Creation Myths of Primitive America, by Jeremiah Curtin, , at sacred-texts.com
After each name is given that of the creature or thing into which the personage was changed subsequently.
Hawt, lamprey eel; Kúlitek, a white feather in the tail of Komos Kulit, the black vulture; Nomhawena, an earthworm; Pom Pokaila, earth old woman; Sas, sun; Tichelis, ground squirrel; Tulchuherris, etymologically, a person or thing that has been dug up; Winishuyat, foresight.
It was not in the east, nor the north, nor the south, but in the west, on a flat called Eli-Tsarauton (root flat), that a little old woman lived very long ago. No person lived on that flat but this old woman, whose name was Nomhawena Pokaila. She was called also Pom Pokaila.
This old woman had lived ten summers and ten winters on that flat, and one summer more; she dug roots there all this time, for roots were her food. The flat was broad, and she had dug, beginning at the edge and going round and round, till at last there was only a small piece left undug, and that was in the middle.
One morning, when she thrust her stick into the ground deeply, she heard a cry like that of a little child. She stopped and listened; heard the cry far down in the earth. She didn't know what to make of it, but thought: "Whatever this is I will dig it out."
She thrust her root stick down as far as she could at one side of the spot where the noise was, and worked hard, took much earth out; then she heard the cry a little forward, and dug forward. She went next to the opposite side and dug all around the cry, dug till the middle of the afternoon, but found nothing. Then she dug around again, thrust the stick deeper in the first spot, and said, "I must find that, I must have it."
She thrust the stick down deeper,--got nothing. She went on the other side, pushed the stick still deeper, and turned over the great lump of earth that was in the middle. Under this she found a little boy. The moment she saw him she heard a noise like thunder far off in the east, at Saskewil, the place where Sas lives. When she raised him to the surface, she heard this noise a second time.
The baby's head, as she raised him to the surface, was to the east, his feet to the west; underground his head was to the south, and his feet to the north.
"Tsok tso, tsok tso!" (good baby, good baby), said the old woman, fondling him in her arms. She took the buckskin apron from her back, laid it on the ground, put the little boy on it, and wrapped him up carefully. Then she fondled him again, saying, "Tsok tso, tsok tso!" and said, "I am old, I am your grandmother;" and she carried him to her house. She took water and washed him, washed all his body. Every morning she washed him. She could not sleep at night, she was so anxious. She watched him all the time.
[paragraph continues] All night, all day she watched, never put him on the ground, but washed him much, saying,--
"I wish you to grow quickly. You are the only person seen here. I wish you to walk soon."
In five weeks after she had found him he could walk a little and talk some. When he was able to talk well, the old woman said,--
Now, my grandson, I will tell you a thing which must remember. When you play around outside the house, never go to the east, never go toward Saskewil, where Sas lives. Play in the north or the south or the west, but never go east."
The boy grew fast and was able to play. As his grandmother was telling him always not to go east, he said to himself,--
"I wonder why my grandmother tells me not to go east. I'd like to know why."
One morning the boy went to play, went south from the house a short distance, and heard a voice, heard some one shouting, calling from some place, he didn't know where this voice was. He listened, and soon heard it a second time. It came from above, from the sky. He saw no one, but the voice said,--
"Little boy, your name is Tulchuherris. I know you, Tulchuherris. You are the first person in this place the greatest. You must do what you can to live. You must do your best to conquer. You are Tulchuherris."
The boy heard and understood. He went home, but said nothing to his grandmother, said nothing of that voice in the sky that had called him.
She told him again, as before, not to go east. She told him this many times. Now he was almost a young man, he had grown so fast. It was nearly spring, and the old woman talked to him seriously. When he had been with her all the winter, she said:
"My grandson, I suppose you wish to know something. I am going to talk to you. You will soon be full grown. I will let you know why I have told you so often not to go east. You wished to know why, now I will tell you.
"A long time ago all my people--my son, my brother, my relatives--went away off to the east and never came back again. I was left here alone. There is a great house off in the east there, called Saskewil. A big old man, Sas, with his wife and two daughters, live in it. All my kin went to that place and were killed there. When any one goes into Saskewil. the old woman, Sas's wife, sits on the east of the door, which is open to the south; her daughters sit on the west side. The old woman sits with her back toward the wall and her face to the north. She never looks backward, but when a visitor is inside a while and is sitting, she turns slowly, puts her hands to each side of her eyes, bringing her finger-tips to meet in the middle of her forehead, and glares with big eyes at the stranger. He looks at her then and drops dead. There is a power in her eyes that kills him. Sas has something in his nose. He takes this, rolls it on his knee, and snaps it at people who go to his house. Nobody sees him do this, but he kills many people in that way.
"Now, my grandson, you know why I do not wish you to go east. I will tell you more. There was a man, the best of my people; he went to Saskewil, he went to the east and was killed there. I am sorry for him, I grieve for him yet. I am mourning now for him. He was your own brother, the one that I grieve most of all for. He was my grandson. His name was Kulitek Herit. You are large now, strong enough to hear this, and I tell you."
After the old woman had told him of the people who had died in going to Saskewil, Tulchuherris answered,--
"I am sorry for my brother. I am sorry that he was killed. Now, my grandmother, I must see what I can do."
He went out of the house then, went west and found a kind of white wood, brought it home and made an arrow,--a smooth, very small arrow; he painted this arrow red, blue, and black, painted it on the end and fastened feathers to it. Then he made a bow of wood which he found in the same place, far away west, and painted it nicely on the outer side.
Next morning before daylight, he went a short distance to the south from his grandmother's, took his bow and arrow, strung the bow and shot his arrow toward the east.
After the little arrow had left the bow it became a humming-bird as it went through the air. Before the bird reached Sas's house it turned to an arrow again.
A little way from Saskewil old Sas had his sweat-house with only one door to it. That door looked toward the south. The arrow dropped east of the door and stuck fast in the ground there. It dropped before daybreak, while Sas was in the sweat-house. He heard something fall outside the door, something that struck the ground with weight like a great rock. He knew not what to think. He had never heard such a noise before.
