v. Chelcon and Halsahi the Lizard

Chelcon was Zalan’s mother. She was a well-respected woman  with few enemies and long slender hands. She was known as a good weaver of baskets and hats, and for her quickness with words, which she only used slanderously when necessary. She married Zalan’s father after the death of his brother, to whom she had been long married, long enough to bear him children  (two of which she brought into her new household).  She was ten winters older than her new husband: Halsahi the Gambler . And what a gambler!  He was known in every near-by village as Haymim—Lizard— for his fast, calculated movements, and for his cold demeanor during the games. He excelled at nearly any form of gambling where one would use the hands. Had he lived longer, he could have become a great prestidigitator or baraja player, the way he managed to always keep his opponents guessing where the white stick lay. Luck rode on his shoulders, he was fond of saying, or rather on his left hand, étshum ísum, which he hardly washed at all lest the luck should abandon him. It had brought his family a moderate fortune, and he was keen on keeping it free from any sort of harm or lesion that could afflict it. To this end he forbade anyone from touching his hand at all, and refrained from excessive labors, which he left to his wife and children, the youngest being was Zalan. Halsahi even contemplated a second wife, but thought it a gamble he could not win. One wife was enough for Halsahi.

As was expected, each child took over specific tasks, learning from elders the proper way of doing things, they way Coyote taught  the first people.  It was Zalan’s job to handle the small game, rabbits and lizards, bugs, and the occasional hunting of eggs high up in trees. His brothers and sisters were also adept at colleting plants and herbs, stealing honey from the bees, and snaring quail and other birds, or cleaning kill. Life was disturbed by normal things, the weather, a bear attacks, war, and regular human wickedness.

It was during Zalan’s ninth spring, that he had his first encounter with the newcomers, an event which I will now recount and which sets in motion the rest of this tragic narration:



~ by Francisco Nieto on June 24, 2009.

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