A few years ago it would have frightened me very seriously to find myself thus--alone in one of the remotest corners of New Mexico save for that swarthy face peering up into mine by the weird light of the camp-fire. A stern, quiet but manly face it seems to me now; but once I would have
thought it a very savage one, with its frame of long, jet hair, its piercing eyes, and the broad streak of red paint across its cheeks. By this time, however, having lived long among the kindly Pueblos, I had shaken off that strange, ignorant prejudice against all that is unknown--which seems to be inborn in all of us--and wondered that I could ever have believed in that brutal maxim, worthy only of worse than savages, that "A good Indian is a dead Indian." For Indians are men, after all, and astonishingly like the rest of us when one really comes to know them.
I pricked up my ears--very glad at his hint of another of these folk-stories.
"No," I answered. "I have noticed that the Wolf and the Deer are not on good terms, but never knew the reason."
"Si, señor," said he,--for Vitorino knows no English, and most of our talk was in Spanish, which is easier to me than the Tée-wahn language,--"that was very long ago, and now all is changed. But once the Wolf and the Deer were like brothers; and it is only because the Wolf did very wickedly that they are enemies. Con su licencia, señor." 1
"Bueno; anda!" 2
So Vitorino leaned his shoulders against a convenient rock and began.
Once upon a time, when the Wolf and the Deer were friends, there were two neighbors in the country beyond the Rio Puerco, not far from where the
pueblo of Laguna (a Quères town) now is. One was a Deer-mother who had two fawns, and the other a Wolf-mother with two cubs. They had very good houses of adobe, just such as we live in now, and lived like real people in every way. The two were great friends, and neither thought of going to the mountain for firewood or to dig amole 1 without calling for the other to accompany her.
One day the Wolf came to the house of the Deer and said:
"Friend Peé-hlee-oh [Deer-woman], let us go to-day for wood and amole, for I must wash to-morrow."
"It is well, friend Káhr-hlee-oh," replied the Deer. "I have nothing to do, and there is food in the house for the children while I am gone. Toó-kwai! [Let us go]."
So they went together across the plain and into the hills till they came to their customary spot. They gathered wood and tied it in bundles to bring home on their backs, and dug amole, which they put in their shawls to carry. Then the Wolf sat down under a cedar-tree and said:
"Ai! But I am tired! Sit down, friend Deer-woman, and lay your head in my lap, that we may rest."
"No, I am not tired," replied the Deer.
"But just to rest a little," urged the Wolf The Deer good-naturedly lay down with her head in the lap of her friend. But soon the Wolf bent down and caught the trusting Deer by the throat, and
killed her. That was the first time in the world that any one betrayed a friend, and from that deed comes all the treachery that is.
The false Wolf took off the hide of the Deer, and cut off some of the meat and carried it home on her load of amole and wood. She stopped at the house of the Deer, and gave the Fawns some of the accursed meat, saying:
"Friends, Deer-babies, do not fear, but eat; your mother met relatives and went to their house, and she will not come to-night."
The Fawns were very hungry, and as soon as the Wolf had gone home they built a big fire in the fireplace and set the meat to cook. But at once it began to sputter and to hiss, and the Fawn who was tending it heard it cry, "Look out! look out! for this is your mother!"
He was greatly frightened, and called his brother to listen, and again the same words came from the meat.
"The wicked old Wolf has killed our nana! [mama]," they cried, and, pulling the meat from the fire, they laid it gently away and sobbed themselves to sleep.
Next morning the Wolf went away to the mountain to bring the rest of the deer-meat; and when she was gone her Cubs came over to play with the Fawns, as they were used to doing. When they had played awhile, the Cubs said:
"Pee-oo-wée-deh [little Deer],why are you so prettily spotted, and why do you have your eyelids red, while we are so ugly?"
"Oh," said the Fawns, "that is because when
we were little, like you, our mother put us in a room and smoked us, and made us spotted."
"Oh, Fawn-friends, can't you spot us, too, so that we may be pretty?"
