Friday, March 19, 2021

November: The Month Of Fun And Eating

November: The Month Of Fun And Eating [The Red Indian Fairy Book]


Coyote the Hungry



NOW Coyote was always hungry, and as he was a coward, he used to sneak about the fields and timber searching for something to eat. One day, as he was walking by the side of a brook, he heard something in a Persimmon Tree. He looked up, and there was Opossum eating Persimmons.

Coyote begged him to throw down some of the fruit, but Opossum only laughed and ate more Persimmons. He picked Persimmons, ate them with grunts, and then threw down the seeds at Coyote. This he kept on doing.

By and by Coyote grew angry, but Opossum only laughed the more. He crawled out on a branch and dropped down as though he were going to fall into Coyote's mouth. And just when Coyote made a snap at him with his teeth, Opossum, instead of falling, wrapped his tail around the branch and drew himself up. This he did again and again.

Well, Coyote grew more and more angry, then Opossum climbed out on a dry limb, and shouted: "Look out! Here I come this time! Catch me!"

And sure enough, the limb suddenly broke, and down tumbled Opossum to the ground. Then Coyote gave him a hard beating, and, leaving him to die, walked away.

But Opossum was only fooling, for he was not hurt at all. As soon as Coyote had gone a little distance, up jumped Opossum and climbed into the Persimmon Tree. Coyote turned around to see if Opossum was dead, and there he sat in the tree eating Persimmons, and throwing down the seeds, and laughing.


Well, as Coyote was very hungry, he went on farther looking for something to eat. By and by he heard a noise as though a lot of people were having fun. He went toward the noise and saw a number of young Turkeys playing on a hillside. They were climbing into a bag, and rolling each other downhill.

Coyote thought to himself, "Now is my chance to have a good dinner!" So he begged the Turkeys to let him get into the bag and roll downhill too. As the birds were good-natured, they put him in the bag, and rolled him down two or three times.

Then Coyote told them that if they would all get in at once, he would roll them down hill. So every one crawled in, and Coyote, quick as a wink, tied the mouth of the bag tight, so they could not get out. Then he slung the bag on his back, and went home.

His four Coyote sons saw him coming, and ran to meet him.

"You see this bag?" said he. "It is full of Turkeys, young and tender. Build me a hot fire, and we will have a feast."

They built a fire, but there was not enough wood, so Coyote had to go to the timber to fetch some. Before he went, he said, "Be sure not to open the bag while I am gone."

Well, the youngest son was very curious, and as soon as Coyote was out of sight, the youngster thought he would like to see what the Turkeys were doing. So he untied the string, and out jumped the Turkeys one and all, and flew gobbling away.

When Coyote came back with the wood, he found all the Turkeys gone, and though he beat his youngest son, they had no Turkey dinner that day.


On another morning, Coyote set out for the timber to get some food. He soon saw a wild Turkey sitting on a tree. Now the Turkey was fat, and Coyote licked his chops and said to himself, "I must have that fine bird for dinner." 

And as Coyote was a great liar, as well as a coward, he spoke to the Turkey, and said: "If you do not come down from that tree I will climb up and kill you. But if you will fly over the prairie I cannot hurt you there."

The Turkey believed him, and flew toward the prairie, and Coyote ran after him. The Turkey flew high at first, but by and by he began to get tired, and there was no tree to light on. So he flew lower and lower, until he reached the ground, and then Coyote pounced upon him, and ate him.

Now, while Coyote was licking the Turkey's bones, he looked back to see if anybody was watching, and he thought he saw a man standing just behind him with a big stick ready to strike him.

Coyote was terribly frightened, and away he ran as fast as he could go, every now and then turning around to see if the man was following. And each time he looked, he thought he saw the man close behind, ready to strike. So Coyote ran faster and faster, thinking he must die; until at last his strength gave out. Then he thought he would fool the man, and he began to dodge from left to right, and right to left, until he was so tired that he could not run any more. So he rolled on the grass and turned over on his back, begging hard not to be killed.

After that he rolled over on his face, and as he did so he heard something crack in his head. He thought it was one of his teeth. But, no indeed, it was not a tooth! It was a long Turkey feather  that had stuck between two of his upper teeth, and stood up behind his left eye.

And when Coyote saw this, he knew that he had been fooled; for there had been no man behind him at all. He had been trying to run away from a Turkey feather!

