Just at the foot of the Second Mesa, long, long ago, lived a water snake in a mud hole. Not far away a coyote lived at “Coyote Springs.” They often passed one another and grew very friendly.
“Come over to see me sometime, Snake-man,” invited the coyote one day. “Come tomorrow at noon when the Indians will all be in their houses and cannot see you.”
“With pleasure,” replied the snake. So next day at noon the snake crawled down into the coyote’s den. His tail was so long that he had to coil it around and around to get into the den, and when he did get in he took up all of the room. Mr. Coyote had to get on the outside, and they talked to each other with the snake in the nice warm den and the coyote outside in the cold. Mr. Coyote did not like that very well, you may be sure.
“You must come to see me tomorrow at noon,” said the snake as he left.
Now in order to get even with the snake and to push him out of his hole, as the snake, because of his long tail, had pushed the coyote out, Mr. Coyote made a long tail of ever-green branches and fastened it to his own tail. He tied it with a hard knot so that it would not come off. At noon he went to return the snake’s call.
Mr. Snake laughed and laughed when he saw Mr. Coyote’s new tail. It looked so funny that when Mr. Coyote started home, Mr. Snake decided to play a joke on him. He slipped his flint stones out of his pocket and set the end of the ever-green tail on fire. The boughs began to crackle and make a noise. Mr. Coyote looked around to see what was the matter. When he saw that his long tail was on fire, he quickly tried to untie it from his own bushy tail; but the knot was a hard knot. He was so excited he could not untie it. Then he became so frightened that he began to run. The faster he ran, the bigger and closer the fire burned behind him; until it burned all the way up to his bushy tail. Then his tail burned off, the fur on his body caught fire and all of it burned off.
Author Note: Hopi, 2nd Mesa