So the Fawns, anxious to avenge the death of their mother, built a big fire of corn-cobs in the fireplace, and threw coyote-grass on it to make a great smoke. Then, shutting the Cubs into the room, they plastered up the door and windows with mud, and laid a flat rock on top of the chimney and sealed it around with mud; and climbing down from the roof, they took each other's hands and ran away to the south as fast as ever they could.
After they had gone a long way, they came to a Coyote. He was walking back and forth with one paw to his face, howling dreadfully with the toothache. The Fawns said to him very politely:
"Ah-bóo! [poor thing]. Old-man friend, we are sorry your tooth hurts. But an old Wolf is chasing us, and we cannot stay. If she comes this way, asking about us, do not tell her, will you?"
"Een-dah. Little-Deer-friends, I will not tell her"--and he began to howl again with pain, while the Fawns ran on.
When the Wolf came to her home with the rest of the meat, the Cubs were not there; and she went over to the house of the Deer. It was all sealed and still; and when she pushed in the door, there were her Cubs dead in the smoke! When she saw that, the old Wolf was wild with rage, and vowed to follow the Fawns and eat them without mercy. She soon found their tracks leading away
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THE WOLF, AND THE COYOTE WITH THE TOOTHACHE.
to the south, and began to run very swiftly in pursuit.
In a little while she came to the Coyote, who was still walking up and down, howling so that one could hear him a mile away. But not pitying his pain, she snarled at him roughly:
"Say, old man! have you seen two Fawns running away?"
The Coyote paid no attention to her, but kept walking with his hand to his mouth, groaning, "Mm-m-páh! Mm-m-páh!"
Again she asked him the same question, more snappishly, but he only howled and groaned. Then she was very angry, and showed her big teeth as she said:
"I don't care about your 'Mm-m-páh! Mm-m-páh!' Tell me if you saw those Fawns, or I'll eat you this very now!"
"Fawns? Fawns?" groaned the Coyote--"I have been wandering with the toothache ever since the world began. And do you think I have had nothing to do but to watch for Fawns? Go along, and don't bother me."
So the Wolf, who was growing angrier all the time, went hunting around till she found the trail, and set to running on it as fast as she could go.
By this time the Fawns had come to where two Indian boys were playing k'wah-t'hím 1 with their bows and arrows, and said to them:
"Friends boys, if an old Wolf comes along and asks if you have seen us, don't tell her, will you?"
The boys promised that they would not, and the [paragraph continues]
Fawns hurried on. But the Wolf could run much faster, and soon she came to the boys, to whom she cried gruffly:
"You boys! did you see two Fawns running this way?"
But the boys paid no attention to her, and went on playing their game and disputing: "My arrow's nearest!" "No; mine is!" "'T ain't! Mine is!" She repeated her question again and again, but got no answer till she cried in a rage:
"You little rascals! Answer me about those Fawns, or I'll eat you!"
At that the boys turned around and said:
"We have been here all day, playing k'wah-t'hím, and not hunting Fawns. Go on, and do not disturb us."
So the Wolf lost much time with her questions and with finding the trail again; but then she began to run harder than ever.
In the mean time the Fawns had come to the bank of the Rio Grande, and there was P'ah-chah-hlóo-hli, the Beaver, hard at work cutting down a tree with his big teeth. And they said to him very politely:
"Friend Old-Crosser-of-the-Water, will you please pass us over the river?"
The Beaver took them on his back and carried them safely across to the other bank. When they bad thanked him, they asked him not to tell the old Wolf about them. He promised he would not, and swam back to his work. The Fawns ran and ran, across the plain, till they came to a big black hill of lava that stands alone in the valley southeast of Tomé.
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THE WOLF MEETS THE BOYS PLAYING WITH THE BOWS AND ARROWS.
"Here!" said one of the Fawns, "I am sure this must be the place our mother told us about, where the Trues of our people live. Let us look."
