Tuesday's Tales - Pueblo Indian story

This is an amusing one; I also find it interesting as both the animals in it are known for their cunning ...

The Coyote and the Fox

A long time ago, a fox felt very hungry, so he went down into prairie dog town and caught a fine fat prairie dog.  He built a fire of dry brush, and when the brush had all burned up, it left a pile of coals. Mr Fox took his prairie dog and covered him all up with the hot ashes.  That was the way he always roasted meat for his dinner.  As this took a long time, he lay down and went to sleep.

Very soon Mr Coyote came along.  He could smell meat roasting and it smelt very delicious.  When he saw Mr Fox fast asleep, he slipped over to the pile of ashes, stuck his paw in and pulled out the prairie dog.  He ran behind a bush and ate the meat but left the bones.  He took a bone and greased the fox’s mouth with it, then put the bones back under the hot ashes and ran away.

When Mr Fox awoke, he could smell prairie dog grease.  Licking his mouth, he tasted grease.  “Surely I have not eaten the prairie dog while I was asleep.  No, I feel too hungry, but why do I have grease on my mouth if I did not eat it?” Mr Fox was very much puzzled.  He went over to the ashes and caught hold of a prairie dog foot and pulled.  Out came a long leg bone without any meat on it.  “This is funny,” he thought.  Just then he spied some tracks in the sand.  “Oh.  Now I understand.  Coyote-man has played a trick on me and eaten my prairie dog.  I’ll catch him and kill him for this.”

So Mr Fox trotted off, following the coyote tracks.  He found the coyote by a high cliff.  Mr Coyote saw Mr Fox coming and he knew he was angry, but he did not have time to run away.  So he leaned against the cliff and called, “Oh, Fox-man, come here quick and help me!  Look up there, this cliff is falling.  It will kill us both!”

Mr Fox looked up.  The clouds were passing over the cliff and made the cliff look as if it were really falling.  Mr Fox jumped quickly over Mr Coyote and leaned against the cliff just as hard as he could to hold it up.  Mr Coyote then jumped away.  He made a big jump as if the cliff might really fall on him.

“Hold the cliff up, Fox-man, while I go to get a stick to prop it with.” Then Mr Coyote ran away and left Mr Fox leaning hard against the cliff.

Mr Fox stayed there all day waiting for Mr Coyote to come with the stick.  Late that evening he looked up and there were no clouds passing, so he could see that the cliff was not falling.  He knew that the coyote had played another trick on him, and he was angrier than ever.  Again he followed the coyote tracks and found the coyote down by the river.

When Mr Coyote saw Mr Fox coming, he called, “Oh, Fox-man, come quick and see what I have for you.  I found a cheese and I saved half of it for you; but it has fallen into the river.  Look.”

And Mr Fox looked down into the water.  There was the reflection of the half-moon in the water.  It looked just like half a round cheese and Mr Fox’s mouth began to water for a taste of it.  He was very hungry.  “I wonder how I can get that cheese,” he said.

“I’ll tell you how,” said Mr Coyote.  “Let me tie the end of this rope around your tail and tie the other end to this big stone.  Then you can jump into the river and get the cheese.  When you have got hold of it, call me, and I will pull you out.”

Mr Fox thought this was a good scheme, so let Mr Coyote tie the rope around his tail and around the stone.  Then Mr Fox jumped into the river with a big splash.

As soon as he did, Mr Coyote threw the stone in after him, and if the rope had not slipped off of Mr Fox’s tail when it got wet, that would have been the end of poor old Mr Fox.