The Old Lady Fox and the Old Hen

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Once upon a time there lived near Nambé, an old Lady Fox and an old Hen. This old Lady Fox lived in a cliff and the old Hen lived in a hut nearby. Of course, they appeared to be friendly; but at the same time, old Mrs. Fox was jealous of Mrs. Hen, because the hen was more industrious than she was, and she often thought what a delicious dinner Mrs. Hen would be. Each of them had six children.

One day Mrs. Hen decided to give a dinner party for her friend Mrs. Fox and the little foxes. She killed all of her own children but one. This one she kept to run errands for her. Then she put her chicks on to boil and made a big pot of chicken stew. Afterward she made a delicious corn meal pudding.

The foxes came and had a merry dinner. “Please put all of the chicken bones back into the dish when you finish,” politely asked Mrs. Hen; “and please you go, my little chick, into the next room and bring me my magic rod.” The little chick hurried back with the rod. Mrs. Hen took it and struck herself across the nose. Instantly an empty dish was full of piñon nuts for dessert, which the greedy foxes soon devoured.

“Come with me now to the river,” invited Mrs. Hen.

There she threw the chicken bones into the water and at the same time, she threw in some sacred corn meal as she repeated an Indian prayer, “Pee-pee sah-key, my children come out of the water.” Then all of her chickens came out of the water safe and sound. All this time old Lady Fox watched her friend very closely; for she intended to do just as Mrs. Hen had done, when she returned the dinner party.

The very next week Mrs. Fox invited Mrs. Hen and her baby chicks to dinner. She killed all of her baby foxes for a stew. She even forgot to leave one to help her. She cooked the stew only half done and made a soggy corn meal pudding. When Mrs. Hen and her chicks arrived, they could only eat part of the dinner; for it was so poorly cooked.

“Put the bones back into the dish,” said Mrs. Fox.

Then she got a stick and struck herself across the nose, as Mrs. Hen had done, to fill the dish with piñon nuts; but no nuts came. Instead she struck herself so hard that the blow made her nose bleed. Mrs. Hen and her chicks wanted to laugh; but they did not dare. They had to look down and hold their breath to keep the laugh inside.

“Now we shall go down to the river,” said Mrs. Fox. And down at the river she threw the little fox bones into the water, and called her children just as she had seen Mrs. Hen do; but the little foxes did not appear. She called and called; and finally she grew so angry at the chickens, that she jumped at them to catch them and eat them up. But Mrs. Hen and her chicks were too smart for her. They jumped also and flew away. Old Lady Fox flew into a rage; she screamed and rolled herself over on the ground; then she clawed the ground until she wore her claws all off; and finally she bit rocks until her teeth were all broken off. She had no babies, no claws and no teeth.

Author Note: Nambé Pueblo

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