Superphysics
Chapter 3

# The Red Tree of Cochineal

##### May 12, 2024 6 minutes  • 1185 words

This is the story of a maiden, the daughter of a lord named Cuchumaquic.

A maiden, then, daughter of a lord heard this story. The name of the father was Cuchumaquic and that of the maiden was Xquic.

When she heard the story of the fruit of the tree which her father told, she was amazed to hear it.

“Why can I not go to see this tree which they tell about?” the girl exclaimed.

“Surely the fruit of which I hear tell must be very good.” Finally she went alone and arrived at the foot of the tree which was planted in Pucbal-Chah.

She exclaimed: “Ah! What fruit is this which this tree bears? Is it not wonderful to see how it is covered with fruit? Must I die, shall I be lost, if I pick one of this fruit?”

Then the skull which was among the branches of the tree spoke up and said: “What is it you wish? Those round objects which cover the branches of the trees are nothing but skulls.” So spoke the head of Hun-Hunahpú turning to the maiden. “Do you, perchance, want them?” it added.

“Yes, I want them,” the maiden answered.

“Very well,” said the skull. “Stretch your right hand up

“Very well,” said the maiden, and with her right hand reached toward the skull.

In that instant the skull let a few drops of spittle fall directly into the maiden’s palm. She looked quickly and intently at the palm of her hand, but the spittle of the skull was not there.

“In my saliva and spittle I have given you my descendants,” said the voice in the tree.

“Now my head has nothing on it any more, it is nothing but a skull without flesh. So are the heads of the great princes, the flesh is all which gives them a handsome appearance.

When they die, men are frightened by their bones. So, too, is the nature of the sons, which are like saliva and spittle, they may be sons of a lord, of a wise man, or of an orator. They do not lose their substance when they go, but they bequeath it; the image of the lord, of the wise man, or of the orator does not disappear, nor is it lost, but he leaves it to the daughters and to the sons which he begets.

I have done the same with you. Go up, then, to the surface of the earth, that you may not die. Believe in my words that it will be so,” said the head of Hun-Hunahpú and of Vucub-Hunahpú.

And all that they did together was by order of Huracán, Chipi-Caculhá, and Raxa-Caculhá.

After all of the above talking, the maiden returned directly to her home, having immediately conceived the sons in her belly by virtue of the spittle only. Thus Hunahpú and Xbalanqué were begotten.

And so the girl returned home, and after six months had passed, her father, who was called Cuchumaquic, noticed her condition.

At once the maiden’s secret was discovered by her father when he observed that she was pregnant.

Then the lords, Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé, held council with Cuchumaquic.

“My daughter is pregnant, Sirs; she has been disgraced,” exclaimed Cuchumaquic when he appeared before the lords.

“Very well,” they said. “Command her to tell the truth, and if she refuses to speak, punish her; let her be taken far from here and sacrifice her.”

“Very well, Honorable Lords,” he answered.

Then he questioned his daughter:

“Whose are the children that you carry, my daughter,” And she answered, “I have no child, my father, for I have not yet known a youth.”

“Very well,” he replied. “You are really a whore. Take her and sacrifice her, Ahpop Achih; bring me her heart in a gourd and return this very day before the lords,” he said to the two owls.

The 4 messengers took the gourd and set out carrying the young girl in their arms and also taking the knife of flint with which to sacrifice her.

She said to them: “It cannot be that you will kill me, oh, messengers, because what I bear in my belly is no disgrace, but was begotten when I went to marvel at the head of Hun-Hunahpú which was in Pucbal-Chah. So, then, you must not sacrifice me, oh, messengers!” said the young girl, turning to them.

“And what shall we put in place of your heart? Your father told us: ‘Bring the heart, return before the lords, do your duty, all working together, bring it in the gourd quickly and put the heart in the bottom of the gourd.’ Perchance, did he not speak to us so? What shall we put in the gourd? We wish too, that you should not die,” said the messengers.

“Very well, but my heart does not belong to them. Neither is your home here, nor must you let them force you to kill men. Later, in truth, the real criminals will be at your mercy and l will overcome Hun-Camé and Vucub-Camé. So, then,, the blood and only the blood shall be theirs and shall be given to them. Neither shall my heart be burned before them. Gather the product of this tree.”

The red sap gushing forth from the tree fell in the gourd and with it they made a ball which glistened and took the shape of a heart.

The tree gave forth sap similar to blood, with the appearance of real blood.

Then the blood, or that is to say the sap of the red tree, clotted, and formed a very bright coating inside the gourd, like clotted blood; meanwhile the tree glowed at the work of the maiden.

It was called the “red tree of cochineal,’’ but [since then] it has taken the name of Blood Tree because its sap is called Blood.

“There on earth you shall be beloved and you shall have all that belongs to you,” said the maiden to the owls.

“Very well, girl. We shall go there, we go up to serve you; you, continue on your way, while we go to present the sap, instead of your heart, to the lords,” said the messengers.

When they arrived in the presence of the lords, all were waiting.

“All is finished, my lords. Here in the bottom of the gourd is the heart.”

“Very well. Let us see,” exclaimed Hun-Camé. And grasping it with his fingers he raised it, the shell broke and the blood flowed bright red in color.

“Stir up the fire and put it on the coals,” said Hun-Camé.

As soon as they threw it on the fire, the men of Xibalba began to sniff and drawing near to it, they found the fragrance of the heart very sweet.

And as they sat deep in thought, the owls, the maiden’s servants, left, and flew like a flock of birds from the abyss toward earth and the four became her servants.

In this manner the Lords of Xibalba were defeated. All were tricked by the maiden.