THE MOON AND THE THUNDERS.
The Sun was a young woman and lived in the East, while her brother, the Moon,
lived in the West. The girl had a lover who used to come every month in the dark
of the moon to court her. He would come at night, and leave before daylight, and
although she talked with him she could not see his face in the dark, and he would
not tell her his name, until she was wondering all the time who it could be. At
last she hit upon a plan to find out, so the next time he came, as they were sitting
together in the dark of the âsĭ, she slyly dipped her hand into the cinders and
ashes of the fireplace and rubbed it over his face, saying, “Your face is cold; you
must have suffered from the wind,” and pretending to be very sorry for him, but
he did not know that she had ashes on her hand. After a while he left her and
went away again.
The next night when the Moon came up in the sky his face was covered with
spots, and then his sister knew he was the one who had been coming to see her.
He was so much ashamed to have her know it that he kept as far away as he
could at the other end of the sky all the night. Ever since he tries to keep a long
way behind the Sun, and when he does sometimes have to come near her in the
west he makes himself as thin as a ribbon so that he can hardly be seen.
Some old people say that the moon is a ball which was thrown up against the sky
in a game a long time ago. They say that two towns were playing against each
other, but one of them had the best runners and had almost won the game, when
the leader of the other side picked up the ball with his hand—a thing that is not
allowed in the game—and tried to throw it to the goal, but it struck against the
solid sky vault and was fastened there, to remind players never to cheat. When
the moon looks small and pale it is because some one has handled the ball
unfairly, and for this reason they formerly played only at the time of a full moon.
When the sun or moon is eclipsed it is because a great frog up in the sky is trying
to swallow it. Everybody knows this, even the Creeks and the other tribes, and in
the olden times, eighty or a hundred years ago, before the great medicine men
were all dead, whenever they saw the sun grow dark the people would come
together and fire guns and beat the drum, and in a little while this would frighten
off the great frog and the sun would be all right again.
The common people call both Sun and Moon Nûñdă, one being “Nûñdă thatdwells in the day” and the other “Nûñdă that dwells in the night,” but the priests
call the Sun Su′tălidihĭ′, “Six-killer,” and the Moon Ge′ʻyăgu′ga, though nobody
knows now what this word means, or why they use these names. Sometimes
people ask the Moon not to let it rain or snow.
The great Thunder and his sons, the two Thunder boys, live far in the west above
the sky vault. The lightning and the rainbow are their beautiful dress. The priests
pray to the Thunder and call him the Red Man, because that is the brightest color
of his dress. There are other Thunders that live lower down, in the cliffs and
mountains, and under waterfalls, and travel on invisible bridges from one high
peak to another where they have their town houses. The great Thunders above
the sky are kind and helpful when we pray to them, but these others are always
plotting mischief. One must not point at the rainbow, or one’s finger will swell at
the lower joint.