Katherine Chandler.

In the reign of Coyote, folkflore from the Pacific coast online

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and so there was seldom an hour when one of
them was not bustling around the world. The
animals were storm tossed so much that their
sides were all bruised. They complained often
and bitterly, but the southwest winds only roared
louder and knocked them about more frequently.

One day Blue Jay said: "Let us make war on
these southwest winds. Something must be done,


or they will blow us to death. We might as well
die fighting them."

" But how shall we reach them ? " asked the
other animals. " They slip off to the sky when
we try to grasp them."

"That will be easy," answered Blue Jay. "We
will go up to heaven to them. Let all the birds
sing their sweetest songs. Then the sky will
bend its ear to listen, and we will fasten it to
the earth and climb up on it."

The birds began to sing, Wren, Robin, Lark,
Thrush, and all the others. They poured forth
so blithe a chorus that the sky leaned down to
listen. Then Nightingale burst into a silencing
solo, and the sky dipped down so low that its
edge touched the earth. The animals hastened
to tie it to the earth with a rope of reeds. Then
they scrambled up on it and climbed up, up, up,
until they came near the home of the southwest
winds. There they paused to plan their attack.

Blue Jay suddenly called out : " Skate, you would
better go back to earth. You are so broad that
you will surely be hit with an arrow."

" Do you think I am a coward ? " retorted Skate.
" I' m not afraid of the winds, nor of you either, you
bragging Blue Jay. Come out now, boaster, and
I '11 fight you a duel " ; and Skate raised his bow.


" I '11 soon settle you," returned Blue Jay, and
he shot an arrow. Skate turned his narrow side
and Blue Jay's arrow flew past him to the earth.
Then Skate shot an arrow. As Blue Jay saw it
coming, he jumped, but he did not rise quite high
enough. The arrow struck his foot, and to this
day he is not a swift runner.

" Stop your quarreling, you foolish things," called
the other animals. " Come and plan how to fight
the southwest winds. We are so cold out here
that if we do not do something soon, we shall
freeze to death."

" I '11 see if I can get a brand for a camp fire,"
said Beaver ; and he started out towards the home
of the southwest winds. He was creeping along
the ditch behind their house, when they saw him.
Before he could escape, they rushed out and caught
him. After they had killed Beaver, they took him
into the house and laid him in front of the fire
to singe. When Beaver felt the warmth, he came to
life again and crept out of the door with some of
the fire hidden under his fur. Then he raced to
the animals' camp and made them a fire.

As they were warming their toes, they said:
"Some one must find a hole in the house of the
southwest winds. You go, Skunk, and find us a
hole that we can crawl through."

Skunk ran straight down to the earth, without telling
the other animals "


"All right," answered Skunk; and he crept
away. When he reached the yard of the south-
west winds, they saw him. One said: "There is
Skunk. He has no right to be here. Let us
catch him and kill him."

Skunk heard the words. He was so frightened
that he turned and fled. He ran straight down to
the earth, without telling the other animals that
he was going.

The animals became tired of waiting for Skunk.
After a time they said, " O Robin, you go find us
a hole in the house of the southwest winds, a
hole that we can crawl through."

"All right," answered Robin; and she hopped
away. She found a little hole near the chimney
corner and crept inside to see what the house was
like. It was very warm and comfortable there.
The southwest winds were sleeping, so she sat
down by the fire to warm her breast and forgot
to go back to her waiting brothers.

After a time the animals again wearied of wait-
ing. They cried, " O Mouse and Rat, you two go
and find a hole in the house of the southwest
winds, one that we can crawl through."

"Very well," answered Mouse and Rat; and
they started off. They found the little hole by
the chimney corner, and crept inside as Robin


had done. The southwest winds were still sleeping.
Mouse and Rat stole over to the aprons of the winds
and gnawed off their bands. They crawled up the
walls to the bows of the southwest winds and gnawed
the strings in two. Then they stole out again and
called the other animals to the hole.

The animals came pouring in with a rush. The
southwest winds woke up and stretched out their
hands for their aprons. They tried to tie them
on, but the bands were gone. Then they reached
up for their bows and tried to shoot, but the
cords were cut. While they paused in surprise,
the animals grappled with them.

