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p. 70

II. Chapter 7

The boys returned happily to the ball-court to play; they were playing alone a long time and cleared the court where their parents had played.

And the Lords of Xibalba, hearing them, said: "Who are they who play again over our heads and disturb us with the noise they make? Perchance Hun-Hunahpú and Vucub-Hunahpú did not die, those who wished to exalt themselves before us? Go at once and call them!"

So said Hun-Camé, Vucub-Camé, and all the lords. And sending the messengers to call them, they said to them: "Go and tell them when you get there: 'Let them come,' the lords have said; we wish to play ball with them here, within seven days we wish to play; tell them so when you arrive," thus said the lords. This was the command which they gave to the messengers. And they came then by the wide road which the boys had made that led directly to their house; by it the messengers arrived directly before [the boys'] grandmother. They were eating when the messengers from Xibalba arrived.

"Tell them to come, without fail, the lords commanded," said the messengers of Xibalba. And the messengers of Xibalba indicated the day: "Within seven days they will await them," they said to Xmucané.

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"It is well, messengers; they will go," the old woman answered. And the messengers set out on their return.

Then the old woman's heart was filled with anxiety. "Who shall I send to call my grandchildren? 1 Was it not in this same way that the messengers of Xibalba came before, when they came to take the [boys'] parents?" said the grandmother, entering her house, alone and grieving.

And immediately a louse fell into her lap. She seized it and put it in the palm of her hand, and the louse wriggled and began to walk.

"My child, would you like that I sent you away to call my grandchildren from the ball-court?" she said to the louse. "'Messengers have come to your grandmother,' tell them; 'come within seven days, tell them to come, said the messengers of Xibalba; thus your grandmother told me to say,'" thus she told the louse.

At once the louse swaggered off. Sitting on the road was a boy called Tamazul, 2 or the toad.

"Where are you going?" the toad said to the louse.

"I am carrying a message in my stomach. I go to find the boys," said the louse to Tamazul.

"Very well, but I see that you do not go quickly," said the toad to the louse. "Do you not want me to swallow you? You shall see how I run, and so we shall arrive quickly."

"Very well," the louse said to the toad. Immediately the toad swallowed him. And the toad walked a long time, but without hurrying. Soon he met a large snake, called Zaquicaz. 3

"Where are you going, young Tamazul?" said Zaquicaz to the toad.

"I go as a messenger; I carry a message in my stomach," said the toad to the snake.

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see that you do not walk quickly. Would I not arrive sooner?" the snake said to the toad. "Come here," he said. At once Zaquicaz swallowed the toad. And from then on this was the food of snakes, who still today swallow toads.

The snake went quickly and having met Vac, 4 which is a very large bird, the hawk, [the latter] instantly swallowed the snake. Shortly afterward it arrived at the ball-court. From that time, this has been the food of hawks, who devour snakes in the fields.

And upon arrival, the hawk perched upon the cornice of the ball-court where Hunahpú and Xbalanqué were amusing themselves playing ball. Upon arriving, the hawk began to cry: "Vac-có! Vac-có!" it said cawing. ["Here is the hawk! Here is the hawk!"]

"Who is screaming? Bring our blowguns!" the boys exclaimed. And shooting at the hawk, they aimed a pellet at the pupil of the eye 5 and [the hawk] spiraled to the ground. They ran to seize it and asked: "What do you come to do here?" they asked the hawk.

"I bring a message in my stomach. First cure my eye and afterward I shall tell you," the hawk answered.

"Very well," they said, and taking a bit of the rubber of the ball with which they were playing, they put it in the hawk's eye. Lotzquic 6 they called it, and instantly the hawk's eye was perfectly healed.

"Speak, then," they said to the hawk. And immediately it vomited a large snake.

"Speak, thou," they said to the snake.

"Good," the [snake] said and vomited the toad.

"Where is the message that you bring?" they asked the toad.

"Herein my stomach is the message," answered the toad.

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[paragraph continues] And immediately he tried, but could not vomit; his mouth only filled with spittle but he did not vomit. The boys wanted to hit him then.

"You are a liar, "they said, kicking him in the rump, and the bone of the haunches gave way. He tried again, but his mouth only filled with spittle. Then the boys opened the toad's mouth and once open, they looked inside of it. The louse was stuck to the toad's teeth: it had stayed in its mouth and had not been swallowed, but only pretended

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to be swallowed. 7 Thus the toad was tricked, and the kind of food to give it is not known. It cannot run; and it became the food of the snakes.

"Speak," they said to the louse, and then it gave its message. "Your grandmother has said, boys: 'Go call them; the messengers of Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé have come to tell them to go to Xibalba, saying: "They must come here within seven days to play ball with us, and they must also bring their playing gear, the ball, the rings, the gloves, the leather pads, in order that they may amuse themselves here," said the lords. They have really come,' said your grandmother. That is why I have come. For truly your grandmother said this and she cries and grieves, for this reason I have come."

"Is it true?" the boys asked themselves when they heard this. And running quickly they arrived at their grandmother's side; they went only to take their leave of her.

"We are going, grandmother, we came only to say goodbye. But here will be the sign which we shall leave of our fate: each of us shall plant a reed, in the middle of the house we shall plant it; if it dries, this shall be the sign of our death. 'They are dead!' you shall say, if it begins to dry up. But if it sprouts again: 'They are living!' you shall say, oh, our grandmother. And you, mother, do not weep, for here we leave the sign of our fate," thus they said.

And before going, Hunahpú planted one [reed] and Xbalanqué planted another; they planted them in the house and not in the field, nor did they plant them in moist soil, but in dry soil; in the middle of their house, they left them planted.


74:1 p. 216 Naqui x-chi v'u chah qui taquic ri viy? in the original.

74:2 Tamazul u bi, ri xpek. The author here uses the Náhuatl word Tamazul to designate this particular toad, thus showing the old Toltec influence still remaining in the minds of the Indians of Guatemala.

74:3 p. 217 Literally, white armadillo. A very large snake which makes a great deal of noise when it crawls away. Santa Mania, Diccionario Cakchiquel.

74:4 A hawk which eats snakes. Vocabulario de los P. P. Franciscanos.

74:5 There is a play on words in the original here: qui cu tacal u bac uub chu bac u vach, they aimed the pellet (bac) of the blowgun at the ball (bac) of the eye.

74:6 Lotz, sorrel; lotzquic, rubber, or juice of the sorrel. An herb which the Mexicans call xocoyolli, and which seems to be oxalis, according to our classification of natural history, says Brasseur de Bourbourg. He adds that the natives of Central America assured him that they still used it to remove cataracts from their eyes. Garcilaso de la Vega, the Inca, speaks in the same way of a similar plant used by the Indians of Peru. According to the Vocabulario de los P. P. Franciscanos, lotz is also the sapuyulo, or stone of the zapote which sometimes is covered with a white or amber-colored gum.

74:7 Xa quehe xa bic.

Next: II. Chapter 8