When daylight came old Sas rose and went out of the sweat-house. He had slept all the night there. He looked around to see what had made the great noise, and saw the little arrow. He looked at the arrow, went up, grasped it, tried to pull it out. He took a firm hold, tried hard, twisted and pulled, but could not draw the arrow. He rested and then did his best. He pulled, braced himself. His hands slipped and he fell on his back.
Sas had to leave the arrow where it was; he could not draw it out. He went to his house, where his wife and daughters were. The two girls were very beautiful. Sas took his old wooden pipe, filled it with tobacco, and began to smoke.
"My old woman," said he, "and my daughters, I will tell you what I have seen just now. I have seen a thing such as I have not seen for a long time, a very long time. Long ago I used to see things such as I have seen just now outside my sweat-house. Something must be wrong. Some one must be thinking of us, some one must be
thinking of our house. I believe that some day soon we shall see some person coming. I saw a little arrow, and tried to pull it out of the ground, but I was not able. I tried till I fell and hurt my back. Now, my daughters, you may go if you wish, and look at that arrow."
The girls went out, they looked at the arrow, and said, "Oh, that is a nice arrow;" and they tried to pull it out of the ground. It did not come, and they went back to their father's house.
"Now, my grandmother," said Tulchuherris in Eli Tsarauton, "I am going to leave you. I am going away. I am going to the east. I am going to Saskewil."
The old woman did not like to lose her grandson.
"Oh, my grandson," said she, "you will be killed. You will never come back to me."
"My grandmother, I am going," said Tulchuherris. "I am going, for I must go, and I will do the best I can."
He went west, and found flint, put pieces of it on each finger, made finger-nails of it, and made them very sharp. Then he went west a second time, got the marrow of Hunhunut (no one knows now what creature Hunhunut is), brought home the marrow, rubbed it between his hands, then rubbed himself with it, face, head, all his body except his legs.
A third time he went west, and took a little bush full of thorns, each about an inch and a half long, made leggings and a shirt of this thorn-bush. A fourth time he went west, and picked out in a gulch
the firmest green water-stone. Of this green stone he made shoes. A fifth time he went west, took a western panther as dog. A sixth time he went, and took a northern fox as dog. A seventh time he went west, got a sky spear pole, and a sky spear head, and a sky strap for the spear pole.
The old woman had a Winishuyat hidden away, and when she could not stop her grandson from going she gave him this Winishuyat, which he tied in under his hair on the top of his head. The hair was gathered over it and tied so that no one could untie it but Tulchuherris, and no one could see Winishuyat, who was like a little man, as big as a thumb. Winishuyat could talk to Tulchuherris and tell him everything, warn him of every danger. He always called him "my brother." When Tulchuherris was ready, he said,--
"My grandmother, I must go, and you will stay here while I am gone."
He stood up then to start, and his grandmother said,--
My grandson, I cannot go out for wood, I am too old, I am too weak. I am not able to bring wood, and my fire will die."
Tulchuherris put down his quiver with his bow and went to the forest. He pulled up many of the biggest trees by the roots and bound them in a bundle. He brought the bundle to the house, put the trees on the fire, and said,--
"Now you have plenty of firewood, my grandmother, and I am going."
When he had gone a little way the old woman screamed: "My grandson, come back; the fire is dying!"
He put down his quiver and bow near his two dogs, went back, and saw that the fire was dying. The whole great bundle of trees which he had brought was burned out. Tulchuherris went then and pulled up by the roots great trees, larger than the first, and brought two bundles; put these on the fire--a great many trees. He was the strongest person in the world, and could do that.
"Now I am going!" said he. His two dogs stood waiting at the bow and the quiver. He had gone farther than the first time, he had gone about twice as far, when the old woman screamed,--
"My grandson, the fire is out!"
Tulchuherris put down his quiver and bow again, left the dogs with them, and hurried back. He found every tree burned an the fire going out. He stood there and thought and thought. At last he said,--
"I don't know what to do. I can't find wood enough, and I can't leave my grandmother without a fire."
Then Winishuyat said,--
"Tulchuherris, if you don't know how to keep a fire for your grandmother, I will tell you. Go out here anywhere. You will find wild sunflower roots, plenty of them. Put one handful of those roots on the fire, and it will not go out again."
Tulchuherris went and dug the roots; brought two handfuls; put them on the fire so that they
would burn slowly, the ends touching the fire. Then he said,--
"I am going, grandmother. Take good care of yourself."
He went to where his quiver and bow and dogs were; then he looked back. His grandmother said nothing. She did not call to him this time. He went farther, looked back, listened, no call came. He went still farther, listened, all was silent; went farther yet, stopped, listened, heard nothing, made up his mind that all was right with his grandmother, and went on till he had gone a long distance, listened a fourth time, heard nothing. After this he went quickly till about midday, when he looked ahead and saw a great rock standing straight up in front of him, small at the top and very high. He looked and saw some one standing on the very summit. The rock was higher than a big pine-tree. A very old man was standing on the top of it.
Tulchuherris could go neither to the north nor the south, the rock was straight in his road. He looked everywhere for a passage, but could see none. He looked on the left side, all was dark; on the right, all was dark,--dark everywhere. There was light only in the road which went up the rock and over it.
The old man on the rock, when Tulchuherris came near, called out,--
"My grandson, come right up to me; there is no other road where people travel. When you are here, you will pass down on the other side easily."
"I will go to you," said Tulchuherris.
When he had said "I will go to you," Winishuyat, the little man under his hair, said,--
"My brother, be careful, he is going to kill you."
"Here," said Winishuyat, "is the place where our people came in time past. Many were killed here. They went to the old man; he threw them down and killed them. If you go to that old man, my brother, he will sway this big rock. In one flash he will throw you into a dark place at the side where you cannot see bottom. Run to the rock quickly, kick it. If not, he will kill us. This old man was sent here by Sas, he was sent here to kill us."
