Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations






THE STORY OF SCAR-FACE

Category: Tales

Scar-face was brave but poor. His parents had died when he was a boy; he had not any brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, and he lived quite alone. He was a very good hunter but he never killed more than he needed for himself. This, and also the ugly scar across his face, left by the claw of a bear, made the young men of the village laugh at him. But the old men said that Scar-face had a future before him.

The chief of his tribe had a beautiful daughter, and all the young men wanted to marry her. Scar-face also had fallen in love with her, but never spoke of his love. He had no presents for the girl, and then how could he go to her with that ugly scar on his face! She had refused so many handsome men who brought her rich presents. Of course, she will refuse him, too.

One day he passed her when she was sitting near her father’s wigwam. He looked at her with love in his eyes, and one of those who wanted to marry her but was refu­sed, noticed this. He began to mock at Scar-face.

“Ha, Scar-face also wants to marry our chief’s daughter! She has refused everybody. Maybe we are not ugly enough for her! Scar-face, why don’t you take your chance?”

Scar-face turned to the man and answered in his quiet but noble manner:

“I am sure that she did not refuse you because you were not handsome enough. There must be other reasons. But I shall take my chance.”

And one day he went to look for the girl.

He found her by the river where she was making bas­kets.

“I am poor,” he said, “but my heart is rich in love for you. I live by my bow and spear. 1 love you. Will you live with me in my wigwam and be my wife?”

The girl looked at him through her long lashes. Her eyes were bright as the morning sun that looks through the branches.

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“If I marry, my hus­band will not be poor,” she said. “My father, the chief, has everything in abundance. But I cannot marry. To you alone I shall tell the truth. I can­not marry because the Sun-god has forbidden it. I have promised him not to marry.”

“These are heavy words,” said Scar-face sadly/Can no­thing be done about it?”

“There is only one thing that can be done. Find the Sun-god and ask him to free me from my promise. If he agrees to do so, ask him to take off the scar from your face as a sign that he gives me to you.”

Scar-face was very sad when he left the chiefs daughter. He could not believe that the Sun-god would change his mind. For many moons Scar-face looked for the home of the Sun-god. He crossed wide prairies and thick forests, great rivers and high mountains, but he could not find the golden gates of the Sun-god’s dwelling.

He asked the bear and the badger. He asked all the birds. But none of them could show him the way. At last he met a wolf who told him that he knew the way and who promised to take him there. They walked together and at last they came to a great river which was so wide and deep that no man could cross it.

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Scar-face sat on the bank and thought of his sad fate.

Suddenly two white swans swam up to him. They told him to sit on their backs and carried him across the river.

On the other side they show­ed him which way to take and left him. He went some distance and saw a bow and arrows lying on the ground, but he did not take them because they did not belong to him.

Soon afterward he met a handsome youth who smiled and greeted him kindly.

“I have lost my bow and arrows,” he said to Scar-face. “Have you seen them?”

Scar-face told him that he had seen them a little way back, and the handsome youth praised him for his ho­nesty. Then he asked where Sear-face was going to.

“I am looking for the Sun in his home,” answered the young Indian, “and I believe that I am not far from it.”

“You are right,” said the youth. “I am the son of the Sun, and my name is Morning Star. I will lead you to my father.”

They walked together till they came to a great wigwam which was beautifully decorated and shone with a golden light.

At the entrance stood the mother of Morning Star, the Moon, who kindly welcomed the Indian hunter.

Then the great Sun-god appeared in all his glory. He too greeted Scar-face kindly and asked him to be his guest and to hunt with his son.

Scar-face rested in the great wigwam for a few days and then he and Morning Star went hunting. Before they left, the Sun-god warned them not to go near the Great Water. He said that huge monster-birds lived on the shores of the Great Water and they could kill Mor­ning Star.

Several times the two youths went hunting together and every time they returned with many tropheys. But one day when they were hunting as usual, Morning Star said that he was not satisfied with the usual game and that he wanted to hunt for the monster-birds. Scar-face asked him to remember the Sun-god’s words, but Morning-Star did not want to listen him.

“If you are afraid,” he said, “I shall go alone.”

And he ran away from Scar-face, leaving him quite at a loss what to do.

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Scar-face remembered the words of the Sun-god, but he could not leave Morning Star in danger. He waited a little, hoping that Morning Star would return, and then follow­ed him.

He came to the shore of the Great Water just in time. Morning Star had attacked the monster-birds, but they were too strong for him. Scar-face rushed to help his friend and soon they killed all the monsters.

When they came home, Morning Star told his father how Scar-face had saved his life. The Sun-god was very grateful and asked Scar-face what he could do for him. Then Scar-face told him about his love for the chiefs daughter and about her promise to the Sun. At once the Sun-god agreed to satisfy his wish.

“Return to the girl whom you love,” he said, “return and marry her. And as a sign that this is my will I shall take off that scar.”

The Sun-god waved his hand and took off the ugly scar. “Nobody shall any longer call you Scar-face,” he add­ed. “Your name now will be Smooth-face.”

Before the happy Indian left the Great wigwam, the Sun-god, his wife and son gave him many rich presents and showed him the shortest way to his home on the Earth.

The young Indian soon reached his home. When he came to the chief’s daughter she did not know him at first, so beautiful were his dress and his face. But when she under­stood that he was the hunter whom people called “Scar- face,” she fell upon his breast with a glad cry. That same day they were married.

They lived happily for many, many years, and the young man became a famous hunter, and all the people called him Smooth-face.


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