Tale of Coyote, Wild-Cat, And The Old Woman

An old, blind woman lived all alone. Her home was far away, and no one ever came to see her and few people even passed by. Though she was blind and old she somehow always had plenty to eat and seemed to get along as well as any one else. She always had her pot full of meat, and those who passed could smell it cooking, and they wondered who brought the meat to her. Whenever she sat down to eat she would always say, “All ready for dinner,” just as though she were calling some one to come and eat with her; then she would say, “Orphan, I was only talking to myself.”

One day Wild-Cat happened to come to her house while he was out looking for something to eat. He smelled the cooking meat, and so decided to stop a while. When he went in he saw that the old woman was blind. He slipped quietly to a corner and sat with one eye on the boiling pot and the other on the old woman while he tried to make a plan to steal the meat. After a while the old woman took the pot off of the fire and sat down to eat, but first she called, “All ready for dinner. Orphan, I was only talking to myself.” Wild-Cat sprang up ready to run, for he thought that she saw him and was talking to him. When she did not say anything more, but began to eat, he forgot his fright and slipped over and began to eat, too. He ate very quietly, being careful not to crack any bones or to make any noise in chewing or swallowing. He ate until there was only a little left in the pot; then he slipped quietly out. After that he came there every day and ate so much that he grew slick and fat.

One day Coyote met Wild-Cat and said: “You always seem to have plenty to eat, and yet I never see you kill any game. Where do you get so much to eat?” Wild-Cat told Coyote how he went to the old woman’s home and ate from her pot every day. Coyote wanted to go along, and so Wild-Cat agreed to take him, but first he made him promise to keep very quiet and to do only what he was told. Coyote promised, and so they started to the old woman’s place. When they came near Coyote smelled the cooking meat and started to run on ahead, but Wild-Cat pulled him back. They slipped inside and sat near the door while the meat was cooking. When the old woman took the pot off of the fire and called, “All ready for dinner,” Coyote jumped up, and it was all Wild-Cat could do to hold him back. When the old woman began to eat, Wild-Cat and Coyote slipped up and quietly stole meat out of the pot. Coyote put a big piece in his mouth and began to chew so hard that he forgot all about keeping quiet. His jaw came down on a bone and it cracked so loud that the old woman jumped up. Wild-Cat saw his jaw coming down on the bone and was out of the house by the time the old woman jumped up. She ran to the door and closed it, and then took a long spear that stood in the corner and began to poke around in the room. Coyote slipped about for some time, but finally the spear pierced him and he cried out with pain. Then the old woman knew for sure that some one was in the house, and so she kept on poking until she killed him. Wild-Cat came back next day and found Coyote dead. He was sorry, not because he cared for Coyote, but because he was afraid to go in the old woman’s house again to eat, for fear she would kill him.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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