This Sight is Continuously Evolving

Children of the Coyote

The young wolf gets a name

            It has not been necessary for Bigmouth to hunt. The little male wolf brings him a daily supply of rodents of all description for his dining pleasure. Uncooked rodent is not very high on Bigmouth's list of gourmet delights but his new friend is so proud to be providing his food that Bigmouth is loath do dissuade him, lest he hurt the young one's feelings.
        One morning as the sun is just creeping over the Eastern wall of the valley the young wolf comes to Bigmouth with another field mouse. Bigmouth accepts the offering graciously thanking his friend for the food but when the little fellow offers to get more, he begs off.
       "I am feeling strong enough to hunt for my own food," he says. "I thank you very much for providing me with so much to eat during my recovery. You are a good hunter my friend and you should provide well for your pack."
        "You? Hunt?" The young wolf asks chuckling.
        "Of course I hunt" Bigmouth replies in surprise. "How do you think I stayed alive long enough get here?" He adds.
        "I don't mean to hurt your feelings my friend," the wolf goes on, "but I don't see how it is possible for you to hunt."
        "What do you mean by that?" Bigmouth demands.
        "I just mean that you are slow and clumsy. Your eyesight is bad you can not hear and your sense of smell is nonexistent. How can a creature such as you hunt?" The wolf pup asks with a slight chuckle.
        "My eyesight isn't that bad," Bigmouth says defensively. "And, besides the Fug-a-we do not attempt to out run our prey we out think it."
        "Oh" replies the pup unconvinced.
        "Besides." Bigmouth continues. "Chief Toad told me that the animals in this valley are so tame that a hunter need only ask politely and his intended prey will simply lye down and die for him."
        "Oh is that so?" The young wolf replies. "How dose your Chief Toad know so much about this valley?"
        "Well, ah, Coyote told him, that's how" Bigmouth returns a little defensively.
        "Yes of course, Coyote," the wolf says in a distracted tone. Then he turns his head sidewise as if listening to some thing under the ground near by.
        Slowly the wolf creeps across the grass, then he sits down on his haunches and watches a spot directly in front of him. Presently the grass where he is looking begins to move slightly. A moment later the earth opens and a pile of fresh dirt begins pushing up through the grass. Soon a gopher appears.
        The young wolf pounces on the gopher pinning it to the ground. The rodent thrashes under the weight of the wolf and squeals in protest.
        "Let me go you carnivorous creep!" The creature yells in its high pitched voice. "Help me, help me!" It screams.
        "Hold on there." The wolf tries to interrupt.
        "Help me, help me," the gopher continues.
        "HEY!" The young wolf barks in a commanding voice.
        The rodent stops its wailing.
        "What do you want?" It squeaks.
        "I just want to ask you a question," the wolf replies.
        "You want to what? A question? Well if that isn't a fine thing. Do you always go around pouncing on unsuspecting people and pinning them to the ground just to ask them a question?" The gopher scolds.
        "Well I.. The wolf begins.
        The little rodent barges ahead. "I mean, not even a by your leave, or an excuse me or a would you mind terribly. Just pounce and pin, never mind the other fellow as long as wolfy gets his bit, oh sure..."
        "Shut up!" The wolf growls barring his teeth.
        "Oh, uh, I see, uh, yes sir. And what can I do for the young mister wolf to day?" The gopher grovels.
        The wolf looks back at Bigmouth, who has been standing watching the whole affair with his mouth agape. He turns back to the gopher.
        "My friend Bigmouth the human Fug-a-we tells me, that it is told out side that here in the valley it is only necessary for a hunter to ask politely of any prey animal and it will give up its life to feed him."
        The nervous gopher looks from the man to the wolf.
        "Not on your life buck-o," it squeaks. The gopher turns its head and sinks its sharp teeth into the young wolf's paw severing the out side toe.
        "Owoooooo!" The wolf howls jumping into the air.
        The gopher takes this chance to make his escape and disappears into the earth.
        "Ow, ow, ow," the little wolf whines as he limps to the stream.
