Coyote and the Rolling Rock

Native American Lore

One spring day Coyote and Fox were out for a walk, and when they came to a big smooth rock, Coyote threw his blanket over it and they sat down to rest. After a while the Sun became very hot, and Coyote decided he no longer needed the blanket. "Here, brother," he said to the rock, "I give you my blanket because you are poor and have let me rest on you. Always keep it."
Then Coyote and Fox went on their way. They had not gone far when a heavy cloud covered the sky. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled and rain began to fall. The only shelter they could find was in a coulee, and Coyote said to Fox, "Run back to that rock, and ask him to lend us the blanket I gave him. We can cover ourselves with it and keep dry."
So Fox ran back to the rock, and said, "Coyote wants his blanket."
"No," replied the rock. "He gave it to me as a present. I shall keep it. Tell him he cannot have it."
Fox returned to Coyote and told him what the rock had said. "Well," said Coyote, "that certainly is an ungrateful rock. I only wanted the use of the blanket for a little while until the rain stops." He grew very angry and went back to the rock and snatched the blanket off. "I need this to keep me dry," he said. "You don't need a blanket. You have been out in the rain and snow all your life, and it won't hurt you to live so always."
Coyote and Fox kept dry under the blanket until the rain stopped and the sun came out again. Then they left the coulee and resumed their walk toward the river. After a while they heard a loud noise behind them coming from the other side of the hill. "Fox, little brother," said Coyote, "go back and see what is making that noise."
Fox went to the top of the hill, and then came hurrying back as fast as he could. "Run! run!" he shouted, "that big rock is coming." Coyote looked back and saw the rock roll over the top of the hill and start rushing down upon them. Fox jumped into a badger hole, but the rock mashed the tip of his tail, and that is why Fox's tail is white to this day.
Meanwhile Coyote had raced down the hill and jumped into the river. He swam across to the other side where he was sure that he was safe because he knew that rocks sink in water. But when the rock splashed into the river it began swimming, and Coyote fled toward the nearest woods. As soon as he was deep in the timber, he lay down to rest, but he had scarcely stretched himself out when he heard trees crashing. Knowing that the rock was still pursuing him, Coyote jumped up and ran out on the open prairie.
Some bears were crossing there, and Coyote called upon them for help. "We'll save you," the bears shouted, but the rock came rolling upon them and crushed the bears. About this time Coyote saw several bull buffalo. "Oh, my brothers," he called to them, "help me, help me. Stop that rock." The buffalo put their heads down and rushed upon the rock, but it broke their skulls and kept rolling. Then a nest of rattlesnakes came to help Coyote by forming themselves into a lariat, but when they tried to catch the rock, the rattlesnakes at the noose end were all cut to pieces.
Coyote kept running along a pathway, but the rock was now very close to him, so close that it began to knock against his heels. Just as he was about to give up, he saw two witches standing on opposite sides of the path. They had stone hatchets in their hands. "We'll save you," they called out. He ran between them, with the rock following close behind. Coyote heard the witches strike the rock with their hatchets, and when he turned to look he saw it lying on the ground all shattered into tiny pieces.
Then Coyote noticed that the path had led him into a large camp. When he sat down to catch his breath, he overheard one of the witches say to the other: "He looks nice and fat. We'll have something good for dinner now. Let's eat him right away."
Coyote Pretended he had heard nothing, but he watched the witches through one of his half-closed eyes until they went into their lodge and began rattling their cooking utensils. Then he jumped up and emptied all their water pails.
As soon as they came outside again, he said, "I am very thirsty. I wish you would give me a good drink of water."
"There is plenty of water here," one of the witches replied. "You may have a drink from one of these pails." But when she looked in the pails she found that every one was empty.
"That creek down there has water in it," Coyote said. "I'll go and get some water for you."
He took the pails and started off, but as soon as he was out of sight he ran away as fast as his legs could carry him. Afterwards he heard that when the old witches discovered that he had tricked them, they began blaming each other for letting him escape. They quarrelled and quarrelled, and fought and fought, Until finally they killed each other.

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