BNA: Coyote and Fox

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Coyote and Fox

COYOTE, while traveling about, came to an underground house in which lived very small, short people. They were the Rock Rabbit People. Coyote said, "They are far too short for people. I will just eat them up."

He killed every one of the Rabbit people, tied them all on a string, and carried them off on his shoulder.

Now the weather was clear and hot, so Coyote carried them to the shade of a large yellow-pine tree. He made a big fire and heated stones red hot; then he dug a hole in the earth and put in the hot stones. Then he put in the rock rabbits and covered them with leaves and then with earth. Then Coyote went to sleep in the shade of the big yellow pine.

Now along came Fox and, seeing Coyote asleep, he spied the earth oven. Then he at once began to dig out the rabbits and eat them. He had eaten half of them when Coyote awoke.

Coyote was very lazy and sleepy. He said to Fox, "Spare me ten."

Fox kept right on eating. Then Coyote said, "Well, spare me nine."

Fox still went on eating. Coyote was very lazy. He saw Fox eating the rabbits, and he kept talking about them. He kept asking Fox to spare some for him. At last he said, "Spare me half a rabbit, anyway."

But Fox ate every scrap. Fox could hardly move when he had eaten all those rabbits.

Coyote was very hungry, and he suddenly became very wide awake. Coyote said, "I will settle with that fellow," and he followed Fox's trail.

Soon he came upon Fox sleeping in the shade of a thick fir tree. Coyote, by his magic, made that tree fall on Fox.

"Now I guess we are square," said Coyote. But the tree was so branchy that the trunk never came anywhere near Fox. He crawled out from among the branches and walked away.

Coyote followed close after him. Soon Fox reached a place where the rye grass, or wild redtop, was very thick and tall. He crept into the middle of it and went to sleep. Coyote set fire to the grass, but Fox waked up and set back fires, so Coyote's fire did not reach him.

Then Fox went on again until he came to a reedy place, where hares were many. Coyote set fire to the reeds, saying, "Fox will burst in the fire."

But when the fire spread, the hares ran out and Coyote was so busy clubbing some of them that Fox ran out also, and Coyote never saw him until he was far off.

Then he called, "Fox, you may go."

Now Coyote traveled on until he came to a place where magpies were many. He set snares and caught many, and then made a robe for himself of the skins. He put on his robe and was well pleased. He kept singing, "What a beautiful robe I have How the feathers shine!" He sang that over and over.

Soon afterward Coyote met Fox who was wearing a robe of silver-fox skins, gleaming in the sun, and thickly covered with tail feathers of the golden eagle.

Coyote said, "His robe looks better than mine and is much more valuable." So he offered to exchange robes.

Fox said, "How can you expect me to exchange my fine robe with eagle feathers for your robe of magpie skins?"

So Coyote made believe to turn away, but the moment they separated, he seized Fox's robe and made off with it.

Coyote ran on until he came to a lake. He took off his robe of magpie skins and tore it to bits. Then he threw the pieces into the water. Coyote then put on the eagle-feather robe and strutted about in it, admiring himself. He kept saying, "If only a wind would come, then I could see and admire these feathers as they fluttered."

Now Fox had watched Coyote until he was out of sight. Fox was thinking. Then by his magic he made a great wind to blow. The wind blew the robe off Coyote's back and carried it back to Fox.

Now Coyote went back to the lake to see if he could find his old magpie robe. The wind had scattered all the pieces and the feathers. Only here and there on the lake could a feather be seen.

Fox was wearing that robe afterward when he became just an ordinary fox. Therefore he still wears silver-fox skins, the most valuable of all furs.

Next: Big Turtle

(800 words)

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