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Native American Stories :Tar Baby

Coyote and fox

Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache

Tar Baby

Long ago Fox was stealing. He was crawling through a small hole in the bottom of the fence. The farmer put a figure made of pitch in the hole. Fox was walking around in the night and saw this figure of pitch. “Get out of the way and let me pass,” he said. “There are many watermelons.” The figure moved from side to side. He went up closer to it. “Go on,” he told it. It did not go. When Fox started through, the figure slid from one side to the other. “It is not a person,” he said and started to go in. Move away he told it. It did not move away. He struck the pitch. His hand stuck there. “I will strike you with my left hand,” he said. His left hand stuck to the figure. “I will kick you with my right foot,” he threatened. When his foot stuck he said he would kick him with his left foot. When his left foot was fast he said he would switch him hard with his tail. His tail stuck fast. “I will bite your head off,” he said. He bit him and his teeth stuck fast.
The man came and found him hanging to one side of the figure. He took Fox to his house and tied him to a stake while he heated water to scald him. Coyote came along and asked Fox why he was there. Fox said he was waiting there while they brought something sweet for him to eat. “Cousin, let me take your place,” Coyote said. Coyote let himself be tied up and Fox went up on the top of the ridge to watch. The man brought out the hot water and poured it over Coyote’s back so that the hair came off. Coyote went trotting off until he came where Rabbit sat by some water.
Coyote, coming up behind, saw Rabbit and caught him. While he was holding him with his teeth, Rabbit said, “I will tell you something.” The moon was to be seen reflected in the water. Rabbit told Coyote that there was some gold lying in there and that was why he was sitting there drinking the water. Coyote looked and said, “Why it is so, isn’t it?” “Cousin, you drink the water here and I will drink over there.” Rabbit did not drink any of the water. He only pretended to do so, but Coyote drank a large quantity until his belly became very large. Rabbit ran away from him. “I will kill you some time somewhere,” Coyote said.
A long way off a rock was standing up. Rabbit was standing against it. Coyote saw him standing there and was about to knock him down. “Wait for me, Cousin,” Rabbit said, “I will tell you something.” “The sky is falling,” he told him, “look up here.” Coyote looked up and said, “It is so, isn’t it?” “We had better stand against the stone.” Coyote stood against it and Rabbit ran away. “Wherever you are I will kill you,” said Coyote.
Some distance away Coyote was catching grasshoppers when one sat down in his mouth and talked to him. “Smooth the spines of that cactus and I will eat it,” he said. “Some other people will come to me and because of that I shall not be able to eat well.” “Go over there by the water and I will eat it,” Coyote said. “Because the girls come there to get water, I will not be able to eat well.” “I will eat there where the dry wood is set up on end,” Coyote said. “Because they come after wood I cannot eat there very well,” it said. Then he opened his mouth and the grasshopper flew away.

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