        He dips the paw in the water. "Ahh," he sighs.
        A thin line of blood trails down stream from the wolfs severed digit. After a moment the bleeding stops and the young wolf removes his injured foot from the water. Gingerly he puts his foot on the ground and applies a little weight.
        "Ah, yes that is better," he says as he walks carefully toward Bigmouth.
        "Well, I guess that question is answered." Bigmouth declares. "I don't understand why Chief Toad told me that story about the animals here, but then he was only repeating what he was told by Coyote."
        "Are you sure you actually spoke to this person you call Chief Toad?" the wolf asks.
        "Of course I spoke to him," Bigmouth replies. "Why do you doubt it."
        "My father has always told me that out side of the valley the animals do not speak the common tongue as we do here."
        "I don't know anything about that," Bigmouth says. "All I know is that I spent most of an afternoon in conversation with this Toad. At least I think I did."
        "What do you mean, You think You did?" The wolf asks.
        Bigmouth explains about eating the cactus and the strange occurrences that followed. Finally he says, "I must have spoken with the toad, every thing else that he told me was accurate. The pond, the existence of the valley."
        "Perhaps it was the cactus that made it possible for you to speak with and understand the toad." The little wolf suggests. "It is said that some of the plant people contain, shall we say, 'spirits' which when eaten invade the body and alter perception. It is possible that these 'spirits' facilitated your conversation with the reptile."
        "Yes, I can see that as a possibility. I will have to remember that in the future it may be useful." Bigmouth says rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "I am sorry you had to loose a toe because of Toads misinformation. Although now you have earned a name." Bigmouth says with a smile.
        "What do you mean?" The wolf asks looking curiously at Bigmouth.
        "It is a custom among the young of our tribe, that people are some times given names denoting some physical or personality trait. Therefor I think I shall henceforth call you Three-toes." Bigmouth announces.
        The young wolf looks at his injured foot.
        "Well, I guess it could be worse." Three-toes says with a slight chuckle. "If that Gopher had been a Badger you would no doubt now be calling me three paws."
        "How is the foot?" Bigmouth asks.
        "Oh, it's fine. The wound should heal quickly, thanks to the healing waters of the Wa'ste River," Three-toes assures.
        "What do you mean by, the healing waters?" Asks Bigmouth.
        "Like the cactus you ate, the waters of this stream contain spirits." Three-toes explains.
        "Some of these spirits help to accelerate the healing process. Others enter the body when you drink and renew your strength. Unlike some others, the waters of the Wa'ste carries only good spirits. That is why it is called the Wa'ste or (Good) River" Three-toes concludes.
        I remember Toad telling me of the spirits in this valley. "He called them Ghosts and said that they were not always friendly or helpful." Bigmouth replies.
        "As seems to be normal for your friend Toad, he has only part of the story." Three-toes states. "Yes the valley is inhabited by ghosts or spirits or what ever you want to call them but they are all friendly and helpful. I don't know what kind of spirits inhabit the outside world for I have never been there but I suppose that there could be bad ones as well as good."
        "All this talk is making me hungry," Bigmouth complains. "Are we going hunting or are we going to sit here talking all day." Then as an after thought he adds. "By the way. How is it that I can speak and understand your language?" He asks the wolf.
        "It's the water," replies the wolf matter-of-factly. "Only those who drink the waters of the Wa'ste can speak and understand the common tongue."
        "Tell me how you intend to hunt without Fangs, claws or any of the other attributes a hunter needs." Three-toes asks looking at Bigmouth quizzically.
        "Come with me," Bigmouth replies. "We can talk as I search for what I need." He enters the woods that surround the clearing.
        After much searching, Bigmouth finally finds what he is looking for. In the densest part of the forest he discovers a straight shade killed sapling. The dead tree is a bit taller than he and slightly thinner at the but end than his wrist. He approaches the sapling and begins breaking off branches.
        "Wait, hold on there Bigmouth! What are you doing"? Cries his companion.
