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p. 252


Now here is the story "made English." First I did a Spanish version, and went over it several times with the Indian narrator, who could understand Spanish and agreed that it was a good translation of the original. Then I tried it on other Indians; and they all voted it "Kú-chu." I have not tried to keep the metrical form, but tell the story so that Americans will understand it in exactly the same sense that the Indian boys and girls understood it when it was told them in the soft and musical Tée-wahn.


Once upon a time, they say, Old-Man-with-a-Black-Cane and his wife Ear-of-Corn-Woman lived with their children-with their daughter Yellow-Corn-Girl, and her baby, and their little son Na-chur-ú-chu (whose name means Boy-of-the-Blue-of-Dawn).

Old-Man-with-a-Black-Cane was the Rain-Maker of the pueblo, and worked to bring the rains. His wife was without eyes (blind). The little boy Na-chur-ú-chu used to play whib 1 in the morning. Then his sister Yellow-Corn-Girl used

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to grind corn on the metate. The old mother used to take care of the baby and to work, weaving a belt. She used to tie the baby at the end of the belt, so that he could play while she worked.

One day she thought about the belt and pulled it back, and there was no boy tied to it. An eagle had watched the child. That one day the eagle came and stole the child; and when his grandmother pulled the belt there was no child tied to it. Then she cried to her daughter, Yellow-Corn-Girl: "Hurry, come out! I don't know where our little child is." Then they began to ask about him from everybody all around. Nobody had seen him. Then notice (official heralding) was given throughout the pueblo to hunt for him; but nowhere could he be found, though they kept looking for him a long time. And all the people were sorry.

Then Old-Man-with-a-Black-Cane no longer worked to bring the rain. And there was no rain. And all the corn got dry. Then all the people were hungry. Then at last again Na-chur-ú-chu went out to play whib in the morning; and somewhere on a high mesa, in the middle of the day, as he passed by in his playing, he heard on this inaccessible cliff a child singing:

"I am the grandson of Old-Black-Cane." 1

When Na-chur-ú-chu heard this, he stopped and listened long. And again he heard the same song. And he said to himself: "Isn't this my nephew? Certainly it is."

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Then he went running back to the pueblo; and when got there he said: "My nephew has been stolen away by the eagle! That's why I heard him crying, up where nobody can reach him."

Then they told him in the pueblo: "Go again tomorrow, and see if you hear the same." Then he went again next day. And it was true, for he heard the same thing again. And he said to himself: "It certainly is so, for that is my nephew."

And when he told it in the pueblo, the young men were ordered to go and bring the child down from the mesa; but they could not scale it.

The Stone-Layers (a kind of swallow) 1 were flying all around; and the young men said to them: "Say, Birds, what do you want us to pay you to go up there and bring down the child that is lying there?" But the birds did n't pay any attention, and kept on flying and singing their song, crying up and down, as they sailed up and down:

"Chee! chee! chee! chee!"

Then the young men asked them again to help rescue the child; and at last one bird paid attention and said: "There is someone talking." And all the birds listened.

Again the young men said to them: "What payment do you want to bring our child down to us?"

And the birds said: "Piñon nuts."

"All right," said the young men.

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The birds went up and tried to bring down the child; but they could not, and then they came back and said they were unable. The young men paid them their price in piñon nuts just the same.

Then the birds said: "We will go to Old Grandmother-Spider." And so they went, and they came to where Old Grandmother-Spider lived. She said: "What do you want?"

And they told her. And she said: "Is it so? The poor child makes a noise. Wait, my grandsons, wait for me, let me eat first; and I want you to eat with me."

So she made her dinner by putting out some acorn-cups with mush and atole.

The birds said: "Mercy, poor us! Who will fill these shells up for us?" But the Grandmother-Spider said: "Grandsons, you should not think that way. Eat, and fill yourselves."

"Thank you, Grandmother," they said; and they ate, and they were filled. Then she took a big basket of her own weaving, and they all went to the mesa. The young men of the pueblo were waiting. They said to her: "Grandmother, would you dare go away up to where the child is lying, and bring him down to us?" And the Spider-Grandmother said: "Yes, but you must take care not to look up at what I am doing." Then she went up. "Here he is!" she cried; and she hung the basket.

And they could not help it, but looked up to see where the Grandmother-Spider and the basket were; and when they looked up, the basket blew away.

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Then she called to them: "Grandsons, you must not do that;" and she was very sorry. So they said: "Grandmother, now we will not look up." So again she hung the basket, and brought down the boy.

But he was not a boy any more, but a young eagle--just a young eagle. So they carried this young eagle back to the pueblo, and tried what way they could make him a child again instead of an eagle. The Wise Old Men fasted for four days; and then after the four days' fast they worked in the night to change him back.

They set down the eagle-child among them, and they sang the first words of the sacred songs, and they rolled the sacred ma-koor hoop.

And when they sang the first words of the song and rolled the ma-koor hoop, the eagle-child became "like people" down to his neck. But the rest of him was like a young eagle.

Again they sang the song and rolled the hoop, and he became "like people" down to the waist. The third time they sang the song and rolled the hoop, and he was "like people" down to the knees; and with the fourth singing and rolling he was "like people" down to the ankles; and with the fifth he was a perfect boy again. And so it was finished.

Then the Wise Men warmed water, and made him drink it until he vomited; and he vomited up all the snakes, the coyotes, rabbits, mice, and other things which the eagle had fed him.

Then when he was restored to his natural shape, and purified, they carried him to the arms of his

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parents. Then once more Old-Man-with-a-Black-Cane began to work for rain; and the rain came down, and it came upon the fields; and the corn came up and blossomed, and then it ripened. So about that time the people came to the Cacique and told him they were ready to pick corn; and it was proclaimed that the corn should be picked; and the people went out and picked the corn and brought it out to the Cacique's house; and they filled his house up full, and more was left. They carried corn throughout the pueblo to the east, to the north, to the northwest, to the west, to the south, and all the other quarters of the Compass, as he told them (giving enough to everybody).


And so they were all very glad in the pueblo, and lived happy, and had enough to eat.

You have a tail on you. (Now it's your turn to tell a story.)


252:1 An ancient game in which the players race many miles, kicking a small stick ahead of them. They must touch it only with their toes. The aboriginal name of Isleta is Shee-eh-whíb-bak--meaning "Knife-shaped-Ridge-where-they-play-whib." The pueblo is built on a knife-shaped reef of lava running across the ancient channel of the Rio Grande.

253:1 The rest of the verse is in an unknown language, and probably archaic.

254:1 Stone-Layers--that is, masons; because these swallows build their nests of mud and pebbles on cliffs, under roofs, or in any sheltered place, in a fashion which makes one clan of the Pueblos believe they descended from the swallows and taught all the other Pueblos to be "Stone-Layers" and build adobe houses.