Eagle seized one, Owl a second, Loon a third,
Turkey a fourth, and Chicken Hawk the fifth.
All the other animals joined around the outside,
and each shot an arrow into a wind whenever he
got a chance. The southwest wind in the Eagle's
grasp was soon killed, and so were all the others
excepting the one with whom Chicken Hawk
wrestled. This fifth wind struggled desperately
and finally slipped out of Chicken Hawk's grasp.
Then with a loud noise he rushed out the door
and across the sky.

The animals pursued him until Blue Jay called
out : " We 'd better turn back to earth. The wind
might come back this way and cut the sky loose."


The animals turned at once and began sliding
down the sky to the earth. Blue Jay could not go
very fast because of his lame foot, and a number
of animals got ahead of him. This made him so
angry that when he reached the earth he cut the
reed rope, and the sky flew up again before all
the animals were down. Those that were left in
the sky changed into stars. That is why to-day
we see the Great Bear, and the Dog Star, and
all the other animal stars.

The animals never caught the fifth southwest
wind. Even to-day he wanders bustling around
the world. But he has to rest sometimes, and so
the animals get more peace than when his four
brothers were alive to help blow them about.

"Didn't the other animals do anything to Blue
Jay for cutting the reed rope so soon ? " inquired

" I never heard that they did. It is well that
the rope was cut, for now we have the Great Bear
to look at on dark nights."

"Yes; but perhaps those animals don't like to
live in the sky. Perhaps

But Antonio interrupted with: "I wish they'd
had a stronger bird to fight with the fifth southwest
wind. Why did n't they take a buzzard ? I think


"There is the dinner call. / think you must
tackle this southwest wind yourself, young Anto-
nio "; and Klayukat "shooed" them out of his
shop and limped over to the kitchen.



|NE evening the children were watching
the full moon glide up into the sky
and were discussing whether or not it
was made of green cheese.

" The coyote once got into trouble by thinking
that the moon was cheese," said Tecla, in her slow,
round tones.

" How was that, Tecla ? "

"Yes, Tecla, please tell us. Now is just the
time for a story"; and Juanita buried her head in
Tecla' s lap.

" Well, you have been good children to-day, so I
will tell it. Sit down on the floor, Nita. You are
too big a girl to need holding."



" O Tecla !" and Juanita only snuggled closer.
" Well, keep still then. Don't wriggle, and I will
tell you the story as my godfather told it to me."

One night the fox was standing near a pond,
looking at the moon's reflection in the water.

The coyote came up and said, " Now I am going
to eat you."

The fox said: " Oh, don't eat me now, Brother
Coyote. There is a big piece of cheese in this pond.
Help me drink up all the water, and then we will
share the cheese."

The coyote looked at the reflection of the moon
in the water and said: "That is a fine piece of
cheese. I will help you get it."

So he drank until he felt tired, and still the pond
seemed full. " Oh, Brother Fox, my stomach aches.
I can't drink any more."

" Well, you stay here, and I will run and get
some friends to help us drink up the water."

And away the fox ran, and although the coyote
waited for him all night, he never came back.

" Poor Coyote ! " murmured Juanita.

" I don't believe Coyote thought the moon was
cheese," asserted Antonio. " He 'd know the differ-
ence. Wantasson says Coyote made the moon."


" Yes, perhaps Wantasson does say so ; but you
ask your Sefiora Madre who made the moon. You
children don't want to believe everything that
these Digger Indians tell you. Now Juanita grows
heavy, and your Sefiora Madre calls. It is time
for prayers."

"Yes, Sefiora, we come"; and Tecla's voice
glided up the scale as she led the children in.


HE next morning Antonio said: " I 'm
going to ask Klayukat about the
moon and cheese. Perhaps he can
tell us the truth. Come ; let 's go now."

They found Klayukat repairing a saddle. " Is
the moon made of green cheese?" he repeated
slowly. " I never heard it. I never heard of cheese
in my country. You white people have many
things that my tribe know nothing about. You
do not see the same as we do, either."

" Don't see as you do ? Why, we see with our
eyes, just as you do "; and Antonio's big black eyes
opened wide.

" Yes, you see with your eyes, but things do not
look the same to you as they do to us. Now I
have heard the white people say that there is a man
in the moon, while I can see, as plainly as I see
this saddle here, that there is a frog in the moon."



