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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/678

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

they would if told to murder their father or mother—a thing unheard of among them, for they revere and honor their parents above all others. To their elders they show much respect, never presuming to contradict them beyond remarking, if they do not agree with what is said, "So says my elder," implying that but for that they would express an opinion.

When questioned about the old ruined cities, they reply, "The dwarfs built them," and insist that the pixan, or souls of those dwarfs, always walk about at night, coming into their houses, though the doors be shut. In the daytime they are supposed to dwell among the ruins. The reputation of the alux (dwarfs) is not much better than that enjoyed by the "little people" of Ireland and Scotland, accused of stealing butter, souring milk, and changing pretty babies for ugly little creatures with wrinkled faces. The alux are said to disturb tired laborers by shaking their hammocks, lash those who slumber too heavily, throw stones, and whistle. They terrify all who look at them, and steal food;

PSM V44 D678 School of mestizas girls at hoctam.jpg
School of Mestizas Girls at Hoctam.

for, though not taller than a child four years old, they can eat more than any man does. Their only article of apparel is a very wide brimmed straw hat.

Belief in these dwarfish apparitions is perhaps induced by a vague knowledge that several centuries ago a race of remarkably small people did live in those parts. Edifices built by them are found on the east coast of Yucatan and on adjacent islands. There are several temples only nine feet high, and triumphal arches of