The Boy who Snared the Sun (end)
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"Iagoo," she said, timidly, at last. "Did you forget about the Dormouse?"
"Eh-yah! the Dormouse! No. I have not forgotten," answered the old man, rousing himself. "When the sun did not rise as usual, the animals could not tell what had happened. Ad-ji-dau-mo, the squirrel, chattered and scolded from the branch of a pine tree. Kah-gah-gee, the raven, flapped his wings, and croaked more hoarsely than ever, to tell the others that the end of the world had come. Only Muk-wa, the bear, did not mind. He had crept into his cave for the winter, and the darker it was the better he liked it.
"Wa-bun, the East Wind, was the one who brought the news. He had drawn from his quiver the silver arrows with which he chased the darkness from the valleys. But the sun had not risen to help him, and the arrows fell harmless to the earth. 'Wake, wake!' he wailed. 'Someone has caught the sun in a snare. Which of all the animals will dare to cut the cord?'
"But even Coyote, the prairie wolf, who was the wisest of them all, could think of no way to free the sun. So great was the heat thrown out by its rays that he could not come within an arrow's flight of where it was caught fast in the magical noose of hair.
"'Leave it to me!' screamed Ken-eu, the war-eagle, from his nest on the cliff. 'It is I alone who soar to the sky, and look the sun in the face, without winking. Leave it to me!'
"Down he darted through the darkness, and up he flew again, with his eagle feathers singed. Then they woke the Dormouse. They had a hard time doing it, because when he once went to sleep he stayed asleep for six months, and it was almost impossible to arouse him. Coyote crept close to his ear, and howled with all his might. It would have split the eardrum of almost any other animal. But Kug-e-been-gwa-kwa, the Dormouse, only groaned and turned over on the other side, and Coyote had a narrow escape from being mashed flat, like a corn-cake.
"'There is only one thing that will wake him,' said Coyote, getting up and shaking himself. 'I will run to the mountain cave of An-ne-mee-kee, the Thunder. His voice is even more terrible than mine.' So off he went at a gallop.
"Soon they could hear An-ne-mee-kee coming. Boom, boom! When he shouted in the ear of the Dormouse, the biggest beast on earth rose slowly to his feet. In the darkness he looked bigger than ever, almost as big as a mountain. An-ne-mee-kee, the Thunder, shouted once more, to make sure that the Dormouse was really wide awake, and would not go to sleep again.
"'Now,' said Coyote to the Dormouse, 'it is you that will have to free the sun. If he burned one of us, there would be little left but bones. But you are so big that if part of you is burned away there will still be enough. Then, in that case you would not have to eat so much, or work so hard to get it.'
"The Dormouse was a stupid animal, and Coyote's talk seemed true talk. Besides, as he was the biggest animal, he was expected to do the biggest things. So he made his way to the hill, where the little boy had snared the sun, and began to nibble at the noose. As he nibbled away, his back got hotter and hotter. Soon it began to burn, till all the upper part of him burned away, and became great heaps of ashes. At last, when he had cut through the cord with his teeth, and set the sun free, all that was left of him was an animal no larger than an ordinary mouse. What he became then, so he is today. Still, he is big enough for a mouse, and perhaps that is what Coyote really meant. Coyote, the prairie wolf, is a cunning beast, up to many tricks, and it is not always easy to tell exactly what he means."
Next: How the Summer Came