This Sight is Continuously Evolving

Children of the Coyote

Chapter 6
"The trail begins"


    In the chill of pre-dawn, Lizardfoot wakes. He quietly slips from his sleeping robes, and creeps to the entrance of the lodge. He collects his equipment and ducks outside. Standing in the gloom he ties the belt around his waste, slips the club, and rock thrower behind the belt. He reaches down, takes hold of the pack, and swings it on to his back. As he reaches with his right hand for the spear, he hears his mother stirring under her robes.     "Take care, my son, return to us." She says quietly.
    "I will" he replies, as he picks up the throwing stick. He turns from the shelter and heads across the village toward the creek.
    More than one pair of eyes watch him as he leaves the village.
    The old man sees the boy as he passes by the entrance to his lodge. Lizard Foot stops as if to call out to him then turns away and passes on by.
    "Farewell my young friend" whispers Bringer Of Fire.
    As he reaches the creek he stops for one more look at his home. A small glow still flickers in the central fire pit. By its light he can see the sleeping forms of some of the villagers who had not made it back to there lodges after the celebration. He sighs, shrugs and disappears into the gloom of the woods along the stream.
    A shadowy figure moves along the edge of the trees paralleling Lizardfoot, staying out of sight.
    Using the spear as a staff Lizardfoot crosses the stream. Walking a few yards he is out of the trees and on the prairie. He looks up at the stars and sets a course for the Northwest.     Bent under the weight of the pack he begins his adventure.
    After about an hour, he notices that the light is beginning to improve. He can now see the land around him. He can make out the dark shapes of grass eaters as they move out of his way. He has been walking steadily on a slight incline since leaving the creek. He stops and turns around looking back along his trail.
    To the South and East he can see the line of trees that mark the stream where the camp of the human beings is located. The sky to the East is orange along the horizon fading to a mauve then to a cobalt blue. A few of the brighter stars are still visible but fading fast as the first streamers of sunlight burst upon the world. He sees the Light Bringer begin to make his appearance above the curve of the earth. As he watches, he thinks of Bringer Of Fire, and wonders who will become the new apprentice. His thoughts turn to Tagalong, and he wonders if they will ever see each other again, And if so, will she have children by then? He knows that while he is gone, the life of the tribe will continue as if he were still there. Children will be born and old people will dye the never ending cycle will continue with or without him. He watches a curl of smoke began to rise from the direction of the village.
    "Bringer Of Fire is attending to his responsibilities" he thinks.
    With a sigh he turns and continues walking to the top of the rise and then down the other side and out of sight of the village.
    Tagalong, watches from the trees as Lizard Foot climbs from the creek and starts out onto the prairie. She stands in the shadows so he can not see her. She almost calls to him but knows that he wishes to leave the camp with as little notice as possible so she simply watches him.
    After leaving the creek, Lizardfoot disappears into the gloom of pre-dawn. Tagalong continues to watch until the sun begins to rise. For a moment she sees him stop at the limit of her vision, just a spot on the horizon. Then the spot disappears. Slowly she turns and heads back to the lodge of her mother.
    Other eyes are also watching.
    Bigmouth, sees the girl as she returns to her lodge.
    "Well" he thinks. "The kid is off to become a hero. We will see about that. I'll give him a little head start. Then I will follow his trail."
    Around mid morning, Bigmouth leaves the Fug-a-we camp, crossing the creek near the same location where Lizard Foot had crossed earlier. It only takes a few minutes for him to pick up Lizard's trail, then with his freshly sharpened spear in one hand and a club in the other he heads Northwest at a comfortable jog. When he reaches the top of the long gentle slope he stops where Lizardfoot had stopped that morning. He turns and surveys his back trail. In the distance he can see the smoke rising from the tree shrouded village. He is sure no one has seen him leave, and he sees no one following him. He turns, and lopes down the long slow grade on the other side.
    Although the prairie looks perfectly flat, this is not the case. It is a series of low undulations. Occasionally the sameness of the land is broken by outcroppings of rock protruding from the grass as if the land had been bent to the braking point. Lower areas are cut by gullies where torrential rains have eroded long steep sided channels. These washes are mostly dry at this time of year. Occasionally they will contain a small creek or spring surrounded by a clump of willows.
    After traveling for several miles at a steady lope, Bigmouth becomes very thirsty. As he nears one such gully he notices a willow thicket to his left a short distance. Cautiously he approaches the willows. He can see that the willows grow along the gully for many yards, so he feels that there will be sufficient water for his needs.
    Approaching such a patch is often a dangerous undertaking. Many of the large predators of the prairie use this type of cover, waiting for an unsuspecting lone grass eater to stop bye for a drink. It is a good ploy and is even occasionally used by humans for the same purpose.
    He thinks about the two giant bears he saw earlier that day feeding on a bison carcass. Fortunately he had been following Lizards trail and noticed that his quarry had taken a detour. Curious, he crouched low in the grass and sneaked forward to see why the lad had changed coarse. He could hear the sound of the predators low growling. As he toped a slight rise he saw that the two bears had torn the animal apart. Each had dragged his piece of the kill a safe distance from the other and was busily devouring it. Retracing his steps Bigmouth had resumed trailing Lizardfoot.
  Now, he squats near the willow thicket and listens intently. He can hear the sound of the wind whispering through the tall grasses, and the calls of redwing blackbirds. He listens to a family of quail chattering to his left. Slowly, carefully he works his way down the steep side of the gully. At the bottom he cautiously parts the brush with his club, his right hand gripping the spear tightly. As he peers into the thicket he can see a small puddle and hear the tinkling sound of water. He waits a few more moments and when he is satisfied that it is safe he slips into the cool shade of the willows.
    Setting his weapons aside he kneels down, puts his face into the small pool and drinks deeply. Sitting back on his haunches he scoops up a double handful of the cool liquid and pores it over his head. After a few moments rest he collects his club and spear and exits the willows. He notices a game trail going up the side of the gully opposite where he entered. and follows it soon he is back in pursuit of Lizardfoot.
    As the sun reaches its zenith, Bigmouth notices a small dot on the horizon in front of him.    
    "Lizardfoot" he thinks. "I had best slow down. I don't want him to know I'm following him yet."
    Bigmouth squats in the tall grass and watches as the dot on the horizon disappears.
   Some time later he comes upon a herd of bison who have grazed their way between Lizardfoot and himself. They are moving in the same general direction as the two humans. An idea comes to him and he grins.
    Cautiously he works his way toward the buffalo. The wind is blowing from left to right so he is able to sneak very close to the herd without notice. On hands and knees he creeps, until he can hear the sound of their chewing and the flies buzzing around them. When he is close enough to touch one of the stragglers he jumps straight up from the grass, yelling at the top of his lungs and waving his weapons over his head. Three of the animals directly in front of him jerk there heads up from their contented munching, bellow and race off crashing into the rear of the herd. This causes a chain reaction and before long the entire swarm of buffalo is stampeding in the direction of Lizardfoot.
    "Haw..... haw.... haw" Bigmouth laughs. "That ought to give the kid something to think about" he says aloud.
    After waiting for the dust to clear, Bigmouth resumes his pursuit. After a few moments he realizes he has made a serious error. By stampeding the buffalo he has erased all trace of Lizards trail, also he realizes that if something happens to Lizardfoot, He (Bigmouth) will not learn Coyote's secret and will not be the hero of the Fug-a-we.
    "Something can always happen to Lizard after he has the secret and after I have forced him to reveal it. Until then Lizard must not be harmed" thinks Bigmouth.
    "Gee, I hope the little fellow is all right" Bigmouth says, not too convincingly.
    He follows along in the trail of destruction left by the stampeding heard. By late afternoon he spots a rock outcropping directly ahead. He walks toward it knowing that it is probably Lizard's only hope of escape. When Bigmouth reaches the rocks he sees footprints in the dust, leading away to the Northwest. The buffalo are still heading due North. He can see the dust cloud that marks their progress.
    "The kid survived the stampede," he thinks. "He's a lucky one, but then, so am I."