And when they came to the top of the hill, they found a trap-door in the solid rock. When they knocked, the door was opened and a voice called, "Enter!" They went down the ladder into a great room underground; and there they found all the Trues of the Deer-people, who welcomed them and gave them food.
When they had told their story, the Trues said:
"Fear not, friends, for we will take care of you."
And the War-captain picked out fifty strong young bucks for a guard.
By this time the Wolf had come to the river, and there she found the Beaver hard at work and grunting as he cut the tree.
"Old man!" she snarled, "did you see two Fawns here?"
But the Beaver did not notice her, and kept on walking around the tree, cutting it and grunting "Ah-oó-mah! Ah-oó-mah!"
She was in a terrible rage now, and roared:
"I am not talking 'Ah-oó-mah!' to you. I'm asking if you saw two Fawns."
"Well," said the Beaver, "I have been cutting trees here by the river ever since I was born, and I have no time to think about Fawns."
The Wolf, crazy with rage, ran up and down the bank, and at last came back and said:
"Old man, if you will carry me over the river I will pay you; but if you don't, I'll eat you up."
"Well, wait then till I cut around the tree three
times more," said the Beaver; and he made her wait. Then he jumped down in the water and took her on his neck, and began to swim across. But as soon as he came where the water was deep, he dived to the bottom and stayed there as long as he could.
"Ah-h-h!" sputtered the Wolf when he came to the surface. As soon as the Beaver got a breath, down he went again; and so he kept doing all the way across, until the Wolf was nearly drowned--but she clung to his neck desperately, and he could not shake her off.
When they came to the shore the old Wolf was choking, coughing, and crying, and so mad that she would not pay the Beaver as she had promised--and from that day to this the Beaver will never again ferry a Wolf across the river.
Presently she found the trail, and came running to the hill. When she knocked on the trap-door a voice from within called, "Who?"
"Wolf-woman," she answered as politely as she could, restraining her anger.
"Come down," said the voice, and hearing her name the fifty young Deer-warriors--who had carefully whetted their horns--stood ready. The door flew open, and she started down the ladder. But as soon as she set her foot on the first rung, all the Deer-people shouted:
"Look what feet!" For, though the Deer is so much larger than the Wolf, it has smaller feet.
At this she was very much ashamed, and pulled back her foot; but soon her anger was stronger, and she started down again. But each time the [paragraph continues]
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''THE FAWNS APPEARED SUDDENLY, AND AT SIGHT OF THEM THE WOLF DROPPED THE SPOONFUL OF SOUP.''
Deer-people laughed and shouted, and she drew back.
At last they were quiet, and she came down the ladder. When she had told her story the old men of the Deer-people said:
"This is a serious case, and we must not judge it lightly. Come, we will make an agreement. Let soup be brought, and we will eat together. And if you eat all your soup without spilling a drop, you shall have the Fawns."
"Ho!" thought the Wolf. "That is easy enough, for I will be very careful." And aloud she said: "It is well. Let us eat."
So a big bowl of soup was brought, and each took a guayave 1 and rolled it like a spoon to dip up the soup. The old Wolf was very careful, and had almost finished her soup without spilling a drop. But just as she was lifting the last sup to her mouth the Fawns appeared suddenly in the door of the next room, and at sight of them she dropped the soup in her lap.
"She spilled!" shouted all the Deer-people, and the fifty chosen warriors rushed upon her and tore her to pieces with their sharp horns.
That was the end of the treacherous Wolf; and from that day the Wolf and the Deer have been enemies, and the Wolf is a little afraid of the Deer. And the two Fawns? Oh, they still live with the Deer-people in that black hill below Tomé.
179:1 "With your permission, sir."
179:2 "All right; go ahead!"
180:1 The root of the palmilla, generally used for soap throughout the Southwest.
185:1 A sort of walking archery.
193:1 An Indian bread made by spreading successive films of blue corn-meal batter on a flat hot stone. It looks more like a piece of wasp's nest than anything else, but is very good to eat.