This Sight is Continuously Evolving

Children of the Coyote

Chapter 18
Womb of the World

            Bigmouth falls silently through the mist arms and legs clawing at empty space. Suddenly His descent is arrested in the branches of a large very old Juniper tree growing on a shelf not far below the drop off. He lay clutching the branches for a short time amazed that he is still alive then he carefully climbs slowly from the tree.
        The thick mist's swirl around him, he can just make out the limits of the shelf he is on.. It is approximately three man length long by slightly more than one wide. He looks up at shear smooth rock disappearing into the fog. When he looks over the side all he can see is the mist.
        Battered, bruised, shivering from cold and bleeding from many small cuts from the sharp branches of the juniper Bigmouth sinks to the ground and leans against the cliff face.
         "I don't believe this!" he thinks. "I don't believe that Coyote would send me all this way just to starve to death on the side of a cliff. There must be some way out of this. I just need to think, use my intelligence."
     In his mind Bigmouth takes inventory, "I am alive and except for some scratches and bruises I am unharmed. I still have my food bag with a small amount of food and water. My spear is gone, I am sure going to miss that, of coarse if I don't get off this shelf it won't mater. It will be dark soon so the only thing I can do is eat something and try to rest until morning. Hopefully, things will look a little brighter by then.
     The first red glow of the sun wakes Bigmouth with its warmth and the temperature rises through out the day until Bigmouth feels he is being grilled alive. As soon as the sun passes the lip of the cliff above him, the temperature begins to plummet. By dark Bigmouth can only curl himself into a ball and endure the chill until daylight returns again and the cycle repeats it self.
        By the third day Bigmouth is delirious. The extremes of his ordeal have taken their toll. His meager supply of food and water exhausted he makes a decision. Shakily he gets to his feet and stagers to the edge of the shelf. He stands at the precipice and stretches out his arms, takes a deep breath and in a loud voice addresses the world around him
        Powers of this world!" He begins in as loud a voice as he can command. "I am Bigmouth, I am Fug-a-we, I am a human being. I have been sent here on a mission by the Great Coyote. I am his messenger to my people. My quest is to travel the land learning the ways of it's creatures and having learned, I am to return to my people and instruct them in the proper way to live in harmony with the others of this world. To accomplish this I must enter the valley of the wa'ste River. If I am to die here, I will not die of starvation on this ledge like a mouse. If I am not to complete my journey then I will die like an Eagle. I will fly from this cliff and soar to my death on the rocks below. He raises himself on his toes with his arms outstretched he is about to launch himself from the ledge when a shadow covers him.
        Bigmouth looks up in time to see a huge Eagle diving on him. The Giant Raptor digs its talons into the pectoral muscles of Bigmouth's chest and lifts him from the rock ledge carrying him in large circles high into the air. Bigmouth cries out from the pain and the fear. He can do nothing but hang there by his chest his paralyzed arms dangling to each side.
        He cranes his neck around, and can see a beautiful emerald valley below him. He can see the river running down the center. High on the slopes to ether side are a myriad of small lakes strung like jewels along the foot of the high cliffs that enclose this paradise.
        The Eagle circles lower and lower toward the green meadows at the head of the stream. About two men's height above the ground the huge bird flexes its claws, they tear through Bigmouth's flesh and he falls to the ground unconscious. As the raptor gains altitude three feathers fall from him. A feather from each wing and one from the tail float down to rest on Bigmouth's hair which is spread like a fan on the ground at his head.
        The first thing Bigmouth is conscious of is a searing pain in his chest, then he recalls the Eagle and the flight into the valley. He lies there for a time with his eyes closed trying to force the pain from his mind. Presently the outside world begins to penetrate his pain filled brain. First he hears the sound of water trickling over moss covered rock, then he hears the breeze blowing through the Aspen trees that surround the high mountain meadow where he lay. Against his skin he can feel the warmth of the morning sun.
        Bigmouth becomes aware of sounds close by. A sniffing sound, a low growl, whining, and the sound of a light tread on the soft grass, falls on his ears. He remains motionless with his eyes closed afraid of what they might reveal if opened.
        "What do you suppose it is?" A soft undulating almost feminine voice whines in the language of its kind.
        "I don't know," an other voice growls. "It's just like that scavenger Eagle to drop his garbage in our valley."
        "Is it alive?" Whines the first voice.
        "I think so. I can see it breathing but it has lost a lot of blood, it may not last long." replies the gruff voice.
        "Can we eat it?" asks a third younger sounding voice.
        Bigmouth can't understand their words but he feels that they are discussing him, He opens his eyes and attempts to sit up. The pain in his chest flashes white hot through his body and he falls back in a faint. Though his eyes were only open for a flash he has the definite impression that he is surrounded by a group of large predators.
        When Bigmouth sits up, the wolves retreat to the safety of the bushes surrounding the meadow.
        A few moments after he lays back down, they cautiously creep forward again.
        "Well, can we?" Repeats the young male wolf.
        "I don't think so," replies his Father. "It doesn't smell like anything that I would want to eat, at least not unless I was starving." The large wolf snorts disgustedly.
