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ALONG THE ROCKY RANGE
The hope of finding El Dorado, that animated the adventurous Spaniards who made the earlier recorded voyages to America, lived in the souls of Western mountaineers as late as the first half of this century. Ample discoveries of gold in California and Colorado gave color to the belief in this land of riches, and hunger, illness, privation, the persecutions of savages, and death itself were braved in the effort to reach and unlock the treasure caves of earth. Until mining became a systematic business, prospectors were dissatisfied with the smaller deposits of precious metal and dreamed of golden hills farther away. The unknown regions beyond the Rocky Mountains were filled by imagination with magnificent possibilities, and it was the hope of the miner to penetrate the wilderness, "strike it rich," and "make his pile."
Thus, the region indicated as "over the divide" meaning the continental water-shed-or "over the range" came to signify not a delectable land alone, but a sum of delectable conditions, and, ultimately, the goal of posthumous delights. Hence the phrase in use to-day: "Poor Bill! He's gone over the divide."
The Indian's name of
heaven—"the happy hunting ground"—is of similar
significance, and among many of the tribes it had a definite place in
the far Southwest, to which their souls were carried on cobweb
floats. Just before reaching it they came to a dark river that had to
be crossed on a log. If they had been good in the world of the living
they suffered no harm from the rocks and surges, but if their lives
had been evil they never reached the farther shore, for they were
swept into a place of whirlpools, where, for ever and ever, they were
tossed on the torrent amid thousands of clinging, stinging snakes and
shoals of putrid fish. From the far North and East the Milky Way was
the star-path across the divide.
Soon after the rails were laid across Marshall Pass, Colorado, where they go over a height of twelve thousand feet above the sea, an old engineer named Nelson Edwards was assigned to a train. He had travelled the road with passengers behind him for a couple of months and met with no accident, but one night as he set off for the divide he fancied that the silence was deeper, the canon darker, and the air frostier than usual. A defective rail and an unsafe bridge had been reported that morning, and he began the long ascent with some misgivings. As he left the first line of snow-sheds he heard a whistle echoing somewhere among the ice and rocks, and at the same time the gong in his cab sounded and he applied the brakes.
The conductor ran up and asked, "What did you stop for?"
"Why did you signal to stop?"
"I gave no signal. Pull her open and light out, for we've got to pass No. 19 at the switches, and there's a wild train climbing behind us."
Edwards drew the lever, sanded the track, and the heavy train got under way again; but the whistles behind grew nearer, sounding danger-signals, and in turning a curve he looked out and saw a train speeding after him at a rate that must bring it against the rear of his own train if something were not done. He broke into a sweat as he pulled the throttle wide open and lunged into a snow-bank. The cars lurched, but the snow was flung off and the train went roaring through another shed. Here was where the defective rail had been reported. No matter. A greater danger was pressing behind. The fireman piled on coal until his clothes were wet with perspiration, and fire belched from the smoke-stack. The passengers, too, having been warned of their peril, had dressed themselves and were anxiously watching at the windows, for talk went among them that a mad engineer was driving the train behind.
As Edwards crossed the summit he shut off steam and surrendered his train to the force of gravity. Looking back, he could see by the faint light from new snow that the driving-wheels on the rear engine were bigger than his own, and that a tall figure stood atop of the cars and gestured franticly. At a sharp turn in the track he found the other train but two hundred yards behind, and as he swept around the curve the engineer who was chasing him leaned from his window and laughed. His face was like dough. Snow was falling and had begun to drift in the hollows, but the trains flew on; bridges shook as they thundered across them; wind screamed in the ears of the passengers; the suspected bridge was reached; Edwards's heart was in his throat, but he seemed to clear the chasm by a bound. Now the switch was in sight, but No. 19 was not there, and as the brakes were freed the train shot by like a flash. Suddenly a red light appeared ahead, swinging to and fro on the track. As well be run into behind as to crash into an obstacle ahead. He heard the whistle of the pursuing locomotive yelp behind him, yet he reversed the lever and put on brakes, and for a few seconds lived in a hell of dread.
Hearing no sound, now, he glanced back and saw the wild train almost leap upon his own—yet just before it touched it the track seemed to spread, the engine toppled from the bank, the whole train rolled into the canon and vanished. Edwards shuddered and listened. No cry of hurt men or hiss of steam came up—nothing but the groan of the wind as it rolled through the black depth. The lantern ahead, too, had disappeared. Now another danger impended, and there was no time to linger, for No. 19 might be on its way ahead if he did not reach the second switch before it moved out. The mad run was resumed and the second switch was reached in time. As Edwards was finishing the run to Green River, which he reached in the morning ahead of schedule, he found written in the frost of his cab-window these words: "A frate train was recked as yu saw. Now that yu saw it yu will never make another run. The enjine was not ounder control and four sexshun men wor killed. If yu ever run on this road again yu will be recked." Edwards quit the road that morning, and returning to Denver found employment on the Union Pacific. No wreck was discovered next day in the canon where he had seen it, nor has the phantom train been in chase of any engineer who has crossed the divide since that night.
In the days when Spain ruled the Western country an infantry regiment was ordered out from Santa Fe to open communication with Florida and to carry a chest of gold for the payment of the soldiers in St. Augustine. The men wintered on the site of Trinidad, comforted by the society of their wives and families, and in the spring the women and camp-followers were directed to remain, while the troops set forward along the canon of the Purgatoire—neither to reach their destination nor to return. Did they attempt to descend the stream in boats and go to wreck among the rapids? Were they swept into eternity by a freshet? Did they lose their provisions and starve in the desert? Did the Indians revenge themselves for brutality and selfishness by slaying them at night or from an ambush? Were they killed by banditti? Did they sink in the quicksands that led the river into subterranean canals? None will ever know, perhaps; but many years afterward a savage told a priest in Santa Fe that the regiment had been surrounded by Indians, as Custer's command was in Montana, and slain, to a man. Seeing that escape was hopeless, the colonel—so said the narrator—had buried the gold that he was transporting. Thousands of doubloons are believed to be hidden in the canon, and thousands of dollars have been spent in searching for them.
After weeks had lapsed into months and months into years, and no word came of the missing regiment, the priests named the river El Rio de las Animas Perdidas—the River of Lost Souls. The echoing of the flood as it tumbled through the canon was said to be the lamentation of the troopers. French trappers softened the suggestion of the Spanish title when they renamed it Purgatoire, and—"bullwhackers" teaming across the plains twisted the French title into the unmeaning "Picketwire." But Americo-Spaniards keep alive the tradition, and the prayers of many have ascended and do ascend for the succor of those who vanished so strangely in the valley of Las Animas.
