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p. 64

II. Chapter 6

Then they [Hunahpú] and [Xbalanqué] began to work, in order to be well thought of by their grandmother and their mother. The first thing they made was the cornfield. "We are going to plant the cornfield, grandmother and mother," they said. "Do not grieve; here we are, your grandchildren, we who shall take the place of our brothers," said Hunahpú and Xbalanqué.

At once they took their axes, their picks, and their wooden hoes and went, each carrying his blowgun on his shoulder. As they left the house they asked their grandmother to bring them their midday meal.

"At midday, come and bring our food, grandmother," they said.

"Very well, my grandsons," the old woman replied.

Soon they came to the field. And as they plunged the pick into the earth, it worked the earth; it did the work alone.

In the same way they put the ax in the trunks of the trees and in the branches, and instantly they fell and all the trees and vines were lying on the ground. The trees fell quickly, with only one stroke of the ax.

The pick also dug a great deal. One could not count the thistles and brambles which had been felled with one blow

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of the pick. Neither was it possible to tell what it had dug and broken up, in all the large and small woods.

And having taught an animal, called Xmucur, 1 they had it climb to the top of a large tree and Hunahpú and Xbalanqué said to it: "Watch for our grandmother to come with our food, and as soon as she comes, begin at once to sing, and we shall seize the pick and the ax."

"Very well," Xmucur answered.

And they began to shoot with their blowguns; certainly they did none of the work of clearing and cultivating. A little later, the dove sang, and they ran quickly, grabbing the pick and ax. And one of them covered his head and also deliberately covered his hands With earth 2 and in the same way smeared his face to look like a real laborer, and the other purposely threw splinters of wood over his head as though he really had been cutting the trees.

Thus their grandmother saw them. They ate at once, but they had not really done the work of tilling the soil, and without deserving it they were given their midday meal. After a while, they went home.

"We are really tired, grandmother," they said upon arriving, stretching their legs and arms before her, but without reason.

They returned the following day, and upon arriving at the field, they found that all the trees and vines were standing again and that the brambles and thistles had become entangled again.

"Who has played this trick on us;" they said. "No doubt all the small and large animals did it, the puma, the jaguar, the deer, the rabbit, the mountain-cat, the coyote, the wild boar, the coati, the small birds, the large birds; they, it was, who did it; in a single night, they did it."

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They began again to prepare the field and to prepare the soil and cut the trees. They talked over what they would have to do with the trees which they had cut, and the weeds which they had pulled up.

"Now we shall watch over our cornfield; perhaps we can surprise those who come to do all of this damage," they said, talking it over together. And later they returned home.

"What do you think of it, grandmother? They have made fun of us. Our field, which we had worked, has been turned into a field of stubble and a thick woods. Thus we found it, when we got there, a little while ago, grandmother," they said to her and to their mother. "But we shall return there and watch over it, because it is not right that they do such things to us," they said.

Then they dressed and returned at once to their field of cut trees, and there they hid themselves, stealthily, in the darkness.

Then all the animals gathered again; one of each kind came with the other small and large animals. It was just midnight when they came, all talking as they came, saying in their own language: "Rise up, trees! Rise up, vines!" 3

So they spoke when they came and gathered under the trees, under the vines, and they came closer until they appeared before the eyes [of Hunahpú and Xbalanqué].

The puma and the jaguar were the first, and [Hunahpú and Xbalanqué] wanted to seize them, but [the animals] did not let them. Then the deer and the rabbit came close. and the only parts of them which they could seize were their tails, 4 only these, they pulled out. The tall of the deer remained in their hands, and for this reason the deer and the rabbit have short tails.

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Neither the mountain-cat, the coyote, the wild boar, nor the coati fell into their hands. All the animals passed before Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, who were furious because they could not catch them.

But, finally, another animal came hopping along, and this one which was the rat, [which] they seized instantly, and wrapped him in a cloth. Then when they had caught him, they squeezed his head and tried to choke him, and they burned his tall in the fire, and for that reason the rat's tail has no hair. So, too, the boys, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, tried to poke at his eyes.

The rat said: "I must not die at your hands. And neither is it your business to plant the cornfield."

"What are you telling us now?" the boys asked the rat.

"Loosen me a little, for I have something which I wish to tell you, and I shall tell you immediately, but first give me something to eat," said the rat.

