Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 210Boarding their raft they thrust it toward the middle of the stream, perhaps with the idea of gaining the opposite shore, but, if such is their intent, it is thwarted by the rapidity of the current. A few among them have guns, that they discharge with slight effect at the troops, who stand wondering on the shore. The soldiers forbear to fire, and watch, with something like dread, the descent of the raft as it passes into the current, and, with many a turn and pitch, whirls on faster and faster. The death-song rises triumphant above the lash of the waves and that distant but awful booming that is to be heard in the canon. Every red man has his face turned toward the foe with a look of defiance, and the tones of the death-chant have in them something of mockery no less than hate and vaunting.
The raft is now between the jaws of rock that yawn so hungrily. Beyond and below are vast walls, shelving toward the floor of the gulf a thousand feet beneath—their brilliant colors shining in the sun of morning that sheds as peaceful a light on wood and hill as if there were no such thing as brother hunting brother in this free land of ours. The raft is galloping through the foam like a racehorse, and, hardened as the soldiers are, they cannot repress a shudder as they see the fate that the savages have chosen for themselves. Now the brink is reached. The raft tips toward the gulf, and with a cry of triumph the red men are launched over the cataract, into the bellowing chasm, where the mists weep forever on the rocks and mosses.
THE BROAD HOUSE
Down in the canon of Chaco, New Mexico, stands a building evidently coeval with those of the cliff dwellers, that is still in good preservation and is called the Broad House. When Noqoilpi, the gambling god, came on earth he strayed into this canon, and, finding the Moquis a prosperous people, he envied them and resolved to win their property. To do that he laid off a race-track at the bottom of the ravine and challenged them to meet him there in games of chance and strength and skill. They accepted his challenge, and, as he could turn luck to his own side, he soon won not their property alone, but their women and children, and, finally, some of the men themselves.
In his greed he had acquired more than he wanted, and as the captives were a burden to him he offered to make a partial restoration if the people would build this house for him. They did so and he gave up some of the men and women. The other gods looked with disapproval on this performance, however, and they agreed to give the wind god power to defeat him, for, now that he had secured his house, he had gone to gambling again. The wind god, in disguise as a Moqui, issued a challenge, and the animals agreed to help him.