Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Tree with the Agate Beads


More than a hundred seasons ago, a Tinguian went one day to the
mountains to hunt. Accompanied by his faithful dog, he made his way
steadily up the mountain side, only halting where it was necessary
to cut a path through the jungle. And the dog ran here and there
searching in the thick underbrush.

On and on he went without seeing any game, and then, when he was
almost at the top of the highest peak, the dog gave a sharp yelp,
and out of the brush leaped a fine deer. Zip! went the man's spear,
and it pierced the animal's side. For an instant he waited, but the
deer did not fall. On it ran with unslackened speed, and a moment
later it plunged into a hole in the ground with the man and dog in
close pursuit.

A short distance from the entrance the cave opened out into large,
spacious rooms, and before he realized it the man was hopelessly
lost In the distance he could hear the baying of the dog, and with
no other guide he hurried on through the darkness.

Following the sound, he went for a long time from one unfamiliar room
to another, stumbling in the darkness and striking against the stone
walls, and then suddenly his outstretched hands grasped a small tree
on which berries grew.

Astonished at finding anything growing in this dark place, he broke
off a branch, and as he did so the shrub began to talk in a strange
language. Terrified, the man ran in the direction he had last heard
the dog, and a moment later he found himself in the open air on the
banks of the Abra River, with the dead deer at his feet.

When he examined the twig which he still held in his hand, he saw
to his great surprise that the berries were agate beads of great
value. [81] And packing the deer on his back, he hastened home where
he told his wonderful story.

The sight of the beautiful beads convinced the people that he told
the truth, and a number of men at once returned with him to secure
the tree.

Their quest, however, was unsuccessful, for ere they reached the spot
the evil spirit had taken the tree away and on the walls of the cave
it had made strange carvings which even to this day can be seen.

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