Chapter XII. Of Zuñi in the Rain, and of Zuñi Dick
THOUGH the sun shines upon New Mexico three hundred days on an average out of the three hundred and sixty-five, it was raining on the October evening when we arrived at Zuñi. The next morning, the rain still descending, we decided it would be more comfortable out in the real thing than in our adobe room, where from a variety of leaks in the roof an intermittent drip fell emphatically upon the floor, unless intercepted by some part of our bodies. So, clad in rubber, we went forth to investigate the old pueblo.
There was a streak of light in the west, where the sky bent down to Arizona, but in the east, Towa-Yálleni—Mountain of the Sacred Corn—was still wrapped in mists, out of which diverse winds blew shrewdly—one, colder than its predecessor, now and again turning the rain to short-lived spits of snow. The tortuous little streets were gummy, as only adobe can be on a wet day, and deserted of life. Even the pigs, dogs, and burros were hidden away under lee walls, and the turkeys lurked disconsolate in the covered alleys. But human Zuñi was as gay as though the sun shone. Its good humour was but increased by the wet, which meant the showered blessings of the gods, filling the springs and making the earth fruitful.
Tówa-yálleni, Zuñi's sacred mountain, in the snow.
A dusky face beneath a crown of glossy black hair, filleted about with a bright magenta headband, looked out at us from a half-opened doorway, and the smiling Zuñi man said: ‘‘You happy? Where you go?’’
‘‘I, Zuñi Dick,’’ continued the Zuñi. ‘‘You no hully?1 You come in my houses.’’
The door was hospitably opened; one puppy was lifted by the nape of its mangy neck and deposited outdoors, while another was shunted under the table, and we were invited to sit down in the household's two cherished American chairs. It was a typical Zuñi interior, with clean, whitewashed walls and a beamed ceiling of unhewn logs.
‘‘I all a time busy,’’ remarked Dick complacently, as he rubbed bits of turquoise beads upon a flat stone in his lap to make them smooth. Then, as he prattled on, we gathered that he was local policeman, by the grace of the Indian agent at Black Rock, and wore a blue coat with brass buttons and a Kossuth hat with gold cord. The duties of this office consisted principally in convoying to the Government school truant little Zuñis who, preferring sunshine and freedom to paleface knowledge, vanished from sight when the school-bell rang. It was a busy life, this, of rounding-up these luckless young savages, involving not only exercise of leg but nimble argument with conspiring matrons, who wanted to keep their progeny uncontaminated by influences which made for bad manners and for skepticism regarding the red gods of their fathers. Saturday and Sunday, however, were holidays, and Dick was then free
When we came out of Dick's "houses," the clouds had parted and the sun was shining gloriously in the blessed blue. Doors stood open that had been shut against the rain; men were astir catching donkeys to ride, on one errand or another; the turkeys and the pigs and laughing children were abroad again. A bright-faced woman was patiently leading a blind man to a warm corner, where he might bask in the sun while she went to the town well to fill her jar, the gourd dipper clinking within it as she walked.
The silversmith was a young man with the face of an angel and huge turquoise earrings. His shop was set up in the one room of his house, for, excepting Nick, the storekeeper, who wears white man's clothes and a hat, and was once strung up
‘‘You want 'im make lil' closses like ol' time?’’ asked Dick, to whose Zuñi heart the characteristic double-barred crosses of his people were very dear, ‘‘or necklace of beads with piece of moon on end, or you want 'im blacelet with pictu' put on?’’
We understood enough of this to realize that it was needful to supply the craftsman with the raw material at the outset; so we produced a Mexican silver half-dollar and taking two proffered chairs sat down to abide the issue.
1. The Zuñi language has no sound of r, which the Zuñi tongue, like the Chinese, pronounces as an l.