"We will give you food afterward, but first speak," they answered.

"Very well. Do you know, then, that the property of your parents Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú, as they were called, those who died in Xibalba, or rather the gear with which they played ball, has remained 5 and is hanging from the roof of the house: the ring, the gloves, and the ball? Nevertheless, your grandmother does not want to show them to you for it was on account of these things that your parents died."

"Are you sure of that?" said the boys to the rat. And they were very happy when they heard about the rubber ball. And as the rat had now talked, they showed the rat what his food would be.

"This shall be your food: corn, chili-seeds, beans, pataxte,

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cacao; 6 all this belongs to you, and should there be anything stored away or forgotten, it shall be yours also. Eat it," Hunahpú and Xbalanqué said to the rat.

"Wonderful, boys," he said; "but what shall I tell your grandmother if she sees me?"

"Do not worry, because we are here and shall know what to say to our grandmother. Let us go! We shall go quickly to the comer of the house, go at once to where the things hang; we shall be looking at the garret of the house and paying attention to our food," they said to the rat.

And having arranged it thus, during the night after talking together, Hunahpú and Xbalanqué arrived at midday. When they arrived, they brought the rat with them, but they did not show it; one of them went directly into the house, and the other went to the corner and there let the rat climb up quickly.

Immediately they asked their grandmother for food. "Prepare our food, 7 we wish a chili-sauce, 8 grandmother," they said. And at once the food was prepared for them and a plate of broth was put before them.

But this was only to deceive their grandmother and their mother. And having dried up the water which was in the water jar, they said, "We are really dying of thirst; go and bring us a drink," they said to their grandmother.

"Good," she said and went. Then they began to eat, but they were not really hungry; it was only a trick. They saw then by means of their plate of chile 9 how the rat went rapidly toward the ball which was suspended from the roof of the house. On seeing this in their chile-sauce, they sent to the river a certain xan, an animal called xan which is like a mosquito, to puncture the side of their grandmother's water jar, and although she tried to stop the water

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which ran out, she could not close the hole made in the jar.

"What is the matter with our grandmother? Our mouths are dry, with thirst, 10 we are dying of thirst," they said to their mother and they sent her out, 11 Immediately the rat went to cut [the cord which held] the ball and it fell from the garret of the house together with the ring and the gloves and the leather pads. The boys seized them and ran quickly to hide them on the road which led to the ball-court.

After this they went to the river to join their grandmother and their mother, who were busily trying to stop the hole in the water jar. And arriving With their blowgun, they said when they came to the river: "What are you doing? We got tired [of waiting] and we came," they said.

"Look at the hole in my jar which I cannot stop, said the grandmother. Instantly they stopped it, and together they returned, the two walking before their grandmother.

And in this way the ball was found.


69:1 p. 216 The turtledove, mucuy in Maya.

69:2 Xalog in the original; literally means "in vain" as Ximénez translates it, or "gratuitously," as Brasseur de Bourbourg renders it.

69:3 Are puch tiquil u qux agab ta x-e petic, x-e chauiheic conohel ta x-e petic. Are qui chabal ri: Yaclin che, yaclin caam.

69:4 The original is: Xa cuch u he x-qui chap vi. It seems to me that this is an error, and that it should read xa cu u he, etc., and I have so translated it.

69:5 In his transcription from the Quiché text, Brasseur de Bourbourg omitted the words ri qu'etzabal x-e quel canoc, which I have translated as it is here. Etzan is "to play" and etzabal is the playing gear.

69:6 These were practically the daily foods of the ancient Quiché. Of cacao beans (cacau in Maya and in Quiché), they made a very nourishing drink, and in the same way they used a kind of cacao, Theobroma bicolor, which the Quiché called pec and which is commonly known by the Mexican name of pataxte.

69:7 Xa ch'y cutu ca ti, literally, "grind our food." The food of the Quiché Indians consisted principally of tortillas, i. e., cakes of corn, which were cooked and ground on the stone which they called caam, the metatl of Mexico.

69:8 Cutum-ic, in Quiché; chilmulli, in Náhuatl, chile-sauce.

69:9 Chupam cutum ic, within the chilmol. The liquid red sauce served as a mirror and reflected the rat's movements on the roof, without its appearing as though the boys were watching them.

69:10 Oh hizabah chi ya.

69:11 To fetch the water.

Next: II. Chapter 7