Queen of the Night

Lire ebook Queen of the Night
Auteur: J. A. Jance

Queen of the Night
Prologue
    They say it happened long ago that a young woman of the Tohono O’odham, the Desert People, fell in love with a Yaqui warrior, a Hiakim, and went to live with him and his people, far to the South. Every evening, her mother, Old White-Haired Woman, would go outside by herself and listen. After a while her daughter’s spirit would speak to her from her new home far away. One day Old White-Haired Woman heard nothing, so she went to find her husband.
    “Our daughter is ill,” Old White-Haired Woman told him. “I must go to her.”
    “But the Hiakim live far from here,” he said, “and you are a bent old woman. How will you get there?”
    “I will ask I’itoi, the Spirit of Goodness, to help me.”
    Elder Brother heard the woman’s plea. He sent Coyote, Ban, to guide Old White-Haired Woman’s steps on her long journey, and he sent the Ali Chu Chum O’odham, the Little People—the animals and birds—to help her along the way. When she was thirsty, Ban led her to water. When she was hungry, the Birds, U’u Whig, brought her seeds and beans to eat.
    After weeks of traveling, Old White-Haired Woman finally reached the land of the Hiakim. There she learned that her daughter was sick and dying.
    “Please take my son home to our people,” Old White-Haired Woman’s daughter begged. “If you don’t, his father’s people will turn him into a warrior.”
    You must understand , nawoj, my friend, that from the time the Tohono O’odham emerged from the center of the earth, they have always been a peace-loving people. So one night, when the Hiakim were busy feasting, Old White-Haired Woman loaded the baby into her burden basket and set off for the North. When the Yaqui learned she was gone, they sent a band of warriors after her to bring the baby back.
    Old White-Haired Woman walked and walked. She was almost back to the land of the Desert People when the Yaqui warriors spotted her. I’itoi saw she was not going to complete her journey, so he called a flock of shashani, black birds, who flew into the eyes of the Yaqui and blinded them. While the warriors were busy fighting shashani, I’itoi took Old White-Haired Woman into a wash and hid her.
    By then the old grandmother was very tired and lame from all her walking and carrying.
    “You stay here,” Elder Brother told her. “I will carry the baby back to your people, but while you sit here resting, you will be changed. Because of your bravery, your feet will become roots. Your tired old body will turn into branches. Each year, for one night only, you will become the most beautiful plant on the earth, a flower the Milgahn, the whites, call the night-blooming cereus, the Queen of the Night.”
    And it happened just that way. Old White-Haired Woman turned into a plant the Indians call ho’ok-wah’o, which means Witch’s Tongs. But on that one night in early summer when a beautiful scent fills the desert air, the Tohono O’odham know that they are breathing in kok’oi ’uw ,

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