Ever since that day, Coyote has been afraid, and his eyes are wild; and when he runs he always looks back to see if anybody is following.


Coyote the Proud


IN old days Coyote was bright green, and how he came to be the colour of dust, was this way:—

One day he was walking along looking for something to eat, and he came to a lake. And there he saw a little bird with ugly grey feathers. It was bathing in the lake, and when it came out on the bank, all its feathers fell off and left its skin bare.

After that, the little bird jumped into the lake again, and came out covered with beautiful bright blue feathers! It hopped about and sang:—

     "This water is blue!

      And blue I am too!"

"Little Bird," cried Coyote, "you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! Tell me how you changed your ugly feathers for these bright blue ones."

"I went into the lake four times in four days, and sang a magic song," said the little bird, "and the fourth time, my feathers all fell off. Then I jumped in a fifth time, and these beautiful ones grew all over me."

"Little Bird," said Coyote, "teach me your song, for I also wish to be blue."

So the bird taught Coyote its song, and he jumped into the lake and bathed four times in four days. The fourth time all his hair dropped off. Then he jumped in again, and his hair came back a beautiful bright blue.

Well! He was proud! And as he walked along he looked about on all sides to see if any one was admiring him. He even examined his shadow to see if it was blue. And of course he did not look where he was going, and suddenly he hit a stump, and rolled over into the dust.

He rolled and rolled, and when he got up he was all dust-coloured! And that is the reason why ever since that day all Coyotes have been the colour of dirt.


The Magic Windpipe


A LONG time ago there lived a beautiful Indian girl. Her lodge was on the edge of a forest, and she dwelt alone. And though she never hunted or fished, she always had plenty to eat, and no one knew where it came from. In her lodge hung a magic bundle, and near it were seven tiny bows and a lot of grass arrows.

One day as she was eating her dinner, Coyote came through the forest, and stopped at her door. He saw that she had roast Buffalo meat, and he licked his chops.

"You have no man around," said he to the girl; "may I stay and do your errands?"

"Yes," said she, "you may stay."

So Coyote lived with her, and made her fires and brought water from the spring.

By and by all the Buffalo meat was gone, and Coyote wondered how she was going to get more. Then the girl said:—

"Uncle Coyote, our food is gone. I want some fresh meat. My brothers will be here to-day. Do you go to the north side of the entrance and cover your head with a Buffalo robe, and don't watch what I do."

So Coyote did as he was told, and when his head was covered, he peeped out and saw the girl sweep the lodge clean. Then she placed hot coals in the centre of the room, and put some sweet-grass on the coals. As the smoke arose, she lifted the magic bundle from the wall, and opening it, took out the windpipe of a Buffalo. It was round, and small at one end, and big at the other.

She waved the windpipe over the smoke, and turned the small end down, and some dust fell out on the floor. Then the dust changed into seven handsome braves, her brothers.

The young men took down the tiny bows and arrows from the wall, and they changed into big bows and arrows.

The girl wrapped herself in a Buffalo robe, then went and stood in the door. She gave a yell to the north, and a yell to the west, and immediately herds of Buffalo came rushing over the plain. Then she went back into the lodge, and her brothers began to kill the Buffalo. When they had killed as many as they wanted, the rest of the animals ran away, and the brothers came back into the lodge.

The girl put more sweet-grass on the coals, and when the smoke rose up the brothers stepped behind it, and disappeared. The girl took the magic windpipe, held it over the coals, gathered up a handful of dust from the floor, and put it into the windpipe. After that she put the windpipe into the magic bundle and hung it again on the wall.

She next passed the big bows and arrows through the smoke and they became tiny bows and grass arrows, and she hung them up, too.

Now, Coyote was very much astonished to see all this, but he kept quiet. By and by the girl called him, and showed him the dead Buffalo. He helped her to skin the animals, and to dry the flesh. After that she let Coyote roast all the bones he wished.

When Coyote had eaten the roast meat, he began to think of his hungry children at home, and said to himself, "If I only had that magic windpipe, I could call the Buffalo whenever I wished, and the seven young braves would kill them for me."

Then he asked the girl if the windpipe held more than seven young men. "Oh, yes," said she; "whenever I turn the big end upside down, a war party comes out, headed by my seven brothers, and they fight for me."

