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The Legends of San Francisco

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The Maid of Tamalpais. This she told me in the firelightAs I sat beside her campfire,In a grove of giant redwoods,On the slope of Tamalpais.Old she was, and bent and wrinkled,Lone survivor of the Tamals,Ancient tribe of Indian people,Who have left their name and legendOn the mountain they held sacred.On the ground she sat and brooded,With a blanket wrapped around her—Sat and gazed into the campfire.On her bronze and furrowed features,On her hair of snowy whiteness,Played the shadows and the firelight.Long she gazed into the embers,And I feared I had offendedIn the question I had asked her.Then she spoke in measured accents,Slowly, with a mournful cadence,And long intervals of silence."You have asked me why my peopleWill not climb Mount Tamalpais—Why we hold the mountain sacred.I am old, and when the RavenCalls my spirit to the Father,None will know the ancient story,Sacred legend of the Tamals.Therefore, I will tell the story,I will tell and you shall write it,Else it will be lost forever;I will tell it that the palefaceMay respect our sacred mountain.""In the morning of creationAll the world was covered overWith the flood of troubled waters.Only Beaver and the TurtleSwam about upon the surface.Beaver said, 'I'm very weary.'Turtle said, 'Dive to the bottom.'Beaver dove and brought up gravel,Laid it on the back of Turtle;Dove again and brought a pebble,Then another and another.Pebbles grew to rocks and boulders,As a peak above the waters—Thus was Mount Diablo fashioned.Beaver sat upon the mountain,Gazing out across the waters;Saw a single feather floating;Feather grew into an Eagle;Eagle flew and sat by Beaver.Long they talked about creation,Counseled, planned, and reconsidered,Then they moulded clay with tules;Beaver placed his hair upon it,Eagle breathed into its nostrilsThus Coyote was created.Coyote barked and sat beside them.Many creatures were created;Some with hair, and some with feathers;Some with scales, or shells, or bristles.Other peaks and mountain ridgesThen appeared above the waters.Walls of hills were then continuedNorth and south, to hold the watersIn a mammoth lake, that, fillingAll the Sacramento Valley,Found its outlet to the oceanThrough the Russian River Canyon.Round the lake the blazing mountainsSpouted lava and hot ashes;Casting on the troubled watersLurid gleams and purple shadows.By the lake Coyote wandered—Sat and howled, for he was lonely,Lonely for a Man to tame himInto Dog as a companion.Then Coyote mixed dry tulesWith wet clay and made a figure.Sun God came and shone upon it;Spirit came and blew upon it,And a Man was thus created.Sun God made the Moon to guard him,And she stood before his tepee,Watching while the Sun was sleeping;But she loved the Sun and followedHim into the starry heavens,Always with her face turned to him.Still she watched the lonely tepee,And her heart was touched with pityFor the lonely man within it,So she made a lovely woman,Gave her constancy, and sent herOn a moonbeam to his tepee,As his helpmate and companion....