads and the Painted Turtles. He
asked us also if we had seen anything of a party of Lenni-Lenape which
he had noted the day before, crossing the bottoms about an hour after he
had sighted us. He thought they must have gone around by Crow Creek,
avoiding the village, and that we should probably come up with them the
next morning, which proved to be the case.
"They rose upon us suddenly as we dropped down to the east fork of the
Maumee, and asked us rudely where we were going. They had no right, of
course, but they were our elders, to whom it is necessary to be
respectful, and they were rather terrifying, with their great bows, tall
as they were, stark naked except for a strip of deerskin, and their
feathers on end like the quills of an angry porcupine. We had no weapons
ourselves, except short hunting-bows,--one does not travel with peace on
his mouth and a war weapon at his back,--so we answered truly, and
Ongyatasse read the scroll to them, which I thought unnecessary.
"'Now, I think,' said my friend, when the Lenape had left us with some
question about a hunting-party, which they had evidently invented to
excuse their rudeness, 'that it was for such as these that the scroll
was written.' But we could not understand why Well-Praised should have
gone to all that trouble to let the Lenni-Lenape know that he had called
"When we had smoked our last pipe, we were still two or three days from
Three Towns, and we decided to try for a cut-off by a hunting-trail
which Ongyatasse had been over once, years ago, with his father. These
hunting-traces go everywhere through the Tallegewi Country. You can tell
them by the way they fork from the main trails and, after a day or two,
thin into nothing. We traveled well into the night from the place that
Ongyatasse remembered, so as to steer by the stars, and awoke to the
pleasant pricking of adventure. But we had gone half the morning before
we began to be sure that we were followed.
"Jays that squawked and fell silent as we passed, called the alarm again
a few minutes later. A porcupine which we saw, asleep upon a log, woke
up and came running from behind us. We thought of the Lenni-Lenape.
Where a bare surface of rock across our path made it possible to turn
out without leaving a track, we stole back a few paces and waited.
Presently we made out, through the thick leaves, a youth, about our age
we supposed, for his head was not cropped and he was about the height of
Ongyatasse. When we had satisfied ourselves that he was alone, we took
pleasure in puzzling him. As soon as he missed our tracks in the trail,
he knew that he was discovered and played quarry to our fox very
craftily. For an hour or two we stalked one another between the buckeye
boles, and then I stepped on a rotten log which crumbled and threw me
noisily. The Lenape let fly an arrow in our direction. We were nearing a
crest of a ridge where the underbrush thinned out, and as soon as we had
a glimpse of his naked legs slipping from tree to tree, Ongyatasse made
a dash for him. We raced like deer through the still woods, Ongyatasse
gaining on the flying figure, and I about four laps behind him. A low
branch swished blindingly across my eyes for a moment, and when I could
look again, the woods were suddenly still and empty.
"I dropped instantly, for I did not know what this might mean, and
creeping cautiously to the spot where I had last seen them, I saw the
earth opening in a sharp, deep ravine, at the bottom of which lay
Ongyatasse with one leg crumpled under him. I guessed that the Lenape
must have led him to the edge and then slipped aside just in time to let
the force of Ongyatasse's running carry him over. Without waiting to
plan, I began to climb down the steep side of the ravine. About halfway
down I was startled by a rustling below, and, creeping along the bottom
of the bluff, I saw the Lenni-Lenape with his knife between his teeth,
within an arm's length of my friend. I cried out, and in a foolish
effort to save him, I must have let go of the ledge to which I clung.
The next thing I knew I was lying half-stunned, with a great many pains
in different parts of me, at the bottom of the ravine, almost within
touch of Ongyatasse and a young Lenape with an amulet of white deer's
horn about his neck and, across his back, what had once been a white
quiver. He was pouring water from a birch-bark cup upon my friend, and
as soon as he saw that my eyes were opened he came and offered me a
drink. There did not seem to be anything to say, so we said nothing, but
presently, when I could sit up, he washed the cut on the back of my
head, and then he showed me that Ongyatasse's knee was out of place, and
said that we ought to pull it back before he came to himself.
