Children of the Coyote
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
The fish pauses for a moment, then as if coming
to a decision he says. "Actually, yes I do have a name."
"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
"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
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
"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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