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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 218

Hardly had the innocent blood drained out and the fires been lighted to consume the body, when a pall of cloud came sweeping across the heavens; a hot wind surged over the ground, laden with dust and smoke; the storm-struck earth writhed anew beneath pelting thunder-bolts; no tremor this time, but an upheaval that rent the rocks and flung the cities down. It was an hour of darkness and terror. Roars of thunder mingled with the more awful bellowing beneath; crash on crash told that houses and temples were falling in vast ruin; the mountainsides were loosened and the rush of avalanches added to the din; the air was thick, and through the clouds the people groped their way toward the fields; rivers broke from their confines and laid waste farms and gardens! The gods had indeed abandoned them, and the spirit of the king's daughter took its flight in company with thousands of souls in whose behalf she had suffered uselessly.

The king was crushed beneath his palace-roof and the sacerdotal executioner perished in a fall of rock. The survivors fled in panic and the Ishmaelite tribes on their frontier entered their kingdom and pillaged it of all abandoned wealth. The cities never were rebuilt and were rediscovered but a few years ago, when the maiden's skeleton was also found. Nor does any Indian cross Superstition Mountains without a sense of apprehension.





TA-VWOTS CONQUERS THE SUN

The Indian is a great story-teller. Every tribe has its traditions, and the elderly men and women like to recount them, for they always find listeners. And odd stories they tell, too. Just listen to this, for example. It is a legend among the tribes of Arizona.

While Ta-Vwots, the hare god, was asleep in the valley of Maopa, the Sun mischievously burned his back, causing him to leap up with a howl. "Aha! It's you, is it, who played this trick on me?" he cried, looking at the Sun. "I'll make it warm for you. See if I don't."

And without more ado he set off to fight the Sun. On the way he stopped to pick and roast some corn, and when the people who had planted it ran out and tried to punish him for the theft he scratched a hole in the ground and ran in out of sight. His pursuers shot arrows into the hole, but Ta-Vwots had his breath with him, and it was an awfully strong breath, for with it he turned all the arrows aside. "The scamp is in here," said one of the party. "Let's get at him another way." So, getting their flints and shovels, they began to dig.

"That's your game, is it?" mumbled Ta-Vwots. "I know a way out of this that you don't know." With a few puffs of his breath and a few kicks of his legs he reached a great fissure that led into the rock behind him, and along this passage he scrambled until he came to the edge of it in a niche, from which he could watch his enemies digging. When they had made the hole quite large he shouted, "Be buried in the grave you have dug for yourselves!" And, hurling down a magic ball that he carried, he caved the earth in on their heads. Then he paced off, remarking, "To fight is as good fun as to eat. Vengeance is my work. Every one I meet will be an enemy. No one shall escape my wrath." And he sounded his war-whoop.


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