Category: Fiction

Coyote Kills a Giant

Coyote Kills a Giant


A Navajo tale from the long collection of tales about Coyote.


Coyote was walking one day when he met Old Woman. She greeted him and asked where he was headed.

“Just roaming around,” said Coyote.

“You better stop going that way, or you’ll meet a giant who kills everybody.”

“Oh, giants don’t frighten me,” said Coyote (who had never met one). “I always kill them. I’ll fight this one too, and make an end of him.”

“He’s bigger and closer than you think,” said Old Woman.

“I don’t care,” said Coyote, deciding that a giant would be about as big as a bull moose and calculating that he could kill one easily.

So Coyote said good-bye to Old Woman and went ahead, whistling a tune. On his way he saw a large fallen branch that looked like a club. Picking it up, he said to himself, “I’ll hit the giant over the head with this. It’s big enough and heavy enough to kill him.” He walked on and came to a huge cave right in the middle of the path. Whistling merrily, he went in.

Suddenly Coyote met a woman who was crawling along on the ground.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“I’m starving,” she said, “and too weak to walk. What are you doing with that stick?”

“I’m going to kill the giant with it,” said Coyote, and he asked if she knew where he was hiding.

Feeble as she was, the woman laughed. “You’re already in the giant’s belly.”

“How can I be in his belly?” asked Coyote. “I haven’t even met him.”

“You probably thought it was a cave when you walked into his mouth,” the woman said, and sighed. “It’s easy to walk in, but nobody ever walks out. This giant is so big you can’t take him in with your eyes. His belly fills a whole valley.”

Coyote threw his stick away and kept on walking. What else could he do?

Soon he came across some more people lying around half dead. “Are you sick?” he asked.

“No,” they said, “just starving to death. We’re trapped inside the giant.”

“You’re foolish,” said Coyote. “If we’re really inside this giant, then the cave walls must be the inside of his stomach. We can just cut some meat and fat from him.”

“We never thought of that,” they said.

“You’re not as smart as I am,” said Coyote.

Coyote took his hunting knife and started cutting chunks out of the cave walls. As he had guessed, they were indeed the giant’s fat and meat, and he used it to feed the starving people. He even went back and gave some meat to the woman he had met first. Then all the people imprisoned in the giant’s belly started to feel stronger and happier, but not completely happy. “You’ve fed us,” they said, “and thanks. But how are we going to get out of here?”

“Don’t worry,” said Coyote. “I’ll kill the giant by stabbing him in the heart. Where is his heart? It must be around here someplace.”

“Look at the volcano puffing and beating over there,” someone said.

“Maybe it’s the heart.”

“So it is, friend,” said Coyote, and began to cut at this mountain.

Then the giant spoke up. “Is that you, Coyote? I’ve heard of you. Stop this stabbing and cutting and let me alone. You can leave through my mouth; I’ll open it for you.”

“I’ll leave, but not quite yet,” said Coyote, hacking at the heart. He told the others to get ready. “As soon as I have him in his death throes, there will be an earthquake. He’ll open his jaw to take a last breath, and then his mouth will close forever. So be ready to run out fast!”

Coyote cut a deep hole in the giant’s heart, and lava started to flow out. It was the giant’s blood. The giant groaned, and the ground under the people’s feet trembled.

“Quick, now!” shouted Coyote. The giant’s mouth opened and they all ran out. The last one was the wood tick. The giant’s teeth were closing on him, but Coyote managed to pull him through at the last moment.

“Look at me,” cried the wood tick, “I’m all flat!”

“It happened when I pulled you through,” said Coyote. “You’ll always be flat from now on. Be glad you’re alive.”

“I guess I’ll get used to it,” said the wood tick, and he did.

The Adventures Of Aladdin

The Adventures Of Aladdin


The Brothers Grimm


Once upon a time . . . a widow had an only son whose name was Aladdin. They were very poor and lived from hand to mouth, though Aladdin did what he could to earn some pennies, by picking bananas in faraway places.

One day, as he was looking for wild figs in a grove some way from the town, Aladdin met a mysterious stranger. This smartly dressed dark-eyed man with a trim black beard and a splendid sapphire in his turban, asked Aladdin an unusual question:

“Come here, boy,” he ordered. “How would you like to earn a silver penny?”