When Coyote heard this, he decided to steal the windpipe that night, for he thought, "When my enemies see all those braves, they will think me powerful, and will run away."

Now the girl knew that Coyote was planning to steal the windpipe, and she let him take it. That night, when she was asleep, he lifted down the magic bundle from the wall, and, opening it, took out the windpipe and ran away fast toward the north.

He travelled far until he was tired, and then lay down by a log to sleep. The girl knew this, and she told her brothers to bring him back. They did so, and placed him on the floor of the lodge.

And when he woke in the morning, there he lay, with the magic windpipe in his paw, and the girl looking at him.

"Oh, my niece," said he, "I thought a war-party was coming in the night, so I took this down. Put it back." So the girl tied the windpipe up in the magic bundle, and hung it on the wall.

The next night Coyote ran away again with the magic windpipe, and when he came to a place where he thought he was safe, he lay down to sleep. The girl told her brothers to bring him back. They did so, and placed him on the floor of the lodge.

And when he woke in the morning, there he lay, with the magic windpipe in his paw, and the girl looking at him.

"Oh, my niece," said he, "I took this down because the enemy came in the night, and I frightened him away. Put it back." So the girl tied the windpipe up again, and hung it on the wall. And the same thing happened the third night.

The fourth time Coyote stole the magic windpipe, the girl let him take it and did not tell her brothers to bring him back. No, indeed! She let him go on until he came to a village. He was very hungry, so he said to himself, "I will call out the people and order them to feed me, and if they do not obey, I will turn the big end of the windpipe upside down, and the war-party will come out."

So he called out the people, and the braves came running and shouting from the lodges, and the boys and dogs came too. And when they saw Coyote, the men and boys began to kick him, and throw stones at him, and the dogs bit him. He turned the windpipe upside down, when, instead of a war-party, out burst a whole swarm of Bumblebees, millions of them, buzzing with rage.

They settled all over Coyote, and stung him so hard that he ran howling into the forest. And they kept on stinging him until he was well punished for his lying and stealing.

After that, the Bumblebees swarmed up into a hollow tree, and they have lived there ever since. As for the magic windpipe, the brothers took it back to the girl.


The Birds' Ball-Game


THIS is what the old men told me when I was a boy:—

Once the animals challenged the birds to play a great ball-game, and the birds accepted. The leaders set the day, and chose a ball-ground in a smooth, green meadow near a river. When the time arrived, all the animals and birds met together to start for the ball-ground.

The captain of the animals was the Bear, who was so big and strong that he could pull down any one who got in his way. All along the road he kept growling and tossing up great logs and catching them again, in order to show how fierce and strong he was. And he boasted loudly of what dreadful things he would do to the birds when the game should begin.

The Terrapin was there, too, not the small one we have now, but the Great and Original Terrapin. His shell was so hard that the weightiest blows could not hurt him, and he kept rising up on his hind legs and dropping heavily to the ground. And at the same time he bragged how he would crush any bird that might try to take the ball from him.

Then came the Deer, who was so swift that he could outrun any animal. Altogether it was a fine company!

Over their heads flew the birds, hundreds of them. Their captain was the Eagle. And the Hawk was present also, swift and strong for flight, and the Swallow, the Martin, the Robin, and the Wren were there. But all of them were a little afraid of the animals, because they were so much larger than the birds.

When they reached the ball-ground they had a great dance, after which the birds flew up into the trees, and the animals rested on the grass. And while they were waiting for the signal to begin the game, two little creatures, not much bigger than Field Mice, began to climb the tree in which was the birds' captain, the Eagle.

When they reached the bough on which the Eagle was perched, they stood before him humbly, and begged to be allowed to join the game.

The captain looked at them closely, and seeing that each had four feet, asked why they did not go to the animals. The little creatures explained sadly that they had spoken to the Bear, but because they were so small, all the animals had made fun of them and driven them away.

Then the birds' captain was sorry for them, and agreed to let them join the game.

But how were they to play when they had no wings? The Eagle, the Hawk, and the other chief birds consulted together, and decided to make some wings for the little fellows.

One of the birds fetched the drum that had been used for the dance, and they cut off the drumhead, which was made of Groundhog-skin. From this they made a pair of leathery wings and stretched them with cane splints. They fastened the wings to the fore legs of one of the little creatures. And he became the Bat.

