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Indigenous Stories

The Theft Of Fire

Categories : Yokut , Yokut Stories

There was no fire. It was very cold. Then the eagle told the roadrunner and the fox to go out. These two were good runners. Coyote said: "Let the crow go. He is good at looking about."

The eagle said: "They are better;" but he let the crow go. Then Coyote said: "I am going too," though the eagle wanted him to stay.

Then the eagle told the crow: "Start early. If you see fire anywhere tell us."

Late in the day the crow saw fire in the west. He came back and said: "They have fire there." Then the eagle sent out the roadrunner and the fox. Coyote and the crow went with them.

They went directly north along the Coast Range. Before, when the crow had gone alone, he first went eastward and then north and then to the west and back south. Now Coyote said: "Wait until the sun is down. Then we will steal it." They agreed.

Now it was dark in the west. Then Coyote said: "Now they are all asleep." The crow said: "We will not all go there. Let one who can jump well take the fire. You, fox, go."

Coyote said: "I will go too. I am a good jumper too." The crow said: "No, we will be killed." But Coyote said: "No, we are all good runners. And I will take the fire. Even if you come with me it is I who will take the fire."

Then they came to one end of the village. "Here is good fire," they said. They took fire, and put it in a net-sack. Then Coyote told them: "Run ahead. I am going to kill this little one."

"No, do not," said the fox.

"Yes, I will," said Coyote. Then the fox and the others went ahead.

Coyote took the child, threw it in the fire, and killed it. Then he leaped out of the house and ran. It was another coyote who was living there. He called out: "Take care! Someone has come!"

Now as the fire-stealers ran, their path was the San Joaquin river. The fog, gumun, and a duck, wolwul, pursued them. Coyote jumped from side to side and the pursuers ran here and there after him. That is why the river is crooked.

They kept on running southward. Then Coyote reached his sweat-house. He entered and closed it. They could not catch him. He had the fire inside. He had succeeded in taking it away from them. Then in the morning they made fire there.

From that day they had fire and were well off.

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