“A silver penny!” exclaimed Aladdin. “Sir, I’d do anything for that kind of payment.”

“I’m not going to ask you to do much. Just go down that manhole. I’m much too big to squeeze through myself. If you do as I ask, you’ll have your reward.” The stranger helped Aladdin lift the manhole cover, for it was very heavy. Slim and agile as he was, the boy easily went down. His feet touched stone and he carefully made his way down some steps . . . and found himself in a large chamber. It seemed to sparkle, though dimly lit by the flickering light of an old oil lamp. When Aladdin’s eyes became used to the gloom, he saw a wonderful sight: trees dripping with glittering jewels, pots of gold and caskets full of priceless gems. Thousands of precious objects lay scattered about. It was a treasure trove! Unable to believe his eyes, Aladdin was standing dazed when he heard a shout behind him.

“The lamp! Put out the flame and bring me the lamp!” Surprised and suspicious, for why should the stranger, out of all such a treasure want only an old lamp, Aladdin wondered. Perhaps he was a wizard. He decided to be on his guard. Picking up the lamp, he retraced his steps up to the entrance.

“Give me the lamp,” urged the wizard impatiently. “Hand it over,” he began to shout, thrusting out his arm to grab it, but Aladdin cautiously drew back.

“Let me out first . . .”

“Too bad for you,” snapped the stranger, slamming down the manhole cover, never noticing that, as he did so, a ring slid off his finger. A terrified Aladdin was left in pitch darkness, wondering what the wizard would do next. Then he trod on the ring. Aimlessly putting it on his finger, he twisted it round and round. Suddenly the room was flooded with a rosy light and a great genie with clasped hands appeared on a cloud.

“At your command, sire,” said the genie.

Now astoundede, Aladdin could only stammer:

“I want to go home!” In a flash he was back in his own home, though the door wa tightly shut.

“How did you get in?” called his mother from the kitchen stove, the minute she set eyes on him. Excitedly, her son told her of his adventures.

“Where’s the silver coin?” his mother asked. Aladdin clapped a hand to his brow. For all he had brought home was the old oil lamp “Oh, mother! I’m so sorry. This is all I’ve got.”

“Well, let’s hope it works. It’s so dirty . . .” and the widow began to rub the lamp.

Suddenly out shot another genie, in a cloud of smoke.

“You’ve set me free, after centuries! I was a prisoner in the lamp, waiting to be freed by someone rubbing it. Now, I’m your obedient servant. Tell me your wishes.” And the genie bowed respectfully, awaiting Aladdin’s orders. The boy and his mother gaped wordlessly at this incredible apparition, then the genie said with a hint of impatience in his voice.

“I’m here at your command. Tell me what you want. Anything you like!” Aladdin gulped, then said:

“Bring us . . . bring . . .” His mother not having yet begun to cook the dinner, went on to say: “. . . a lovely big meal.”

From that day on, the widow and her son had everything they could wish for: food, clothes and a fine home, for the genie of the lamp granted them everything they asked him. Aladdin grew into a tall handsome young man and his mother felt that he ought to find himself a wife, sooner or later.

One day, as he left the market, Aladdin happened to see the Sultan’s daughter Halima in her sedan chair being carried through the streets. He only caught a fleeting glimpse of the princess, but it was enough for him to want to marry her. Aladdin told his mother and she quickly said:

“I’ll ask the Sultan for his daughter’s hand. He’ll never be able to refuse. Wait and see!”

And indeed, the Sultan was easily persuaded by a casket full of big diamonds to admit the widow to the palace. However, when he learned why she had come, he told the widow that her son must bring proof of his power and riches. This was mostly the Chamberlain’s idea, for he himself was eager to marry the beautiful black-eyed Sultan’s daughter.

“If Aladdin wants to marry Halima,’ said the Sultan, “he must send me forty slaves tomorrow.Every slave must bring a box of precious stones. And forty Arab warriors must escort the treasure.”

Aladdin’s mother went sadly home. The genie of the magic lamp had already worked wonders, but nothing like this. Aladdin however,when he heard the news, was not at all dismayed. He picked up the lamp, rubbed it harder than ever and told the genie what he required. The genie simply clapped his hands three times. Forty slaves magically appeared, carrying the gemstones, together with their escort of forty Arab warriors. When he saw all thls the next day, the Sultan was taken aback. He never imagined such wealth could exist. Just as he was about to accept Aladdin as his daughter’s bridegroom, the envious Chamberlain broke in with a question.