Among the sandstone columns of the Colorado foot-hills stood the lodge of Ta-in-ga-ro (First Falling Thunder). Though swift in the chase and brave in battle, he seldom went abroad with neighboring tribes, for he was happy in the society of his wife, Zecana (The Bird). To sell beaver and wild sheep-skins he often went with her to a post on the New Mexico frontier, and it was while at this fort that a Spanish trader saw the pretty Zecana, and, determining to win her, sent the Indian on a mission into the heart of the mountains, with a promise that she should rest securely at the settlement until his return.
On his way Ta-in-ga-ro stopped at the spring in Manitou, and after drinking he cast beads and wampum into the well in oblation to its deity. The offering was flung out by the bubbling water, and as he stared, distressed at this unwelcome omen, a picture formed on the surface—the anguished features of Zecana. He ran to his horse, galloped away, and paused neither for rest nor food till he had reached the post. The Spaniard was gone. Turning, then, to the foot-hills, he urged his jaded horse toward his cabin, and arrived, one bright morning, flushed with joy to see his wife before his door and to hear her singing. When he spoke she looked up carelessly and resumed her song. She did not know him. Reason was gone.
It was his cry of rage and grief, when, from her babbling, Ta-in-ga-ro learned of the Spaniard's treachery, that brought the wandering mind back for an instant. Looking at her husband with a strange surprise and pain, she plucked the knife from his belt. Before he could realize her purpose she had thrust it into her heart and had fallen dead at his feet. For hours he stood there in stupefaction, but the stolid Indian nature soon resumed its sway. Setting his lodge in order and feeding his horse, he wrapped Zecana's body in a buffalo-skin, then slept through the night in sheer exhaustion. Two nights afterward the Indian stood in the shadow of a room in the trading fort and watched the Spaniard as he lay asleep. Nobody knew how he passed the guard.
In the small hours the traitor was roused by the strain of a belt across his mouth, and leaping up to fling it off, he felt the tug of a lariat at his throat. His struggles were useless. In a few moments he was bound hand and foot. Lifting some strips of bark from the low roof, Ta-in-ga-ro pushed the Spaniard through the aperture and lowered him to the ground, outside the enclosure of which the house formed part. Then, at the embers of a fire he kindled an arrow wrapped in the down of cottonwood and shot it into a haystack in the court. In the smoke and confusion thus made, his own escape was unseen, save by a guardsman drowsily pacing his beat outside the square of buildings. The sentinel would have given the alarm, had not the Indian pounced on him like a panther and laid him dead with a knife-stroke.
Catching up the Spaniard, the Indian tied him to the back of a horse and set off beside him. Thus they journeyed until they came to his lodge, where he released the trader from his horse and fed him, but kept his hands and legs hard bound, and paid no attention to his questions and his appeals for liberty. Tying a strong and half-trained horse at his door, Ta-in-ga-ro placed a wooden saddle on him, cut off the Spaniard's clothes, and put him astride of the beast. After he had fastened him into his seat with deer-skin thongs, he took Zecana's corpse from its wrapping and tied it to his prisoner, face to face.
Then, loosing the horse, which was plunging and snorting to be rid of his burden, he saw him rush off on the limitless desert, and followed on his own strong steed. At first the Spaniard fainted; on recovering he struggled to get free, but his struggles only brought him closer to the ghastly thing before him. Noon-day heat covered him with sweat and blood dripped from the wales that the cords cut in his flesh. At night he froze uncovered in the chill air, and, if for an instant his eyes closed in sleep, a curse, yelled into his ear, awoke him. Ta-inga-ro gave him drink from time to time, but never food, and so they rode for days. At last hunger overbore his loathing, and sinking his teeth into the dead flesh before him he feasted like a ghoul.
Still they rode, Ta-in-ga-ro never far from his victim, on whose sufferings he gloated, until a gibbering cry told him that the Spaniard had gone mad. Then, and not till then, he drew rein and watched the horse with its dead and maniac riders until they disappeared in the yellow void. He turned away, but nevermore sought his home. To and fro, through the brush, the sand, the alkali of the plains, go the ghost riders, forever.
When white men first penetrated the Western wilderness of America they found the tribes of Shoshone and Comanche at odds, and it is a legend of the springs of Manitou that their differences began there. This "Saratoga of the West," nestling in a hollow of the foot-hills in the shadow of the noble peak of Pike, was in old days common meeting-ground for several families of red men. Councils were held in safety there, for no Indian dared provoke the wrath of the manitou whose breath sparkled in the "medicine waters." None? Yes, one. For, centuries ago a Shoshone and a Comanche stopped here on their return from a hunt to drink. The Shoshone had been successful; the Comanche was empty handed and ill tempered, jealous of the other's skill and fortune. Flinging down the fat deer that he was bearing homeward on his shoulders, the Shoshone bent over the spring of sweet water, and, after pouring a handful of it on the ground, as a libation to the spirit of the place, he put his lips to the surface. It needed but faint pretext for his companion to begin a quarrel, and he did so in this fashion: "Why does a stranger drink at the spring-head when one of the owners of the fountain contents himself with its overflow? How does a Shoshone dare to drink above me?"
The other replied, "The Great Spirit places the water at the spring that his children may drink it undefiled. I am Ausaqua, chief of Shoshones, and I drink at the head-water. Shoshone and Comanche are brothers. Let them drink together."
"No. The Shoshone pays tribute to the Comanche, and Wacomish leads that nation to war. He is chief of the Shoshone as he is of his own people."
"Wacomish lies. His tongue is forked, like the snake's. His heart is black. When the Great Spirit made his children he said not to one, 'Drink here,' and to another, 'Drink there,' but gave water that all might drink."
The other made no answer, but as Ausaqua stooped toward the bubbling surface Wacomish crept behind him, flung himself against the hunter, forced his head beneath the water, and held him there until he was drowned. As he pulled the dead body from the spring the water became agitated, and from the bubbles arose a vapor that gradually assumed the form of a venerable Indian, with long white locks, in whom the murderer recognized Waukauga, father of the Shoshone and Comanche nation, and a man whose heroism and goodness made his name revered in both these tribes. The face of the patriarch was dark with wrath, and he cried, in terrible tones, "Accursed of my race! This day thou hast severed the mightiest nation in the world. The blood of the brave Shoshone appeals for vengeance. May the water of thy tribe be rank and bitter in their throats."
