This Sight is Continuously Evolving

Children of the Coyote

Chapter 24
A Fine Day for Talking to Amimals

        The next morning dawns bright and clear. High on the side of the valley Bigmouth crawls out of the cave, stretches languorously and takes a deep breath of the clean mountain air.
        The valley appears to sparkle below him in the freshly washed atmosphere.
        "A fine day" he remarks to no one in particular.
        Three-toes crawls out into the light shakes out his fur and yawns showing all of his teeth.
        "I'm hungry he grumbles"
        "Me too" Bigmouth replies. "Sing your hunting song and then we will go" he continues.
        "Maybe we will find a rabbit or two lower down in one of the meadows"
        "Rabbit?" The wolf asks. "I was thinking along the lines of something a little larger like maybe a nice tender fawn or yearling doe. They are a lot less work to catch and we only need one for the both of us. Why do you want rabbit?"
        "I agree that hunting one deer is more efficient than hunting two rabbits," Bigmouth says, but I want to talk to the deer today and it is difficult to have a conversation with some one when you are eating one of their relatives. So, for today you can eat rabbit and I will subsist on nuts and berries. That way you will only need to catch one hare and I won't have the odor of blood on my breath when I talk to the deer."
        And so the days pass.
        Bigmouth and Three-toes crisscross the valley on their way West. When ever possible Bigmouth engages the creatures he encounters in conversation learning about their history and their place in the great puzzle of life. He always collects some memento of the conversation, a small twig of white thorn to remind him of the deer, an acorn for the squirrels, a crawfish's claw to remind him of the raccoon's story, a black feather from the crow's tail, etc. All this he collects in the bag that hangs from his shoulder. The sun has risen seven times when the man and the wolf find themselves looking up at the great Guardian mount at the Western end of the valley.
        They are camped on the South side of the stream at the place where the Wa'ste River splits around the great rock into the North and South forks .
        Bigmouth is in the stream attempting to catch a large fish that he has coaxed into the shallows.
        Three-toes sits on the shore watching the human with interest, and occasionally giving his advice.
        Finally Bigmouth corners the big trout between the shore and a large rock. Carefully he reaches for the fish. It is fat and strong and as Bigmouth grabs it behind the gills the fish thrashes furiously. It leaps into the air while Bigmouth hangs on tenaciously.
        Bigmouth's foot slips from under him and he falls backward into deeper water. Below the surface the trout heads for mid stream. Bigmouth hangs on and regains his feet. Coughing and sputtering he stands up holding the fish tightly before him..
        "Let me go, you!" The fish screams as it thrashes in the air.
        Bigmouth is surprised to hear the fish address him for he has caught and eaten many such creatures while in the valley and none have uttered a sound.
        "LET ME GO!" The fish continues to yell.
        "Wait, hold on there my friend" Bigmouth responds. "I was not aware that fishes could talk. How is it that none have spoken to me before.
        "We have been aware of your quest for some time now. Beaver warned us but we are a taciturn people and do not engage in conversation lightly." The fish says in a hissing voice. "It is very uncomfortable for us to be out of the water for any length of time. Indeed we will dye of suffocation after a fairly short span so if you please, put me back in the stream so that I may breath."
        Bigmouth complies holding the creature in the fast moving water for a short spell. Then he lifts the fish from the stream and holds it before him again.
        "I have been chosen to be the one who tells you the story of the fishes," he continues.
        "It is a long story, and if you hold me out of the water like this I will not be able to speak but a few sentences before you will have to dunk me in the stream to breathe. On the other hand, if you hold me in the water so that my body weight is supported and my gills stay wet, I will be able to tell you my tale much easier." The fish is gasping by the end of its speech.
        Bigmouth lowers it into the stream holding the fish tightly.
        "Now, If you could just loosen your grip on my gills and tail so that I can breath properly I will continue my story." The fish pleads.
        "Oh no!" Bigmouth chuckles. "You must think me a fool. You are trying to trick me into letting you go" he continues.
        "Silly human! Tricks are for Coyote." The fish protests. "I will not try to escape.
        You caught me fairly and I have been chosen to tell you the fish story and I will do so."
        After a moments thought Bigmouth loosens his grip on the large trout.
        "Oh, thank you" the fish hisses. "That helps. Now where was I? Oh yes, The fish are among the oldest  inhabitance of this world." The fish begins.
        "Hold on there fish," Bigmouth interrupts. "Do you have a name?" He asks.
