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- The Legends of San Francisco - 6/9 -


Gold, for worth of soul and spirit. While you stand above the harbor, While you call the fog and west-wind, While you wear your cloak of poppies, Never shall a foeman enter Through the Golden Gate with war-boats. Pluck the petal, let it flutter To the ground. Your wish is granted. Stand forever, native daughters, As Twin Peaks, to guard the harbor.'

That was long ago, my children, When the earth was young, and people Heard the voices of the Spirits - Knew the language of the sea-birds. To this day the ancient warriors Flounder on the Sea Rock Islands, Barking, roaring, crowding, fighting, Near the gateway of the harbor. Still the Sisters, as the Twin Peaks, Guard the city and the harbor. In the summer, at the season When the ancient foes came southward, They invoke the cooling west-wind With its fog, to screen the harbor; Yet, the sunlight seeks the valley Where the ancient tepees clustered, Beaming there in benediction, While around it lie the shadows.'

That, my children, is the legend Told beside the evening campfire By the ancient Tamal woman, In a grove of giant redwoods, On the slopes of Tamalpais.

The Sea Gulls.

Round the boat the Sea Gulls hovered, Soaring on their spreading pinions, Floating on the air, but turning Searching eyes upon the people; Searching, searching, always searching, Winging, swinging, darting, calling In their plaintive tones, "Ah-we-a."

By my side my friend, the Tamal, Stood and gazed upon the Sea Gulls. Long he gazed in deep abstraction, Then he said, "They still are searching, Still are calling to Ah-we-a. Would you know the Tamal legend Of Ah-we-a and the Sea Gulls?

Know you, then, that these blue waters Were not always calm and peaceful. Once the Sea King, grim and moody, Held his court within this harbor - Held his carnivals of beauty, And his wild and stormy revels.

In the cove of Sausalito, Where the houses of the paleface Terrace on the wooded hillside And the sailboats ride at anchor, Lived a tribe of fisher people, Building homes among the crannies Of the rocks upon the bayshore, Fishing in the harbor waters From their light canoes of redwood - Fishing boldly in defiance Of the Sea King's fitful anger At the raiding of his Kingdom And the slaughter of his subjects.

Oft the Sea King, in reprisal, Lashed the harbor with his west wind Till the breakers leaped in frenzy, Overturning boats and claiming Many fishermen as victims.

Those who clung in desperation To their boats and reached the mainland Told the tale of their encounter With the Sea King in the tempest. Through the smother of the surges, Through the driving rain and fog-banks, Came the Sea King's boat upon them, Drawn by floundering sea horses With their manes of seafoam curling From the prow and backward trailing. Through the mist they saw it faintly, As a ghostly apparition, Riding down upon the billows - Phantom ship, at times transparent, White or gray - to ride them over; Racing nearer, nearer, nearer, Then dissolving into vapor; Or, at times, it darted past them. Giving glimpses through the fog-banks Of the Furies at the paddles, Bending, dipping, throwing surges From their mighty magic paddles, While the wake of foaming waters Seethed and boiled in whirlpool currents.

Long the warfare had continued. Fishermen must live by fishing, And the Sea King claimed his victims Through a strategy of cunning, Seeking ever to beguile them To the sea to work his vengeance.

When day dawned in rosy splendor Calm and still the harbor waters As a sea of purple satin, Only wrinkled into ruffles, Ever widening in a circle Where the fishes leaped the surface.

Fishermen with song and laughter, Waved farewell to wives and children, Paddled off into the silence; Then, without a sign of warning, Gales arose and lashed the harbor Till the waters writhed and tumbled, Wave on wave, in thundering tumult; And the Sea King, in his anger, Dashed the boats, o'erturned and empty, High upon the rocky seashore At the feet of wailing women.

Queen Ah-we-a of the Fishers Mourned the sorrows of her people; Comforted the weeping widows; Cared for all the little orphans. Little wonder that her subjects Loved the gentle Queen Ah-we-a.

Long the Queen in silence pondered On the perils of her people. Long she stood upon the headland Where the wind-distorted cedars Cling upon the rocky hillside. Long she prayed to the Great Spirit For his guidance and protection. Long she prayed and watched and waited Till the moon came up and silvered All the sea, and cast the shadows Of the cedars, weird and lonely.

From the harbor came the night winds Robed in tinsel veils of vapors, And they whispered in the branches Of the cedar trees above her - Whispered of the King, their master, Whispered terms for ceasing warfare.

Ah-we-a heard the hard conditions, Bowed her head as in submission. On her face the resolution For a sacrifice was graven - For a sacrifice so noble That the Spirit in the Heavens Smiled and promised, in her absence, To protect her Fisher people.

Morning dawned, with vapors brooding On the silent glassy waters. Queen Ah-we-a called her people To the sandy shore, and standing In her light canoe of deer skin, Told them of her nightlong vigil. 'Now I go,' she said in parting, 'To the great boat of the Sea King, There to plead that storms be banished, Banished from our bay forever. The Great Spirit will protect you Till I come again to lead you.' Then her paddle dipped the water, And her light canoe of deer skin Went into the fog and faded, Faded to a shadow outline, Then was gone into the silence.

Long and watchfully the people Waited for the Queen Ah-we-a. Then a great fear came upon them. 'She is lost. The wicked Sea King Holds her hostage on his war boat.'

Thus they mourned, and prayed the Father, The Great Spirit, that he give them Wings to fly above the waters Where the Sea King could not reach them. 'Give us wings,' they prayed 'On pinions


The Legends of San Francisco - 6/9

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