Tulchuherris did not climb the rock, did not go to the old man; but he rushed forward and gave the rock one great kick with his shoe of green waterstone. The rock fell, and the old man fell with it,--fell into the dark place. The rock never sprang back. It left a smooth road with a ridge on each side of the place where it had been. Then the two dogs ran forward, and Tulchuherris said to the old man,--
"Hereafter you will not be what you have been; hereafter you will be nothing but a ground squirrel. You will live under rocks in the earth, and the people to come will call you tichelis. You are not like me; I am strong. You will be nothing hereafter but a poor little ground squirrel."
Tulchuherris followed the dogs then. He looked back and listened; he could hear at a great distance, he could hear all over the world. But he heard no
sound from his grandmother; so he went on till he came to a large and broad river. There he saw a man standing. Tulchuherris went nearer, looked up and down, but could see no place to cross the river. The man saw him and said,--
"Grandson, you cannot pass this big river; you must get some one to help you. I am the only one who ever crosses at this point. I can wade right through the water. I carry over all who come here. If you wish, I will take you to the other side; but you could never go alone; you could never cross yourself"
Tulchuherris didn't know what to do, and stood thinking.
"Go on, my brother," said Winishuyat. "Let him carry you, though this is one of the places where they killed many of our people who escaped the old man on the rock. But this man cannot kill us. Let him carry us."
"Very well!" said Tulchuherris to the old man. "Carry me over, take me across this river."
The old man came up and took him on his back. Tulchuherris had a pointed bone in his bosom where he could get at it quickly. He had brought this bone from Eli Tsarauton. The old man started into the river. At first it was not deep, but in the middle of the stream the water was up to his breast, and was growing deeper. Then it reached his neck, and was rising. The dogs made a leap from one side of the river to the other. The water was at the man's eyes now.
"Be careful, my brother," said Winishuyat, "be
careful. This man kills people in this way,--he drowns them, he will drown you right away if you let him."
Tulchuherris took out his sharp bone, stabbed the man's breast two or three times with it, wounded him, stopped him. Then he leaped from the man's head to the other bank, where his dogs were. Tulchuherris stood a moment looking at the wounded man. Then he said,--
"Hereafter you will not be what you have been. You will be nothing but an eel. You will be a person no longer. You will be only an eel, the people to come will call you hawt and will eat you.
Tulchuherris walked forward quickly after this. Sas's two daughters heard every step he took, as though he had been near, though he was far, very far away from them. They always heard men coming from the west,--always knew when they were coming.
Tulchuherris walked quickly till almost evening, when he came to a high ridge near Sas's house. just as he reached the ridge he heard a sort of clinking noise on the other side. He stopped and looked, but saw no one. He was right at the spot where the noise was, but there was no one in sight. The ridge was like a straight wall reaching north and south farther than he could see, and high up out of sight, and down into the ground. No one could go through, or go around, or dig under that wall or climb over it. In the middle of the ridge was an opening in which stood a great sugar pine, and in the
pine was a cleft large enough to let a person pass easily. When any one was passing, and half-way through the cleft, the pine closed and crushed him. The noise was made by a person hammering just beyond the wall. Tulchuherris looked through and saw an arm, and while he was looking his dogs sprang through the opening to the other side.
"What's this?" called the man, and he walked to the opening. "Ah, are you there? Is that you, my son-in-law?"
Tulchuherris said nothing, but looked and saw piles of bones inside.
"Come right in this way, come in, my son-in-law," said the old man. "Come in; you cannot pass at another place."
When the old man called out, "Come in, you cannot pass at another place," Tulchuherris said, "I must pass here, but I am afraid."
"This is the road that all people take, my son-in-law. Come straight through; have no fear, there is no danger."
The two dogs went up to the old man and smelled him. They growled, did not like him, nor did the old man like the dogs. This old man was Sas himself, he who lived in Saskewil.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "go ahead, go through as quickly as you can. If you are slow, he will catch us. This is a place where Sas has killed many of our people."
Tulchuherris took his bow and quiver in one hand, stood on one foot, braced himself sidewise, made a spring, and went through in a flash. That
instant the tree closed with a great noise, became solid.
When Tulchuherris shot through, he went far off into the field, and Sas didn't see him, he went past so swiftly. Sas heard the tree close, and thought that Tulchuherris was caught in it. He looked at the tree and began to talk.
"Well, my son-in-law, you are caught, now you are nobody. I am Sas. You were weak, I am strong. You wore your grandmother's apron. You knew nothing; I know everything."
Tulchuherris had come up, and was standing behind while old Sas was talking. He listened, heard every word. After Sas had stopped talking, Tulchuherris asked,--
"My father-in-law, to whom are you talking? What are you saying?"
"Ha!" cried Sas, turning quickly. "Son-in-law, I was talking to myself. I was saying that: I had done wrong to my son-in-law. I am old, my heart is weak, my head is half crazy. I am blind I did not know what I was doing. I was saying that I had done wrong. You are my son-in-law. I am old, I am weak, I am blind. My head is gray. I cannot do much now. You see my house over there; it is a poor house; it is poor because I am old. Go ahead; go in. I will follow as soon as I can."
Tulchuherris went ahead, and Sas followed slowly at a distance. The dogs had run on, and were at the house already. On one side of the door outside were ten grizzly bears, and ten on the other
side. There were rattlesnakes in the door and around it. Before Tulchuherris came the panther dog had killed all the bears, and the fox dog all the snakes and things poisonous. When he came near the house, he stood a little way off and looked at his dogs. All around Sas's house he saw great piles of bones lying about everywhere, the bones of his kindred. He began to cry and lament for them.