Then, whirling up an elk-horn club, he brought it full on the head of the wretched man, who cringed before him. The murderer's head was burst open and he tumbled lifeless into the spring, that to this day is nauseous, while, to perpetuate the memory of Ausaqua, the manitou smote a neighboring rock, and from it gushed a fountain of delicious water. The bodies were found, and the partisans of both the hunters began on that day a long and destructive warfare, in which other tribes became involved until mountaineers were arrayed against plainsmen through all that region.
A hundred years before the white men set up their trading-posts on the Arkansas and Platte, a band of mountain hunters made a descent on what they took to be a small company of plainsmen, but who proved to be the enemy in force, and who, in turn, drove the Utes—for the aggressors were of that tribe—into the hills. Most of them took refuge on a castellated rock on the south side of Bowlder Canon, where they held their own for several days, rolling down huge rocks whenever an attempt was made to storm the height; wherefore, seeing that the mountain was too secure a stronghold to be taken in that way, the besiegers camped about it, and, by cutting off the access of the beleaguered party to game and to water, starved every one of them to death.
This, too, is the story of Starved Rock, on Illinois River, near Ottawa, Illinois. It is a sandstone bluff, one hundred and fifty feet high, with a slope on one side only. Its summit is an acre in extent, and at the order of La Salle his Indian lieutenant, Tonti, fortified the place and mounted a small cannon on it. He died there afterward. After the killing of Pontiac at Cahokia, some of his people—the Ottawas—charged the crime against their enemies, the Illinois. The latter, being few in number, entrenched themselves on Starved Rock, where they kept their enemies at bay, but were unable to break their line to reach supplies. For a time they secured water by letting down bark vessels into the river at the end of thongs, but the Ottawas came under the bluff in canoes and cut the cords. Unwilling to surrender, the Illinois remained there until all had died of starvation. Bones and relics are found occasionally at the top.
There is yet another place of which a similar narrative is extant—namely, Crow Butte, Nebraska, which is two hundred feet high and vertical on all sides save one, but on that a horseman may ascend in safety. A company of Crows, flying from the Sioux, gained this citadel and defended the path so vigorously that their pursuers gave over all attempts to follow them, but squatted calmly on the plain and proceeded to starve them out. On a dark night the besieged killed some of their ponies and made lariats of their hides, by which they reached the ground on the unguarded side of the rock. They slid down, one at a time, and made off all but one aged Indian, who stayed to keep the camp-fire burning as a blind. He went down and surrendered on the next day, but the Sioux, respecting his age and loyalty, gave him freedom.
Although the Indians feared the geyser basins of the upper Yellowstone country, believing the hissing and thundering to be voices of evil spirits, they regarded the mountains at the head of the river as the crest of the world, and whoso gained their summits could see the happy hunting-grounds below, brightened with the homes of the blessed. They loved this land in which their fathers had hunted, and when they were driven back from the settlements the Crows took refuge in what is now Yellowstone Park. Even here the soldiers pursued them, intent on avenging acts that the red men had committed while suffering under the sting of tyranny and wrong. A mere remnant of the fugitive band gathered at the head of that mighty rift in the earth known as the Grand Canon of the Yellowstone—a remnant that had succeeded in escaping the bullets of the soldiery,—and with Spartan courage they resolved to die rather than be taken and carried away to pine in a distant prison. They built a raft and placed it on the river at the foot of the upper fall, and for a few days they enjoyed the plenty and peace that were their privilege in former times. A short-lived peace, however, for one morning they are aroused by the crack of rifles—the troops are upon them.
Boarding their raft they thrust it toward the middle of the stream, perhaps with the idea of gaining the opposite shore, but, if such is their intent, it is thwarted by the rapidity of the current. A few among them have guns, that they discharge with slight effect at the troops, who stand wondering on the shore. The soldiers forbear to fire, and watch, with something like dread, the descent of the raft as it passes into the current, and, with many a turn and pitch, whirls on faster and faster. The death-song rises triumphant above the lash of the waves and that distant but awful booming that is to be heard in the canon. Every red man has his face turned toward the foe with a look of defiance, and the tones of the death-chant have in them something of mockery no less than hate and vaunting.
The raft is now between the jaws of rock that yawn so hungrily. Beyond and below are vast walls, shelving toward the floor of the gulf a thousand feet beneath—their brilliant colors shining in the sun of morning that sheds as peaceful a light on wood and hill as if there were no such thing as brother hunting brother in this free land of ours. The raft is galloping through the foam like a racehorse, and, hardened as the soldiers are, they cannot repress a shudder as they see the fate that the savages have chosen for themselves. Now the brink is reached. The raft tips toward the gulf, and with a cry of triumph the red men are launched over the cataract, into the bellowing chasm, where the mists weep forever on the rocks and mosses.
Down in the canon of Chaco, New Mexico, stands a building evidently coeval with those of the cliff dwellers, that is still in good preservation and is called the Broad House. When Noqoilpi, the gambling god, came on earth he strayed into this canon, and, finding the Moquis a prosperous people, he envied them and resolved to win their property. To do that he laid off a race-track at the bottom of the ravine and challenged them to meet him there in games of chance and strength and skill. They accepted his challenge, and, as he could turn luck to his own side, he soon won not their property alone, but their women and children, and, finally, some of the men themselves.
In his greed he had acquired more than he wanted, and as the captives were a burden to him he offered to make a partial restoration if the people would build this house for him. They did so and he gave up some of the men and women. The other gods looked with disapproval on this performance, however, and they agreed to give the wind god power to defeat him, for, now that he had secured his house, he had gone to gambling again. The wind god, in disguise as a Moqui, issued a challenge, and the animals agreed to help him.
When the contest in tree-pulling took place the wind god pulled up a large tree while Noqoilpi was unable to stir a smaller one. That was because the beavers had cut the roots of the larger. In the ball contest Noqoilpi drove the ball nearly to the bounds, but the wind god sent his far beyond, for wrapped loosely in it was a bird that freed itself before touching the ground and flew away. In brief, Noqoilpi was beaten at every point and the remaining captives left him, with jeers, and returned to their people.
The gambler cursed and raged until the wind god seized him, fitted him to a bow, like an arrow, and shot him into the sky. He flew far out of sight, and presently came to the long row of stone houses where the man lives who carries the moon. He pitied the gambler and made new animals and people for him and let him down to the earth in old Mexico, the moon people becoming Mexicans. He returned to his old haunts and came northward, building towns along the Rio Grande until he had passed the site of Santa Fe, when his people urged him to go back, and after his return they made him their god—Nakai Cigini.
