Monday, March 8, 2021

The Punishment Of The Coon

The Punishment Of The Coon [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

One cold winter's day, a coon was travelling alone through the forests. He was very much troubled by fleas that kept biting his back, for he could not reach them there.

 “I will get you off yet; you will see!” said the coon, and he rubbed his back against the tree trunks; but the fleas only went deeper into his fur and bit harder.

Suddenly he came upon a little bark hut, far back in the forest, and he walked in and sat down by the fire. The old woman who owned the hut asked what he wanted, and the coon answered:

“I am in great trouble. A great many fleas are on my back, and I can neither reach them nor can I rub them off. If you will pick them off for me, I will give you my mittens of fur."

The poor old woman had a great many little children, from a tiny baby just able to walk to her eldest daughter who helped her a great deal.   

"If I help the coon," she thought, “I can trade his mittens and get something for my children to eat." So she said to the coon: “I will help you, but you must give me your mittens."

The old woman began her task. The coon was as large as a very big dog then, and his back was covered with the wicked little fleas. They hid deep in the fur, and the woman had to work hard.

At last the task was finished, and the coon gave his mittens, bade the woman good-bye and started on his journey. Soon his hands began to feel cold.  

“Was I not foolish to give my mittens for such a small task? “he thought ; but he travelled on. By and by, he could stand the cold no longer, so he went back again to the hut in the forest. There sat the old woman in the opening.

“What do you want this time?” she asked.

“I want my mittens again; it is too cold to travel without them!

” I have traded your mittens for food for my children," answered the mother.

The coon was angry, but he went away. “I will watch until she goes out, then I will go into the hut and find my mittens," he thought; and he hid in the forest where nobody could see him.

Next day the woman said: “Children, the coon must be far away by this time. I will go out and gather berries for you to eat." The coon saw her leave her home, and then he crept up to the house and walked in.

The children saw him; so they ran out and hid in the deepest brush—all but the smallest who could not run but hid under a wooden bowl and kept very quiet.

 The coon hunted all over for the mittens and could not find them. “If I find her babies, I will make them tell where my mittens are," he said. At last he found the baby under the wooden bowl: “Where are my mittens?” he asked, but she could not even talk; she was so small. “Tell me where my mittens are!” yelled the coon, and he bit the baby's cheek. That made the baby cry, and the coon ran away, because he knew the mother would hurry home when she heard the crying, and then she would know who had bitten the baby.

When the mother heard her baby crying, she hurried home and saw the bite in her little one's cheek. She called her children; but they did not answer, and she thought they had all been killed. “Who hurt my baby?” asked the mother, and the little one told by making signs with its hands.

"It was the coon! I will punish him," said the woman, and off she ran into the forest for some long switches. Then she started after the coon. She found him, a great way off, resting on a rock near a lake.

“I have you! Why did you kill my children and bite my little one? There! there! and there ! “and the woman hit so hard that she raised great black and blue stripes.

With each stroke the coon became smaller, and when he was very small, the woman said: “You will always carry the marks of my beating, and neither you nor any of your family will ever grow any bigger than you are now."

The coon has remained small and carries the black marks of his beating to this day. The frogs in the lake heard the noise and came to the top to see what could be the matter. The animals of the forest also crept out and watched.

“Croak, croak, croak!” laughed the frogs, and that made the coon terribly angry, so he answered; “I will eat you in the future and spare none of your family; " but the frogs   laughed harder, and the other animals laughed with them.

After the old woman was gone the coon rushed at the frogs, but they splashed into the water out of his reach. The foxes and bears rushed at him, laughing, and the coon had to run and hide from the big animals, as he has had to do ever since.

Since then the little Indian children have hunted the coon with their bows and arrows, for they love to eat his flesh.