When the dogs had cleared the way outside, they went into the house and killed all the grizzlies and rattlesnakes there; the house was full of them. Tulchuherris stood outside, crying over the bones of his people. When he had cried enough, he went in. Old Sas's wife was sitting on the east side of the door and his daughters on the west. When they saw Tulchuherris, the girls spread a mat, sat on it, and told him to sit down between them.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "be careful of that old woman; many of our people have been killed by her. If they were not killed outside, she turned and looked at them, and they fell dead when they saw her eyes."
While Tulchuherris was sitting with Sas's daughters, a large, long-legged, red-backed, very venomous spider came on him; then another and another. Many of these spiders crawled over him. He was wearing his thorn shirt, and they could not poison him; they got impaled on the thorns and died, every one.
Old Sas came at last, and when he walked into the house he took his pipe, filled it with tobacco, and drew a few whiffs of smoke. Then he said,--
"Take a smoke, my son-in-law; we cannot do without a pipe. It is best to smoke first and talk of affairs after that."
Tulchuherris took the pipe and pretended to smoke. He was not smoking; still smoke came, and the tobacco burned out. He gave the pipe back to Sas. Sas's tobacco was made of people's flesh and of their bones pounded fine.
After Tulchuherris had given back the pipe, he took his beautiful quiver, put in his hand, and took out his own pipe of green water-stone, a solid piece, not very big, but tremendously heavy. He took his own tobacco and put it into the pipe. His tobacco was the same kind of marrow that he had rubbed on his face, and something mixed with it (it is not known what that was). Tulchuherris lighted the pipe, smoked a little, and said,--
"Here, my father-in-law, take a smoke. I am only a young man. You are old, you are wise, you know everything. You say it is best for us to take a smoke. I am young, do not know much, but I think this pipe and tobacco are for talk. Smoke with me."
Sas took the pipe, but when Tulchuherris let go the old man could not hold it. It was slipping and falling. When he tried to catch it, it fell on his arm, threw him, and held him down.
Sas struggled to push the pipe off his arm, but had not strength enough. Tulchuherris looked for a moment, then reached out his hand, picked up the pipe, and asked,--
"Father-in-law, what is the matter? Take a good smoke. This is Tulchuherris's pipe."
Sas could not lift the pipe. Tulchuherris held it while the old man was smoking. When Sas drew in the smoke and swallowed it, it hurt him inside. The old man was choking. He fell on the ground, fell almost into the fire. His breath was taken from him. Tulchuherris put the pipe aside.
"Oh, help me up, help me, my son-in-law," called Sas.
Tulchuherris helped him to rise, and then sat with the girls again.
"My old father, Sas," said his elder daughter, "what is the matter? You have wanted this long time to see a man with strong arms. Why not talk now with this one? You have been waiting a long time for such a man."
While they were sitting there, Winishuyat said: "My brother, look out for the old woman. She is going to turn--be on your guard!"
Tulchuherris was ready. The old woman had not looked around since he came. She had been sitting motionless. Now she began to turn slowly, and Tulchuherris watched her. He sat with his right hand doubled up, and before she could look into his eyes he snapped two flint finger-nails at her, sent one nail into each of her eyes and put it out. She fell dead and rolled into the fire.
Night came now, and Tulchuherris lay down on the bed prepared by Sas's two daughters. They took their places, one on each side of him.
He never took out Winishuyat, he never let any
one know of him. As Tulchuherris lay on his back, he saw something over his head, hanging from the roof of the house. Two obsidian knives were hanging together by a very slender string of the inner bark of maple. Tulchuherris fell asleep and slept until midnight. He was roused then by Winishuyat, who said to him,--
"Oh, my brother, wake up. The string holding the knives is ready to break. Wake up, my brother, wake up!"
Tulchuherris woke up.
"Turn over! turn over!" said Winishuyat.
Tulchuherris turned in a flash. That instant the knives fell, struck the ground just at his back, and were broken to pieces, both knives at once.
This was another way of killing people. Strangers always slept soundly on that bed with Sas's daughters, were struck while asleep by two knives in the heart, and died the same moment.
Next morning after the knives fell, Sas rose and said,--
"Rise up, my son-in-law. I have a small sweat-house out here. I go there to sweat every morning, and then to the river to swim. I swim in the river every morning. We will sweat, and then swim."
Sas went ahead, he was first in the sweat-house. He made a very hot fire of the bones of people whom he had killed,--there were piles of those bones around everywhere. Tulchuherris went out of Saskewil into the sweat-house.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, when they were at one side in the sweat-house, "this is the place
where Sas has killed many people who escaped in the house. He will smoke you to death if he can.
The sweat-house was built of bones, and was plastered outside with mucus from Sas's nose, so, that no smoke could escape through the cracks. After Tulchuherris went in he saw how Sas made: the fire. The old man never used wood, always bones. He piled on bones; fat and marrow came out of them, blazed up, made a great smoke, and the smell of the smoke was not pleasant. After sweating for a while Sas said,--
"I am old now and weak, nearly blind. I cannot stand much. My head aches. I must go out to rest. Stay here you and take a good sweat. When, you have finished, come out."
Old Sas went out. The door was small, he could barely crawl through it. When outside, he lay across the door and stopped the passage with his body, so that no one could go out and no smoke could escape. After a time Tulchuherris said,--
"My father-in-law, I should like to go out. Go from the door, let me pass, I have sweated enough."
"Oh, I am old and weak," answered Sas. "I am lying here to rest. When I have rested some, my son-in-law, I will rise and let you out."
Tulchuherris was silent a little while longer. Then he groaned, "Oh, I'm nearly dead!"
"My brother," asked Winishuyat, "do you want to die? Do you want old Sas to kill you, to smoke
you to death? You have no wish to die, I do not want to die. We are strong people, stronger than Sas. I will tell you how to go out. Take that Chirchihas bone which you have and make a hole in the north side of the sweat-house."
Tulchuherris made a hole in the wall of the sweat-house. He spat then and spoke to the spittle. "Make noise for an hour," said he, "and groan just as I do--'enh, enh, enh!' Let Sas believe that I am here, that I am dying."