Years ago, when all beyond the Missouri was a waste, the military post at Fort Union, New Mexico, was the only spot for miles around where any of the graces of social life could be discovered. Among the ladies at the post was a certain gay young woman, the sister-in-law of a captain, who enjoyed the variety and spice of adventure to be found there, and enjoyed, too, the homage that the young officers paid to her, for women who could be loved or liked were not many in that wild country. A young lieutenant proved especially susceptible to her charms, and devoted himself to her in the hope that he should ultimately win her hand. His experience with the world was not large enough to enable him to distinguish between the womanly woman and the coquette.
One day messengers came dashing into the fort with news of an Apache outbreak, and a detachment was ordered out to chase and punish the marauding Indians. The lieutenant was put in command of the expedition, but before starting he confided his love to the young woman, who not only acknowledged that she returned his affection, but promised that if the fortune of war deprived him of life she would never marry another. As he bade her good-by he was heard to say, "That is well. Nobody else shall have you. I will come back and make my claim."
In a few days the detachment came back, but the lieutenant was missing. It was noticed that the bride-elect grieved but little for him, and nobody was surprised when she announced her intention of marrying a young man from the East. The wedding-day arrived. All was gayety at the post, and in the evening the mess-room was decorated for a ball. As the dance was in full swing a door flew open with a bang, letting in a draught of air that made the candles burn dim, and a strange cry, unlike that of any human creature, sounded through the house. All eyes turned to the door. In it stood the swollen body of a dead man dressed in the stained uniform of an officer. The temple was marked by a hatchet-gash, the scalp was gone, the eyes were wide open and, burned with a terrible light.
Walking to the bride the body drew her from the arms of her husband, who, like the rest of the company, stood as in a trance, without the power of motion, and clasping her to its bosom began a waltz. The musicians, who afterward declared that they did not know what they were doing, struck up a demoniac dance, and the couple spun around and around, the woman growing paler and paler, until at last the fallen jaw and staring eyes showed that life was also extinct in her. The dead man allowed her to sink to the floor, stood over her for a moment, wrung his hands as he sounded his fearful cry again, then vanished through the door. A few days after, a troop of soldiers who had been to the scene of the Apache encounter returned with the body of the lieutenant.
Many are the scenes of religious miracles in this country, although French Canada and old Mexico boast of more. So late as the prosaic year of 1889 the Virgin was seen to descend into the streets of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to save her image on the Catholic church in that place, when it was swept by a deluge in which hundreds of persons perished. It was the wrath of the Madonna that caused just such a flood in New Mexico long years ago. There is in the old Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Santa Fe, a picture that commemorates the appearance of the Virgin to Juan Diego, an Indian in Guadalupe, old Mexico, in the sixteenth century. She commanded that a chapel should be built for her, but the bishop of the diocese declared that the man had been dreaming and told him to go away. The Virgin came to the Indian again, and still the bishop declared that he had no evidence of the truth of what he said. A third time the supernatural visitor appeared, and told Juan to climb a certain difficult mountain, pick the flowers he would find there, and take them to the bishop.
After a long and dangerous climb they were found, to the Indian's amazement, growing in the snow. He filled his blanket with them and returned to the episcopal residence, but when he opened the folds before the dignitary, he was more amazed to find not flowers, but a glowing picture painted on his blanket. It hangs now in Guadalupe, but is duplicated in Santa Fe, where a statue of the Virgin is also kept. These treasures are greatly prized and are resorted to in time of illness and threatened disaster, the statue being taken through the streets in procession when the rainy season is due. Collections of money are then made and prayers are put up for rain, to which appeals the Virgin makes prompt response, the priests pointing triumphantly to the results of their intercession. One year, however, the rain did not begin on time, though services were almost constantly continued before the sacred picture and the sacred statue, and the angry people stripped the image of its silks and gold lace and kicked it over the ground for hours. That night a violent rain set in and the town was nearly washed away, so the populace hastened the work of reparation in order to save their lives. They cleansed the statue, dressed it still more brilliantly, and addressed their prayers to the Virgin with more energy and earnestness than ever before.
Between Zuni and Pescado is a steep mesa, or table-land, with fantastic rocks weathered into tower and roof-like prominences on its sides, while near it is a high natural monument of stone. Say the Zunis: The goddess of salt was so troubled by the people who lived near her domain on the sea-shore, and who took away her snowy treasures without offering any sacrifice in return, that she forsook the ocean and went to live in the mountains far away. Whenever she stopped beside a pool to rest she made it salt, and she wandered so long about the great basins of the West that much of the water in them is bitter, and the yield of salt from the larger lake near Zuni brings into the Zuni treasury large tolls from other tribes that draw from it.
Here she met the turquoise god, who fell in love with her at sight, and wooed so warmly that she accepted and married him. For a time they lived happily, but when the people learned that the goddess had concealed herself among the mountains of New Mexico they followed her to that land and troubled her again until she declared that she would leave their view forever. She entered this mesa, breaking her way through a high wall of sandstone as she did so. The arched portal through which she passed is plainly visible. As she went through, one of her plumes was broken off, and falling into the valley it tipped upon its stem and became the monument that is seen there. The god of turquoise followed his wife, and his footsteps may be traced in outcrops of pale-blue stone.
Many fantastic accounts of the origin of man are found among the red tribes. The Onondagas say that the Indians are made from red earth and the white men from sea-foam. Flesh-making clay is seen in the precipitous bank in the ravine west of Onondaga Valley, where at night the fairies "little fellows" sport and slide. Among others, the Noah legend finds a parallel. Several tribes claim to have emerged from the interior of the earth. The Oneidas point to a hill near the falls of Oswego River, New York, as their birthplace; the Wichitas rose from the rocks about Red River; the Creeks from a knoll in the valley of Big Black River in the Natchez country, where dwelt the Master of Breath; the Aztecs were one of seven tribes that came out from the seven caverns of Aztlan, or Place of the Heron; and the Navajos believe that they emerged at a place known to them in the Navajo Mountains.
In the under world the Navajos were happy, for they had everything that they could wish: there was no excess of heat or cold, trees and flowers grew everywhere, and the day was marked by a bright cloud that arose in the east, while a black cloud that came out of the west made the night. Here they lived for centuries, and might have been there to this day had not one of the tribe found an opening in the earth that led to some place unknown. He told of it to the whole tribe. They set off up the passage to see where it led, and after long and weary climbing the surface was reached. Pleased with the novelty of their surroundings, they settled here, but on the fourth day after their arrival their queen disappeared.