Then the Eagle threw the ball and told him to catch it. And the Bat dodged and circled around in the air, never letting the ball fall to the ground. The birds soon saw that he would be one of their best players.

Now, they wished to make wings for the other little fellow, but all the leather had been used for the Bat. So two of the largest birds, with their beaks, took hold of the little one's fur on either side, and they pulled and pulled, until they stretched his skin between his fore and hind legs. And he became the Flying Squirrel.

To see how well he could play, the birds' captain tossed the ball, and the Flying Squirrel sprang off the tree, caught it in his teeth, and carried it through the air to the next tree. So the birds knew he would be a fine player.

Now, all the animals and the birds were ready, and the signal was given for the game to begin. As soon as the ball was tossed, the Flying Squirrel caught it up, and carried it into a tree. From there he threw it to the birds, who kept it in the air for a long time, until by accident it fell to the Earth.

Immediately the Bear rushed for the ball, but the Martin darted after it, and seizing it fast, threw it to the Bat, who was flying near the ground. And the Bat, by his dodging and doubling, kept the ball out of the way of even the Deer, until at last he sent it spinning between the poles.

And so the birds won the game. But the Bear and the Terrapin, who had boasted of what great things they would do, never got a chance even to touch the ball.

The Martin received as a reward a gourd in which to build his nest. And ever since that day the Flying Squirrel and the Bat have been friends with the birds.


Why the Turkey Gobbles


THIS story, too, is what the old men told me when I was a boy:—

In the old times, the animals and birds liked to play ball, and they shouted and hallooed just as players do to-day.

Well, the Grouse used to have a fine voice and could shout very loud at the ball-game; but the Turkey could make no noise at all.

One day the Turkey asked the Grouse to teach him how to use his voice, and the Grouse agreed to do so in return for a ruffle of feathers to wear about his neck. The Turkey gave him a fine one, and that is how the Grouse got his collar of feathers.

Well, they began the lessons, and the Turkey learned very fast. By and by the Grouse thought it was time to try the Turkey's voice at a distance, to see how far he could shout.

"Now," said the Grouse, "do you go over by yonder tree and I'll stand on this hollow log. When I give the signal by tapping on the log, do you shout as loud as you can."

The Turkey was so eager and excited that, when the Grouse gave the signal, he tried to shout, but could not raise his voice, and all he could say was, "Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!"

And since that day, whenever the Turkey hears a noise, he can only gobble.


The Land of the Northern Lights


ONCE there was a Wabanaki Chief who had an only son. The boy worried his parents very much because he never played with other boys and girls in the village. Every few days he took down his bow and arrows from the side of the wigwam, and went away, no one knew where. And when he came back, his mother and father asked him: "Where have you been? What have you seen?" And he never answered a word.

One day the Chief said to his wife: "Our son must be watched. I will follow him."

So the next time the boy took down the bow and arrows, his father followed in his path. They travelled along for some time, until the Chief felt himself walking over a trail of dim, white light. Then his eyes were closed by invisible power, and he saw nothing more.

When he could open his eyes again, he was standing in a strange country lighted by dim, white light, and the people walking about him were different from any he had ever seen before. And near him were many white wigwams.

While the Chief was looking around, an old man stepped up to him, and said, "Do you know what land this is?"

"No," said the Chief.

"You are in the Land of the Northern Lights," replied the old man. "I came here many years ago from the lower country. I walked along the Milky Way, which is the same trail over which you came. There is a boy who comes every few days over that path, to play with our people."

"That boy is my son," said the Chief; "where may I find him? And how may we return in safety to the lower country?"

"You will soon see your son playing with our people, and if you wish it, the Chief of the Northern Lights will send you both home safely."

Then the Chief saw that a ball-game was beginning. Many braves came from the wigwams. They wore around their waists belts made of rainbows, and from their heads arose lights of every colour.

And as they threw the ball, the lights from their belts and heads shot up against the dim, white sky. Flashes of rose, violet, green, yellow, orange, and red, quivered, leaped, and danced against the Sky, and died down. And then the flashes shot upward again, flickering and dancing. And the brave, with the brightest lights upon his head, was the Chief's son.