" A frog in the moon ? " the children's voices

" Yes, a frog in the moon. I see it plainly.
Besides, my people know the story of how the
frog got in the moon."

Klayukat threaded his needle slowly. He started
his line of stitches carefully, and then as he sewed
he told this story.

In the days of the ancients the frog was very
proud of his voice. He practiced singing all day
and sometimes all night. When he heard a bird's
song, he tried to sing the same notes.

Most of the birds just laughed at his attempts.
They would call out, "Good there, Brother Frog!
Now try this." Then they would sing higher, and
trill and twist their notes in a sweet confusion.

Poor old Frog would try to follow their songs. He
would stand on his tiptoes, but with all his trying he
never could make musical sounds. Still he never was
discouraged. He kept on singing day and night.

Now Whip-poor-will was not always good-natured.
She liked to be alone, and she did not care to hear
others sing. She thought that no one understood
music as she did.

One night, after the other animals were asleep,
she stole out alone into the dusk and began singing a


soft tale of her sorrows. Suddenly, from the spring's
bank she heard a grating voice trying to imitate
her song. She listened. The voice was hushed.
She sang a few more notes, and again the voice
tried to repeat them. She flew in anger down to
the spring. There sat little green Frog in his
shining white vest.

" So it 's you, you twanging Frog, is it ? "
demanded Whip-poor-will. " Well, if you like night
singing so much, you can serve as a light for me
to see by." And she seized him by one foot and
threw him into the sky. There he fell with his
legs all spread out and his shining white vest turned
toward the earth. There you may see him yet,
still furnishing light for Whip-poor-will to see by.

' ' Oh, the poor frog ! ' ' sympathized J uanita. " The
birds up north seem so

" What kind of a bird is the whip-poor-will,
Klayukat ? " interrupted Antonio, seeing the old
man look offended. " Does it sing like our lark ? "

" I do not know, young Antonio. You must
not expect an Indian to know things."

"Oh, but you do know things," insisted both
children. " You know beautiful stories."

" I was only thinking about the blue jay's cutting
the rope, and now this whip-poor-will," explained


Juanita. "But I suppose at other times these
birds are good."

"Just like children, Juanita. Sometimes chil-
dren obey their parents, and sometimes they wade
in the creek."

Juanita hung her head at this reminder. Then
she raised it and laughed. " We^l, the blue jay 's
a pretty color anyway."

" Yes, a pretty color. But I can tell you why
he is not prettier. No, not now," as the children
looked expectant. " You have not done your morn-
ing lessons yet. That Tecla will be coming here
for you. Run away now and come another time."



HAT same day, after their siesta, Antonio
and Juanita tripped to the saddlery. Kla-
yukat had just awakened. He did not
answer their questions for a while, but busied him-
self with his work. When he seemed to be sewing
regularly, Antonio ventured, "Klayukat, will you
tell us now why the blue jay is not prettier ? "

"The blue jay ? Yes, and I can tell you why other
things are not prettier. Give Ninita more room there,
young Antonio, and I will tell you the story."

In the days of the ancients the animals were all
the color of the earth. They knew nothing about



red, white, or blue, or any other tint but dirt color,
and so they were content with their clothes.

Once as they glanced out over the water, they
saw a great big thing shining in the sun. They
all stopped to look at it. If they watched it from
one point, it looked blue. If they walked down
the beach, it shone green. If they walked up the
sands, it glowed rosy. Whenever they looked at it
from a different position, they saw some new hue.

" What lovely thing is this ? " they cried. " Let
us get a nearer view of it."

They launched their canoes and rowed towards
it, but ever it seemed to move just as they did,
and they never came nearer to it. As the sun
sank in the water, they said : " We must go home
now. The lovely thing can meet the darkness
alone." As they turned, the great shining thing
followed them. It always kept the same distance
behind them.

They were frightened. Then Blue Jay said :
" Let us shoot it to-morrow. Then we can have
its colors." The other animals agreed, and they
all went to their homes to sleep.

As the sun brought back light to the world,
the animals saw the great thing throwing out its
beautiful colors. They hurried for their bows and
began aiming at it. They shot all day, but their


arrows always fell short of the thing, or to the
left of it, or to the right. No one could hit it.