Their search for her was unavailing until some of the men came to the mouth of the tunnel by which they had reached the upper land, when, looking down, they saw their queen combing her long, black locks. She told them that she was dead and that her people could go to her only after death, but that they would be happy in their old home. With that the earth shut together and the place has never since been open to the eye of mortals. Soon came the cannibal giants who ravaged the desert lands and destroyed all of the tribe but four families, these having found a refuge in a deep canon of the Navajo Mountains. From their retreat they could see a beam of light shining from one of the hills above them, and on ascending to the place they found a beautiful girl babe.
This child grew to womanhood under their care, and her charms attracted the great manitou that rides on a white horse and carries the sun for a shield. He wooed and married her, and their children slew the giants that had destroyed the Navajos. After a time the manitou carried his wife to his floating palace in the western water, which has since been her home. To her the prayers of the people are addressed, and twelve immortals bear their petitions to her throne.
The Pima Indians of Arizona say that the father of all men and animals was the butterfly, Cherwit Make (earth-maker), who fluttered down from the clouds to the Blue Cliffs at the junction of the Verde and Salt Rivers, and from his own sweat made men. As the people multiplied they grew selfish and quarrelsome, so that Cherwit Make was disgusted with his handiwork and resolved to drown them all. But first he told them, in the voice of the north wind, to be honest and to live at peace. The prophet Suha, who interpreted this voice, was called a fool for listening to the wind, but next night came the east wind and repeated the command, with an added threat that the ruler of heaven would destroy them all if they did not reform.
Again they scoffed, and on the next night the west wind cautioned them. But this third warning was equally futile. On the fourth night came the south wind. It breathed into Suha's ear that he alone had been good and should be saved, and bade him make a hollow ball of spruce gum in which he might float while the deluge lasted. Suha and his wife immediately set out to gather the gum, that they melted and shaped until they had made a large, rounded ark, which they ballasted with jars of nuts, acorn-meal and water, and meat of bear and venison.
On the day assigned Suha and his wife were looking regretfully down into the green valleys from the ledge where the ark rested, listening to the song of the harvesters, and sighing to think that so much beauty would presently be laid waste, when a hand of fire was thrust from a cloud and it smote the Blue Cliffs with a thunder-clang. It was the signal. Swift came the clouds from all directions, and down poured the rain. Withdrawing into their waxen ball, Suha and his wife closed the portal. Then for some days they were rolled and tossed on an ever-deepening sea. Their stores had almost given out when the ark stopped, and breaking a hole in its side its occupants stepped forth.
There was a tuna cactus growing at their feet, and they ate of its red fruit greedily, but all around them was naught but water. When night came on they retired to the ark and slept—a night, a month, a year, perhaps a century, for when they awoke the water was gone, the vales were filled with verdure, and bird-songs rang through the woods. The delighted couple descended the Superstition Mountains, on which the ark had rested, and went into its valleys, where they lived for a thousand years, and became the parents of a great tribe.
But the evil was not all gone. There was one Hauk, a devil of the mountains, who stole their daughters and slew their sons. One day, while the women were spinning flax and cactus fibre and the men were gathering maize, Hauk descended into the settlement and stole another of Suha's daughters. The patriarch, whose patience had been taxed to its limit, then made a vow to slay the devil. He watched to see by what way he entered the valley. He silently followed him into the Superstition Mountains; he drugged the cactus wine that his daughter was to serve to him; then, when he had drunk it, Suha emerged from his place of hiding and beat out the brains of the stupefied fiend.
Some of the devil's brains were scattered and became seed for other evil, but there was less wickedness in the world after Hauk had been disposed of than there had been before. Suha taught his people to build adobe houses, to dig with shovels, to irrigate their land, to weave cloth, and avoid wars. But on his death-bed he foretold to them that they would grow arrogant with wealth, covetous of the lands of others, and would wage wars for gain. When that time came there would be another flood and not one should be saved—the bad should vanish and the good would leave the earth and live in the sun. So firmly do the Pimas rely on this prophecy that they will not cross Superstition Mountains, for there sits Cherwit Make—awaiting the culmination of their wickedness to let loose on the earth a mighty sea that lies dammed behind the range.
Twenty miles from the capital of Arizona stands Mount Superstition—the scene of many traditions, the object of many fears. Two centuries ago a tribe of Pueblo dwarfs arrived near it and tilled the soil and tended their flocks about the settlements that grew along their line of march. They were little people, four feet high, but they were a thousand strong and clever. They were peaceful, like all intelligent people, and the mystery surrounding their incantations and sun-worship was more potent than a show of arms to frighten away those natural assassins, the Apaches.
After they had lived near the mountain for five years the "little people" learned that the Zunis were advancing from the south and made preparations for defence. Their sheep were concealed in obscure valleys; provisions, tools, and arms were carried up the mountain; piles of stone were placed along the edges of cliffs commanding the passes. This work was superintended by a woman with a white face, fair hair, and commanding form, who was held in reverence by the dwarfs; and she it was—the Helen of a New-World Troy—who was causing this trouble, for the Zunis claimed her on the ground that they had brought her from the waters of the rising sun, and that it was only to escape an honorable marriage with their chief that she had fled to the dwarfs.
Be that as it might, the Zunis marched on, meeting with faint resistance until, on a bright afternoon, they massed on a slope of the mountain, seven hundred in number. The Apaches, expecting instant defeat of the "little men," watched, from neighboring hills, the advance of the invaders as they climbed nimbly toward the stone fort on the top of the slope, brandishing clubs and stone spears, and bragging, as the fashion of a red man is—and sometimes of a white one.
At a pool outside of the walls stood the pale woman, queenly and calm, and as her white robe and brown hair fluttered in the wind both her people and the foe looked upon her with admiration. When but a hundred yards away the Zunis rushed toward her with outstretched arms, whereupon she stooped, picked up an earthen jar, emptied its contents into the pool, and ran back. In a moment sparks and balls of fire leaped from crevices in the rocks, and as they touched the Indians many fell dead. Others plunged blindly over the cliffs and were dashed to pieces.
In a few minutes the remainder of the force was in full retreat and not an arrow had been shot. The Apaches, though stricken with terror at these pyrotechnics, overcame the memory of them sufficiently in a couple of years to attempt the sack of the fort on their own account, but the queen repelled them as she had forced back the Zunis, and with even greater slaughter. From that time the dwarfs were never harmed again, but they went away, as suddenly as they had come, to a secret recess in the mountains, where the Pale Faced Lightning still rules them.