"I crawled over--I had saved myself by falling squarely on top of White
Quiver so that nothing worse happened to me than sore ribs and a finger
broken--and took my friend around the body while our enemy pulled the
knee, and Ongyatasse groaned aloud and came back. Then White Quiver tied
up my finger in a splint of bark, and we endured our pains and
"We were both prisoners of the Lenape. So we considered ourselves; we
waited to see what he would do about it. Toward evening he went off for
an hour and returned with a deer which he dressed very skillfully and
gave us to eat. Then, of the wet hide, he made a bandage for
Ongyatasse's knee, which shrunk as it dried and kept down the swelling.
"'Now I shall owe you my name as well as my life,' said Ongyatasse, for
if his knee had not been properly attended, that would have been the end
of his running.
"'Then your new name would be Well-Friended,' said the Lenape, and he
made a very good story of how I had come tumbling down on both of them.
We laughed, but Ongyatasse had another question.
"'There was peace on my mouth and peace between Lenni-Lenape and
Tallegewi. Why should you chase us?'
"'The Tallegewi send a Pipe to the Three Clans. Will you swear that the
message that went with it had nothing to do with the Lenni-Lenape?'
"'What should two boys know of a call to Council?' said Ongyatasse, and
showed him the birch-bark scroll, to which White Quiver paid no
"'There is peace between us, and a treaty, the terms of which were made
by the Tallegewi, all of which we have kept. We have entered no town
without invitation. When one of our young men stole a maiden of yours we
returned her to her village.' He went on telling many things, new to us,
of the highness of the Lenni-Lenape. 'All this was agreed at the Three
Towns by Cool Waters,' said he. 'Now comes a new order. We may not enter
the towns at all. The treaty was for camping privileges in any one place
for the space of one moon. Now, if we are three days in one place, we
are told that we must move on. The Lenni-Lenape are not Two-Talkers. If
we wear peace on our mouths we wear it in our hearts also.'
"'There is peace between your people and mine, and among the Tallegewi,
"'So,' said White Quiver. 'Then why do they rebuild their stockades and
fetch arrow-stone from far quarries? And why do they call a Council in
the Moon of the Harvest?'
"I remembered the good trade my uncle, the arrow-maker, had had that
summer, and was amazed at his knowledge of it, so I answered as I had
been taught. 'If I were a Lenape,' said I, 'and thought that the
Councils of the Tallegewi threatened my people, I would know what those
Councils were if I made myself a worm in the roof-tree to overhear it.'
"'Aye,' he said, 'but you are only a Tallega.'
"He was like that with us, proud and humble by turns. Though he was a
naked savage, traveling through our land on sufferance, he could make us
crawl in our hearts for the Tallegewi. He suspected us of much evil,
most of which was true as it turned out; yet all the time we lay at the
bottom of the ravine, for the most part helpless, he killed every day
for us, and gathered dry grass to make a bed for Ongyatasse.
"We talked no more of the Council or of our errand, but as youths will,
we talked of highness, and of big game in Shinaki, and of the ways of
the Tallegewi, of which for the most part he was scornful.
"Corn he allowed us as a great advantage, but of our towns he doubted
whether they did not make us fat and Two-Talkers.
"'Town is a trade-maker,' he said; 'men who trade much for things, will
also trade for honor.'
"'The Lenni-Lenape carry their honor in their hands,' said Ongyatasse,
'but the Tallegewi carry theirs in their forehead.'
"He meant," said the Mound-Builder, turning to the children, "that the
Lenni-Lenape fought for what they held most dear, and the Tallegewi
schemed and plotted for it. That was as we were taught. With us, the
hand is not lifted until the head has spoken. But as it turned out,
between Tallegewi and Lenape, the fighters had the best of it."
He sighed, making the salutation to the dead as he looked off, across
the burial-grounds, to the crumbling heap of the god-house.