While the Chief was watching the game, the old man went to the wigwam of the Chief of the Northern Lights, and said, "There is a man here from the lower country, who wishes to return to his home, and take his son with him."

So the Chief of the Northern Lights called all his people together, and bade them give back the boy to his father. Then he summoned two great birds and told them to carry the boy and man back in safety to the lower country.

One bird lifted up the boy, and the other took up his father, and they flew away with them along the Milky Way. The Chief felt his eyes closed again, and when he could open them, he was standing with his son, near his own wigwam.

And after that the boy taught the men of the village the ball-game. And that is how the Wabanaki say they learned to play ball.


The Poor Turkey Girl


ONCE long, long ago, in Matsaki the Salt City, there lived many rich Indians who owned large flocks of Turkeys. The poor people of the town herded them on the mesas, or on the plains around Thunder Mountain, at the foot of which Matsaki stood.

Now, at this time, on the border of the town was a little tumble-down hut in which there lived alone a very poor girl. Her clothes were patched and ragged; and, though she had a winning face and bright eyes, she was shameful to behold because her hair was uncombed and her face dirty. She herded Turkeys for a living, in return for which she received a little food, and now and then an old garment.

But she had a kind heart, and was lonely, so she was good to her Turkeys as she drove them to and from the plains each day. The birds loved her very much, and would come at her call, or go wherever she wished.

One day this poor girl was driving her Turkeys past Old Zuñi, and as she went along she heard a man, who was standing upon a house-top, invite all the people of Zuñi and the other towns to come to a great dance that was to take place in four days.

Now this poor girl had never been allowed to join in, or even to watch, the dances, and she longed to see this one. She sighed, and said to her Turkeys,—for she often talked to them,—"Alas! How could a girl, so ugly and ill-clad as I am, watch and much less join in the great dance!" Then she drove her Turkeys to the plain, and when night came, returned them to their cage on the edge of the town.

So every day, for three days, this poor girl drove her Turkeys out in the morning, and saw the people busy cleaning and mending their garments, cooking all sorts of good things, and making ready for the festival. And she heard them laughing and talking about the great dance. And as she went along with her Turkeys, she talked to them, and told them how sad she was. Of course she did not think they understood a word.

They did understand, however, for on the fourth day, when all the people of Matsaki had gone to Old Zuñi, and the poor girl was herding her Turkeys on the plain, a big Gobbler strutted up to her. He made a fan of his tail, and skirts of his wings, and, blushing with pride and puffing with importance, he stretched his neck, and said:—

"O Maiden Mother, we know what your thoughts are, and truly pity you. We wish that, like the other people of Matsaki, you might enjoy the great dance. Last night, after you had placed us safely and comfortably in our cage, we said to ourselves, 'Our maiden mother is just as worthy to enjoy the dance as any maiden of Matsaki or Zuñi.'

"So now, listen, Maiden Mother," continued the old Gobbler. "Would you like to go to the dance, and be merry with the best of your people? If you will drive us home early this afternoon, when the dance is most gay and the people are most happy, we will make you so handsome and dress you so prettily that no one will know you. And the young men will wonder whence you came, and lay hold of your hand in the dance."

At first the poor girl was very much surprised to hear the Gobbler speak, then it seemed so natural that her Turkeys should talk to her as she did to them, that she sat down on a little mound, and said: "My beloved Turkeys, how glad I am that we may speak together! But why should you promise me things that you know I cannot have?"

"Trust us," said the old Gobbler, "and when we begin to call, and gobble, gobble, and turn toward our home in Matsaki, do you follow us; and we will show you what we can do for you. Only let me tell you one thing. If you remain true and kind of heart, no one knows what happiness and good fortune may come to you. But if you forget us, your friends, and do not return to us before sunset, then we will think, 'Behold, our maiden mother deserves all her poverty and hard life, for when good fortune came she forgot her friends and was ungrateful.' "

"Never fear, my Turkeys!" cried the girl, "never fear! Whatever you tell me to do I will do! I will be as obedient as you have always been to me!"

The noon hour was scarcely passed, when the Turkeys of their own accord turned homeward, gobbling as they went. And the girl followed them, light of heart. They knew their cage, and immediately ran into it. When they had all entered, the old Gobbler called to the girl, "Come into our house!"

So she went in, and he said, "Maiden Mother, sit down, and give us one by one your garments, and we will see what we can do with them."

