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Badger carries Darkness: Coyote and Bobcat scratch each other

A White Mountain Apache Legend

Coyote was traveling along. Badger always used to carry darkness on his back. Coyote met him. "My cross-cousin, what's in the bag you carry?" he asked. He was hungry and he thought Badger had food in his sack.

Because he thought there was food in there, Coyote wanted to stay around where Badger was and maybe get something to eat. So the two traveled on together for a way. Then Coyote was thinking he would offer to carry the load and let Badger rest.

After quite a while Coyote said, "My cross-cousin, you look tired. You have a heavy load there. Why don't you let me carry it and you rest ?" "No, I'm not tired. I always travel this way," Badger said.

After a while Coyote said again, "My cross-cousin, I think you are tired. Let me carry the load for you just a little way and you rest for a while." "All right, you carry this, my bed, if you want. I know you are thinking it's something to eat, but it's not. I carry this always. I'll let you have it, though." "I'm just saying this because I want to carry it for you and because you are giving out. I will carry it a little way," Coyote answered.

So Badger took his pack off and gave it to Coyote and they started on again. After a while Coyote said to Badger, "I want to stop to urinate behind this bush. You keep on ahead and don't bother to wait for me." So Badger went on ahead.

As soon as Coyote got behind the bush he started to untie the pack, as that was all he wanted to do in the first place. When he untied the pack, it started to get dark. Darkness was all coming out. Coyote got scared and hollered after Badger, "wa-'a, my cross-cousin, I'm having a bad time here. It must be that you are packing bad things with you. I can hardly see at all." Badger came back and said, "I told you not to open my pack. Now you have done it and started this. I already told you that there was no food in it. You have done something bad." Then Badger spread his arms and gathered in all the darkness and shoved it into the sack again, tying the mouth tight. Coyote felt mad on account of being fooled and said "You just carry badness."

Badger went on by himself. After a while he met Porcupine; The two sat down and told stories about old times. Badger said, "I was living when the sky fell out onto the earth," and he set his pack down. "That's quite a while ago but I was living before that," said Porcupine. "I was living when the sky and the earth were rubbing together. Do you know about the time when that happened ? Which of us is older now ?"

Later Coyote started on his way and met Bobcat. They stopped to talk to each other. Then they said, "Let's scratch each other's back in turn and see who has the sharpest claws." Bobcat said, "I have no claws," He had claws all right, but they were sheathed so you could not see them. "Let me see!" said Coyote. Bobcat let him look and it seemed as if he had no claws at all. Then Coyote let Bobcat look at his claws and there was far more of them showing than of Bobcat's. "If I scratch your back nothing will happen. It will just pull a little hair and skin off you. But if you scratch my back, you will rip me right down," Bobcat said. "I want you to scratch me first," Bobcat said. "No" Coyote said, "you come first." Finally after a long argument Coyote thought it would be all right to do it first, because he thought this was going to be an easy game for him. He told Bobcat to sit up so he could scratch him from neck to tail. When he was ready Coyote raked him down the back as hard as he could and pulled a lot of fur and hide off Bobcat's back. '"Eye'ya-, you hurt me, my cross-cousin, on my back," Bobcat said. Coyote just laughed at him and thought it was funny. It really did not hurt Bobcat at all, but he made believe it did. Now it was Bobcat's turn, and Coyote sat with his back to him. "My finger nails are not long, you will just barely feel them," Bobcat said. But when he got ready, he unsheathed his claws and gave Coyote a terrible rake with them, all down his back, taking off hide and flesh. Coyote jumped up and yelled, "You have killed me, my cross-cousin!"

Further on Skunk and Bear were sitting together, telling stories. Bear said to Skunk, "You stink too much where your rear end is." Skunk said, "You stink too much where your rear end is." They argued about it for a while and then said, "Let's see who is the worst one to stink. We will both try it and see which is the best at this." Skunk said, "I think that I am the best one. Come here and smell me." But Bear said, "When I break wind it is the most powerful. I think I am best." They kept on arguing, each saying he was the best one to make a bad smell. "It will knock you over, the smell I make," each said. "All right, you try it first!" said one "No, you try it first!" Finally they agreed and Skunk said, "I will put my head close to your buttocks so I will smell you well." Bear started now and blew out hard, all he had, ka+, ka+, ka+ it went and made a terrible smell. Skunk stuck his nose in the ground and shook himself. He got out of the way as quick as he could. After a while he recovered and came back, saying, "My cross-cousin, I think you are the best. You smell the worst, but I will try all the same to make a worse one." So Bear put his nose by Skunk's buttocks. Now Skunk started to squirt and blow out at the same time. It was terrible and when Bear smelt it he stuck his nose in the ground. It was as if he had had his senses knocked out. It pretty near killed him.

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