Tulchuherris slipped out through the hole, walked to the river, swam there, washed himself clean, went back to Saskewil, and sat down with his two wives, Sas's daughters. Sas heard the groaning of the spittle inside and said to himself, "Tulchuherris is dying."
After a long time the noise stopped, and Sas said, "Tulchuherris is dead." Then he went to the river, washed himself, and walked along slowly toward the house. When he came near, he was saying,--
"Tulchuherris, you are nobody. I have finished you now. I am wiser than you, stronger than you. You were brought up in your grandmother's apron.
Tulchuherris heard him. When Sas was outside the door, he stood a while and talked on,--
"You were dug out of the ground, Tulchuherris," said he. "You are nobody. I have beaten you. You'll never trouble me again."
He started to go into the house, looked around, and saw Tulchuherris sitting with his two daughters.
"Father-in-law, were you talking of me? What
were you saying?" asked Tulchuherris, when Sas had come in and sat down.
"Oh, my son-in-law, I cannot tell what I said, but I was thinking, 'Oh, I am so old, I know nothing. I am weak, I am blind. Sometimes I do not know what I am doing. I think that I have done wrong to my son-in-law, my poor son-in-law.'"
Soon after Sas went out, and at one side near the door he dug a grave for the old woman, his wife. When he had dug it, he buried her and with her all the bears and snakes, and said, "These are my children." He put them in the same grave, and cried, singing as he cried,--
"Koki, koki, koki nom,
Koki, koki, koki nom."
(Creeping, creeping, creeping west,
Creeping, creeping, creeping west.)
While he was burying his wife and the bears and the snakes, he had beaver teeth hanging on strings at the back of his head and on each side of his face. After he had cried awhile he danced and sang, and these teeth rattled as his head swayed from side to side. Then he went into the house, sat down, looked at Tulchuherris, and said,--
"Tulchuherris, you are my son-in-law; your wives, those two women, are my daughters. There are some things which they have wanted to play with this long time, and they have begged me to go for them, but I am old and blind; if I were to go I could not get what they ask for. My daughters want pets. My son-in-law, on a small tree, not far
from this house. is a nest, and young woodpeckers chirp every day in it. Your wives want these redheaded woodpeckers, but I am blind and old; I cannot climb the tree, but you can get the woodpeckers. I will show the nest."
"Go ahead," said Tulchuherris, "show me the nest."
The tree was a mile away. Sas went to it and stopped. Tulchuherris stood near. Both looked up. and Sas asked, "Do you see the nest?"
The tree was very straight, and so high that they could hardly see the top of it; the trunk was as smooth as ice.
"My father-in-law," said Tulchuherris. "I do not think that I can go up there; I do not believe that I can climb the tree."
"You can climb it if I help you," said Sas, who took out a rope made of single hairs tied end to end, a great many of them tied together, hairs from the heads of his daughters. He threw the rope very high over a limb near the nest, and said: "Now, my son-in-law, I will hold the rope; you climb."
Tulchuherris began to climb the rope. He went up, up, up, till he reached the limb and stood on it. Sas was on the ground, holding the other end of the rope. When Tulchuherris let go his hold, Sas pulled the rope down, and left Tulchuherris on the limb very high in the air. Sas turned home. When a short distance he said,--
"Now, Tulchuherris, you are nobody. Your grandmother, Nomhawena, is old. She dug you out of the ground with a root stick. You grew up
in her petticoat. You are not strong, you are not wise, you are only Tulchuherris. I am Sas."
When Tulchuherris looked down he was terrified, it was so far to the ground.
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "we shall get down. Lengthen the pointed bone which you have, and go higher."
Tulchuherris went to the nest, looked in, and saw a great many heads peeping out in every direction,--all heads of rattlesnakes. He looked awhile; could not think what to do.
"Make the bone long," said Winishuyat. Tulchuherris stretched the bone. "Stick the bone into the head of each snake and gather them all on it."
Tulchuherris did this quickly; had them all; then he slipped them off and let them drop to the earth. After that he sat on the limb and thought: "What shall I do now?"
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "what are you thinking of? Why not try to do something? Do you want to die? If you cannot think of a way to escape, I will tell you a way."
"Tell me, my brother."
"Stretch your right hand toward the west. Something will come on it."
Tulchuherris stretched his hand toward the west, where his grandmother was, and immediately something came with a whirr and a flutter, and settled on his arm like a bird. It was a sky-strap, blue like the sky, narrow, and very strong. He fastened one end of it to the limb, knotting it in such a way that
he could untie it with a jerk at the other end. He slipped down on it, and when on the ground jerked it loose. He strung the snakes on the long bone, they were all dead, and carried them to Sas's house. He laid them at the door, went in, sat down, and then said to the two women,--
"I have the woodpeckers if you wish to play with them. If you don't want them, you can send your father to look at them."
The girls told Sas. He went to the snakes and cried out: "Oh, my son-in-law, you are killing all my children." Sas buried them in the old woman's grave, and cried, and sang the same song over them as over his wife and the bears. Then he danced, wearing the beaver teeth.
Next morning old Sas rose first, and said: "My son-in-law, be up. My daughters always want me to fish and hunt; but I cannot fish now, I cannot hunt. I am old and weak. My feet are tender, I cannot walk; my head is dizzy. But you are young, my son-in-law. You can do many things. If you wish to hunt, I will show you where to find game in plenty. When I was young, I used to go to that place and kill game of every sort."
"I will go," said Tulchuherris.
When they were at the place, Tulchuherris saw only thick brush through which no man could pass. There was only one narrow opening, one little trail, and one tree at the end of it. "Stand against that tree," said Sas. "When deer come, they always run past that tree. I will drive deer in. You shoot."
Sas went north to drive deer in.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "be careful. You see the bones around here. They are people's bones. When Sas could not kill people elsewhere, he brought them to this place and killed them. He will drive ten grizzly bears up to kill us, and eat us. Tell your panther dog what to do."
