Once there was an old coyote with five ugly, snarling baby coyotes. They lived near a deer, who had two pretty spotted baby deer, called fawns. One day Mrs. Coyote said to Mrs. Deer: “How pretty your fawns are, Mrs. Deer. How did you make the spots on them? I should like to make my babies spotted too.”
“Oh, I smoked them with corn cobs. I made a fire of cobs in my house and as soon as the house was full of smoke, I shut my babies up tight in there and let them stay all night. Next day they were spotted, as you see.”
So Mrs. Coyote found a lot of corn cobs and built a fire with them in her den. When it was full of smoke, she pushed the five little coyotes in and shut the door tight.
Mrs. Deer took her fawns and set out in a hurry for the deer’s house on a high mountain near Flagstaff; for she knew what would happen to the little coyotes and how angry the old coyote would be. She also knew that Mrs. Coyote had been waiting for an excuse to eat her and her babies up.
On their way the deer had to cross a river. When they reached the river, the old turtle-man, who always ferried people across, took them safely over on his back. “Turtle-man, very soon a coyote will follow us and ask you to take her across the river. Please keep her here as long as you can, so we may reach the deer’s house before she catches us and eats us up.”
The next morning when the deer had almost reached the deer’s house, old Mrs. Coyote was back at her den opening the door to call her babies out. When the door opened, the smoke blew in her face so thick that it almost blinded her. “Come out, my beautiful spotted babies! We will eat up those spotted fawns some day and then you will be the only pretty children here.”
But the little coyotes did not come. Mrs. Coyote went in to see why and she found them dead. The smoke had smothered them to death. She was so angry that she ran as fast as she could, following the deer’s tracks to catch them and eat them up. When she reached the river the old turtle-man was digging in the ground and singing a song.
“Hurry, Old Turtle-man, and take me across the river; for I have no time to waste here!” yelled Mrs. Coyote. But the old turtle-man kept on digging until he had finished his song. Then he took the coyote on his back to carry her across, and when they reached the middle of the river, he pretended to cough and dropped Mrs. Coyote off his back right down into the water. When she climbed up again on Turtle-man’s back she had to sneeze the water out of her nose and lick her wet fur; so it took them a long time to get across the river.
By that time the deer were all safe in the deer’s house with other deer; and the only door to the house, as you perhaps know, was a hole in the top.
Mrs. Coyote ran to the deer’s house; climbed up on the roof and yelled down: ” Send that deer-woman with her spotted fawns up here!”
“Come down and get them if you want them,” answered an old grandfather deer with long horns. And then he stood right under the door.
Down leaped Mrs. Coyote and fell right on Granddaddy Deer’s sharp horns. His horns made a hole in her side. Granddaddy Deer threw her onto the horns of another deer; he threw her to another; and they tossed her until her body was all cut into pieces and she was dead.
Author Note: Hopi, 2nd Mesa