Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache
They say there were people living long ago. A man said to himself, “I will go on a journey.” When he had traveled far he came where people were living and sat there. When he had been there a long time without anything to eat, he came to the house and walked by without speaking. He then turned about and went home. After a month he returned again. The man who lived there wondered who he was and whence he had come. As the stranger was standing nearby, the man who lived there said to himself, “I will speak to him.” Going up to him he asked him where he was from. The stranger replied that he came from a distant country. When asked why he had come he replied that he was about to return but that he would come again in a month. “Then I will have something to say,” the other man remarked as the stranger left.
When he came back at the end of a month he was riding a horse. When he approached the man who lived there he was greeted: “Have you returned?” “I have come back here,” he replied. “I told you I would go there.” “All right, come,” he said. The man said he thought he wanted to live with the stranger. The visitor said he was going back and the man said he would follow in fifteen days. The man told him his name and he knew it. The stranger told him to follow the horse’s track and he would find the way.
He took some food with him and started on the journey. He walked along, following the track until he had gone a long way. The man had thought the visitor lived close by but he went on until he climbed a high mountain where he sat down. The horse’s track was gone. There was nothing to be seen. While he sat there thinking what he should do, a raven lit on a tree and shouting at him asked where he was going. The man heard the raven who flew down to him and asked again where he was going. The man said he had been following a horse’s track for he wished to visit the man who was riding on the horse. The raven said the country where the man lived was far away; that four mountains stood across the way and that he would go with great difficulty. He added that the man he was seeking was not good, and it was dangerous to go to him.
The man insisted that he wished to go nevertheless, and offered the raven the supply of food he had for the journey. The raven consented to carry the man close to his destination but said he would bind the man’s eyes with a white something he had. He cautioned the man not to raise the bandage.
“I will carry you there and put you down on that mountain ridge where I will rest awhile,” the raven said. He took the man on his back and carried him to the ridge where he put him down. They sat there a short time and then the raven carried him to the second mountain ridge where they rested and talked a short time. He carried the man to the third ridge where again they sat and rested. They then went to the fourth ridge in a similar manner. While sitting there the raven pointed out a mountain peak on which the man he was seeking lived. The raven agreed to carry the man close to the mountain and when he had done so he put him down and left him. The man went on by himself and when he came near the mountain he walked along and came where a hole had been dug for water by the river. He sat here a short time until two girls came for water. He threw a small stone from where he sat at some distance and the girls looked there and saw him. The girls went quickly back to the camp and said: “Father, the man who said he would come to you sits over there.” The man told his daughters to invite the man to come to the camp, adding that he would do much of their work for them. When the girls came to the visitor they told him their father had asked him to come to him.
The man got up and went to the camp and talked to his host during the evening. “I saw you,” he said, “and I have come here to you.” “That is well,” the host replied. “You will work for me.” To this the visitor assented.
The next morning the man who lived there said to his guest: “You said you would work for me. Level down the mountain which stands down there, plant the ground, cause the crop to grow in one day, and bring some of the corn home with you tonight.”
The man having made an ax and shovel of wood carried them with him to the mountain where he sat leaning against it, doing nothing until midday. The youngest daughter then told her father that she was carrying some food to the man who was working for them. Her father gave his consent and she set out with the food. When she came there and saw the man sitting there idle she said: “Well, you came here to work. I am bringing you food.” “But I shall not eat. I am not going to save my life.” “Eat, I tell you,” the girl said. “I cannot do anything with the mountain,” the man replied. The girl urged him again to eat and he did so. When he had finished she offered to examine his head. He put his head down to be relieved of his vermin. The girl feeling over his head breathed over it and he went to sleep. She lifted his head from her lap to the ground and got up. With motions of her hands in four directions she leveled the mountain and planted corn. The corn came up and tassels appeared on it. When one of them was becoming white she woke the man up. “Get up,” she said, “your work is done.” He got up and looked hard with his eyes. “Get some of that you came after,” she said to him. He gathered some of the corn, tied it up, and took it home. When the two came to the camp the old man was pleased. “Well, this is some kind of a man who said he wanted to work.” The sun set. The old man said that the next day he wanted some horses broken.
In the morning they saddled a horse for him and he mounted. The girl gave him a tough stick with which the man hit the horse on the neck and back when he tried to kick. The horse kept jumping around until he was tired and fell over. The horse then spoke saying: “Well, my daughter has caused me to be tired out. He could not do it by himself. ” “I have twelve daughters and you may marry one of them,” he said to the man. “He has beaten me and he may have his choice of the daughters. Tomorrow have my daughters stand in line for him. He will marry one of them and then he will work well.” The next morning they put the twelve girls in a line and blindfolded the man. The youngest daughter had a small prominence on the palm of her hand. The man passed along the line three times and when it would be the fourth time he drew the youngest girl from the line. The old man exclaimed, “My kinfolk, he has taken from me my favorite daughter.” The man married the girl and lived with her. The girl proposed that they should go back to his people because her father would try to kill her husband. The man consented to this. His wife told him to catch a horse. He brought back a black one. “Not that one, get the poor sorrel horse.” He brought that one.”You spit here and I will spit here,” she said. “This old man, his daughters, and his wife have all died. They are not living beings. He will try to kill you but I will help you many times so we may go back where you live.”
They mounted the horse one behind the other and rode away. When they had been gone a day the old man told one of his daughters to look in his son-in-law’s house. When she came to the house the man was not there. She told her father this, who said, “Very well, I will go after him and kill him.” He started away, traveling in the middle of the red wind. He rode after them on his horse. The girl saw him and said, “My father is riding over there and he is angry and it is red.”
They two dismounted. The woman sat in an old house which she put there and the man sat in a black stump. The old man rode up and when he came to the old woman asked where the man was who stole his daughter. The old woman said she had not seen anyone around there. The old man got up and went back to his camp The next day they all started and came where a wide stream of water was flowing across. His daughter and son-in-law were there in the middle of the stream sitting on a long large tree which was floating with them. The girl had her head down. “My daughter, look at me once,” the father called. “My child, look at me once,” her mother said. “My sister, look at me once,” her sister called. The girl did not look and told the man not to look for if they looked the log would float back. It floated across the water with them and she did not look back at them. They started back and returned to the camp.
The girl and her husband went on and stayed some distance from where the man lived. The girl told her husband to go back to his people but not to permit them to embrace him. If they were to embrace him he would never think of her again. The man started back and when he was coming his relatives saw him and started toward him. He told them not to do so but one of them held out his arms. The man’s mind was lost and he forgot the one who had been his wife. He lived there while much time passed. Another man’s daughter fell in love with him and gave him a cloth and her beads. She said she would marry him and he consented. The people were talking of the coming wedding and of the mutual attachment of the parties. The people all came there and were told by the father that his daughter was about to be married.
There were two turtle doves sitting in a tree who said, “Wait, people, I will speak to you.” “Very well,” they replied and they all listened. The doves talked to each other. “We were traveling together for a long time. One day we traveled from a place called in’&unknown; and the old man with his wife and daughters came after us to fight. Then I became an old woman and you became a black log. Over this way there was a body of water in the middle of which we floated on a log. They called in vain, ‘My daughter, my child, my sister, look at me once more.’ They turned back and we two came over here where your people live. You went home and some one of your folks embraced you although I warned you that if you were so embraced you would forget me. I was that one and you were the other.”
“Oh, yes, I remember now,” he said. “You were my sweetheart. We will go back now. All will be well. I know you now.” He gave back the one he was to marry and the one he had married long before became his wife again. They separated from each other and he married the girl who was the turtle dove. They lived together happily.