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A short story by Charles M. Skinner

Horned Toad And Giants

Title:     Horned Toad And Giants
Author: Charles M. Skinner [More Titles by Skinner]

The Moquis have a legend that, long ago, when the principal mesa that they occupy was higher than it is now, and when they owned all the country from the mountains to the great river, giants came out of the west and troubled them, going so far as to dine on Moquis. It was hard to get away, for the monsters could see all over the country from the tops of the mesas. The king of the tribe offered the handsomest woman in his country and a thousand horses to any man who would deliver his people from these giants. This king was eaten like the rest, and the citizens declined to elect another, because they were beginning to lose faith in kings. Still, there was one young brave whose single thought was how to defeat the giants and save his people.

As he was walking down the mesa he saw a lizard, of the kind commonly known as a horned toad, lying under a rock in pain. He rolled the stone away and was passing on, when a voice, that seemed to come out of the earth, but that really came from the toad, asked him if he wished to destroy the giants. He desired nothing so much. "Then take my horned crest for a helmet."

Lolomi--that was the name of him--did as he was bid, and found that in a moment the crest had swelled and covered his head so thickly that no club could break through it.

"Now take my breastplate," continued the toad. And though it would not have covered the Indian's thumb-nail, when he put it on it so increased in bulk that it corseleted his body and no arrow could pierce it.

"Now take the scales from my eyes," commanded the toad, and when he had done so Lolomi felt as light as a feather.

"Go up and wait. When you see a giant, go toward him, looking in his eyes, and he will walk backward. Walk around him until he has his back to a precipice, then advance. He will back away until he reaches the edge of the mesa, when he will fall off and be killed."

Lolomi obeyed these instructions, for presently a giant loomed in the distance and came striding across the plains half a mile at a step. As he drew near he flung a spear, but it glanced from the Indian's armor like hail from a rock. Then an arrow followed, and was turned. At this the giant lost courage, for he fancied that Lolomi was a spirit. Fearing a blow if he turned, he kept his face toward Lolomi, who manoeuvred so skilfully that when he had the giant's back to the edge of a cliff he sprang at him, and the giant, with a yell of alarm, fell and broke his bones on the rocks below. So Lolomi killed many giants, because they all walked back before him, and after they had fallen the people heaped rocks on their bodies. To this day the place is known as "the giants' fall." Then the tribe made Lolomi king and gave him the most beautiful damsel for a wife. As he was the best king they ever had, they treasured his memory after he was dead, and used his name as a term of greeting, so that "Lolomi" is a word of welcome, and will be until the giants come again.

[The end]
Charles M. Skinner's short story: Horned Toad And Giants