"But I don't understand," said Dorcas; "were Ongyatasse and White Quiver
friends or enemies?"
"They were two foes who loved one another, and though their tribes fell
into long and bloody war, between these two there was highness and, at
the end, most wonderful kindness. The first time that we got Ongyatasse
to his feet and he found that his knee, though feeble, was as good as
ever, he said to White Quiver, leaning on his shoulder,--
"'Concerning the call to Council, there was more to it than was written
on the scroll, the meaning of which was hidden from me who carried it.'
"'Which is no news to me,' said the Lenni-Lenape; 'also,' he said, 'the
message was arranged beforehand, for it required no answer.'
"I asked him how he knew that, and he mocked at me.
"'Any time these five days you could have gone forward with the answer
had it been important for you to get back to Cool Waters!'
"That was true. I could have left Ongyatasse and gone on alone, but
nothing that had happened so far had made us think that we must get back
quickly. White Quiver asked us one day what reason Well-Praised had
given for requiring that the Lenni-Lenape should pass through the
country with not more than twenty fighting men in the party. To save the
game, we told him, which seemed to us reasonable; though I think from
that hour we began to feel that the Tallegewi, with all their walled
towns and monuments, had been put somehow in the wrong by the wild
tribes of Shinaki.
"We stayed on in the ravine, waiting on Ongyatasse's knee, until we saw
the new rim of the Halting Moon curled up like a feather. The leaves of
the buckeye turned clear yellow and the first flock of wild geese went
over. We waited one more day for White Quiver to show us a short cut to
the Maumee Trail, and just when we had given him up, we were aware of a
strange Lenape in warpaint moving among the shadows. He stood off from
us with his arms folded and his face was as bleak as a winter-bitten wood.
"'Wash the lie from your mouth,' he said, 'and follow.'
"Without a word he turned and began to move from us through the smoky
light with which the wood was filling. His head was cropped for
war--that was why we did not know him--and along the shoulder he turned
toward us was the long scrape of a spear-point. That was why we
followed, saying nothing. Toward daylight the lame knee began to give
trouble. White Quiver came back and put his shoulder under Ongyatasse's,
so we moved forward, wordlessly. Birds awoke in the woods, and hoarfrost
lay white on the crisped grasses.
"On a headland from which the lake glinted white as a blade of flint on
the horizon, we waited the sunrise. Smoke arose, from Wabashiki, from
the direction of the Maumee settlements, from the lake shore towns; tall
plumes of smoke shook and threatened. Curtly, while we ate, White Quiver
told us what had happened; how the Tallegewi, in violation of the
treaty, had fallen suddenly on scattered bands of the Lenni-Lenape and
all but exterminated them. The Tallegewi said that it was because they
had discovered that the Lenni-Lenape had plotted to fall upon our towns,
as soon as the corn was harvested, and take them. But White Quiver
thought that the whole thing was a plan of Well-Praised from the
beginning. He had been afraid to refuse passage to the Lenape, on
account of their great numbers, and had arranged to have them broken up
in small parties so that they could be dealt with separately."
"And which was it?" Oliver wished to know.
"It was a thousand years ago," said the Mound-Builder. "Who remembers?
But we were ashamed, my friend and I, for we understood now that the
secret meaning of our message about the Horned Heads had been that the
Tallegewi should fall upon the Lenape wherever they found them. You
remember that it was part of the question and answer that they 'came
into the fields and ate up the harvest.'
"There might have been a plot, but, on the other hand, we knew that the
painted scroll had been a blind to make the Lenni-Lenape think that the
Tallegewi would do nothing until they had taken counsel. But we had
carried a war message with peace upon our mouths and we were ashamed
before White Quiver. We had talked much highness with him, and besides,
we loved him. As it turned out we were not wrong in thinking he loved
us. As we stood making out the points of direction for the trail,
Ongyatasse's knee gave under him, and as White Quiver put out his arm
without thinking, a tremor passed over them. They stood so leaning each
on each for a moment. 'Your trail lies thus ... and thus ...' said the