"You, my dog," said Tulchuherris, "stand behind the tree till you see a grizzly bear spring at me. I will dodge. He will miss and turn again at me. Kill him when he turns."
Tulchuherris heard Sas driving bears in the distance. "Ha-ha, ho-ho! Ha-ha, ho-ho!" shouted Sas.
"Be ready; they are coming!" said Winishuyat.
Tulchuherris heard Sas coming. Then he saw a grizzly, and another, and another, till five were in sight. A little behind these were five others. When the first bear came near, he bounded at Tulchuherris, Tulchuherris dodged. The bear went past a good distance, and then turned to spring back. That moment the panther dog seized him by the throat and killed him. The second bear sprang at Tulchuherris. He dodged; the bear passed, and turned to come back. The panther dog seized and killed him right there. When he had chased the bears in, Sas turned home, saying as he went,--
"You are in a good place to-day, Tulchuherris. I have you now where my children will kill you. I know more than you; I am stronger than you. I am Sas."
After ten bears were killed and no more came,
[paragraph continues] Tulchuherris stood awhile, and taking the bears in one hand by the paws, he walked home with them; carried them as he would little birds. He put them at Sas's door, went in, sat down, and said to his wives,--
"I have something outside. You call them deer, I give them another name. But this is the only kind of deer that your father drove to me. You eat this kind of deer, I suppose. Go and see them, or tell your father to go."
Sas went out and saw the ten grizzly bears lying dead. "Oh, my son-in-law," cried he, "you are killing all my children!" Then, singing and crying, he buried the bears.
Next morning Sas rose early. "My son-in-law," said he, "there is something which I would like you to do to-day. My daughters have been asking me to do this for a long time; but I am too old. I will show you a brush house. I made it to kill birds of every kind and all kinds of game. It is near a spring at which birds meet to drink. Come; I will show you the house and the spring."
"My brother, be careful to-day," said Winishuyat, at starting. "Sas is taking us to Wintubos, where he has killed many people. There is no water near that place; no spring; but the house is full of snakes, poisonous things, and bears. Take both your dogs with you."
After Tulchuherris and Sas had gone a short distance, Sas stopped and said,--
"My son-in-law, you see that little house down there? Go into it and wait till you see some nice
birds or game coming, then kill them. I will go back. I am old and cannot stand or sit here and wait for you. I will go home and lie down till you come.
Sas went home.
Tulchuherris went near the house, and stopped. The two dogs sprang into the house at a leap, and killed all the snakes and the bears in it. When the dogs had come out, Tulchuherris went in to look at the house and the spring. He saw piles of bones everywhere. He cried when he looked at them. There was no water in the spring. It was mud, thick mud mixed with people's flesh. Tulchuherris looked toward the east, and far away he saw an open plain. Soon he saw what seemed a small speck at first. It was moving. As he watched, it came nearer, and he saw it was a person. Now far away he saw something else. The first was a small man; the second still smaller. Tulchuherris saw that they were running toward him. They came near and stopped.
"Have no fear. Come up to me," said Tulchuherris.
The larger said: "O my brother, my brother, I am thirsty."
"Oh. my brother," said the smaller one, "we are very thirsty."
Their hair was clipped close to their heads. Tulchuherris stepped back toward the north, struck the ground with his heel, and clear, cold water sprang up in a stream. He drank himself, and said, "Come and drink."
The first of these strangers was Anakurita (orphan), the second Biahori (lone man); only these two were left of all people in those parts. Sas had killed all the rest. "The last of our relatives were killed at this spring," said they. "We alone are left. We are going home."
"If you come here again," said Tulchuherris, "do not go near the spring at the house. That is a bad place. Drink this good water which I have given you."
The two went away. Tulchuherris put the sharp end of his bone through the heads of the snakes which the dogs had killed, there were hundreds of them. The ten grizzly bears he carried home in one hand.
"I have something outside," said he to Sas's daughters. "You call them birds, I believe; they are all the birds that I found at the brush house. Tell your father to look at them."
Sas went out and began to cry. He enlarged his wife's grave and buried them. "These are my children," said he; and he sang and danced as before.
Sas rose early next morning. "My son-in-law," said he, "your wives ask me to get fish for them, but I am too old. When I was young I used to fish, but now I cannot see. You are young; I will show you a good place for trout. My old pole and spear points are there; you may use them."
They started, came to a river with a bridge over it formed of one hair. "My brother," said Winishuyat, "this is a place where Sas has killed many of our people."
"My son-in-law," said Sas, "cross this bridge and catch fish; I will go home."
"Very well," answered Tulchuherris, who put his foot on the end of the bridge and crossed with one spring. On the other side he went to the fishing-hut, fixed so that a man could look up and down the river while fishing. Tulchuherris had his own spear-shaft, a sky-pole; the string was a sky-strap. He had his own point, too.
He waited for fish, and at last saw something come slowly from the south. It stopped, and then looked at him. Tulchuherris saw a face and a head with long hair tied in a knot with a band of woodpeckers' scalps, a long band wound around many times. Tulchuherris wore just such a band, but the scalps were of mountain woodpeckers.
"Ah, my brother-in-law," called out the person in the water, "let us exchange headdresses."
"I am sorry for you, my brother-in-law," said Tulchuherris. "I hate to kill you, but I must, for my father-in-law sent me to kill you."
"Go ahead, go ahead," said Winishuyat. "Don't spare him. Sas says he is a fish. He is Sas's son, Supchit. You must catch him or suffer."
Supchit turned, as it were, to go back. Tulchuherris hurled the pole, speared him under the arm, and the point went through to his other side. Supchit rushed toward the east with great force. Tulchuherris held to the spear with one hand, grasped tule grass with the other, used all his strength. Then he let the spear go, and held the strap. Though strong, he could not stop Supchit.
[paragraph continues] He was drawn into the water to his waist, then to his breast, and at last to his chin.
