Coyote Burns His Children

Coyote went along again. He met some deer. It was the mother with her two spotted fauns.

Coyote said, “What do you do to make your children so pretty?”

“Why, that’s the way they are born.”

“No, don’t tell me a lie. Tell me the truth. You must do something to make them spotted like that.”

“No, that’s the truth. They are always like that when they are young.”

But Coyote didn’t believe it.

After a while the deer got tired of his questions. She said, “All right, I’ll tell you. I dig a hole. I put my children in there and tie their arms so they can’t get away. In front of that I make a big fire of cedar brush.”

Coyote said, “See, I knew you did something!”

He started to run to his home. He was very much excited. He wanted to have his children pretty like this.

He came to his family. He said, “You must help me to dig this ground.”

They all helped him. But he didn’t tell what he was going to do.

Then he said, “Every one of you bring some cedar branches now, old ones.”

He took the little coyotes and tied their legs. He put them on the other side of the hole. And on this side he built a big fire of the cedar brush. Some of the children began to cry.

“Don’t cry,” he said, “I’m making you pretty.”

He kept making a big fire. When it popped Coyote was delighted, for the deer had said that every time it popped it hit some fur and made a spot.

At first the children cried. After a while they were all dead. Then they started to burn. Their lips were drawn away from their teeth by the heat. When the fire had died out, Coyote saw this. He thought the little ones were smiling.

“Oh, you are laughing because you are pleased at being so pretty,” he said.

He said to the youngest, “Come out. You’re so pretty.”

No one moved. So he reached down and took hold of the arm of the youngest. “Come out,” he said, and he pulled the arm right off the body of his child.

Then he began to pull at the others. They were all dead.

Now he was very angry. He knew that the deer had gone into a clump of willows. He thought she was still there. So he set fire all around that place.

He watched that place. The willows always make a noise when they burn. He thought the deer was crying.

He said, “You talk now, but you lied before.”

*

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