ONCE on a time many Káh-ahn lived in the edge of some woods. A little out into the plain stood a very large tree, with much sand under it. One day a Coyote was passing, and heard the Crows singing and dancing under this tree, and came up to watch them. They were dancing in a circle, and each Crow had upon his back a large bag.
"Crow-friends, what are you doing?" asked the Coyote, who was much interested.
"Oh, we are dancing with our mothers," said the Crows.
"How pretty! And will you let me dance, too?" asked the Coyote of the too-whit-lah-wid-deh crow (captain of the dance).
"Oh, yes," replied the Crow, "Go and put your mother in a bag and come to the dance."
The Coyote went running home. There his old mother was sitting in the corner of the fireplace. The stupid Coyote picked up a stick and struck her on the head, and put her in a bag, and hurried back to the dance with her.
The Crows were dancing merrily, and singing: "Ai nana, que-ée-rah, yue-ée-rah." ("Alas, Mama!
you are shaking, you are shaking!") The Coyote joined the dance, with the bag on his back, and sang as the Crows did:
"Ai nana, que-ée-rah, que-ée-rah." 1
But at last the Crows burst out laughing, and said, "What do you bring in your bag?"
"My mother, as you told me," replied the Coyote, showing them.
Then the Crows emptied their bags, which were filled with nothing but sand, and flew up into the tree, laughing.
The Coyote then saw that they had played him a trick, and started home, crying "Ai nana!" When he got home he took his mother from the bag and tried to set her up in the chimney-corner, always crying, "Ai nana, why don't you sit up as before?" But she could not, for she was dead. When he found that she could not sit up any more, he vowed to follow the Crows and eat them all the rest of his life; and from that day to this he has been hunting them, and they are always at war.
As Desiderio concludes, the old men hitch their blankets around their shoulders. "No more stories to-night?" I ask; and Lorenso says:
"In-dáh (no). Now it is to go to bed. Tóo-kwai (come)," to the boys. "Goodnight, friends. Another time, perhaps."
And we file out through the low door into the starry night.
23:1 Ai nana is an exclamation always used by mourners.