Now Blue Jay's two daughters were not on the
shore. They had been sent into the woods to dig
potentilla roots. While they were digging, the
younger said to the older, " I wish we could shoot
at the great shining thing." The elder sister went
on digging with never a word in answer. After a
little while the younger sister said again, " I wish
we could shoot at the great shining thing." Again
the elder sister went on digging without answering
a word. The younger sister repeated her wish a
third time and a fourth, and yet the elder sister
went on digging in silence.

When for the fifth time the younger sister had
said, " I wish we could shoot at the great shining
thing," the elder sister stood up Straight and
replied, "Well, our father has arrows." Then she
gathered her potentilla roots into her basket and
started home. The younger sister gathered her
roots into her basket and followed.

When they reached home at sunset, the animals
were all sad at not having shot the great shining

The next morning the daughters of Blue Jay
started for potentilla roots before their father was
awake. They carried off quietly two of his bows


and some arrows. In the woods they hid their
baskets and dressed themselves as strange youths.

When the other animals awakened, they went
down to the beach to shoot at the shining thing.
Again their arrows fell short of it, or to the right,
or to the left. Suddenly among them appeared
two strange youths. The elder shot an arrow. It
fell near, but did not hit the great shining thing.
Then the younger shot, and her arrow almost
touched the mass of bright color. They each shot
two more arrows. Some flew so near the thing
that the animals held their breath, but each arrow
fell a little short. Then the strange youths disap-
peared suddenly in the woods.

That night, when the daughters of Blue Jay
carried home their baskets of potentilla roots, they
found all the animals wondering who the strange
youths were. Only Blue Jay was silent. He looked
hard at his daughters, but they said nothing.

The next day, while the animals were shooting,
the strange youths suddenly appeared again. They
each shot three arrows. All flew nearer the great
shining thing than the arrows of the other animals,
but none touched it. Then the youths disappeared
as suddenly as they had come.

The animals were greatly excited and wondered
who the strange youths were. That night they


told the daughters of Blue Jay about it, but the
daughters were silent. Blue Jay, too, was silent,
and he looked hard at his daughters.

On the third day the strange youths appeared
as before. The elder shot three arrows. The
younger shot two that almost reached the thing.
Her third arrow pierced the middle of the splendor.
Then the two youths jumped into a canoe and
rowed out to the thing. They dragged it to the
shore and carried it into the woods. The animals
were almost crazed with excitement. " Who are these
strange youths ? " they asked each other. " Where
did they carry the great shining thing ? Why did
they not give us some of it ? " That night they told
the sisters the story, but the sisters were 'silent.

The next morning the daughters of Blue Jay
awoke early and went to take their bath. While
they were gone, their father awoke. He looked
at his daughters' bed. It was empty. He became
very angry. " Where have those daughters gone
now ? " he stormed aloud. " I believe they are the
strange youths. I shall have to punish them."

Just then the daughters came in. " Where have
you been ? " Blue Jay demanded. " Why do you
go out so early every morning ? I believe you are
the two strange youths. Tell me, have you the
great shining thing hidden from our people ? "


" Go, take your bath, father, and then we will
tell you all about it," the daughters answered.

The father took his morning dip, and then the
daughters told him the whole story. " Go, bring
the shining thing here," he said, "and I will call
the people."

When Blue Jay had assembled all the people,
the daughters came in from the woods, carrying
the great shining thing. They took a knife and
cut it into pieces. They handed one piece to
each animal. The animals ate the pieces they
received. The largest of all they gave to their
father. Blue Jay was much pleased. He held it
up to the light before swallowing it. But just as
he was about to put it into his mouth, Clam jumped
up, snatched it from him, and ran down to the

Blue Jay tried to catch him, but Clam hid him-
self in the sand. Blue Jay took a stick and poked
in the sand. Clam sent up some boiling water and
hid himself deeper. Blue Jay became very angry.
"You thief," he cried, "you shall hide in the
sand all the days of your life. Even when your
most ardent lover wishes to see you, you will send
up bubbles to greet him, instead of words."

And to this day Clam lives in the sand, and he
still sends up bubbles to the surface. But he has on


his shell all the colors of the great shining thing,
because he ate the largest piece. Blue Jay had
only a little piece to eat, and so he has only blue.
Every animal became in color like the piece of the
great shining thing that he ate, and he has that
same color even to-day.