Some of the Apaches maintain that her spirit haunts a cave on Superstition Mountain, where her body vanished in a blaze of fire, and this cave of the Spirit Mother is also pointed out on the south side of Salt River. A skeleton and cotton robes, ornamented and of silky texture, were once found there. It is said that electrical phenomena are frequent on the mountain, and that iron, copper, salt, and copperas lying near together may account for them.
There is a cave under the highest butte of the Squaw Peak range, Arizona, where a party of Tonto Indians was found by white men in 1868. The white men were on the war-path, and when the Tontos fell into their hands they shot them unhesitatingly, firing into the dark recesses of the cavern, the fitful but fast-recurring flashes of their rifles illuminating the interior and exposing to view the objects of their hatred.
The massacre over, the cries and groans were hushed, the hunters strode away, and over the mountains fell the calm that for thousands of years had not been so rudely broken. That night, when the moon shone into this pit of death, a corpse arose, walked to a rock just within the entrance, and took there its everlasting seat.
Long afterward a man who did not know its story entered this place, when he was confronted by a thing, as he called it, that glared so fearfully upon him that he fled in an ecstasy of terror. Two prospectors subsequently attempted to explore the cave, but the entrance was barred by "the thing." They gave one glance at the torn face, the bulging eyes turned sidewise at them, the yellow fangs, the long hair, the spreading claws, the livid, mouldy flesh, and rushed away. A Western paper, recounting their adventure, said that one of the men declared that there was not money enough in Maricopa County to pay him to go there again, while the other had never stopped running—at least, he had not returned to his usual haunts since "the thing" looked at him. Still, it is haunted country all about here. The souls of the Mojaves roam upon Ghost Mountain, and the "bad men's hunting-grounds" of the Yumas and Navajos are over in the volcanic country of Sonora. It is, therefore, no unusual thing to find signs and wonders in broad daylight.
Centuries ago, when Toltec civilization had extended over Arizona, and perhaps over the whole West, the valleys were occupied by large towns—the towns whose ruins are now known as the City of Ovens, City of Stones, and City of the Dead. The people worked at trades and arts that had been practised by their ancestors before the pyramids were built in Egypt. Montezuma had come to the throne of Mexico, and the Aztecs were a subject people; Europe had discovered America and forgotten it, and in America the arrival of Europeans was recalled only in traditions. But, like other nations, the Toltecs became a prey to self-confidence, to luxury, to wastefulness, and to deadening superstitions. Already the fierce tribes of the North were lurking on the confines of their country in a faith of speedy conquest, and at times it seemed as if the elements were against them.
The villagers were returning from the fields, one day, when the entire region was smitten by an earthquake. Houses trembled, rumblings were heard, people fell in trying to reach the streets, and reservoirs burst, wasting their contents on the fevered soil. A sacrifice was offered. Then came a second shock, and another mortal was offered in oblation. As the earth still heaved and the earthquake demon muttered underground, the king gave his daughter to the priests, that his people might be spared, though he wrung his hands and beat his brow as he saw her led away and knew that in an hour her blood would stream from the altar.
The girl walked firmly to the cave where the altar was erected—a cave in Superstition Mountains. She knelt and closed her eyes as the officiating-priest uttered a prayer, and, gripping his knife of jade stone, plunged it into her heart. She fell without a struggle. And now, the end.
Hardly had the innocent blood drained out and the fires been lighted to consume the body, when a pall of cloud came sweeping across the heavens; a hot wind surged over the ground, laden with dust and smoke; the storm-struck earth writhed anew beneath pelting thunder-bolts; no tremor this time, but an upheaval that rent the rocks and flung the cities down. It was an hour of darkness and terror. Roars of thunder mingled with the more awful bellowing beneath; crash on crash told that houses and temples were falling in vast ruin; the mountainsides were loosened and the rush of avalanches added to the din; the air was thick, and through the clouds the people groped their way toward the fields; rivers broke from their confines and laid waste farms and gardens! The gods had indeed abandoned them, and the spirit of the king's daughter took its flight in company with thousands of souls in whose behalf she had suffered uselessly.
The king was crushed beneath his palace-roof and the sacerdotal executioner perished in a fall of rock. The survivors fled in panic and the Ishmaelite tribes on their frontier entered their kingdom and pillaged it of all abandoned wealth. The cities never were rebuilt and were rediscovered but a few years ago, when the maiden's skeleton was also found. Nor does any Indian cross Superstition Mountains without a sense of apprehension.
The Indian is a great story-teller. Every tribe has its traditions, and the elderly men and women like to recount them, for they always find listeners. And odd stories they tell, too. Just listen to this, for example. It is a legend among the tribes of Arizona.
While Ta-Vwots, the hare god, was asleep in the valley of Maopa, the Sun mischievously burned his back, causing him to leap up with a howl. "Aha! It's you, is it, who played this trick on me?" he cried, looking at the Sun. "I'll make it warm for you. See if I don't."
And without more ado he set off to fight the Sun. On the way he stopped to pick and roast some corn, and when the people who had planted it ran out and tried to punish him for the theft he scratched a hole in the ground and ran in out of sight. His pursuers shot arrows into the hole, but Ta-Vwots had his breath with him, and it was an awfully strong breath, for with it he turned all the arrows aside. "The scamp is in here," said one of the party. "Let's get at him another way." So, getting their flints and shovels, they began to dig.
"That's your game, is it?" mumbled Ta-Vwots. "I know a way out of this that you don't know." With a few puffs of his breath and a few kicks of his legs he reached a great fissure that led into the rock behind him, and along this passage he scrambled until he came to the edge of it in a niche, from which he could watch his enemies digging. When they had made the hole quite large he shouted, "Be buried in the grave you have dug for yourselves!" And, hurling down a magic ball that he carried, he caved the earth in on their heads. Then he paced off, remarking, "To fight is as good fun as to eat. Vengeance is my work. Every one I meet will be an enemy. No one shall escape my wrath." And he sounded his war-whoop.
Next day he saw two men heating rocks and chipping arrow-heads from them. "Let me help you, for hot rocks will not hurt me," he said.
"You would have us to believe you are a spirit, eh?" they questioned, with a jeer.
"No ghost," he answered, "but a better man than you. Hold me on those rocks, and, if I do not burn, you must let me do the same to you."
The men complied, and heating the stones to redness in the fire they placed him against them, but failed to see that by his magic breath he kept a current of air flowing between him and the hot surface. Rising unhurt, he demanded that they also should submit to the torture, and, like true Indians, they did so. When their flesh had been burned half through and they were dead, he sounded his warwhoop and went on.
On the day following he met two women picking berries, and told them to blow the leaves and thorns into his eyes. They did so, as they supposed, but with his magic breath he kept the stuff away from his face.
