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[018] The Youth and the Underground People

The Youth and the Underground People

The Youth and the Underground People


There were some villages which were very populous. The chief's son and his daughter were unmarried. There were two sons. They surrounded the herds of buffaloes. They used to kill buffaloes.

One of the sons of this chief attacked a buffalo when far apart from the rest. He shot it; but the buffalo had gone out of sight into the ground. The man and his horse, too, went headlong; but the buffalo went down first.

Now the father sent out criers. "He says that his son reached the buffaloes, but he has not come home. He says that ye who have seen his son will please tell it," shouted the criers.

One said he had seen him. "I saw him very distinctly. He went in pursuit. Perhaps he went headlong into a sunken place, for when on very level ground he vanished altogether. I did not see him again," he said.

The father commanded the people to join him in seeking his son. When the man who had seen him said, "It was just here," the people scattered far and wide, seeking the chief's son. All the people sought him. Behold, he had gone down the pit some time before. The buffalo had gone down, having kicked off a piece of the soil. The horse, too, had gone down, having kicked off a piece of the soil.

There was no trail beyond the pit. All the people went directly to it, without hesitation.

The pit was very large and extended far downward. The chief spoke of removing the village there, at once. So there they camped. They camped around the pit.

Then the chief implored the young men and those who had been his friends. If there was one man who was stout-hearted, one who had a firm heart, the father wished him to enter the pit and go after the young man. So he implored them.

At length one rode round and round the village. Then he promised to enter the pit and go after the missing son.

"Tell his father. He must also collect cords," he said.

Having cut buffalo hides in strips, he collected the cords.

"Make a round piece of skin for me, and tie the long line of cord to it," he said. So they finished it.

"Now it matters not to what place I go, I will put the body in the skin bucket. I go to take hold of him. When I reach the ground at the bottom, I will pull suddenly on the cord. When I pull on it many times, you will draw it up." Thus he said.

At last he reached the ground inside the pit. It was very dark. When he felt around in the dark, the buffalo was lying alone, being killed by the fall. The horse, too, was lying by itself, having been killed by the fall. And the man lay apart from them, having been killed by the fall.

Picking up the body of the chief's son, he put it in the hollow skin. Then he pulled many times on the cord.

But when the young man went down, strange to say, he did not ask favors for himself. And they rejoiced because he had put the chief's son in the hollow skin. Having brought up the dead man they forgot the living one.

Though he sat waiting for the hollow skin to come down again, he was not drawn up. So he sat wailing.

Now the chief had promised him his daughter to go down into the pit. "If you bring my son back, you shall marry her," he had said.

The young man wandered about in the darkness. At length when walking along the trail, he came suddenly upon an old woman.

"Venerable woman, though this land is very difficult to reach, I have come hither. I came to the hole in the ground above. One person came hither, having fallen into this pit. I came to take him back. They have not drawn me up; and I have no way of going back. Venerable woman, help me." So he spoke.

"There is nothing that I can do to help you," she said. "A person is in that place, out of sight. Go there. He is the one who will do it for you."

He went there. When he arrived, he knocked repeatedly on the door. Though he stood hearing them speaking, they did not open the door for him.

The woman said, "Fie! A person has come. Open the door for him."

Behold! The man's child was dead, and therefore he sat without speaking. He sat still, being sad. Then the young man arrived within the lodge, the woman having opened the door for him. Yet her husband sat without speaking. The young man was impatient from hunger. The husband questioned him:

"From what place have you walked?" he asked.

The young man told his story. "I walked up above, but a man headed off the herd, and having fallen, he came here. I came here to take him back. They did not take me back; I have no way of going back. Help me," he said.

The man said, "We had a child, but it died. We will treat you just like the child who died." He meant he would adopt him. "All things which I have are yours," said the father.

The young man did not speak. He wished to go homeward.

"Whatever you say I will do it for you," said the father. "Even if you desire to go homeward, it shall be so," he said.

At last the young man spoke of going homeward.

"If you say, 'I will go homeward riding a horse of such a color, O father!' it shall be so," said the father.

"Fie!" said the woman. "Heretofore we were deprived of our child. The young man who has just come home is like him. Give him one thing which you have."

"I make you my child. I will give you something. Whatever I desire I always make with it, when I wish to have anything," said the father. He had a piece of iron and when he wished anything he used to point at the iron.

"O father, I wish to go homeward riding a horse with very white hair. I also desire a mule with very white hair, and a good saddle," said the young man.

