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Creation Myths of Primitive America, by Jeremiah Curtin, [1898], at


It is not so easy to decide who Hehku is. Her most usual, if not her regular and normal, form is that of a horned serpent; but she changes herself into various forms. When angry, or rather when raging, she becomes a Putokya,--that is, a skull person, like Hitchinna. These Putokyas seem to be the cyclone or tremendous wind which moves in a narrow path and makes a clean sweep of everything.

The gambling scene in Jupka's sweat-house is good. Hehku has easy work till she meets the master, who to his incomparable power adds deceit.

The game, connected here with Jupka's sweat-house, is played by two persons sitting opposite each other. One of these holds a small "Jupaiauna" bone or stick in one of his closed hands, and the other guesses which hand it is in. The process of playing is as follows:--

p. 527

Each person has ten little sticks or counters at the opening of the game. One holds the "Jupaiauna," and begins action by placing his hands behind his back and deciding in which hand to hold the bone for that time; next, he closes his hands firmly, and brings them out before his breast. He holds them back downward, the little finger of each hand touching that of the other. The person sitting opposite guesses where the bone is; the other opens both hands then, and shows his palms. If this bone is in the hand indicated by the guesser, he wins; if not, he loses. A game is finished when one side holds the twenty counters; that is, when one side has won the ten little sticks given to the other at the opening of the game.

As Hehku sat with her back to the west, her right hand was south and her left north. When her opponent guessed south, if the bone was in her right hand she sang it into her left (the north),--literally, enchanted it north. If the bone was in her left hand, she let it stay there, and thus she won in every case.

Jupka, by limiting the game to one guess, and by his quibble of words, proved himself a keener trickster than Hehku, whose predicament is described fairly well by the Russian saying, "Kosá nashlá na kámen," the scythe met a stone; or the biter bitten, as we might say.

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