CHAPTER IV. INDIAN LEGENDS OF THE TAHOE REGION
One day when the older brother was off hunting Duck was cleaning some fish. She had been very cross to Little Brother, refusing to give him any food, and he was terribly hungry. Presently he came creeping up behind her and when he saw all the fish he became very angry. He took up a big club and before Duck could turn around he hit her on the head and killed her. Paying no attention to her dead body he cooked and ate all the fish he wanted and then lay down in the sunshine on a big rock and went fast asleep.
By and by his Hunter Brother came home. Of course when he found his wife dead, he was filled with great anger at his young brother, though his anger was lessened when he thought of his wife's cruelty. He shook him very roughly and said, "I no like you any more! I go away. Leave you alone!" But Little Brother begged, "Don't be angry! Don't be angry! Let's go far away! I help you all the time! Don't be angry!"
Gradually he persuaded the Hunter Brother to forgive him and they started off together toward the "Big Water" - Lake Tahoe. On the way the Hunter Brother taught the Little Brother how to shoot with a bow and arrow. By the time they reached the spot now known as Lakeside both their belts were filled with squirrels that they had shot.
At dusk they built a good fire and when there were plenty of glowing coals, Hunter Brother dug a long hole, and filling it with embers, laid the squirrels in a row on the coals covering them all up with earth.
He was tired and lay down by the fire to rest till the squirrels should be cooked. With his head resting on his arms, the warmth of the fire soothing him, he soon fell fast, fast asleep.
Little Brother sat by the fire and as the night grew darker, he grew hungrier and hungrier. He tried to waken his brother, but the latter seemed almost like one dead and he could not rouse him. At last he made up his mind he would eat by himself. Going to the improvised oven, he began to dig up the squirrels, counting them as they came to light. One was missing. Little Brother was troubled.
"How that? My brother had so many, I had so many!" - counting on his fingers - "One gone!" And he forgot how hungry he was as he dug for the missing squirrel.
All at once he came upon a bigger hole adjoining the cooking hole. While he stood wondering what to do, out popped a great big spider.
"I'll catch you!" cried the spider.
"No, you won't!" said the boy, and up he jumped and away he ran, followed by the spider. They raced over stock and stone, dodging about trees and stumbling over fallen logs for a long time. At last Little Brother could run no more. The spider grabbed him and carried him back to his hole, where he killed him.
It was almost daybreak when Hunter Brother awoke. He called his brother to bring more wood, for the fire was almost out. Getting no answer he went to look at the cooking squirrels.
Greatly surprised to see them lying there all uncovered, he, too, counted them. Discovering one gone, he thought his brother must have eaten it and was about to eat one himself when he saw the old spider stick his head out of the hole. Each made a spring, but the Hunter Brother was the quicker and killed the wicked spider with his knife.
Carefully he now went into the spider's hole. There, stretched out on the ground, lay Little Brother dead! Taking him up in his arms, he carried him outside. Now this Hunter Brother was a medicine-man of great power, so he lay down with Little Brother and breathed into his mouth and in a few minutes he came back to life and was all right.
The Hunter Brother was very happy to have his Little Brother alive again. He built up the fire and while they sat eating their long-delayed meal Little Brother told all that had happened to him.
[Footnote 1: Susan who was telling this story offered no reason why he had not restored Duck, his own wife, to life.]
The sun was quite above the horizon before the meal was finished, and soon Hunter Brother was anxious to be moving on, so they took their way along the lake shore. On their way they talked and laughed one with another and seemed to agree very well, until they had gone around the lake and reached where Tahoe City now is. Here they quarreled and the Hunter Brother left Little Brother to return and go up the Big Mountain - Tallac - where he had heard there were many squirrels. After his departure, Little Brother decided to follow him and get him to make friends again. So he trudged along the lake shore until he came to Emerald Bay.
There lying on the log at the edge of the lake, lay a water-baby. It was asleep with its head resting on its arms and its beautiful, sunshine-golden-hair was spread over it.