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'Youth,' said she, “it matters not where the river goes. Come with me and I will show you something far better than that you have planned. I will show you the people of the Under World. I am the Spider Woman. I will change myself into a little spider and hide myself in the fold of your ear and you must be very careful not to scratch me off or bruise me or you will get into trouble. I will keep whispering to you—directing you—and you must do exactly as I say.'

"The Youth agreed to that, and removing his sacks of food and little bundles of gift offerings from the raft, the old woman spider in his ear directed his course. Travelling for some distance, he came to a large hole in the ground. 'Descend this!' he was told, and he entered it with hesitation, it was so dark and fearsome a place. Down, down it slanted and he felt his way along it, thinking many times to turn and flee back to the sunlight, but ever, as if knowing his thoughts, the spider encouraged him: ‘Go on'—she kept telling him, 'Go on, all will be well.'

At last, after what seemed to him a long night's travel, he saw light again and, arriving at the mouth of the tunnel, stepped out into the Under World. Here was a beautiful country and a large pueblo. Directed by the spider he mounted a ladder of one of the houses and stepped off on its roof. Here a terrible sight met his eyes; two huge grizzly bears that guarded the entrance arose and with bristling hair growled fiercely at him.


Quick!' whispered the spider, ‘Open your sack of sacred meal and sprinkle some of it upon them!'

“He did so with trembling hands, and at once the grizzlies lay down, rested their heads on their paws and closed their eyes. "Now all is well,' said the spider; ‘fear not; descend the ladder.'

“In the house, lighted by a small fire, he found a number of men assembled-fine looking men, evidently chiefs of the tribe, and to him who sat in the principal place the youth advanced and handed one of the presents his father had provided.

" 'You are welcome,' said this man, who proved to be the chief. Some women were there, and one of them, a beautiful young maiden, was ordered to set food before him. The two talked together of various things, and he told her whence he had come.

“The men were singing strange songs and saying various prayers. After a time the chief questioned him, and he told of his journey and his quest, but no word said he of the spider; she whispered him to be quiet about her.

“There he remained for four days, well cared for,—and then the chief said to him: 'I see that you are worth a trial, you are well-behaved, attentive to our prayers and songs; I wish you to see everything-learn everything in this Under World of ours., Go you now to the other villages and visit there for a time—it is not far-and then return here.'

“At the entrance, on top of the house in this next pueblo, to which the spider guided him, two mountain lions on guard arose and barred his way, spitting and switching their tails. These he also sprinkled with the sacred meal and they became quiet. He passed them and descended into the room.

Here also he found the head men of the village assembled, engaged in offering prayers, in dancing, and singing, sacred songs. And having advanced and offered the chief a present, he was made welcome. Four days he stayed there, listening to them, and then went on in turn to two other pueblos, where he listened to still different songs and prayers. At last he returned to the first pueblo and house he had visited and was more kindly welcomed than ever. The beautiful maiden waited upon him, the chief talked long and earnestly to him.

' 'I see,' he said, “that you are a steady, wise young man. Therefore I am going to be good to you. These prayers and songs you have heard are all for rain, the rain that makes our corn and other things grow big and ripen. Do you think you can remember them? go back and teach them to your people.'

“The youth repeated and sang them all without one mistake, and performed the dances perfectly.

“ That is well,' said the chief; 'You may now return to your home. I see that this maiden loves you, so I give her to you. All this you have learned here you must be careful to teach your wise ones, so that it may be handed down from father to son for evermore, and be the means of bringing the rain when it is sorely needed. We, the Snake People, have learned much by long and careful study. All this is a free gift to you from us. You may depart.'

“Hand in hand the young couple left the place, and, guided by the spider, came to another holé in the earth, running straight up into the blue sky and sunlight of the Upper World.

“Here the spider, descending from the youth's ear, wove a basket of strong web and drew them up in it to the faraway surface of the earth, where she bade them goodbye and disappeared in the distance.

“The youth saw the pueblo of his people; thither he led his young wife and there was great rejoicing over his return. His tales of all he had seen and learned were listened to with wonder; the songs and prayers and dances he taught were learned quickly.

“All was peace and happiness in the pueblo. Rains fell copiously. The crops were large. In honor and gratefulness for what he had done the people named the youth Eldest Brother.

“After a time the young wife conceived and gave birth—not to a child—but to a number of rattlesnakes. This was something so unheard of-so loathsome—that a council was held and it was decided that the woman must be driven from the village.

"'If that be done to her,' said Eldest Brother, 'then I go too.' They departed, the woman carrying her snake offspring in her bosom, and set up a little home of their own some distance from the pueblo. The snakes grew and crawled away out on the desert to live the life which was natural to them. In time their mother gave birth again, but to a fine man child instead of snakes.

“There came a season of drought and the crops withered and died. Although the people sang the songs, offered the prayers and performed the dances Eldest Brother had taught them, the sky remained cloudless; there was not even any dew at night, to say nothing of rain. More seed was planted in the fields but it did not sprout. Day after day the sun poured its heat on the dry and dusty land.

“Then in their trouble the people sent messengers to Eldest Brother: "What is wrong?' they asked. “Why have these prayers and songs and dances you taught us failed to bring the rain? Have we omitted any part of them ?'

“You have done a grievous wrong,' he replied, “those people of the Under World are Snake people, and you have driven their kin from your pueblo. Never will you get rain unless you atone for it.'

Oh, we will atone!' cried the elders, 'we will atone; tell us what to do.'

“ “You will go out on the desert,' he replied, and gather in those younger brothers and taking them to a Kiva (sacred house) wash them carefully, purifying their bodies. Then you will carry them with you in the sacred dance. Thus will their kindred of the Under World be appeased and your prayers to the gods will be answered.'

“This they did, first recalling Eldest Brother and his family to the pueblo to remain there.

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