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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 226

At the foot of the elk's head he began to dig. Under the snow he came to crusts of rock that gave a hollow sound, and presently he lifted a scale of stone that covered a cavity brimful of shells more beautiful, more precious, more abundant than his wildest hopes had pictured. He plunged his arms among them to the shoulder—he laughed and fondled them, winding the strings of them about his arms and waist and neck and filling his hands. Then, heavily burdened, he started homeward.

In his eagerness to take away his treasure he made no offerings of hiaqua strings to the stone tamanouses in the crater, and hardly had he begun the descent of the mountain's western face before he began to be buffeted with winds. The angry god wrapped himself in a whirling tower of cloud and fell upon him, drawing darkness after. Hands seemed to clutch at him out of the storm: they tore at his treasure, and, in despair, he cast away a cord of it in sacrifice. The storm paused for a moment, and when it returned upon him with scream and flash and roar he parted with another. So, going down in the lulls, he reached timber just as the last handful of his wealth was wrenched from his grasp and flung upon the winds. Sick in heart and body, he fell upon a moss-heap, senseless. He awoke and arose stiffly, after a time, and resumed his journey.

In his sleep a change had come to the man. His hair was matted and reached to his knees; his joints creaked; his food supply was gone; but he picked kamas bulbs and broke his fast, and the world seemed fresh and good to him. He looked back at Tacoma and admired the splendor of its snows and the beauty of its form, and had never a care for the riches in its crater. The wood was strange to him as he descended, but at sunset he reached his wigwam, where an aged woman was cooking salmon. Wife and husband recognized each other, though he had been asleep and she a-sorrowing for years. In his joy to be at home the miser dug up all his treasure that he had secreted and gave of his wealth and wisdom to whoso needed them. Life, love, and nature were enough, he found, and he never braved the tamanous again.





THE DEVIL AND THE DALLES

In days when volcanoes were playing in the Northwest and the sternly beautiful valley of the Columbia was a hell of ash and lava, the fiend men of the land met at intervals on the heated rocks to guzzle and riot together. It was at one of these meetings in the third summer after Tacoma had stopped spouting that the devil urged a lesson from the growing peace and joy of nature, and prayed the fiend men to desist from killing and eating each other and live in love.

With a howl of rage at such a proposal they set upon him, tossing their tails in such a threatening manner that he deemed it best to be off, and as his hoofs clattered over the country his brain was busy in devising an escape. Nearing the mountain bulwarks of an inland sea, whose breakers' rhythmic roar he heard above the yells of his pursuers, a hope came into his head, and new vigor into his tail, though you might have thought the latter accession was not needed, for his tail was of prodigious length and strength. He whirled this limb aloft and beat it on the earth. A chasm opened at the stroke, and the devil skipped across to the safe side of it.


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