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A short story by Charles M. Skinner

The Broad House

Title:     The Broad House
Author: Charles M. Skinner [More Titles by Skinner]

Down in the canon of Chaco, New Mexico, stands a building evidently coeval with those of the cliff dwellers, that is still in good preservation and is called the Broad House. When Noqoilpi, the gambling god, came on earth he strayed into this canon, and, finding the Moquis a prosperous people, he envied them and resolved to win their property. To do that he laid off a race-track at the bottom of the ravine and challenged them to meet him there in games of chance and strength and skill. They accepted his challenge, and, as he could turn luck to his own side, he soon won not their property alone, but their women and children, and, finally, some of the men themselves.

In his greed he had acquired more than he wanted, and as the captives were a burden to him he offered to make a partial restoration if the people would build this house for him. They did so and he gave up some of the men and women. The other gods looked with disapproval on this performance, however, and they agreed to give the wind god power to defeat him, for, now that he had secured his house, he had gone to gambling again. The wind god, in disguise as a Moqui, issued a challenge, and the animals agreed to help him.

When the contest in tree-pulling took place the wind god pulled up a large tree while Noqoilpi was unable to stir a smaller one. That was because the beavers had cut the roots of the larger. In the ball contest Noqoilpi drove the ball nearly to the bounds, but the wind god sent his far beyond, for wrapped loosely in it was a bird that freed itself before touching the ground and flew away. In brief, Noqoilpi was beaten at every point and the remaining captives left him, with jeers, and returned to their people.

The gambler cursed and raged until the wind god seized him, fitted him to a bow, like an arrow, and shot him into the sky. He flew far out of sight, and presently came to the long row of stone houses where the man lives who carries the moon. He pitied the gambler and made new animals and people for him and let him down to the earth in old Mexico, the moon people becoming Mexicans. He returned to his old haunts and came northward, building towns along the Rio Grande until he had passed the site of Santa Fe, when his people urged him to go back, and after his return they made him their god--Nakai Cigini.

[The end]
Charles M. Skinner's short story: Broad House