This Sight is Continuously Evolving


Children of the Coyote
The History of the Fug-a-we

Chapter 9
"Rescue in the Desert"

    After Lizardfoot finishes the last bit of rabbit he tosses the bones into the fire. Out of the corner of his eye he catches a movement across the creek. When he looks in that direction he sees a large coyote sitting on the opposite bank watching him. Startled, he jumps to his feet. The coyote stares at lizard for a few minutes then turns and departs up the hill to the Northwest. When the coyote reaches the top of the hill it stops and turns to look back at Lizard, then pointing its nose to the sky it ki-yies a few times and disappears over the hill.
    Lizardfoot stands there with his mouth open, looking at the spot where the coyote had been. Then as if suddenly awaken from a dream he begins collecting his equipment, hastily throwing his belongings into the pack. When he has all of his gear stowed, he throws the pack on his back and grabs his spear. He scans the clearing for any thing he may have forgotten, then crosses the stream and follows the coyote up the hill. When Lizardfoot reaches the top of the hill, the animal is nowhere to be seen. Not even a trail of bent grass blades gives evidence of its passage. With out a look back Lizard heads off in the direction he has been traveling since leaving the village of the Fug-a-we. After crossing several hills, Lizard begins to notice changes in the landscape. Where there were creeks between the hills, now he finds only dry washes. Where there were stands of cottonwoods and willow, now there is only grease wood and chaparral and sage. The hills before him are getting smaller. In the distance he can see an open llano stretching for miles.
    Leaving the hill country behind he enters the large dry flat land. The surface is mostly composed of coarse sand with porous black rocks ranging in size from pebbles to knee high boulders scattered evenly over the surface. The few sparse clumps of rank grass are interspersed with sagebrush, creosote bushes and prickly pear. There are no trees within his view and the sun stares mercilessly down from above. Baking under the relentless sun the sand has become intolerably hot.
    Lizardfoot scampers from the shade of one sage bush to another trying to keep from scorching his bare feet. Then after several hundred yards of this, he realizes that he has the answer to this problem in his pack. Stopping with his feet in the shade of a large clump of sage, Lizard takes off the pack. He sets it on the ground and rummages around in it for a bit. Soon he finds the footgear that the old Fug-a-we woman had made for him. Setting the sandals on the ground before him he slides his feet one at a time under the toe strap. Reaching down, he ties the strings at the heal around his ankles. He re-packs his equipment, shoulders the pack and again is on his way. Lizard is amazed at how well these foot coverings work. It is possible for him to stroll across the burning sands in relative comfort. Occasionally he finds it necessary to stop to pick small stones from between his foot and the sole of the sandal.
    He is now making good progress across this barren country but the relentless sun beats down upon him and a hot wind blows steadily from the West sucking the moisture out of his body. After a few hours of scorching sun overhead, burning sand under foot and the hot wind, Lizard starts thinking about water. He has not had a drink since the last creek he crossed while still in the hill country.
    Lizard stops, shade's his eyes and searches the horizon for a black line of trees that normally indicates the presence of a stream. Just below the horizon he can see the shimmering of what appears to be a large body of water directly ahead. He sets off toward the shimmer trudging along doggedly. Soon he notices that the sun is getting low in the West. To his relief the temperature is beginning to cool. Lizard decides to continue walking until dark in hopes off reaching the lake he believes to be just ahead. Darkness descends on the land and he is no closer to water than when he first saw the reflection. He realizes that he will have to rest for the night. He stops in his tracks and removes the pack. Setting it down, Lizard pulls out the buffalo calf robe and spreads it on the ground. He retrieves his supply of food, Sits on the robe and eats his hard dry supper of nuts dried berries and jerky. As he finishes his meal he decides to alter his marching schedule. He will sleep for a few hours then while the moon is up he will continue across this hot dry country in the cool hours of night, steering by the hunter's star.
    The Moon is half way across the sky when Lizard wakes up. His throat and nostrils are dry his lips are split and his tongue is sticking to the in side of his mouth. Rubbing the sand out of his eyes he sits up and peers around at the moonlit desert. The sand is cool enough to walk barefooted but the presence of many prickly pear cactus convinces him to wear the sandals. Slowly lizard rises to his feet then he bends down and picks up the robe, folds it and shoves it into the pack. He slips his weapons into his belt then swings the pack onto his back. After picking up the spear he looks up, finds the hunter's star, sets his course and begins slowly to walk through the eerie night time desert landscape. He can hear the sounds of small nocturnal creatures scurrying out of his way as he moves along. Lizard frequently drifts off his line and has to make corrections. For many hours he zigzags through the sage and chaparral. The moon sets well before sunrise, and it becomes too dark to walk safely. Exhausted he finally slumps to the ground. He drifts off to sleep, sitting on the sand with the pack still on his back .
    He wakes with the sun beating down on him. When he tries to open his eyes the lids are stuck closed. He reaches up and pries them open with his fingers. The bright sunlight causes him to wince and he holds one hand to his forehead shading his eyes from the light. After a while when he can see again and notices that it's about mid morning and the sand is already burning hot. Lizardfoot struggles to his feet and stands swaying in the hot wind. He picks up the pack, wrestles it on to his back and staggers off to the Northwest. It takes all of his concentration to keep going in the right direction. Every few hundred yards he stops and takes another Bering. Whenever he looks out across the desert he can see the shimmering as if there is a lake just in front of him. One time he stops to look around and notices that the water is not only before him but behind him and to the right and left as well. He stands there for a while his brain sluggishly turning over the situation. He knows that he hasn't crossed any water. How could there be that shimmering liquid behind him? The water in front of him never gets any closer. Is he walking in circles? He has been constantly checking his course and is sure he has maintained a fairly straight line to the Northwest. Shading his eyes he studies the land in front of him. He can see a black line beyond the maddening shimmer.
   "That black line must be trees along a stream" he thinks and doggedly heads in that direction.
    A few hours later finds him on all fours crawling across the sand. He has discarded the pack and spear. The rock thrower and throwing stick are chafing his side making it difficult to crawl so he pulls them from the belt, drops them and worms his way forward. After another hour he is lying prone under a creosote bush his head against its base stopping his progress.

    Tagalong sits in the shade of a small patch of willows near a puddle formed by a spring leaking slowly out of the side of an otherwise dry gully. The pool is small but just deep enough to fill the animal bladder that she is using as a canteen.
    "This land is becoming very dry. I will have to make sure I keep this bag full" she tells the pup who is napping at her side.
    Tagalong chews thoughtfully on a piece of jerky.
   "I wonder how far ahead Lizard is. I shouldn't be to far behind him." She muses. "If he is in this dry country with out water he will be in serious trouble." She says to the pup. The pup looks up at her, whines a little and puts its chin back on it's feet and closes it's eyes again.
    Tagalong finishes the jerky, scoops up some water for a last drink and stows her gear in the pack. She stands, puts the pack on and picks up her spear. The puppy wakes up, stretches and whines to be picked up.
    "No." she says gently. You must learn to walk on your own, I can't carry you all the time." With that, Tagalong exits the willow patch and searches along the bottom of the gully until she finds Lizards faint trail. The puppy follows in her wake whining quietly.
    Tagalong has also become a bit concerned about Bigmouth. His trail has disappeared.
   "He may be an oaf and a fool but he is still a human being" she thinks. "I hope nothing terrible has happened to him." The memory of the large bear tracks that followed Lizard and Bigmouth trail causes her to shudder.
   "Well, there is nothing I can do for Bigmouth." "My concern is first, for Lizardfoot" she mumbles as she finds the trail. She climbs out of the gully and starts up the hill. From the top, she can see that there are only a few more small hills to cross and she will be on a broad gray expanse of land. The llano stretches to the horizon before her shimmering in the heat. Looking West she determines that she has little time before the sun sets. She reaches the edge of the desert as the sun begins to disappear behind the mountains and decides to rest until the moon rises before venturing out upon the dry flat land. Using the pack as a pillow she lies down and drifts off to sleep.
    Tagalong is awakened by the pup licking her face. She sits up and notices that it is full dark and the moon is just beginning to brighten the eastern horizon. Pulling the pack around between her knees she removes a pemmican cake. After breaking off a piece for the pup she stuffs the remainder in her mouth. Swallowing the nutritious food, and washing it down with a sip of water, then she pores a small amount into her palm for her companion.
    This done, Tagalong gets to her feet, mounts the pack, retrieves the spear and starts walking in Lizards tracks. The moon has journeyed three quarters of the way across the sky when she comes to the spot where Lizard stopped to sleep. The light is still sufficient to see his tracks but she knows that she must stop once it dips below the Western barrier or risk loosing the trail and possibly becoming lost.
    An hour later the cool white orb drops below the horizon and the world slips into total darkness. Tagalong stops, drops the pack and lays the robe on the ground. Lying down she roles up in it for some well deserved rest. A few minutes later the pup, pushing its nose under one edge snuggles against her and with its head on the crook of her arm, also falls to sleep.
    The sun is just peaking above the eastern horizon when Tagalong pulls back a corner of the robe and peers out at the new day. She sits up rubbing the grit from her eyes, and gets a piece of jerky out of the pack. Splitting it she gives the smaller strip to the pup and then eats the remainder. After finishing her breakfast washed down with a sip of water she re-packs. Then, spear in hand, and the pup running alongside she resumes tracking Lizardfoot. Soon she notices that Lizards trail is beginning to veer off coarse, first to the left for a ways then back to the right. Although the general direction is correct Lizards tracks are zigzagging across the desert. Tag decides to cut across the zigzags in hopes to shorten the distance between her and Lizard. She crosses his path many times and then looses it. Backtracking to where she last saw his footprints she follows his spore and notices that he has started to make a wide circle to the left. Soon she comes upon his Pack lying on the sand. She stops and looks around.
