Coyote Networks Hyena's Den
They say that Coyote tried to shoot down the sun once, and he never tried that again. It was too hard to get this arrows back; when his four best arrows were stuck in the sun's big blue roof he climbed the spider-thread that Xah, the spider-woman, made for him. Now, the sun runs very quickly through the sky, and takes his house with him. So, when Coyote climbed back down, and made Xah so angry that she cut her rope to drop him, he was a long, long way from his wife and his home, and the animal people in this land had bigger ears.
Coyote was hungry, and he was the greatest hunter he knew of. It would be no trouble to find a deer to eat. He climbed to the top of a tree, and looked across the plain. There were deer, but they were strange deer with horns twisted like a rope and sharp as a spear, and when he chased them, they jumped and ran as fast as Salmon leaps through a stream.
"You are going to need help to catch those, Coyote." A bird spoke up. This was Hornbill, who often put his big beak into the affairs of other, more important creatures.
"Why? Are you saying there are hunters who are better than I am?"
"I am saying that there are hunters who can catch a gazelle."
"Well, tell me about these great hunters. I will let them show me how they would catch a gazelle, then I will show them how Coyote catches a gazelle. See? The gazelle are already running. See how they fear me!"
"I know three hunters who have already caught gazelle today, before the sun even came up."
"Who are they? They would be grateful to have a strong hunter like me share their meal. Think of all the things we could talk about! I will tell them about all the gazelles I have caught."
"They are Cheetah, Lion and Hyena."
"Tell me about Cheetah."
"Cheetah is like Mountain Lion, but very fast."
"I am very fast--faster than a deer. Two deers!"
"When Cheetah runs, the wind has to catch her breath."
"Oh. Well, what about lion?"
"Do you know Bear?"
"Yes! Bear is very big."
"Lion is bigger."
"Then tell me about Hyena," said Coyote.
"Hyena? Hyena is kind of stupid."
"Then I will meet this Hyena! We will have much to talk about, this morning."
Now, when Coyote fell from the sun's house to this land with so many big-eared animal people, he fell with many, many miles of fine spider-thread. because Xoh the Spider Woman had woven her thread so that Coyote could climb up to the sun, she had woven her thread from strong copper, braided and sturdy, like the strongest rope. Coyote couldn't cut it, so he wound it up in a roll and slung it over his shoulder.
By the time Coyote found Hyena's home, the sun was setting. "Maybe Hyena will have caught a gazelle for his dinner," he said. "Even a hunter as big as Bear would have saved some gazelle to share with an honored guest."
Hyena and his two cubs were asleep in the fading sun. Their legs were stetched in the air and their stomachs were fat with gazelle, for they had eaten skin, flesh, fat and bone. But even what was left would still make Coyote a fine meal.
"Look at him," Coyote said. "He is too slow to have caught a gazelle. Maybe what he caught was one of those big, slow animals from the river. I will have to see if this tastes like real gazelle." As softly as a loud cat, Coyote stepped to where Hyena slept, resting his huge head on his dinner. Carefully, he hifted Hyena's head, singing "Sleep, sleep, Brother Hyena, do not drool on my meal. Coyote says, thank you, for your hunting."
Hyena opened his lazy golden eyes, and said, "Food?"
"No, friend Hyena! You do not want to eat me. I am the great warrior, Coyote!"
"My children have never eaten coyote before. Does it taste like dog?"
"Nothing like dog. Dog is sweet and tender, coyote is sour. And I may have rolled in something dead."
"I like dead," said Hyena. "Easier to catch." He was on his feet, bigger than a wolf, and maybe he had not washed this year.
He stopped. "Why aren't you running?"
"I did not come here to get eaten, Hyena. I came here to trade."
"Yes! I came from across the sea to trade with you. The people of my land have never had gazelle, and they sent me here to bargain for some."
"What do you have that I would want to eat?"
"I did not bring you any food, Hyena." He jumped back and climbed up a tree, Hyena's giant bear-teeth only catching the fur from the tip of his tail. "I have something better than food!" Hyena didn't say anything--what was better than food? "I have brought you this spider web!"
Coyote dropped the end of the spider web to the ground. Hyena bit the end off, and chewed on the metal. "I would rather eat coyote. Come down out of that tree."
"You do not eat this web, Hyena. It is made from copper from the sun's house. Very strong, very magic. Mysterious."
Hyena swallowed. "Magic?"
"Yes! Like the spider people here listen to their webs to hear their prey, the sky-spiders listen to each other thorugh their webs. You, your cubs, could use this web to talk to the other hyenas!"
"Why would we want to talk to the other hyenas?"
"You could talk to the gazelle, then. Instead of chasing them, and getting tired and smelly, you can use this web to talk to them, and arrange a meeting. Very efficient. You like efficient, don't you?"
Hyena nodded his big head.
"How will you make this web work?"
"I will take the web, and stretch it through your den, and take the rest to the gazelles."
"My children will chew on it. They chew on things. Like trees. And coyotes. And bones. Sometimes rocks."
"They eat rocks?"
"Coyote probably tastes better."
"Welll, I can take the web and bury it in the walls of your den, and your children will not be able to eat it."
"Good! You can put your web in the walls and the roof of my den, and I will let you have that gazelle. I will even let you come down out of the tree. But if we do not like it, we will eat you, and your web."
"Lion already asked for his own web."
"Lion has the web already? I will have a better web than him! Give me the best web in the land, and I will bring you two gazelle! And, we will not eat you."
"Wise Hyena. I will give you such a fine web, Lion will move in to the smallest room in your den to share it."