"You are a ghost!" the women exclaimed.
"No ghost," said he. "Just a common person. Leaves and thorns can do no harm. See, now." And he puffed thorns into their faces and made them blind. "Aha! You are caught with your own chaff I am on my way to kill the Sun. This is good practice." And he slew them, sounded his war-whoop, and went on.
The morning after this affair some women appeared on Hurricane Cliff and the wind brought their words to his ears. They were planning to kill him by rolling rocks upon him as he passed. As he drew near he pretended to eat something with such enjoyment that they asked him what it was. He called out, "It is sweet. Come to the edge and I will throw it up to you." With that he tossed something so nearly within their reach that in bending forward to catch it they crowded too near the brink, lost their balance, fell over, and were killed. "You are victims of your own greed. One should never be so anxious as to kill one's self." This was his only comment, and, sounding the warwhoop, he went on.
A day later he came upon two women making water jugs of willow baskets lined with pitch, and he heard one whisper to the other, "Here comes that bad Ta-Vwots. How shall we destroy him?"
"What were you saying?" asked the hare god.
"We just said, 'Here comes our grandson.'" (A common form of endearment.)
"Is that all? Then let me get into one of these water jugs while you braid the neck."
He jumped in and lay quite still as they wove the neck, and they laughed to think that it was braided so small that he could never escape, when—puff! the jug was shattered and there was Ta-Vwots. They did not know anything about his magic breath. They wondered how he got out.
"Easily enough," replied the hare god. "These things may hold water, but they can't hold men and women. Try it, and see if they can." With their consent, Ta-Vwots began weaving the osiers about them, and in a little while he had them caged. "Now, come out," he said. But, try as they might, not a withe could they break. "Ha, ha! You are wise women, aren't you? Bottled in your own jugs! I am on my way to kill the Sun. In time I shall learn how." Then, sounding his war-whoop, he struck them dead with his magic ball and went on.
He met the Bear next day, and found him digging a hole to hide in, for he had heard of the hare god and was afraid. "Don't be frightened, friend Bear," said the rogue. "I'm not the sort of fellow to hide from. How could a little chap like me hurt so many people?" And he helped the Bear to dig his den, but when it was finished he hid behind a rock, and as the Bear thrust his head near him he launched his magic ball at his face and made an end of him. "I was afraid of this warrior," said Ta-Vwots, "but he is dead, now, in his den." And sounding his war-whoop he went on.
It was on the day following that he met the Tarantula, a clever rascal, who had a club that would deal a fatal blow to others, but would not hurt himself. He began to groan as Ta-Vwots drew near, and cried that he had a pain caused by an evil spirit in his head. Wouldn't Ta-Vwots thump it out? Indeed, he would. He grasped the club and gave him the soundest kind of a thwacking, but when the Tarantula shouted "Harder," he guessed that it was an enchanted weapon, and changing it for his magic ball he finished the Tarantula at a blow. "That is a stroke of your own seeking," he remarked. "I am on my way to kill the Sun. Now I know that I can do it." And sounding his war-whoop he went on.
Next day he came to the edge of the world and looked off into space, where thousands of careless people had fallen, and there he passed the night under a tree. At dawn he stood on the brink of the earth and the instant that the Sun appeared he flung the magic ball full in his face. The surface of the Sun was broken into a thousand pieces that spattered over the earth and kindled a mighty conflagration. Ta-Vwots crept under the tree that had sheltered him, but that was of no avail against the increasing heat. He tried to run away, but the fire burned off his toes, then his feet, then his legs, then his body, so that he ran on his hands, and when his hands were burned off he walked on the stumps of his arms. At last his head alone remained, and that rolled over hill and valley until it struck a rock, when the eyes burst and the tears that gushed forth spread over the land, putting out the flames. The Sun was conquered, and at his trial before the other gods was reprimanded for his mischievous pranks and condemned thereafter to travel across the sky every day by the same trail.
The ways of disposing of the Indian dead are many. In some places ground sepulture is common; in others, the corpses are placed in trees. South Americans mummified their dead, and cremation was not unknown. Enemies gave no thought to those that they had slain, after plucking off their scalps as trophies, though they sometimes added the indignity of mutilation in killing.
Sachem's Head, near Guilford, Connecticut, is so named because Uncas cut a Pequot's head off and placed it in the crotch of an oak that grew there. It remained withering for years. It was to save the body of Polan from such a fate, after the fight on Sebago Lake in 1756, that his brothers placed it under the root of a sturdy young beech that they had pried out of the ground. He was laid in the hollow in his war-dress, with silver cross on his breast and bow and arrows in his hand; then, the weight on the trunk being released, the sapling sprang back to its place and afterward rose to a commanding height, fitly marking the Indian's tomb. Chief Blackbird, of the Omahas, was buried, in accordance with his wish, on the summit of a bluff near the upper Missouri, on the back of his favorite horse, fully equipped for travel, with the scalps that he had taken hung to the bridle.
When a Comanche dies he is buried on the western side of the camp, that his soul may follow the setting sun into the spirit world the speedier. His bow, arrows, and valuables are interred with him, and his best pony is killed at the grave that he may appear among his fellows in the happy hunting grounds mounted and equipped. An old Comanche who died near Fort Sill was without relatives and poor, so his tribe thought that any kind of a horse would do for him to range upon the fields of paradise. They killed a spavined old plug and left him. Two weeks from that time the late unlamented galloped into a camp of the Wichitas on the back of a lop-eared, bob-tailed, sheep-necked, ring-boned horse, with ribs like a grate, and said he wanted his dinner. Having secured a piece of meat, formally presented to him on the end of a lodge-pole, he offered himself to the view of his own people, alarming them by his glaring eyes and sunken cheeks, and told them that he had come back to haunt them for a stingy, inconsiderate lot, because the gate-keeper of heaven had refused to admit him on so ill-conditioned a mount. The camp broke up in dismay. Wichitas and Comanches journeyed, en masse, to Fort Sill for protection, and since then they have sacrificed the best horses in their possession when an unfriended one journeyed to the spirit world.
The Moquis have a legend that, long ago, when the principal mesa that they occupy was higher than it is now, and when they owned all the country from the mountains to the great river, giants came out of the west and troubled them, going so far as to dine on Moquis. It was hard to get away, for the monsters could see all over the country from the tops of the mesas. The king of the tribe offered the handsomest woman in his country and a thousand horses to any man who would deliver his people from these giants. This king was eaten like the rest, and the citizens declined to elect another, because they were beginning to lose faith in kings. Still, there was one young brave whose single thought was how to defeat the giants and save his people.
