A long time ago a beautiful river, that ran through the Indian village of Taos, went dry; for no rain had fallen for months and months and months. There was no water anywhere to drink, except in one little spring; and that little spring belonged to a coyote.
One morning a rabbit passed by the coyote’s spring. “Good-morning, Rabbit-man,” said the coyote, “how are you getting along this dry weather? You must get very thirsty.”
“Oh no,” replied the rabbit, “I get along fine. I have plenty of water, for I drink the dew from the cabbage leaves.”
“But suppose the drought takes all the dew from the cabbage leaves, then what will you do?”
“I will find water somewhere else,” replied the rabbit; and he hopped away.
Still there was no rain and everything was as dry as could be, except the coyote’s spring. The rabbit grew very thirsty; so four days later when the coyote was away from home, the rabbit went to the coyote’s spring and drank and drank the water. Later in the day the coyote met him: “Good day, Rabbit-man, how are you enjoying the dew from the cabbage leaves these days? Are you finding very much?” And the coyote threw back his head and laughed.
“Oh, I am finding enough!”, and again the rabbit hopped away.
The next day the rabbit waited until the coyote went out to hunt for his dinner, then he went to the spring and drank and drank.
When the coyote came back home, he went to his spring for a drink. There was very little water left in it. “Who has been taking my water?”, he growled. And then he saw rabbit tracks around the spring.
“So Rabbit-man has been stealing my water! That is why he is getting along so well this dry weather. I shall have to put an end to him.”
So the coyote went out and found a piece of wood and cut out of it a baby animal. Then he got gum from the piñon trees and smeared it all over the baby. He put the gum baby beside the spring and hid himself in the bushes.
Very soon the rabbit came along for a drink at the coyote’s spring. When he saw the gum baby, he bowed and said, “Hello, what are you doing here?” But the gum baby just sat still and said nothing. This made Mr. Rabbit angry.
“I say ‘hello’, and if you don’t speak to me politely I’ll push you into the spring.”
The gum baby did not say anything. Mr. Rabbit grew so angry that he grabbed the gum baby and pushed him into the water.
But the gum on the baby made the rabbit stick hard and fast to him; and when he fell into the spring, Mr. Rabbit fell in, too, and got a good ducking that he did not soon forget.
Author Note: Taos Pueblo