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Children of the Cliff

Children of the Cliff
Author: Wiley Belle
Title: Children of the Cliff
Release Date: 2018-12-26
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 53
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Children of the Cliff





Copyright, 1905, by
Printed in the United States of America.



I. The cliff country 1
II. Lost 13
III. The tower 18
IV. A cliff house 28
V. The cliff home 35
VI. The dress of the cliff people 44
VII. The race 50
VIII. The feast 59
IX. The journey 66
X. Home again 72


Little Teni andMavo lived in adry sandy countryfar away from here.


They lived withtheir father andmother high up ona rocky cliff.

All about themwere rocks andsand.


They could not play in theshade of the trees, because inthat dry land there were veryfew trees.

But the little boy and girlhad great fun climbing up anddown the rocks and running inthe sunshine.

One day when Mavo andTeni were playing at the foot ofthe cliff, they saw some babyrabbits not far away.

They were brown rabbits, justthe kind that Teni loved to playwith.


“Oh, Mavo! Let us catchthem,” he said, and the two ranoff together.

As the children came near,the little rabbits scampered awayas fast as they could.


The mother rabbit was waitingfor her children in a hole nearby and they ran straight forhome.


Mavo laughed as the littlecreatures ran over the sandtoward the hollow cliff.


“Come, Mavo,” said Teni.“We can catch them if wehurry.”

They did not see the rabbitsgo into the hole, and ran onand on.


“I see them, Teni,” said Mavo,pointing to a brown spot in thedistance.

But when they came to thebrown spot they saw only a stone.

They looked all about them,but could find no trace of therabbits. Mavo was so disappointednot to find them!

“Where are the rabbits?” saidTeni.

“We have lost them.”

“They may be hiding there,” hesaid, looking toward a clump ofcedar trees, at the foot of the cliff.


The two children ran amongthe trees, but could find no rabbits.

Mavo was tired and thirsty, soTeni said, “Sit down, Mavo; Iwill get you a drink of water.See, the rocks are wet. Theremust be a spring in the cliff.”

Mavo sat on a rock, while herbrother climbed up the cliff tothe spring.


As he stooped down to takea drink he wondered what hecould use to carrysome water toMavo.


He looked around for a gourdbut could find none.

The only thing he could usewas the little skin bagthat hung around hisneck.


He never opened this bag, forhe knew that if he lost the bitof bear’s fur from inside, no onewould know what his real namewas.

The children of the cliff-dwellerstook their names from theirmothers.


These names were very queer,because they were the names ofanimals or the sun or the moon.

The little piece of fur showedthat Mavo and Teni belonged tothe bear family.


Teni knew that Mavo wasvery thirsty, so he took the bagfrom his neck and opened it.


He held the fur tight in hishand, for he had no pocket inhis loose skin tunic.

Mavo drank the clear water, andTeni sat down besideher and putthe fur carefullyback in the bag.


Being verywarm, he threwoff his skin tunic for a few minutesand rolled about in the sand.

The brother and sister meantto rest only a moment, but as theshadows grew longer and longerthe little heads drooped, andsoon they were fast asleep in thewarm sand.


The sun went down.


The little stars came out.

Their mother had told themthat these were baby suns, andthat the pale moon was themother.


As the childrenslept, anowl cried overtheir heads, andthe black beetlesran over their little brownfeet.



In the early morning,when Father Sunbegan to put his starbabies to bed, the littlecliff-dwellers awoke.


They looked about fortheir father and mother,for they thought theyhad been sleeping ontheir own little skinbed.


“Why, Teni,” saidMavo, “we are out ofdoors; see the red cliff,and the cedar-tree overthere.”

They called and called,but no one answered.

Even the owl hadgone.

Teni took Mavo bythe hand, and said, “Letus go home.”

So they started straightfor the cliff which theythought was home.


They walked and walked, butthe cliff was not as near as itseemed.

Mavo began to cry, and said,“Oh, Teni, hurry home, I amso hungry!”

“Never mind, Mavo,” saidTeni, “I will find something foryou to eat, and then we will tryto find home.”

So Mavo stopped crying, andclung to Teni’s hand, as he lookedabout for the little plant whichhe knew was good to eat.


Teni had to look a long time,and Mavo was very tired beforehe found the plant.


“See, Mavo! this is what Ihave been looking for,” said Teni,as he stooped down and pulledup an herb.


“Let us eat these roots;they are very good; then we willstart for home.”

The brother and sister stoppeda short time to eat their breakfastof roots, then they ran onagain.

As the sun grew hotter thesand seemed to grow heavier.

How glad they would be tofind their home!



As they stopped a momentto rest under somesage-bushes, theysaw somethingwhich frightenedthem.


A band of fierceIndians was comingtoward them.


The Indians had paint on theirfaces and bows in their hands.They had long black hair likeTeni’s, but their skin was muchdarker.


Mavo clung to Teni, and bothcrouched behindthe bushes.

They did notspeak, for fear theIndians might hearthem.