As he was walking down the mesa he saw a lizard, of the kind commonly known as a horned toad, lying under a rock in pain. He rolled the stone away and was passing on, when a voice, that seemed to come out of the earth, but that really came from the toad, asked him if he wished to destroy the giants. He desired nothing so much. "Then take my horned crest for a helmet."
Lolomi—that was the name of him—did as he was bid, and found that in a moment the crest had swelled and covered his head so thickly that no club could break through it.
"Now take my breastplate," continued the toad. And though it would not have covered the Indian's thumb-nail, when he put it on it so increased in bulk that it corseleted his body and no arrow could pierce it.
"Now take the scales from my eyes," commanded the toad, and when he had done so Lolomi felt as light as a feather.
"Go up and wait. When you see a giant, go toward him, looking in his eyes, and he will walk backward. Walk around him until he has his back to a precipice, then advance. He will back away until he reaches the edge of the mesa, when he will fall off and be killed."
Lolomi obeyed these instructions, for presently a giant loomed in the distance and came striding across the plains half a mile at a step. As he drew near he flung a spear, but it glanced from the Indian's armor like hail from a rock. Then an arrow followed, and was turned. At this the giant lost courage, for he fancied that Lolomi was a spirit. Fearing a blow if he turned, he kept his face toward Lolomi, who manoeuvred so skilfully that when he had the giant's back to the edge of a cliff he sprang at him, and the giant, with a yell of alarm, fell and broke his bones on the rocks below. So Lolomi killed many giants, because they all walked back before him, and after they had fallen the people heaped rocks on their bodies. To this day the place is known as "the giants' fall." Then the tribe made Lolomi king and gave him the most beautiful damsel for a wife. As he was the best king they ever had, they treasured his memory after he was dead, and used his name as a term of greeting, so that "Lolomi" is a word of welcome, and will be until the giants come again.
In Dead Man's Canon—a deep gorge that is lateral to the once populated valley of the Rio de Chelly, Arizona—stands a stark spire of weathered sandstone, its top rising eight hundred feet above its base in a sheer uplift. Centuries ago an inhabitant of one of the cave villages was surprised by hostiles while hunting in this region, and was chased by them into this canon. As he ran he looked vainly from side to side in the hope of securing a hiding-place, but succor came from a source that was least expected, for on approaching this enormous obelisk, with strength well-nigh exhausted, he saw a silken cord hanging from a notch at its top. Hastily knotting the end about his waist, that it might not fall within reach of his pursuers, he climbed up, setting his feet into roughnesses of the stone, and advancing, hand over hand, until he had reached the summit, where he stayed, drinking dew and feeding on eagles' eggs, until his enemies went away, for they could not reach him with their arrows, defended as he was by points of rock. The foemen having gone, he safely descended by the cord and reached his home. This help had come from a friendly spider who saw his plight from her perch at the top of the spire, and, weaving a web of extra thickness, she made one end fast to a jag of rock while the other fell within his grasp—for she, like all other of the brute tribe, liked the gentle cave-dwellers better than the remorseless hunters. Hence the name of the Spider Tower.
The canon of Oak Creek is choked by a mass of rock, shaped like a keystone, and wedged into the jaws of the defile. An elderly Ute tells this story of it. Acantow, one of the chiefs of his tribe, usually placed his lodge beside the spring that bubbled from a thicket of wild roses in the place where Rosita, Colorado, stands to-day. He left his wife—Manetabee (Rosebud)—in the lodge while he went across the mountains to attend a council, and was gone four sleeps. On his return he found neither wife nor lodge, but footprints and hoofprints in the ground showed to his keen eye that it was the Arapahoes who had been there.
Getting on their trail he rode over it furiously, and at night had reached Oak Canon, along which he travelled until he saw the gleam of a small fire ahead. A squall was coming up, and the noise of it might have enabled him to gallop fairly into the group that he saw huddled about the glow; but it is not in the nature of an Indian to do that, and, tying his horse, he crawled forward.
There were fifteen of the Arapahoes, and they were gambling to decide the ownership of Manetabee, who sat bound beneath a willow near them. So engrossed were the savages in the contest that the snake-like approach of Acantow was unnoticed until he had cut the thongs that bound Manetabee's wrists and ankles—she did not cry out, for she had expected rescue—and both had imperceptibly slid away from them. Then, with a yell, one of the gamblers pointed to the receding forms, and straightway the fifteen made an onset.
Swinging his wife lightly to his shoulders Acantow set off at a run and he had almost reached his horse when his foot caught in a root and he fell headlong. The pursuers were almost upon him when the storm burst in fury. A flood of fire rushed from the clouds and struck the earth with an appalling roar. Trees were snapped, rocks were splintered, and a whirlwind passed. Acantow was nearly insensible for a time—then he felt the touch of the Rosebud's hand on his cheek, and together they arose and looked about them. A huge block of riven granite lay in the canon, dripping blood. Their enemies were not to be seen.
"The trail is gone," said Acantow. "Manitou has broken it, that the Arapahoes may never cross it more. He would not allow them to take you. Let us thank the Manitou." So they went back to where the spring burst amid the rose-bushes.
In the country about Tishomingo, Indian Territory, troubles are foretold by a battle of unseen men in the air. Whenever the sound of conflict is heard it is an indication that many dead will lie in the fields, for it heralds battle, starvation, or pestilence. The powerful nation that lived here once was completely annihilated by an opposing tribe, and in the valley in the western part of the Territory there are mounds where hundreds of men lie buried. Spirits occupy the valley, and to the eyes of the red men they are still seen, at times, continuing the fight.
In May, 1892, the last demonstration was made in the hearing of John Willis, a United States marshal, who was hunting horse-thieves. He was belated one night and entered the vale of mounds, for he had no scruples against sleeping there. He had not, in fact, ever heard that the region was haunted. The snorting of his horse in the middle of the night awoke him and he sprang to his feet, thinking that savages, outlaws, or, at least, coyotes had disturbed the animal. Although there was a good moon, he could see nothing moving on the plain. Yet the sounds that filled the air were like the noise of an army, only a trifle subdued, as if they were borne on the passing of a wind. The rush of hoofs and of feet, the striking of blows, the fall of bodies could be heard, and for nearly an hour these fell rumors went across the earth. At last the horse became so frantic that Willis saddled him and rode away, and as he reached the edge of the valley the sounds were heard going into the distance. Not until he reached a settlement did he learn of the spell that rested on the place.