Monday, October 23, 2006

The Coyote and the Rock

Once Coyote and Fox went walking together. They came to a big, smooth rock. Coyote spread his blanket over it and together they sat down on the rock and smoked their pipes.

When they stood up to go, Coyote looked down at the rock and said, "What a nice rock this is! I think I'll give it my blanket. My blanket will keep this good rock warm and dry."

Then Coyote walked off with Fox, leaving his blanket behind covering the rock. They walked on down the hillside toward the river. But they hadn't gone far when dark clouds gathered above and a cold rain began to fall.

Coyote hugged himself and shivered. "Brrrrr! Now I wish I still had my blanket." And he told Fox, "Run back and tell Rock I want to borrow my blanket for a while."

Fox ran off up the hill, but he returned without the blanket. "Rock wouldn't let me have it," he told Coyote. "He says it's his and he wants to use it."

That made Coyote angry. "That selfish rock!" he muttered. And he ran back up the hill and jerked the blanket off Rock.

"Rock," Coyote growled, "you've been lying there in the sun and rain for a thousand summers and winters. It wouldn't hurt you to get a few more raindrops on you. I only wanted to borrow my blanket for a short time to keep dry. Now I'm taking my blanket back. You can lie here uncovered for the rest of time!"

Coyote threw his blanket around himself and Fox and they continued their walk down the hill.

Soon the sun came back out and Coyote and Fox sat down again to talk. But just when they sat down, they heard a strange noise above them -- a-thump-thump-thump-thump-a-thump-thump-thump-thump.

"Fox," Coyote said, "run up the hill and see what is making that noise."

Fox disappeared over the crest of the hill, but he soon reappeared, running as fast as he could, with his tail stretched out behind him. "Coyote!" Fox barked, "Run for your life! The rock is after us!"

Fox dived into a badger hole, but his tail didn't quite make it out of the way. Rock rolled over the tip of Fox's tail and to this day it has been white.

Coyote turned and dashed toward the river. He leaped into the water and swam to the other side. Coyote shook himself and sat down on the bank to rest. He knew the rock would sink if it tried to cross the river after him.

Imagine Coyote's surprise when he saw the rock roll into the river and began to swim across a-blub-blub-blub-blub -a-blub-blub-blub-blub.

Coyote ran into a thick forest. Surely the trees would stop Rock. He reached the center of the forest and paused to catch his breath. Coyote heard a terrible crashing and thundering as Rock toppled the trees and knocked them to splinters. And on it came a-thump-thump-thump-thump -a-thump-thump-thump-thump.

Coyote ran toward the prairie at the far side of the forest. When he reached the edge of the trees, he met Bear.

"Bear!" Coyote panted. "Please help me. A rock is after me!"

Bear roared, "Waaaahhh! I'll swat that rock with my paw!"

Bear sat down to wait, and when Rock came past, he swung his paw. "Aaaooouuuuu!" Bear rocked back clutching his broken paw against his chest.

The rock rolled on -a-thump-thump-thump-thump-a-thump-thump-thump-thump.

Coyote ran across the prairie, and he saw Buffalo grazing on some green grass. "Buffalo!" Coyote begged. "Please help me. A rock is after me."

Buffalo snorted, "I'll butt that rock with my head!" And Buffalo lowered his head and charged at the rock. They met -- Boom! Buffalo flew through the air. His horns were broken and his head split wide open.
And the rock rolled on - a-thump-thump-thump-thump- a-thump-thump-thump-thump.

Coyote ran and ran. Now the rock was right at his heels -thump-thump-thump. He saw a lodge ahead of him, and standing near it were two old women with stone hatchets in their hands. The women called to him, "Run between us, Coyote. Run between us!"

Coyote did. And then the rock passed between the old women, they lowered their hatchets -- crack! The rock shattered into a thousand pieces.

Coyote lay on the ground with his heart pounding, panting for his breath. The old women walked to the other side of the lodge and whispered to each other. But Coyote could hear what they were saying.

"How nice and fat Coyote is," the old women whispered. "He'll make a fine meal for us."

Then Coyote knew the old women were witches. He'd better plan his escape. He saw some jugs of water beside the lodge and he crept over and dumped the water out.

When the old women returned, Coyote said, "I'm thirsty from that long run. Could I have a drink of water?"

They said, "Certainly. Drink from one of those jugs over there."

Coyote walked over to the jugs. "These are all empty," he told them. "But that's all right. I'll take one down to the river and fill it."

Coyote picked up a jug and walked off. As soon as he was sure the women couldn't see him, he threw the jug to the ground and ran off laughing to himself.

When coyote didn't come back, the witches realized that he had tricked them. They began to argue, each one accusing the other of letting Coyote escape.

Finally they grew so angry they picked up their stone hatchets and hit one another over the head. And that was the end of those witches. And it's the end of the story too.

But not the end of Coyote. He had many more adventures.

Joe Hayes
Coyote & Native American Folk Tales
Maripose Publishing, 1983.