The girl obediently drew off her ragged mantle, and cast it on the floor in front of the Gobbler. He seized it in his beak, and spread it out. Then he picked and picked at it, and trod upon it. Lowering his wings, he began to strut back and forth upon it. Next, taking it up in his beak, he puffed and puffed, and laid it down at the feet of the girl—a beautiful white embroidered mantle!

Another Gobbler came forward, and the girl gave him one of her garments, which in the same manner, he made very fine. And then another and another Gobbler did the same, until each garment was made into as new and beautiful a thing as that worn by any maiden of Matsaki.

Before the girl put these on, the Turkeys circled about her, singing and brushing her with their wings, until she was clean, and her skin as smooth and bright as that of the loveliest maiden of Matsaki. Her hair was soft and waving, her cheeks full and dimpled, and her eyes dancing with smiles.

Then an old Turkey Gobbler came forward, and said: "O Maiden Mother, all you lack now is some rich ornaments. Wait a minute!"

Spreading his wings, he trod round and round, throwing his head back, and laying his wattled beard upon his neck. By and by he began to cough, and he produced in his beak a beautiful necklace. And one by one the other Gobblers did the same thing, and coughed up earrings, and all the ornaments befitting a well-clad maiden, and laid them at the feet of the poor Turkey girl.

With these beautiful things, she decorated herself, and thanking the Turkeys over and over, she started to go to the great dance. But the Turkeys called out: "O Maiden Mother, leave open the wicket gate, for who knows whether you will remember your Turkeys when your fortunes are changed! Perhaps you will be ashamed of being the maiden mother of Turkeys. But we love you, and would bring you good fortune! Therefore remember our words, and do not stay too late."

"I will surely remember you, my Turkeys," answered the girl, and she opened the wicket, and sped hastily away toward Old Zuñi.

When she arrived there, the people looked at her, and she heard murmurs of astonishment at her beauty and the richness of her dress. The people were asking one another, "Who is this lovely maiden?"

The Chiefs of the dance, all gorgeous in their attire, hastily came to her, and invited her to join the youths and maidens in the dance. With a blush and a smile and a toss of her hair over her eyes, the girl stepped into the circle, and the finest youths among the dancers sought to lay hold of her hand.

Her heart became merry, her feet light, and she danced and danced until the Sun began to go down. Then, alas! in her happiness she thought of her Turkeys, and said to herself: "Why should I go away from this delightful place, to my flock of gobbling Turkeys? I will stay a little longer, and just before the Sun sets, I will run back to them. Then these people will not know who I am, and I shall have the joy of hearing them talk day after day, wondering who the girl was, who joined their dance."

So the time sped on, and soon the Sun set, and the dance was well-nigh over. Then the girl, breaking away, ran out of the town, and being swift of foot, she sped up the river-path before any one could follow the course she took.

As for the Turkeys, when they saw that it grew late, they began to wonder and wonder that their maiden mother did not return to them. And when the Sun had set, the old Gobbler mournfully said: "Alas! It is as we might have known! She has forgotten us! So she is not worthy of better things than those she has been used to! Let us go to the mountains, and endure captivity no longer, since our maiden mother is not so good and true as we once thought her."

So calling, calling to one another, and gobbling, gobbling in a loud voice, they trooped out of their cage, and ran through the cañon, and around Thunder Mountain, and up the valley.

All breathless the girl arrived at the wicket, and looked in. And, lo, not a Turkey was there! She ran and she ran along their trail. And when she reached the valley, they were far ahead, and she could hear them calling, calling to one another, and gobbling, gobbling loudly. She redoubled her speed, and as she drew nearer, she heard them singing sadly:—

     "Oh, our maiden mother,

      Whom we love so well,

        To the dance went to-day!

     "Therefore, as she lingers,

      To the cañon mesa,

        We'll all run away!"

Hearing this, the girl called to her Turkeys, called and called in vain! They quickened their steps, and spreading their wings to help themselves along, ran on till they came to the base of the cañon mesa. Then, singing once more their sad song, they spread wide their wings, and fluttered away over the plain above.

As for the girl, she looked down at her garments, and, lo, they were changed again to rags and patches and dirt! And she was the same poor Turkey girl that she had been before.

Weary and weeping, and very much ashamed, she returned to Matsaki.