The Queen Of Death Valley

In the southern part of California, near the Arizona line, is the famous

Death Valley--a tract of arid, alkaline plain hemmed in by steep

mountains and lying below the level of the sea. For years it was believed

that no human being could cross that desert and live, for horses sink to

their knees in drifts of soda dust; there is no water, though the

traveller requires much drink; and the heat is terrific. Animals that die

in the neighborhood mummify, but do not decay, and it is surmised that

the remains of many a thoughtless or ignorant prospector lie bleached in

the plain. On the east side of Dead Mountain are points of whitened rock

that at a distance look like sheeted figures, and these, the Indians say,

are the ghosts of their brethren.

In the heart of this desert is said to be the ruin of a pueblo, or

village, though the shape and size of it suggest that it was made for a

few persons rather than for a tribe or family. Long ago, the tale runs,

this place of horrors was a fair and fertile kingdom, ruled by a

beautiful but capricious queen. She ordered her subjects to build her a

mansion that should surpass those of her neighbors, the Aztecs, and they

worked for years to make one worthy of her, dragging the stones and

timbers for miles. Fearing lest age, accident, or illness should forbid

her to see the ending of her dream, she ordered so many of her subjects

to assist that her tribe was reduced to practical slavery.

In her haste and heartlessness she commanded her own daughter to join the

bearers of burdens, and when the toilers flagged in step in the noonday

heat she strode among them and lashed their naked backs. As royalty was

sacred, they did not complain, but when she struck her daughter the girl

turned, threw down her load of stone, and solemnly cursed her mother and

her kingdom; then, overcome by heat and weariness, she sank to the earth

and died. Vain the regrets and lamentations of the queen. The sun came

out with blinding heat and light, vegetation withered, animals

disappeared, streams and wells dried up, and at last the wretched woman

gave up her life on a bed of fever, with no hand to soothe her dying

moments, for her people, too, were dead. The palace, half-completed,

stands in the midst of this desolation, and sometimes it seems to lift

into view of those at a distance in the shifting mirage that plays along

the horizon.

The Quarrel Of The Dogs And Cats The Queer Little Animal facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail