Children of the Coyote
"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"
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
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
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
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
"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
"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"
"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
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.
To Chapter 7
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