Teni drew Mavo close to himand wiped the tears from hereyes. He knew that this tribeof Indians hated his people, andwould kill him and his sister ifthey should find them.

It was well that the childrenwere hidden by the trees, for theIndians passed by without seeingthem.

The children’s eyes were filledwith red dust so that they couldnot see for a long time.

When the dust cleared away,they saw a man running towardthem.


He was running from thosefierce Indians.


“Look, look, Teni,” saidMavo, “there isfather coming forus. See! Herehe is! Call him,Teni!”

Teni jumpedup very quicklyand called asloudly as hecould.

The man understood the callbecause he was a cliff-dweller too.


The cliff people were Indians,who had a language of theirown.

As the man came nearer, thechildren saw it was not theirfather, though he looked verymuch like him.

“What are you doing here?”he said to Teni.

“We want to go home,” saidthe boy, “but we can not findthe way.”

“You can not go home now,”said the man, “for those Indianswould get you.”


“Come, I will take care of you.”

He took Mavo in his strongarms, and telling Teni to follow,he walked over the hot sand toa tall tower on the cliff.

The tower was made of stonesheld together with clay.

It stood high on the cliff, andfrom its little windows one couldsee far into the valley.

When the cliff-dwellers werein this fortress, they were safefrom their enemies because whenthe ladders were pulled up therewas no way to get in.


The man found a ladder andraised it to a hole high in thetower.


They climbedit and were sooninside.

Mavo and Tenilooked throughthe peep-holes inthe walls whiletheir new friend pulled in theladder.

“Are you hungry?” said theman, looking toward the children.


Mavo nodded, for she wasvery hungry.

The brother and sister hadhad nothing but herbs to eatsince the day before.

“I will look for some food,”said their new friend. “Theremust be some here.”

Then he climbed into the storeroomand came back with hishands full of dried meat.


He gave the meat to the children,and while they ate, heclimbed down to a room belowand pulled some willow branchesfrom a hole in the wall. Hecalled the children, and liftedthem into this room.

It was dark down there, buthe told Mavo and Teni not tobe afraid, for they would soon beout in the light.

They crawled through the holeinto a dark tunnel.

The way was very long andthe children were very tired.

But soon they reached the endof the tunnel.



They were glad to see thesunshine again.

They sat down at the foot ofthe cliff to rest a moment.


“Is that your home?” askedTeni, pointing to the cliff farabove him.

Mavo looked upat the stone house onthe rocky shelf.


This house,with its plasteredwalls,looked like apart of the cliff.

There werefinger-prints inthe plaster, forthe people had worked with theirhands, because they had few tools.


The tools they did have weremade of stone and bone.


The children noticeda woman climbing intothe high door-way.

Mavo said, “Who isthat?”

“My wife,” repliedDemino.

The woman turnedand saw the children.


She wore a loose skintunic, and her long black hairhung over her shoulders.

She smiled at the children, andmotioned to Demino to come upinto the house.

A little boy was shouting tohis father from the small windowabove the door.


He, too, hadseen the strangers,and wished themto come in.

Demino wavedhis hand and said, “That is mylittle boy. He wants to see you.”


“Let us hurry and climb theladder.”

Mavo cried, “I will not go!I will not go! I want mymother!”

She did not like the strangehouse.

Teni put his arm about hissister and said, “Come, Mavo.We must be brave.”

When they were in the houseeven Teni felt strange, for it wasvery much larger than his house.

Tears came to his eyes, but hetried hard not to cry.


“Oh, Mavo!” he called,“see!” and they ran to the corner,where a tiny brown baby layfast asleep on a deerskin.

The little boy, who had beenclimbing up and down somewooden pegs in the wall, rantoward them, saying, “That ismy baby brother.”


Mavo lay down on the deerskinand put her little hands onthe baby’s cheek.

She was happy now, and soonfell asleep.



“Come, Teni,” said the littleboy, “I will show you my home.”


Teni was gladto see this strangehouse, for he hadnever been in oneso large before.

They climbed about from roomto room.

There were so many that Tenicould not count them.


After a while the little boysaid, “Let us go into this store-room.”

So they climbed the notchedpole and lifted the stone fromthe hole which led into thelargest granary.

Teni said, “There is only onegranary in our house. Howmany have you?”


“Five,” said the little boy,“but this is thelargest one.”

“See how much food wehave!”


Teni’s eyes opened wide withwonder. He had never seen astoreroom so well filled. Therewere piles andpiles of skinboxes filledwith powderedbuffalo’s meat.There werelarge basketsfilled with grain and beans.


In one corner was a box of wheat,and hanging from the pegs in thewall were the skin clothes and skinleggings ready for winter’s wear.


The boys climbed up some ofthe pegs and looked over thewall into the large reservoir.

There was only a little waterin it, because it had not rainedfor many months.


One of the stonejars on the wall hadsome water in it, andTeni took a long drink.

Then they crept carefullyalong the wall till they came toa part of the cliff which hungover the reservoir.


The boys stood here

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