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "do you wish to drown? Call your gopher--he had a gopher in his moccasin--"send him to fill up the escapes, to block all the doors to Supchit's houses."
Tulchuherris sent his gopher to fill every hole, all Supchit's doors. Sas was at home now. He heard the great struggle, and said,--
"Oh, Tulchuherris, my son will finish you. This is your last day."
The gopher stopped every opening, and Supchit went from place to place. Every door was closed. He had to stay. Tulchuherris came out of the water little by little, and pulled till he drew Supchit to the bank, where he died. He carried him home in one hand, as if he had been a small fish.
"My father-in-law," said Tulchuherris, "I saw no fish except one little trout. I speared and brought home that little trout."
Sas went out; the two sisters went. That is our brother!" cried they. "That is my son," called out Sas, "the best son I had."
The old man buried Supchit with his head north, looking southward, and sang the same song that he had sung for his wife and the grizzlies. Sas and his daughters cut their hair in grief over Supchit.
"My son-in-law," said Sas, next morning early, "be up; I will show you a place where I used to play often when I was young. I am old now, and cannot play much, but I will show you the place, and I may play with you a little."
"I will go," said Tulchuherris; and they started.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "we are going to the place where Sas himself has always killed everyone who baffled him elsewhere. No man has ever escaped from the place to which Sas is now taking you. He will take you to a tree; he will ask you to climb it; he will bend it and let it spring back again; he will kill you if you are not careful."
They went to a very wide, level plain; in the middle of the plain stood a tremendous, big pine-tree, leaning to one side somewhat.
"My son-in-law," said Sas, "when I was young I used to play here. I cannot play much now, but I will show you how to play."
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "I will tell you what to do. Sas will try his best now to kill us. Do not kill him to-day; try him, lead him on, make him go higher and higher on the tree, and wait till to-morrow."
Sas climbed the tree some distance and said: "Now, my son-in-law, I am ready!"
Tulchuherris seized the top of the tree, pulled it toward him a little, and let it fly back. Sas kept his hold and slipped down.
"Now, my son-in-law, go up; go higher. I used to go very high when I was young like you." Tulchuherris went to where Sas had been.
"Go higher," said Sas.
"I wanted to stay where you were," answered Tulchuherris; "but I will go a little higher."
Sas took hold of the tree at the top, pulled it to
the earth, and let it go. It sprang back into the sky with a noise like thunder. Tulchuherris held on and slipped down unhurt.
"Well, father-in-law," said Tulchuherris. "try again."
"I cannot go high," said Sas; "but I will go a little higher than I did the first time. Don't give the tree a big pull." He went up.
"Go higher," said Tulchuherris.
"My son-in-law, I cannot go higher; I am old."
Tulchuherris teased him till he went a little higher; then he gave a harder pull than before. Sas held on without trouble and slipped to the ground.
"Now," said Sas, "I'll give you a swing." Tulchuherris went up.
"Go higher," said Sas. He went higher.
"Go higher; you are young," urged Sas.
"I don't like to go up," said Tulchuherris. But he went a little higher.
Old Sas gave a good pull, stronger than before. Tulchuherris held on and came to the ground safely. Going to one side, he said: "Whu, whu! let this day be made short!" So the day was made short; evening came soon.
"Well, father-in-law, you try now."
"Very well," said Sas, "give me a small pull; my arms tremble; I am old. I cannot hold on, I am so weak." Old Sas went up.
"Go higher," said Tulchuherris.
"I cannot; I'm old."
Tulchuherris pulled down the top of the tree,
but not so far. While he was pulling, Sas said: "Oh, my son-in-law, don't let it go hard."
Tulchuherris gave a pull that would leave Sas on the tree, and he came down unhurt.
"Now try once more," said Sas, "and we will go home."
"Very well," answered Tulchuherris.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "this is the last time to-day. He will try hard to kill you. Jump off before he lets the tree go."
Tulchuherris went up two-thirds of the way. Sas pulled the tree to the ground and thought that he would kill Tulchuherris surely; but just before he let it go, Tulchuherris slipped off behind him and rushed away. The tree flew up with the noise of heavy thunder. Sas looked everywhere, but could not see Tulchuherris.
"Now, Tulchuherris," said he, "I have finished you at last. You are nobody, you are dead;" and he started to go home, talking to himself as he went.
"Father-in-law, what are you saying, to whom are you talking?"
Sas turned around, amazed. "Oh, my son-in-law, I am glad that you are here. We must go home. We have no wood; we must get wood."
Tulchuherris thought: "My father-in-law wants to kill me. To-morrow I will do what I can to kill him. When my grandmother spoke to me of Sas, I knew nothing; I paid no heed to her. When she warned me, I did not listen, I did not believe; but I see now that she spoke truly when she told me of Sas's house."
He rose in the night, turned toward Sas, and said: "Whu! whu! I want you, Sas, to sleep soundly."
Then he reached his right hand toward the west, toward his grandmother's, and a stick came on it. He carved and painted the stick beautifully, red and black, and made a fire-drill. Then he reached his left hand toward the east, and wood for a mokos (arrow-straightener) came on it. He made the mokos and asked the fox dog for a fox-skin. The fox gave it. Of this he made a headband and painted it red. All these things he put in his quiver.
"We are ready," said Tulchuherris. "Now, Daylight, I wish you to come right away, to come quickly."
Daylight came. Sas rose, and they started soon after for the tree.
"My son-in-law, I will go first," said Sas; and he climbed the tree.
"Go higher!" said Tulchuherris. "I will not give a great pull, go up higher."
He went high, and Tulchuherris did not give a hard pull. Sas came down safely.
Tulchuherris now went high, almost to the top. Sas looked at him, saw that he was near the top, and then drew the great pine almost to the earth, standing with his back to the top of the tree. Tulchuherris sprang off behind Sas and ran away into the field. The tree sprang into the sky with a roar.
"You are killed now, my son-in-law," said Sas. "You will not trouble me hereafter He talked on to himself, and was glad.
