Short Stories » A Founder of Ten Towns
A Founder of Ten Towns - Page 5 of 5
Pezpeza's town was now a place of respectable size, well known in all that region. The coyote and gray wolf knew it well; the Red man also, for, as I said in the beginning, their favorite summer camp was not far away, and there they were wont to dance the "sun dance" at every midsummer.
At times the Red men were seen to come and roam, singing, around the large mounds and the curious scaffolds, and before they went away they would place one of their number upon a new scaffold or heap another mound. Still the little people gave no thought to these strange actions.
Many, many of their tribe came from all directions, until Pezpeza's town might al- most be called a city. Many children were born there. The plateau was alive with the little mound-builders, who constantly built their homes farther and farther out, till at last some had built right under the Red men's scaffolds and hard by the large mounds, which were the graves of their dead.
Pezpeza's ground did not yield its usual crop any more. His children were all grown and had homes of their own. For some reason he did not care to go far away, so the old folks simply moved out to the edge of the town Pezpeza was now old and very large and fat. Never had he known for so long a time a happy home as in the town upon the " scaffold plain," as the place was called by the Red people. When they came to visit the graves of their dead they had never troubled the little mound-builders, therefore the old founder of many towns did not think of danger when he built very near to one of the scaffolds, and there were others who did the same.
On a bright autumn morning, early risers among the little people saw one of the Red men standing under a newly built scaffold and wailing loudly. He was naked and painted black. Many of the young people of the town barked at him as he stood there in their midst, and some of the young heralds, disturbed by the noise of his wailing, flew about and alighted upon the scaffolds. When he ceased mourning, he turned about and talked long at the little people and then went away.
The angry mourner reported at the great camp that the prairie-dogs and their owls were desecrating the graves, and it was time that they should be driven away. A council was held, and the next day the Red men came with their dogs and killed many. Their arrows pinned many of them to the ground before they could dodge into their holes. Then they scattered all over the town and remained there, so that none dared to come out. The owls were shot or driven away, and the Red men killed every rattlesnake that they found. It was an awful time! During the night many of the little people went away, deserting their homes.
The next day the same thing happened again, and the Red men even stopped up the entrances to many of the houses with round stones. Again in the night many of the little mound-builders left the town.
On the third day they came and set fire to the plain. After that, in the night, all the remaining population abandoned the town, except only Pezpeza. All this time the founder of the ten towns had remained in- doors. He was old and reluctant to move. At last he emerged with his mate. An awful sight met their eyes. On the blackened plain not one of the great population could be seen. Not one of their many children and grandchildren was there to greet them or to play at " catch- the-laugh " !
As soon as they dared the two old people sought food under the scaffolds, where the grass was not burned. Two Red men arose from behind a grave and let their arrows fly. Alas! the aged leader of the mound-builders was pinned to the ground. His mate barely escaped a similar fate, for the other missed. The herald saw everything that had happened. He cook up his watch from the centre of the ruined town. The sun went down, moonlight flooded the prairie, and he heard the evening call of the coyotes upon Fox Ridge. At last he saw something moving- it was the widowed mate of his friend, running along the trail from the desolate town. He gave one last look about him, then he silently rose and followed her.