    That afternoon as Tagalong sits in front of her mother's shelter adding the final touches to a project she is working on. The girl who is Bigmouth's latest robe warmer stops by to chat. In the conversation she mentions that she has not seen Bigmouth all day.
    "Perhaps he is out hunting" Tagalong suggests.
    "I don't think so" the other girl replies. "I asked his friends, Beak and Bullhead if they had seen him and neither one had."
    "So?" Queried Tagalong, raising an eyebrow.
    "They always hunt together," the other girl says. "You know it's not safe hunting alone" "I'm worried," she adds. "It's not like him to just go off with out saying anything."
    The girl looks down and rings her hands.
    "He's a big boy" Tagalong assures her friend. "He'll be home in time for the evening meal, you just wait."
    Secretly, Tagalong's mind is in turmoil. She is well aware of the antagonism between Lizard and Bigmouth. She cannot shake the feeling that Bigmouth is up to something. He has followed Lizardfoot and is carrying out some sinister plan to either harm Lizard or in some way steal his glory.
    It had been Tagalong's plan all along to follow the trail of Lizard Foot. She would  wait until the next morning so there was no chance that she would accidentally come upon him before she was ready. Now she realizes that she must leave immediately. If Bigmouth is following Lizard then the oaf is planing something evil and she must be there to help her friend.
    "I have some things to do" Tagalong tells the girl, as she stands abruptly. "I'm sure that Bigmouth is safe." She turns and ducks into the lodge.
    The other girl gets to her feet, shrugs her shoulders and walks off toward her own hut.
    Reaching above her head Tagalong takes an empty water bladder from a peg and ducks out of the door.
    She walks toward the creek with the container in one hand and the item she had been working on in the other. No one pays any attention to her as she walks to the stream. She is just another woman fetching water.
    When she arrives at the creek she turns up stream and continues in that direction for several yards. Near an old burned stump she pulls apart a pile of brush revealing a bundle and a spear. Tagalong picks up the bundle, unfolds the softened skin covering the pack she had made, and inspects the contents.
    "If I don't have what I need, I will just have to make do with what I have" she thinks.     She removes a small bag of stones, a pounded leather belt, and a throwing stick. She ties the belt around her waist and suspends the bag of stones from the belt. She rolls the hide sling into a ball and stuffs into the bag with the stones. She walks to the creek and fills the water skin then returns to the pack. Tagalong puts the water skin in the pack then folds the calf robe and stuffs it in on top. She shrugs into the pack straps, picks up the throwing stick and the spear, then fords the creek and heads north west to pick up Lizardfoot's trail.

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