        "See, I told you so," the female pup taunts her brother.
        "Oh, go choke on a rodent" The young male replies with a growl.
        "Now children, That's enough of that." The mother wolf whines.
        "But mom!" Both the pups cry in unison.
        "Enough!" Growls the father. "We must decide what is to be done with this creature that Eagle has dropped into or midst."
        "It will surely die if we do nothing" Says the mother.
        "What are you saying?" Asks the large male.
        "Well," she considers for a moment. "If he is truly a living being, he will need food water and his wounds will need attention." She declares.
        "Are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting?" The father wolf asks.
        "I see no other way, We must lick the wounds clean or they will rot and it will certainly die." She replies.
        "What if it's blood is poison?" Asks the male pup.
        "Yuck! What if it tastes bad?" Asks the little female.
        "No blood can poison a wolf," the mother wolf replies. "And the taste can be no worse than it's smell."
    "That's bad enough," grumbles the father. "But you are right, we should do what we can for it. At least until we find out what it is and why it is here. We can always kill it later." He concludes.
        "Good! Now, I will clean the wound on this side and you father, can work on that side." The mother wolf announces.
        "Yuck," grumbles the large male as he begins licking Bigmouth's wounds.
        "I can bring water in my mouth," suggests the female pup.
        "I can hunt for mice to feed him," declares the young male as he bounds off in pursuit of prey. Thus the family of wolves nurse Bigmouth back to health. They clean his wounds, the young female brings him the healing waters of the Wa'ste River and when he is strong enough the young, male brings him fresh rodents to eat.
        When Bigmouth opens his eyes he is alone. He has the impression that he has slept for some days. In his sleep he dreamed that he was surrounded by predators but instead of eating him they were helping him by giving him water and cleaning his wounds. Slowly he rises to his elbows. He is relieved to find that the pain in his chest is less. When he looks down he sees that he is free of the blood that before had covered him. His wounds are closed and scabbed over. He hears the stream babbling near by and is reminded of his thirst. Slowly he attempts to stand, the world spins out from under him and he falls back to his knees. He crawls slowly to the brook and lies down on the soft green grass with his face in the water. He drinks deeply of the cold sweet liquid. With each swallow he can feel his strength returning. Like some magic elixir the water revives him.
        Presently Bigmouth sits back and surveys his surroundings. He is in a large clearing surrounded by beautiful trees that he does not recognize. They are tall and slender with white bark and little hart shaped green and gold leaves that quiver at the slightest breeze.
        The small brook boils up from the ground only a few paces up stream from this spot. Along the stream in small patches are service berries, black caps, and several other berries that he does not recognize.
        He beholds, fruit trees of many varieties, as well as Hickory, Hazel and other nuts in groves scattered about the valley.
        His eyes wander to the cliffs surrounding him on three sides. Near the tops he can see the white forms of mountain goats scaling the almost vertical sides of the canyon searching out the lichens that make up their diet. Lower down on the on the piles of debris at the base of the cliffs are the tawny shapes of bighorn sheep feeding on the rank grasses that grow up through the stone rubble.
        In the many clearings dotting the valley are grass eaters of all kinds contentedly cropping the lush vegetation. From this spot he can see, Elk, Deer, Bison, Antelope, and even a small family of the rare Mammoth. There are others that he does not recognize at all.
        One stands on long legs with incredibly knobby knees, it has a long neck toped by a comical looking head with a split upper lip like that of a hare and large flaring nostrils. In the middle of the creatures back is a hump that sags to one side.
        Another stranger to him is a small creature of beauty and speed. He can see these animals in groups dashing back and forth. Bigmouth is awed by the grace and beauty of the little creatures as they careen through the valley with their tails held high and the long hair of their mains flying behind them.
        Behind him, Bigmouth hears a sound like someone clearing his throat. He turns to see a very large wolf watching him. An instinctive fear stabs at his belly and he backs away on his hands and buttocks.
        "I see that you live" growls the wolf.
        "Yes I live thank you," Bigmouth assures him, not stopping to think about the fact that he can understand and talk to this wolf.
        "Oh, don't thank me," says the wolf . "Thank my mate, it was her idea to save you. I would have left you for the Condors."
        "Now, now, don't be rude to our guest," the voice of the mother wolf chides from behind the male.
        The large female pushes passed her mate and strolls up to Bigmouth. "I am Mother Wolf," she announces as she stops before him. "This," she says indicating the male with a nod of her head, "is my mate, Father Wolf."
        "Who or what might you be," she asks after her introduction.
        "I am a human being. I am Bigmouth of the Fug-a-we." He answers.
        "Human being? Fug-a-we? A Bigmouth?" She repeats thoughtfully. "I am not familiar with any of those names. The only Bigmouth I know of lives in the warm ponds at the West end of the valley but it is a fish. You can't be a fish for you would not have survived out of the water so long." She finally concludes.
        "I am not a fish, I am a human being of the Fug-a-we tribe." Bigmouth explains.
        "A, a human being." The female wolf turns the words over in her mind. "Nope, she finally declares. "I've never heard of them. You were obviously not spawned in the Wa'ste valley. Where do your kind come from?".    
