Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache
The Sisters are lured by a Flute (First Version)
They say long ago many people were living at a certain place. Two girls, sisters, heard a strange sound. It was a flute they heard. “Sister,” one of them said to the other, “somebody is making a pleasing sound. Let us go where he is.” They two started out and walked in the direction until they came to a red bird who asked them where they were going. “We are going where a pleasing sound is being made,” they replied. “I am the one who is making that noise,” the bird said. When asked to sing the bird sang, “djeuk, djeuk.” The girls said that was not the sound they were searching for and went on their way. They next came to Quail who also asked their errand. They made the same reply to be assured that Quail was the one they were seeking. When told to sing, Quail said “ga, ga.” “You are not the one we are seeking,” they replied and went on. They came where there was a dove who asked whither they were going. When told they were seeking the author of a pleasant song the dove said he was the one they had heard. When requested to sing, the note “woo, woo”, was produced. “It was not you we heard,” the girls said and went on. As they went along they came to Road-runner. “Where are you going?” he asked. “We are going where someone is making a pleasing sound,” they replied. “Well, sing for us then,” they said. Road-runner sang “i, i.” “You are not the one,” the girls said and went on. They then came where the pleasant sound was and heard the flute again. “We hear it here, the one for whom we are seeking, sister,” one of them said. “We will come to the place by sunset. We will spend the night there, hear the flute and then we will return to our homes.”
When they came there they found two boys and their grandmother who were living together. One girl and one boy spent the night at a distance from the other couple. When it was morning they got up and one of the boys, mounting a flat-topped shade, played the flute for them. They were pleased. They built a house with a bed on either side of the doorway. The girls liked the boys and lived there some time. The old woman made fires of wood that snapped and sent out sparks which annoyed the girls who were lying near. “Let us go home, sister,” one of them said. “We are going back where we used to live,” the older sister said to the boys. “You must come to see us sometimes.” They came back to their former home and lived there again.
When a long time had passed the boys started to go there. They came along until the house was to be seen in the distance and sat down. The girls knew them and invited them to come in. They refused, saying things were strange to them. The younger girl went to them and was happy when she saw them. “We two came here as you told us to do,” one of them said. The girl, saying that it was well, went back to the camp and told her relatives that the two men they had visited were sitting nearby. “Prepare some seeds for them to eat and take them to the men,” the chief directed. When they had prepared a meal they took it to the young men who ate it. After that many people went to the strangers and built a house for them there. They lived in this house. Some time after, they came there in a band to the doorway of the house and killed one of the strange boys. The other escaped by turning himself into a downy feather and passing through the top of the house. The wind blew it away. Escaping thus he started back where his home was.
When he came back where his grandmother lived he told her his brother had been killed. She reminded him that she had told them not to go that way.
The two girls ran away and were fleeing in the direction the boys had lived. A large number of men ran after them. There was one boy with the girls. When the people were approaching him, he with the girls came to a large river by which a heron was making a pottery vessel. They called to her, “Put your leg across toward us.” “Why?” she asked. “Many people are running after us to kill us,” they replied. Heron put her leg across and they walked over the river on it. Then they said to her, “Grandmother, those people yonder will kill us if they overtake us. If they ask you to put your leg across for them you must pull it back when they are right in the middle of the stream. Tell them they hurt you and spill them in the water and so save our lives.” When those who were behind came near the heron they asked her to put her leg across. She replied that she was not strong enough to do what they requested, that she was making pottery there. She put her leg across, however, and when they were halfway over she pulled her leg back and they fell into the stream and turned into ducks. They swam down on the surface of the water.
The three who were going along stopped and built a house where they lived for a time.
One day Wildcat came to visit them, spending two days with them. When he started home he invited them to come to see him some time, saying he had a good house. They said they would and after some time one of them proposed they should return Wildcat’s visit. They went to Wildcat’s house and spent two days becoming his friends. They returned to their own camp and lived there.
This house of theirs stood by itself. “Let us go where the people are living,” one of them said. They went further over. Coyote came to them and calling them cousins said he would sleep by their camp. To this they consented. “Let us move up the river,” he suggested. Consenting they moved up stream. Then he proposed they go and live where there were many people camping to hunt. They came there and joined the camp and lived properly. They settled down there where there were many houses.
“There is no other way for us,” he said.