"Come, go there. Open the door of that stable. When you wish to see us again, you shall see us. When you will go homeward, you will say, 'Come, O father, I desire to go homeward,'" said the father.

The young man went homeward. He made the rocks open suddenly by pointing at them with the iron. He went up, making the ground echo under the horse's feet. When he pushed aside a very large rock which was in his way, he found himself again on the surface of the earth. The horse and mule were very sudden in their movements. They shied at every step. They sniffed the odor of a bad land.

The young man found his nation that he had left. Behold! they had recently removed and departed. After they waited some time for him to appear, they had removed their camp and departed. The horse and mule went along, fearing the sight of the old camping ground. They followed the trail of the departing village.

Then the young man saw two people on a large hill, walking in the trail. They were the head chief and his wife who were walking along, mourning for the dead.

They looked behind and said, "Yonder comes one on horseback, following the trail made by the departing village."

He drew near. They sat waiting for him to appear. The horse and mule feared the sight of them; they sniffed a bad odor.

"Why! Of what nation are you?" asked the chief.

"It is I," said the young man.

"But which one are you?" said the chief.

"Your son went headlong into a pit when they surrounded the herd," said the young man. "And I went down to get him. You did not bring me back. It is I."

As he was very much changed, the old man doubted.

"Fie! Tell the truth about yourself."

"When they surrounded the herd, your son went headlong as well as the buffalo, and he was killed by falling into a pit. When you commanded them to get him, they drew back through fear. I am he who went to get him when you offered your daughter as a reward," said the young man. "I have hardly been able to come again to the surface."

Then they recognized him. The two men stood talking together on the large hill. The chief's son looked back from the camp.

"Why! The chief and his wife have come as far as the large hill and a man on horseback has come, too. He stands talking to them. I will go thither. Let me see! I will go to see them."

He went back on horseback and came to his father.

"With what person do you talk?" said the son.

"Why! He who went to get your elder brother has come back!" said the head chief.

They shook hands. And the head chief gave his daughter to the young man.

"Let all the men and chiefs assemble. Let all the stout-hearted young men assemble. They can look at my daughter's husband," he said.

They assembled. They came to see the young man and brought the things they intended giving him.

"He says that he who went to get the man who was killed by falling has come back. The chief says that as he has made the young man his daughter's husband you shall go to see the young man. He says that you will take to him what things you wish to give him. The chief says he will give thanks for them." So shouted the crier.

All the young men and those who were brave and generous went thither. They all gave him clothing and good horses. His wife's father made him the head chief.

"Make ye a tent for him in the center," said the old chief.

They set up a tent for him in the center. They finished it.

"The people did not eat. As they sat waiting for you to appear, the nation did not eat. You came back when they were just removing camp," said the old chief.

"Ho!" said the one who had just reached home. "Let two old men go as criers."

So the criers shouted: "The chiefs daughter's husband says that you will rest tomorrow. He says you will not go in any direction whatever."

The next day he commanded those who had come back on horseback to act as scouts. And the scouts came back very soon; because by means of the iron rod which he had asked of his father, he made a great many buffaloes very quickly. He spoke of surrounding them. They shot down many of the buffaloes. He went to take part in surrounding them.

His wife said, "I desire to go to see them surround the herd. I must go to see the buffaloes. When they are killed, I will be quite likely to come back."

When they killed the buffaloes she was coming back; the wife stood on the hill. Her husband came to that place.

"Though I killed the buffaloes, they will cut them up," he said. They who surrounded them reached home.

Again they spoke of a buffalo hunt. "The chief's daughter's husband speaks indeed of sending them to act as scouts," said the criers.

Again the herd of buffaloes had come to that country. They surrounded them. Again they shot down many of them.

At last the son of the old head chief was in a bad humor. He was in a bad humor because his sister's husband had been made chief.

Now at night, the horse used to say to the young man, "O father, a man desires very much to kill us. It is so every night." And after that at night the young man used to take care of his horse and mule.

On the next day they surrounded the herd in the land where the deed was done. It was just so again; a great many buffaloes had been coming. At length the son wished the buffaloes to trample his sister's husband to death. When they attacked the buffaloes, he waved his robe. Turning around in his course, he waved his robe again. When the sister's husband went right in among the buffaloes, they closed in on him and he was not seen at all.

The people said, "The buffaloes have trampled to death the chief's daughter's husband."

When the buffaloes trampled him to death, they scattered and went homeward in every direction, moving in long lines. And the people did not find any trace whatever of what was done. They did not find the horse. Even the man they did not find. When the buffaloes killed him by trampling, the horse had gone back to Him Who Made Things.

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