First People :: American Indian Legends : C

Bungling Host

A Cochiti Legend

At Gamatsika Rattlesnake and Coyote lived. Coyote came in and said, "Shall we invite each other to a great feast?" Rattlesnake said, "All right; you be the first to call me." "All right. Tomorrow I shall start to make my paper bread." In three days the old Coyote went out to find sheep. He found one and killed and brought it home. Night came, and he put the meat to cook. In the morning he set the food out, the paper bread and meat, and went out to call Rattlesnake to the feast. He came to Rattlesnake's house and said, "I have come for you." "All right. Let us go and have your feast." They started to the house of Coyote. Coyote ran fast. They went in, Rattlesnake after Coyote. Coyote said, "Come in and have a seat. You shall have your feast." Rattlesnake turned around and coiled himself on the floor. At last he said, "Thanks, old Coyote, but this is not what I eat. I eat sacred meal, and pollen." "What would you eat? for this is the feast I have cooked for you." "No, thank you." Rattlesnake went out and went home.

In the morning it was his turn to make a feast. He prepared his food as Coyote had. The third day came and Rattlesnake went out to hunt. "I had better get some meat," be said. "I will get two chickens for Coyote likes them. That will be the best for the feast." Everything was ready, and Rattlesnake went to the house of Coyote to invite him to the feast. Coyote said to himself while he waited in his house, "Oh, I remember that Rattlesnake has a rattle on the end of his tail. I ought to have something, too." He went and found a dancer's gourd rattle. It was too heavy. So he tied on corn husk. He went into Rattlesnake's house and said, "Good morning." "Good morning," said the snake. "Sit down." Coyote waggled his tail but not a sound could he make. Coyote went four times around the feast Rattlesnake had set out (i. e., coiled himself four times). He kept his eyes longingly on the feast, but at last he said, "Thank you, but that is not the kind of food I eat. I only eat corn meal and pollen." Rattlesnake was angry. She got ready to strike. She cried, "You are mocking me. You ought not to have tied husks on the tip of your tail. I have my rattle there because that was the way that I was born." Coyote was still smacking his lips for there were chickens in Rattlesnake's feast, but Snake came toward him and he had to run away fast to his house. He felt very sorry that he had lost his chance at the chickens, but he said, "If I go back to Rattlesnake's house be will kill me. I must stay where I am."

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