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The abandoned children

A White Mountain Apache Legend

Long ago they say. Porcupine, a woman, was living with her two children, one a girl and the other, the younger one, a boy. She was a widow and was the only one of the children's relations still living. They were living in a camp like this one of mine here. Later on this widow started in to gamble at tse'dil (a dice game played with three sticks). Both her children were still small, but they followed her all the same, wherever she went. Then that woman said to her children, "You smell. Stay away from me." She kept on telling them to stay away from her. Finally she abandoned her children, ran off some place and did not come back.

At the same time one old woman and her son were living at that place by themselves. This old woman saw the two children the mother had abandoned. The little girl was coming along with her brother and both were crying. The son of the old woman told his mother, "Let them stay with us," but she said no. Still the boy asked her to let them stay with them. But the old woman said, "I told you these two smell too much, and that's why I don't want them here." The boy kept on asking his mother and saying, "But those two children are getting too poor. That is why I want them to live with us." Then the old woman said, "All right, call them over." So the boy called them. When the two children got there, they washed them all over with warm water.

Then these two children had been living with the old woman and her boy for quite a while. They were growing up and getting tall. The two boys went out together to hunt, along with the other men. They killed deer all right. The girl was tall and strong. She gathered all kinds of wild seeds, fruits and mescal and brought them into camp. Now she was getting lots to eat and they had lots of food on hand. They were all living well. Later on the girl was old enough to marry and the old woman's son was old enough also. They had all the food they needed on hand, so the old woman made them marry and they lived together.

After they were married, the boy hunted and killed lots of deer. They had lots of meat on hand. The girl also gathered lots of seeds and mescal and other foods. This way all the people who were living close by came there and were given lots of food. They all felt good over this. {Note the typical stress on diligence in procuring food supplies, also the pattern of the rich and industrious giving away food.} After a while people who were living far off heard about it and they came there because they heard that this family was giving away lots of food to eat. Then that woman who was the real mother of the two children and who had abandoned them long ago, heard about this. So she thought she would come there to see for herself. She heard they had lots of food and that was why she wanted to go. But her two children felt badly about the way their mother had acted and they did not want to see her ever again.

Lots of people went to their camp and that woman followed behind. She got mad because all the other people were in front other and she said, "You have no children there. You travel fast, but I am the one who has children there. I ought to be the one in the front. Pretty soon that woman got to the camp. Then her daughter had a baby. The woman sat far off from the camp and called to her daughter, "My child, bring that baby to me." {She wished to avoid her son-in-law, the common practice.} The daughter got mad, when she heard this because her mother was asking for the baby. She heard what her mother said all right, but she would not go to her. The people that the woman came with were given lots of food. The woman tried to get her daughter to come to her all that day till sundown, but she would not go to her. They would not give her any food either. Then that woman called to them, "Why don't you just throw me the scrotum," so the daughter put some rocks inside the scrotum and threw it at her mother. It hit the woman on the head, but it did not kill her, only knocked her over. The woman picked it up and walked under a tree. There she started to cook and eat it.

My yucca fruits lie piled up.

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