        "Hu? Why, I'm breaking off the branches of this dead tree so I can fashion a spear to hunt with. "Bigmouth explains. "I told you about the spear. Remember?"           
        "I see that you have a few things to learn about this valley." Three-toes replies.
        "What do you mean?" Asks Bigmouth earnestly.
        "Have you forgotten our discussion of the spirits that live in the valley?" The wolf asks. "You must always take care that you respect them. Always ask permission before you take or kill anything for if you do not the spirits will work against you. Your friend Toad almost had it right in telling you to ask permission but you must still hunt and overpower your prey. They will not lye down for you and with out the aid of the animals spirit you will never overcome them."
        "What must I do?" Asks Bigmouth.
        "Simply ask the trees permission to use it and if the tree spirit feels you are sincere and respectful it will allow you to do so."
        "But the tree is dead," Bigmouth begins to protest.
        "Spirits never die." Three-toes replies matter-of-factly.
        Bigmouth shrugs his shoulders and turns to the dead sapling.
        "Oh tree," he begins. "I Bigmouth ask your permission that I may use you to make a spear to hunt with."
        He looks at Three-toes questioningly.
        "That should do it," his for legged friend declares.
        Again Bigmouth begins removing branches. "Is it my imagination or do these branches come off easier than before?" He thinks.
        When he has removed all the branches he grabs the denuded sapling with both hands. Expecting a struggle Bigmouth puts all his strength behind pulling up the small tree. With a 'pop' the tree separates at ground level, leaving a sharp but some what jagged point at the butt end. The tree breaks off so easily that Bigmouth stagers back some distance. He trips on a dead-fall and sits abruptly on the ground starring at the sapling in his hand. He looks questioningly at the wolf.
        "Well, nobody said that spirits don't have a sense of humor." Three-toes chuckles.
        Bigmouth gets to his feet and begins to remove the dry bark from the sapling. In a short time the spear is complete except for a final sharpening of the point. Bigmouth tests the heft and balance of his new weapon.
        "Perfect!" he exclaims. "I have never had a spear this well balanced. I have only to scrape the roughness from the point and we will be ready to hunt."
        "Now let me make sure I have this right," Three-toes is saying some time later that morning. He and Bigmouth are crouch behind a cluster of large boulders at the edge of a clearing where a Herd of deer is quietly munching. "You want me to chase those deer Past this rock so you can stick that sharpened tree into one. Is that correct?"
        "Well, uh, some thing like that, only I don't want you to run them just push them so they don't spook. If they are moving too fast it will be more difficult to hit one with the spear, Bigmouth Instructs him patiently.
        "Are you sure You wouldn't rather I get my family to run the deer for a while so that the weakest ones will tire making them easier to kill?" The wolf asks a little sarcastically.
        "No, this plan should work just fine," Bigmouth replies. "I do have one question though."
        "What's that?" Three-toes asks.
        "I am having some trouble with this asking of permission." Bigmouth says.
        "What do you mean?" Asks the little wolf.
        "If I stand up and walk into the clearing to ask permission to kill one of them, the deer will all scatter to the winds and I am not fleet enough to chase them. There will be no time for asking when the moment arrives to throw my spear. I do not know how to proceed." He confesses. "How do the wolves do it?" He asks after a moments thought.
        "Well, we sing to them," the Three-toes replies.
        "Sing to them?" Asks Bigmouth.
        "Yes, the night before a hunt we gather on a high place and sing to the grass eaters. In our song we tell them of our hunger and our need of their co-operation so that we may feed our pack."
        "I can't wait until tomorrow to do my hunting!" Bigmouth insists. "Isn't there some other way that I can ask there permission?"
        "Well, yes there is but singing with my family is allot more fun," Three-toes replies. "At times, as when I hunted for your rodents. Instead of serenading the entire valley I quietly sing my request to a particular prey animal. Occasionally this will bring success if the singer is sincere and his song is sweet enough."
        "I do not know any songs for asking permission," Bigmouth confesses. "How do I begin?"