"Oh-oh!" sighed Juanita in content. "Is the
clam shell in your country like the abalone shell
here, Klayukat ? "

" Much the same ; much the same ; the same
bright colors."

" I wonder what the great shining thing was
made of," said Antonio. " Do you know, Kla-
yukat ? "

" Made of colors. That is why the animals
changed colors when they ate it. Yesterday I
saw some colors on the top of the little pond near
the corral."

" Colors on our pond ? Oh, let 's go and see
them, Nita"; and the children were off on a run.


NE day Antonio was complaining because
he could not catch a squirrel in his trap,
when Tecla remarked: "Traps are not
any good, except to catch silly birds. Ani-
mals have too much sense to go into them. You
know the old Senora would never have caught the
raccoon, if she had depended upon traps."

" Did a Senora catch a raccoon ? " and Antonio
was all interest. " How did she catch it, if she
did n't use a trap ? "

"This is what my godfather told me about it."
Tecla sat down on a bench, and the two children
leaned against her as she recited the tale.

Once an old lady lived in the country and had
a very pretty garden. One night a raccoon came
and helped himself to her watermelons and corn.



In the morning the old lady said: " Some rascally
animal has been at my garden. I must set a trap
to catch him."

The next night the raccoon came again, and he
saw the trap. "Ah!" cried he, "here is a trap
set for me. But I will play a trick on them. I will
jump over it." So he jumped over it and ate all
the corn and watermelons he wanted.

When the old lady found the trap untouched
and her corn and melons gone, she said, " I will
set traps all around the garden."

But the raccoon was not afraid of any of the
traps. He jumped over them all as easily as could
be and had as much supper as he could eat.

The next morning the old lady said, " Well, if
I cannot catch the rascal in a trap, I will some
other way," So she made a man-of-tar and put it
in the garden.

That night the raccoon looked around for the
traps, but there, were none to be seen. "Why,"
he said, " they must be tired of trying to catch me."

Then he saw the man-of-tar and said : " What
is this ? Oh, how do you do, gentleman ? "

The man-of-tar did not answer.

" Why don't you speak to me ? Don't you think
I am good enough to speak to a gentleman like
you ? "

'That night the raccoon looked around for the traps :



The raccoon waited for a reply, but the man-of-
tar said never a word.

" If you don't say, ' How do you do ' to me, I
shall hit you"; and he raised his right fist.

Still nothing but silence followed his words.

Then the raccoon gave a hard hit, and his fist
stuck fast in the tar.

" Let go ! Let go, or I '11 hit you with the other."

The strange dark man did not speak, neither did
he let the prisoner loose.

So the raccoon struck with his left fist, and it
stuck fast in the tar.

The raccoon became very angry, and his voice
was loud. " If you don't let me go, I '11 kick you."

The man-of-tar did not answer.

The raccoon kicked out his right foot, and it
stuck fast in the tar.

" Let me go home, I say, or I '11 kick you hard
with my other foot."

The man-of-tar took no notice of this threat,
neither by word nor by action.

The raccoon kicked out with the left foot, and it
stuck fast in the tar.

"Well, I'd better not butt you," he said, "or
you might hold my head fast and I could not call
for help."

He called and called, but no one came to help him.


In the morning the old lady found him. She
tied a rope around him, hung him to a branch of a
tree, and called her cats to come and eat him. The
cats were afraid and would not touch him, so she
called her dog, and it came and ate the raccoon.

" She ought to have eaten it herself," said Antonio.
" Wantasson says raccoons are good eating. Say,
Nita, you let me take your doll to make a man-of-
tar, and if I catch two squirrels, I '11 give you one."

" My doll ! My doll that the Good Kings put in
my shoe! Why, Antonio Guerrero, I '11

Juanita was on the verge of tears of indignation,
when Antonio shrugged his shoulders and replied :
" Oh ! keep your old doll. Two sticks will do as

Now I must explain to Joe and Mabel what
Juanita meant when she said, " My doll that the
Good Kings put in my shoe." The Spanish-
Californian children did not hang up their stockings

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Online LibraryKatherine ChandlerIn the reign of Coyote, folkflore from the Pacific coast → online text (page 3 of 7)