        "What? A Name?" The fish sputters. "How odd that you should ask such a personal question of some one you hardly know."
        The fish pauses for a moment, then as if coming to a decision he says. "Actually, yes I do have a name."
        Another pause.
        "My family name is Trout you see. I come from a long line of trout," he goes on. "We are related to the Salmon family but unlike them and our cousins the Steel-head. We trout do not go to sea for years at a time."
"Vagabonds" he sighs disgustedly. "Those irresponsible Steel-head leave there offspring to fend for them selves while they go gallivanting off to tour the oceans. At least the Salmon have the grace to give up there lives for there children."
        The trout goes on to tell Bigmouth the fish tale from their beginnings as one-celled creatures in the primordial sea through the evolution of all the verities of their line.
        "Any more questions?" The fish asks when it is done.
        "Well since you asked" Bigmouth mumbles. "What did your mother call you?"
        "Excuse me?" asks the trout.
        "Well, you said that your family name is Trout, and with all your siblings looking just like you I just thought that your mother would have had a hard time knowing who was who unless she named each of you."
        The fish pauses as if thinking of a proper reply. Finally it lifted its head from the water.
        "Killgor," it says And with a flip of its tail the large trout disappears into the depths of the stream.
        Bigmouth climbs from the water and looks to where the Wolf had been sitting. Three-toes is no where in sight. Disappointed and still hungry Bigmouth sits on the bank with his feet in the stream.
        "Killgor?" Bigmouth repeats. "What a strange name."
         "Well I guess that fish tricked me after all," he thinks. "Of course I would have let him go any way. I don't think I could eat some one with whom I have been speaking, especially knowing his name and all."
     Presently Three-toes returns with a large rabbit clenched in his teeth. He drops it near Bigmouth and says; "Here, eat this one pilgrim and I'll fetch another."
        He turns and humming to himself, disappears into the brush along the stream.
        A short time later Bigmouth hears a rustling and a high-pitched squeal, not far away.
        Soon, Three-toes joins him with another bunny in his mouth.
        "How did you know that we weren't going to eat fish?" Bigmouth asks his friend.
        "I seen it right off," Three-toes answers, with a wolfish grin. "I new as soon as you started talking to that fish that I had better find something for us to eat. You never want to eat any one that you have been talking to."
        "Must be a human thing," he adds after a moment.
        The next after-noon finds Bigmouth and Three-toes working their way North along the East bank of the North fork of the Wa'ste River.
        Three-toes had informed Bigmouth that it was not possible to leave the valley by following the South fork.
        "That fork drops over an un-scaleable precipice of smooth stone higher than the tallest tree in the valley," he tells Bigmouth as they make there plans that morning. "My father took us there when I was just a pup. From the cliff top we had a view of the out side world." The wolf shivers. "It looked very desolate. Only along the protecting cliffs where the river runs is there any vegetation. Every thing else has been blasted by the periodic eruptions of the Black Mountain."
        Three-toes points North with his nose. "The North fork flows around the north side of the Guardian Mount and tumbles down a series of cascades." He instructs his friend. "I don't know if we can get out of the valley that way but I do know that there is no egress via the south fork."
        By mid day Three-toes is becoming anxious. "Some thing is very wrong," He whines as they stop for a rest after crossing the stream using a fallen tree for a bridge.
        "What do you mean, wrong?" Bigmouth asks. "Aren't we going the right way?"
        "Yes, yes. We are going the right way but I still have this feeling of impending doom." Three-toes answers.
        "Maybe It is just anxiety over leaving the valley." Bigmouth suggests. "After all it is your home."
        "No, That's not it." Three-toes replies. "I am excited to be going outside."
        "Well what is it then," Bigmouth asks, concern evident in his voice.
        "All I know is that something bad is about to happen." Three-toes replies in a whining tone.
        "Well, what ever is going to happen. There is nothing that we can do about it until it occurs so we might as well continue our journey." Bigmouth says, as he scratches the young wolf behind the ears and gets to his feet.
        "Yeah, you're right I guess." Three-toes agrees. "Let's get going."
        Here the stream flows through a broad green meadow that slopes gently upward to the base of low cliffs on the north side of the valley. A few large old trees line the North shore.
        On the South side of the river are thickets of Willow and Wild Rose that grow right up to the feet of the Guardian Mount.

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