        "Listen to me" his friend says. "I will sing a little of the wolves song."
        The wolf sits back on his haunches and begins to whine quietly, his voice rising and falling through many octaves.
        Bigmouth listens attentively but can not make out any words or even syllables in the wolf's song.
        Presently Three-toes stops singing and looks at Bigmouth. "Now you try it" he says.
        Bigmouth tries but just can't quite get it right. His voice cracks on the high whiny sounds as he tries to emulate the wolf's song.
        "No, no, no, shush, You will chase the deer away" Three-toes urges quietly. "We will have to practice later but for now I will sing the song again and then we will begin the stalk."
        He closes his eyes and whines quietly for a while. When Three-toes is finished singing, he turns to Bigmouth.
        "We are up wind of our prey," he says. "I will circle around and get behind them. As long as they don't see me, my sent will move them in this direction at a slow pace. You have chosen this spot for your ambush well it is one of two natural exits from the clearing. The deer will likely pass very close, if they do not see, hear or smell you. Good luck with your stick my friend. I will go sneak into the tall grass and watch to see how the human beings kill there meat."
        "Wait!" Bigmouth whispers urgently. "How do we know we have there permission to hunt them?" He asks.
        "We don't have to receive there permission in order to hunt them. It is only as a sign of respect that we ask it of them." Three-toes responds looking curiously at his starring new friend. "If we are successful, then we will know that permission has been granted." He then turns and slips away into the tall grass.
        A short time later Bigmouth is crouched behind the rock awaiting the arrival of his quarry. He can hear the whisper of the deer's feet as they, propelled by the slight sent of wolf on the breeze, cautiously move toward the exit to the meadow.
        Bigmouth stands and slowly draws his arm back to full length, holding the spear at the balance point. He tenses his muscles for the strike.
        The first to emerge from behind the boulder is a young doe and her fawn. Bigmouth waits motionless allowing them to pass by. Next a young spike buck leaps from behind the rock, stops and turns to face Bigmouth.
        As Bigmouth strikes hard he can feel a searing pain in his so recently ravaged chest as the muscles protest such abuse.
        "Waugh!" He cries as he releases the spear and falls to his knees clutching his chest. Sweat forms on his brow and upper lip he gasps for air then the pain begins to fade. The spear flies true and pierces the deer's throat severing the main artery. The buck shies and runs off for several yards before it collapses.
        "What are you doing kneeling on the ground. Come on Bigmouth he's getting away" cries the young wolf as he runs passed.
        Bigmouth struggles to his feet and stagers after Three-toes. Soon he hears his friend not far away as the wolf begins to howl.
        He finds Three-toes sitting next to the corps of the deer. He has his head thrown back and is vocalizing to the extent of his range. The mournful sound slides from note to note up and down the wolf-tonic scale.
        "What are you doing now?" Bigmouth asks earnestly as he comes near.
        "I am doing two things" Three-toes replies. "One, I am telling the valley that we have made a successful hunt, now the grass eaters can relax for a while. The other thing is, I am honoring the dead deer. I am singing of his bravery and sacrifice"
        "Why is it that I can understand your speech but not your songs?" Bigmouth asks.
        "It is because I do not sing in the common tongue. That which you and I use to communicate. I sing in the language of my people the Wolves." Three-toes explains.
        "My people do not have any such songs we have always taken what we need with out much thought to animal or plant spirits. We never suspected that such things exist." Bigmouth confesses. "I see there is much for me to learn in this valley and I will have much to teach the Fug-a-we. For now I will sing with you and we will honor this deer."
        "Should we not invite your family to share in the kill." He asks.
        "Don't worry my friend" says Three-toes. "The singing is also an invitation to dine."
        So, the human being and the wolf squat together next to the slain deer and howl the wolf's victory song. Presently the family of Three-toes arrives and they all share in the Bigmouth's deer. When they have eaten there fill, they leave the carcass to the smaller predators and scavengers. Thus Bigmouth's kill feeds many grateful mouths.

To Chapter21

Back to the introduction