NEARLY every nation has its folk-lore concerning Jack Frost and his anti-type. The cold North Wind is always the enemy of man, and the warm South Wind always his friend. The Quères pueblos of Acoma and Laguna have an allegorical folk-story, in which the good spirit of heat defeats his icy-hearted rival.
Once, long ago, the ta-pó-pe (governor) of Acoma had a beautiful daughter, for whom many of the young men had asked in vain, for she would have none of them. One day there came climbing up the stone ladder to the cliff-built pueblo a tall and handsome stranger. His dress glistened with white crystals, and his face, though handsome, was very stern. The fair kot-chin-á-ka (chief's daughter), bending at a pool in the great rock to fill her water-jar, saw and admired him as he came striding proudly to the village; and he did not fail to notice the dusky beauty. Soon he asked for her in due form; and in a little while they were to be married.
But, with the coming of Shó-kee-ah--for that was the name of the handsome stranger--a sad
change befell Acoma. The water froze in the springs and the corn withered in the fields. Every morning Shó-kee-ah left the town and went away to his home in the far North; and every evening he returned, and the air grew chill around. The people could raise no crops, for the bitter cold killed all that they planted, and nothing would grow but the thorny cactus. To keep from starving, they had to eat the cactus-leaves, roasting them first to remove the sharp thorns. One day, when the kot-chin-á-ka was roasting cactus-leaves, there came another handsome stranger with a sunny smile and stood beside her.
"What dost thou there?" he asked; and she told him.
"But do not so," said the young man, giving her an ear of green corn. "Eat this, and I will bring thee more."
So saying, he was gone; but very soon he returned with such a load of green corn as the strongest man could not lift, and carried it to her house.
"Roast this," he said, "and when the people come to thee, give them each two ears, for hereafter there shall always be much corn."
She roasted the corn and gave it to the people, who took it eagerly, for they were starving. But soon Shó-kee-ah returned, and the warm, bright day grew suddenly cold and cloudy. As he put his foot on the ladder to come down into the house (all Pueblo rooms used to be entered only from the roof, and thousands are so yet) great flakes of snow fell around him; but Mí-o-chin,
the newcomer, made it very warm, and the snow melted.
"Now," said Shó-kee-ah, "we will see which is more powerful; and he that is shall have the kot-chin-á-ka." Mí-o-chin accepted the challenge, and it was agreed that the contest should begin on the morrow and last three days. Mí-o-chin went to consult an old Spider-woman as to the best way to conquer his powerful rival, and she gave him the necessary advice.
Next day the people all gathered to see the trial of strength between the two wizards. Shó-kee-ah "made medicine," and caused a driving sleet and a bitter wind that froze all waters. But Mí-o-chin built a fire and heated small stones in it, and with them caused a warm South Wind, which melted the ice. On the second day, Shó-kee-ah used more powerful incantations, and made a deep snow to cover the world; but again Mí-o-chin brought his South Wind and chased away the snow. On the third day Shó-kee-ah used his strongest spell, and it rained great icicles, until everything was buried under them. But when Mí-o-chin built his fire and heated the stones, again the warm South Wind drove away the ice and dried the earth. So it remained to Mí-o-chin; and the defeated Shó-kee-ah went away to his frozen home in the North, leaving Mí-o-chin to live happy ever after with the kot-chin-á-ka, whom he married amid the rejoicing of all the people of Acoma.