"What are you saying, father-in-law?" asked Tulchuherris, coming up from behind.
Sas turned. "Oh, my son-in-law, I was afraid that I had hurt you. I was sorry."
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "Sas will kill you unless you kill him. At midday he will kill you surely, unless you kill him. Are we not as strong as Sas?"
"Father-in-law, try again; then I will go to the very top and beat you," said Tulchuherris.
That morning Sas's elder daughter said to her sister, after Sas and Tulchuherris had gone,--
"My sister, our father Sas has tried all people, and has conquered all of them so far; but to-day he will not conquer, to-day he will die. I know this; do not look for him to-day, he will not come back; he will never come back to us."
Sas went up high. "I will kill him now," thought Tulchuherris, and he was sorry; still he cried: "Go a little higher; I went higher, I will go to the top next time. I will not hurt you, go a little higher."
Sas went higher and higher, till at last he said, "I cannot climb any more, I am at the top; don't give a big pull, my son-in-law."
Tulchuherris took hold of the tree with one hand, pulled it as far as it would bend, pulled it till it touched the earth, and then let it fly. When the tree rushed toward the sky, it made an awful noise, and soon after a crash was heard, a hundred times louder than any thunder. All living things heard it. The whole sky and earth shook. Olelbis, who
lives in the highest place, heard it. All living things said,--
"Tulchuherris is killing his father-in-law. Tulchuherris has split Sas."
The awful noise was the splitting of Sas.
Tulchuherris stood waiting, waited three hours, perhaps, after the earth stopped trembling: then, far up in the sky he heard a voice, saying,--
"Oh, my son-in-law, I am split, I am dead. I thought that I was the strongest power living; but I am not. From this time on I shall say Tulchuherris is the greatest power in the world."
Tulchuherris could not see any one. He only heard a voice far up in the sky, saying,--
"My son-in-law, I will ask you for a few things. Will you give me your fox-skin headband?"
Tulchuherris put his hand into his fox-skin quiver, took out the band, and tossed it to him. It went straight up to Sas, and he caught it. "Now will you give me your mokos?" Tulchuherris took out the mokos and threw it. "Give me your fire-drill!" He threw that.
Another voice was heard now, not so loud: "I wish you would give me a headband of white quartz." This voice was the smaller part of Sas.
When Tulchuherris had given the headband, he said,--
"My father-in-law, you are split--you are two. The larger part of you will be Sas [the sun], the smaller part Chanahl [the moon, the white one]; and this division is what you have needed for a long time, but no one had the strength to divide you.
[paragraph continues] You are in a good state now. You, Chanahl, will grow old quickly and die; then you will come to life and be young again. You will be always like that in this world. And, Sas, you will travel west all the time, travel every day without missing a day; you will travel day after day without resting. You will see all things in the world as they live and die. My father-in-law, take this, too, from me."
Tulchuherris threw up to Sas a quiver made of porcupine skin.
"I will take it," said Sas, "and I will carry it always."
Then Tulchuherris gave Chanahl the quartz headband and said,--
"Wear it around your head always so that when you travel in the night you will be seen by all people."
Sas put the fox-skin around his head, and fastened the mokos crosswise in front of his forehead. The fire-drill he fastened in his hair behind, placing it upright. At sunrise we see the hair of the fox-skin around Sas's head before we see Sas himself.
Next Tulchuherris threw up two red berries, saying,--
"Take these and make red cheeks on each side of your face, so that when you rise in the morning you will be bright, and make everything bright."
Tulchuherris went west and got some white roots from the mountain, threw them to Sas, and said, "Put these across your forehead."
Next he stretched his right hand westward, and two large shells, blue inside, came to his palm. He threw these to Sas and said,--
"Put these on your forehead for a sign when you come up in the morning. There is a place in the east which is all fire. When you reach that place, go in and warm yourself. Go to Olelpanti now. Olelbis, your father lives there. He will tell you where to go."
Sas went to Olelpanti, where he found a wonderful and very big sweat-house. It was toward morning, and Olelbis was lying down, covered with a blanket. While sleeping he heard a noise, and when he woke he saw some one near him. He knew who it was. Sas turned to him and said,--
"My father, I am split. I thought myself the strongest person in the world, but I was not. Tulchuherris is the strongest."
"Well, my son Sas," asked Olelbis, "where do you wish to be. and how do you wish to live?"
"I have come to ask you," replied Sas.
"Well," answered Olelbis, "you must travel all the time, and it is better that you go from east to west. If you go north and travel southward, I don't think that will be well. If you go west and travel eastward, I don't think that will be well, either. If you go south and travel northward, I don't think that will be right.
"I think that best which Tulchuherris told you. He told you to go east and travel to the west. He said that there is a hot place in the east, that you must go into that place and get hot before you start every morning. I will show you the road from east to west. In a place right south of this is a very big tree, a tobacco tree, just half-way between east and
west. When you come from the east, sit down in the shade of that tree, rest a few minutes, and go on. Never forget your porcupine quiver or other ornaments when you travel.
"While coming up from the east, you will see thick brush along the road on both sides. In that brush are the grizzly bears, your children. Be on your guard against them; they would kill you if they could. As you pass along, let your porcupine quiver touch the bushes; that will keep the bears away. When you go far west to the great water, jump into it; everybody will call that place Sasunhluaston. No one in the world will believe you except Sedit. You and Sedit want all things to die when they grow old. Go to the east; go into the hot place every morning. There is always a fire in it. Take a white oak staff, thrust the end of that staff into the fire till it is one glowing coal. When you travel westward carry this burning staff in your hand. In summer take a manzanita staff; put it in the fire, and burn the end. This staff will be red-hot all the day.
"Now you may go east and begin. You will travel all the time, day after day, without stopping. All living things will see you with your glowing staff You will see everything in the world, but you will be always alone. No one can ever keep you company or travel with you. I am your father and you are my son, but I could not let you stay with me."