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Coyote gets rich off the white men

A White Mountain Apache Legend

Once when Coyote was visiting various camps, he and Bobcat heard about a white man who was making some whiskey. They went together to the man's house and managed to steal some, and after they had run a short distance with it, they stopped to drink.

Then Coyote said, "My cousin, I feel so good, I'd like to holler!"

"No, we're still close to those white men," Bobcat said. "I won't holler loud, cousin," Coyote said. They kept arguing and drinking. Finally Bobcat said, "All right then, holler quietly."

Coyote intended to holler softly, but before he knew it he got carried away and was hollering as loud as he could. Now the white men heard the noise and headed right toward him. Bobcat had enough whiskey in him to feel good, but Coyote was really drunk. When the white men surrounded them, Bobcat got up and sailed over the nearest man with one jump. In a second jump he leaped over all the rest and got away. So they arrested Coyote and took him in chains to the town jail.

Later on, Bobcat used to visit Coyote from time to time, and once they arrested Bobcat and had them both locked up for quite a while. One day the two prisoners watched some white men breaking horses in front of the jail. There was one horse that no one could get close to, and Coyote boasted, "I could saddle that horse right away." The prison guard told the men what Coyote had said, and they decided to let him out and see what he could do.

Now Coyote had horse power, and when he had used it with the horse, it wasn't wild any more. He got on and rode it around and then thought he would have some fun. The horse balked, and though he kicked it gently with his heel, it wouldn't move. Coyote told the white people to put on a fancy saddle. They bought out a brand new one with taps and saddle bags and everything on it, just as he wanted. He put it on the animal, remounted and kicked it, but gently, so it wouldn't move.

"This horse is thinking about a nice white bridle and bits and lines, all covered with silver," said Coyote. Actually the horse was ready to go, but Coyote kept holding him in. The men brought a fine bridle and put it on the horse. Then Coyote dismounted the horse and said, "I want you to fill the saddle bags with crackers and cheese; that's what the horse wants. Also, I have to wear a good white shirt and vest, and a big show hat, and a pair of white-handled pistols in a belt. That's what the horse likes. And good silver spurs: the horse wants these also." They brought all the finery for Coyote and filled the saddle bags.

Now Coyote got on the horse. Ahead by the gate were some American soldiers. He kicked the horse hard and started for the soldiers at a gallop, making it look as if the horse were running away with him. The soldiers moved back, and he and the horse tore through the gate and disappeared. Later Coyote sat down by a spring under a walnut tree, thinking about the soldiers that he knew were after him. He swept the ground clean under the tree and strung his money up on its branches. Pretty soon the soldiers came along, and Coyote said, "I'm going to tell you about this tree. Money grows on it and I want to sell it. Want to buy?" The soldiers were interested, and Coyote told them, "It takes a day for the money to grow and ripen. Today's crop is mine, but tomorrow it's all yours. I'll sell you this fine tree for all your pack mules."

Coyote was always thinking about eating, and he hoped the packs held food. The soldiers agreed to the terms, and Coyote got a big rock and threw it against the trunk. Most of the money fell to the ground. "See, it only ripens at noon," he said. "You have to hit it just at noon." He whacked the tree again, and the rest of the money dropped out. Now it was all on the ground, and the white men helped him pick it up and put it in sacks. They turned all their pack mules over, and he started off.

Coyote traveled for the rest of the day and all night, until he was in another country. Meanwhile the soldiers camped under the walnut tree waiting for noon. Then the officer told the soldiers to hit the tree, and they pounded it hard. When no money fell out, the officer ordered it chopped down, cut into lengths, and split up, in case the money was inside. No matter what they did, they couldn't find even five cents. That night one of Coyote's mules got hungry and started to bray. Irritated at the noise, he killed every mule that brayed, until at last he had killed them all. So when he came to a white man's house, he bought a burro from him.

Now Coyote was always thinking about how he could swindle someone, and the burro gave him another idea. Returning to his old home in the mountain, he put a lot of money up the burro's rear end, then kicked the animal in the belly so that it expelled all the money. He tried it again, and it worked as before. "This burro is going to make me lots of money," he thought. Coyote put his money in the burro's rear end and started for town, where he went to the big man in charge. "Look at this wonderful burro! His excrement is money, and it comes out of him every day." Coyote always talked like a Chiricahua.

"Let's see him do it," the head man said. "All right, see for yourself. The first money that comes out is mine, but after that it's all yours." Coyote started kicking the burro in the belly, and his money fell out. He gathered it up. "Now it's yours," he said. "Tomorrow at the same time, he'll do it again." They paid him lots of money, and he went on his way. On the following day when the time came, the white men brought the burro out and kicked him. He merely broke wind. They kicked him all day till evening, the said, "We might just as well kill this burro and look inside him." So they cut him open, but there wasn't a sign of money inside.

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