    "LIZARDFOOT!" She calls. "LIZARD, WHERE ARE YOU!" She calls again, panic beginning to rise in her voice, she hurries on.
    After several hundred yards she finds his spear. A little further, she notices that he is no longer walking. By the sign she can tell he is crawling like a baby across this inhospitable land. Before long, she finds the rock thrower and throwing stick. By mid day she comes to the end of her search. She sees him lying on the ground with his head under a creosote bush. Tagalong rushes to him and drops to her knees at his side, she reaches out and takes him by the shoulder. Shaking him she calls his name. There is no response. Taking his arm she drags him out from under the bush and rolls him onto his back. Then putting her face close to his she listens for the sound of breathing. She can just hear a slight intake and exhale.     "He's alive" she exults tears running down her face.
    Blurry eyed she removes her pack and retrieves the water skin and carefully trickles the precious liquid onto his lips. It runs down his cheek, so she squeezes his cheeks to open his mouth and pours another small dribble into his mouth. His swollen tongue begins to move. She pours a little more just as he takes a breath. He begins coughing and sputtering His eye's open and he tries to sit up. She supports his head and puts the spout of the bladder to his lips. As soon as the water begins to flow, he reaches out and grabs the container and starts gulping the life saving liquid.
"No, No, No" she says pulling the water skin away. You have to go slow on this water it is all we have and we will need it to get us through this desert.
    When Tagalong first saw Lizardfoot lying there she ran to him leaving the pup behind.
The pup also saw him and stopped in her tracks. She sat down where she was and watched the Girl bending over this other being and making incomprehensible noises.
The pup is afraid to get to close, not understanding what is happening. Curiosity and the sent of water finely draw her. She takes a few steps and sits down to watch then she takes a few more steps. Finely crawling on her belly she is at Tagalong's elbow. She cautiously sniffs at the head of this strange person. It smells different than her adopted mother but still the scent is similar. It doesn't appear to be dangerous in fact it appears to be barley alive at all.
When Lizard sits up suddenly, the pup scurries away and hides behind Tagalong, whining nervously. After a few words to Lizardfoot, Tagalong reaches out and scratches the little dog reassuringly behind the ears. The pup lies down with her chin on her feet and watches Lizardfoot intently.
    Tagalong decides that they can't move today so she tells Lizardfoot to stay put while she retrieve his abandoned equipment. Taking the water skin she heads back along their trail, the pup running along behind her. An hour later she returns with Lizardsfoot's big pack on her back his spear in her hand and the rest of his weapons stuck in her belt. When she arrives, she sets the pack on the ground and piles the weapons to one side. Then she makes a temporary sun shelter using the two spears and the buffalo robes. When this is done, she sits by Lizard's side lifts his head and gives him another small drink of their precious supply of water.
    "Thanks" he rasps through his parched vocal cords. He lays his head back on the ground and closes his eyes.
    Tagalong takes a small drink and gives some to the pup. Then she lies down in the shade next to Lizard. Watching his chest rise and fall she drifts off to sleep with the pup curled up against her back.

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