        "The elders of the tribe tell us that we were brought forth from under the ground by the Great Coyote." Bigmouth says proudly.
        "You see?" Barks Father Wolf. "He's from the underworld. I told you we should have let him die. Who knows what evil he may be capable of. To think we actually nursed this demon back to life. I will summon the bears and the great Puma and we will destroy him before he can do any mischief."
        "Hold on there Father, we do not know that he is evil. He doesn't look dangerous. Look how skinny and frail he is." Mother Wolf argues. "Before we take it upon our selves to destroy its life we must be sure if it is a danger to us or to the valley."
        "How did you come to be in this valley, human being?" She asks Bigmouth. "I am aware that Eagle brought you here but why were you wandering in the wilderness to begin with and what is your purpose in coming here?"
        Bigmouth takes a deep breath and thinks back on his adventures since leaving the home fires of the Fug-a-we. A single tear slides down his cheek and then he begins his tail. He relates every detail of the journey from the day of the council when Lizardfoot told of his dream, to being seized by the eagle and dropped into the valley. At the end he repeats his now familiar litany. "I am Bigmouth, I am a human being, I am Fug-a-we. I am on a mission for the Great Coyote. My quest is to travel the land to learn of its creatures then to return to my people and teach them how to best live in harmony with all the creatures of this world."
        The Wolves sit quietly watching him through piercing yellow eyes.
        The young male strolls from behind a bush and rubs against his mother. "That was a really neat story mother. Do you think it might be true?" The youngster asks.
        "Yes son, I believe it is," she replies.
        "Wow," the young wolf says breathlessly. He looks at Bigmouth with something like admiration in his enigmatic eyes.
        "I don't know," complains the large male. "I am a little uneasy about any thing that concerns Coyote. You Know what a practical joker he is. How do we know that this isn't just some elaborate prank of his."
        "Come now Father. Do you think even Coyote would be so irresponsible as to put this poor creature through all that he has endured just for a joke?" Mother Wolf asks.
        "I don't put anything past Coyote." Father Wolf argues. "Look what he did to poor Lynx."
        "Oh, I don't know," Mother Wolf says with a wolfish smile. "I think the Link's tail is much cuter short. Besides Links was insufferably vain about that fluffy tail of his. I think it was a good lesson for him to loose it. He is not nearly so vain any more. Yes I think we should help this human being all we can. If his mission is successful it will benefit all," She concludes.
        "Well, If you insist mother I will do what I can" Father Wolf agrees. "But I am going to keep one eye on him at all times and if he steps out of line....." The old male turns and disappears into the undergrowth with out finishing his thought.
        Bigmouth looks pleadingly at the female wolf.
        "It will be okay" she says. "I will work on him some more, he will come around."
        "Oh good" the young male wolf says bounding up to Bigmouth's side. "Tell your story again, will you please? That was a neat story, especially the part about being trapped in the cave by the bear. That was really exciting. Nothing exciting ever happens here in the valley. Tell us more about the outside world." The young wolf sits back on its haunches and waits expectantly wagging his tail.
        Bigmouth is overwhelmed by this outpouring of friendship from the young creature. He instinctively reaches out and begins scratching the young canine behind the ears.
        "Oooh, that feels good," the young wolf declares. "I think I am going to like having a, uh, human for a friend."
        The Little female remains aloof following her father's lead.
        "Now son, don't be a burden to our guest." Mother Wolf says. "He is still recovering from his wounds let him rest now and when he is stronger he can play with you."
        "Aw gee mom" the little male begins to argue.
        "That is enough now run along and let the human rest." She scolds gently.
        The young wolf  is leaving the clearing with a drooping tail until a young cotton tailed rabbit jumps from behind a bush.
        "Wan'a race?" The bunny calls as it dashes off into the under growth. In a flash the young wolf is in hot pursuit its tail curled tightly with excitement.
        With a smile on his face Bigmouth watches the youngster dash away. He looks to where the little female sits watching him. Their eyes meet she holds his stare for a moment then she stands, turns her back to him and with her nose and tail held high she slips out of sight through the foliage.
        "Ah, Children" the mother wolf sighs. "No mater how many generations I raise each seams more of a trial than the one before."
        "I have many questions Mother Wolf" Bigmouth begins.
        "As do I" she interrupts. "But now you must rest we will have plenty of time for questions when you are stronger."
        The Wolf turns to leave then stops and turns back to face Bigmouth. "Are humans carnivore or herbivore?" She asks.
        "Excuse me?" Bigmouth pleads.
        "What do your kind eat?" she asks again.
        "Eat? Well almost any thing, nuts, berries, some seeds and grasses, fish, fowl, meat, almost anything," he replies
        "Ah, then it is as I suspected, you humans must be somehow related to the bears. I will have to speak with them," she declares as she leaves the meadow."
        For the next two days Bigmouth lounges in the area of the meadow sampling the various fruits and nuts that grow in profusion all around him. He can not get enough of the cold sweet water of the stream. Each time he drinks he can feel his body being recharged and his wounds healing. The scabs have fallen from the wounds on his chest to reveal long pink scars that will be a sign to all of his entry to the sacred valley.

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