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- The Legends of San Francisco - 2/9 -


Dappled with the spreading oak trees; For great factories, grim and sordid, Sprawl in squalid blocks around it, And the smoke of forge and furnace Rise from stacks into the heavens.

Paleface men with concave glasses, Learned in lore of printed pages, Dig into the mounds and gather Spear and arrow heads and axes, Broken weapons and utensils Made of flint, or bone, or seashell.

To the northward, where great boulders Lie in tumbled piles and masses, And a Thousand Oaks are clustered, And the crags upthrust their fingers Through the meadows of the uplands, Was another Indian village, Ancient stronghold of the Tamals.

In the village on the hillside Men were hunters, brave and fearless, Skillful with the bow and arrow, Artful with the snare and deadfall; Hunting deer and elk and bison In the open grassy meadows, Tracking wolf and mountain lion To their lairs among the redwoods; Bearing on their backs the trophies To their camp when night was falling.

In the village maids and matrons Dressed the furs and tanned the buckskin, Dried the venison, and traded With the Shell Mound folks for salmon, Mussels, clams and abalones, Ornaments of bone or seashell, Weapons chipped from flint or jasper. From the oaks they gathered acorns, And beneath the fragrant bay trees And the heavy blooming buckeyes, Ground the acorns into flour To be baked upon the hot-stones.

To this day the smoke of campfires May be traced in caves, and crannies Where the overhanging cliffsides Gives protection from the rainstorms. If you search among the thickets Of the low widespreading buckeyes You will find their ancient mortars In the bedrock still remaining - Mortar holes ground deep, and polished By the toil of many women Pounding, grinding with a pestle Fashioned from a stream-worn boulder.

Gone are all those ancient people, Perished now for many ages. Many oaks have grown and withered, Many buckeyes bloomed and faded, Many tribes have fought and conquered, Lived for many generations, Then were driven out by others. Still the mortar holes will linger As our monuments forever."

Fainter grew the voice, still fainter, Sinking almost to a whisper, With a hesitating quaver, As the picture came before her Of her disappearing people. Then I rose and piled more branches Of the redwood on the campfire, And the flames and sparks leaped upward, Lighting up the mournful forest, Driving back the eerie shadows.

Long she bowed her head in silence, Then resumed her rhythmic speaking. In the village lived a maiden, Fairest of all comely maidens Ever born among the Tamals; Fair of face and pure of spirit, Kind in thought and quick in service To the young and old and helpless; Ever eager for her duty, Ever singing at her labor.

When she sat beneath the buckeyes Grinding acorns in the mortar, Humming birds came sipping honey From the heavy scented blossoms; Wild birds came and sang their sweetest Music as they perched above her; And the Fairies came to greet her Dressed as Butterflies, and fluttered Round her head and whispered secrets - Secrets not revealed to others.

Little wonder that the Chieftain, Young and brave and wise in counsel, Loved the maid and wished to take her As his wife to rule his people. But she answered him with sadness, For she loved the youth, 'Beloved, This is not the time for lovers, But for warriors to make ready, For a danger comes upon us. God has sent a warning message By the Fairies, and they whispered To me as I ground the acorns In the mortar 'neath the buckeyes.

Rally all your braves around you, Sieze your strong bows, fill your quivers With the long flintpointed arrows; Guard the ridges to the eastward Ere the foe shall fall upon us.'

To the eastward where Diablo Rears its peak above the fog banks Drifting landward from the ocean, Lived a warlike tribe of people. Fierce they were, and grim and cruel, Worshiping the Fire Demon Who is crouching in the mountain.

From their heights they saw the waters Of the Bay of San Francisco Lying crystal-clear and purple. Then no Sacramento River Poured its flood of silt into it, For a range of hills continued, All unbroken, from Diablo To the distant smoking mountain Which is now called Saint Helena.

Long they watched the bay and marveled At its strange, alluring beauty; Watched it in its changing colors - In the gray of misty mornings, In the blue of sunny mid-day, In the glories of the sunset, In the silver flood of moonlight - It enticed and seemed to beckon, Then, as ever, to the strangers.

Long their Wizards danced, and rattled With their gourds, to rouse the Demon Of the Mountain to assist them - Danced until they fell in frenzy, Prophesying wealth of plunder. Warriors danced and chanted war songs, Stamped and shouted, waved their war clubs, With the war paint on their bodies, Black and yellow and vermillion. Hideous and terrifying Were they when they took the warpath.

Oh, the terror of their coming! Oh, the horror of the battle On the meadows of the uplands! Forward, by the strength of numbers, Pressed the Devils of Diablo; Slowly backward fell the Tamals To the Stronghold of the Boulders. When the darkness of the midnight Fell as a protecting blanket, Silently my tribe retreated, Ere the ring should be completed By the merciless invaders. All the Tamals started northward - Men and women, little children - Through the open, grassy meadows, Through the forest to the ridges Circling round the Bay below them. At the dawning of the morning They were resting on a hilltop. To the west the Bay was sleeping Underneath its misty blanket; To the east a lake was gleaming In the rosy light of sunrise.

While they rested on the mountain, Weary, footsore, and disheartened, Came pursuing scouts to spy them. Fierce and bloody was the combat, All the rocks were stained with crimson. Then the scouts, or those still living, Fled to tell their wicked Chieftain Where to find the fleeing Tamals.

Loud the wail of lamentation When the Tamals saw their warriors Who had fallen in the combat Lying lifeless on the mountain. Louder still, the cry of anguish When they found their Maid of Mercy


The Legends of San Francisco - 2/9

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