THERE is a fragmentary Quères folk-story which bears internal evidence that its heroine was the mother of the Hero Twins--that is, the Moon. The adventure described here is one of those which befell the Moon-Mother, as related in several myths; though it has been varied, evidently by some later story-teller, and the identity of the heroine does not appear at first sight. It is a story common to all the Quères, and is undoubtedly ancient; but as I heard it first in Isleta its scene is laid in Laguna, a pueblo only two hundred years old.
Once upon a time the Tah-póh-pee 1 of Laguna had a daughter, who was the belle of the village. She was very fond of hunting, and killed as much game as any of the young men. Several miles south of Laguna is a very large sandstone dome rising in the plain, and in the heart of this rock the Governor's daughter had hollowed out a room in which she used to camp when on her hunting-expeditions.
One day there came a snow that covered the
ground so that one could easily track rabbits, and taking her bow and arrows she started off to hunt.
She had unusual luck, and by the time she reached the hunting-lodge she was loaded down with rabbits. The evening was very cold, and she was hungry; so, going into the rock-house, she built a fire on the hearth and began to roast a rabbit. Just as it was cooking a strong west wind came up and carried the savory smell from her chimney far to the east, till it reached a dark cavern in the Sandia Mountains, fifty miles away. There lived an old giantess, the terror of all the world, and when she caught a whiff of that sweet meat she started up and rubbed her big red eye.
"Um!" she cried, "that is good! I am going to see where it is, for I have had nothing to eat to-day."
In two steps she was at the rock-house, and, stooping down, she called at the door: "Quáh-tzee? [How are you?] What are you cooking in there?"
"Rabbits," said the girl, dreadfully scared at that great voice.
"Then give me one," shouted the old giantess. The girl threw one out at the door, and the giantess swallowed it at a gulp and demanded more. The girl kept throwing them out until all were gone. Then the giantess called for her manta (dress), and her shawl and her buckskin leggings, and ate them all, and at last said:
"Little girl, now you come out, and let me eat you."
The girl began to cry bitterly when she saw that great savage eye at the door, which was so small
that the giantess could not get her huge hand in. She repeated her commands thrice, and when the girl still refused to come out, picked up a great boulder and began to hammer the rock-house to pieces. But just as she had broken off the roof and stooped to pick out the girl, two hunters chanced to pass and hear the noise. They crept up and shot the giantess through the neck with their strong arrows and killed her, and, bringing new clothes for the girl, took her home safely to Kó-iks (the native name for Laguna), where she lived for many years.