“Where wlll they live?” he asked. The Sultan pondered for a moment, then allowlng greed to get the better of hlm, he told Aladdin to build a great, splendid palace for Halima. Aladdin went straight home and, in what was once a wilderness, the genie built him a palace. The last obstacle had been overcome. The wedding tbok place with great celebrations and the Sultan was especially happy at finding such a rich and powerful son-in-law.

News of Aladdin’s sudden fortune and wealth spread like wildfire, until…. one day, a strange merchant stopped beneath the palace window.

“Old lamps for new,” he called to the princess, standing on the balcony. Now, Aladdin had always kept his secret to himself. Only his mother knew it and she had never told a soul. Halima, alas, had been kept in the dark. And so, now, wanting to give Alladin a surprise as well as make a good bargain, she fetched the old oil lamp she had seen Aladdin tuck away, and gave it to the merchant in exchange for a new one. The merchant quickly began to rub it . . . and the genie was now at the service of the wizard who had got his magic lamp back.

In a second he whisked away all Aladdin’s possessions and magically sent the palace and the princess to an unknown land. Aladdin and the Sultan were at their wits’ end. Nobody knew what had happened. Only Aladdin knew it had something to do with the magic lamp. But as he wept over the lost genie of the lamp, he remembered the genie of the ring from the wizard’s finger. Slipping the ring on his finger, Aladdin twisted it round and round.

“Take me to the place where the wizard has hidden my wife,” he ordered the genie. In a flash, he found himself inside his own palace, and peeping from behind a curtain, he saw the wizard and the princess, now his servant.

“Psst! Psst!” hissed Aladdin.

“Aladdin! It’s you . . .!”

“Ssh. Don’t let him hear you. Take this powder and put it into his tea. Trust me.” The powder quickly took effect and the wizard fell into a deep sleep. Aladdin hunted for the lamp high and low, but it was nowere to be seen. But it had to be there. How, otherwise, had the wizard moved the palace? As Aladdin gazed at his sleeping enemy, he thought of peering underneath the pillow. “The lamp! At last,” sighed Aladdin, hastily rubbing it.

“Welcome back, Master!” exclaimed the genie. “Why did you leave me at another’s service for so long?”

“Welcome,” replied Aladdin. “I’m glad to see you again. I’ve certainly missed you! It’s just as well I have you by me again.”

“At your command,” smiled the genie.

“First, put this wicked wizard in chains and take him far away where he’ll never be found again.” The genie grinned with pleasure, nodded his head, and the wizard vanished. Halima clutched Aladdin in fear:

“What’s going on? Who is that genie?”

“Don’t worry, everything is all right,” Aladdin reassured her, as he told his wife the whole story of how he had met the wizard and found the magic lamp that had enabled him to marry her. Everything went back to normal and the happy pair hugged each other tenderly.

“Can we return to our own kingdom?” the princess asked timidly, thinking of her father, so far away. Aladdin glanced at her with a smile.

“The magic that brought you here will take you back, but with me at your side, forever.”

The Sultan was almost ill with worry. His daughter had disappeared along with the palace, and then his son- in-law had vanished too. Nobody knew where they were, not even the wise men hastily called to the palace to divine what had happened. The jealous Chamberlain kept on repeating:

“I told you Aladdin’s fortune couldn’t last.”

Everyone had lost all hope of ever seeing the missing pair again, when far away, Aladdin rubbed the magic lamp and said to the genie,

“Take my wife, myself and the palace back to our own land, as fast as you can.”

“In a flash, Sire,” replied the genie. At the snap of a finger, the palace rose into the air and sped over the Sultan’s kingdom, above the heads of his astonished subjects. It gently floated down to earth and landed on its old site. Aladdin and Halima rushed to embrace the Sultan.

To this very day, in that distant country, you can still admire the traces of an ancient palace which folk call the palace that came from the skies.

 

The Wolf and The Crane

The Wolf and The Crane

A Wolf had been gorging on an animal he had killed, when suddenly a small bone in the meat stuck in his throat and he could not swallow it. He soon felt terrible pain in his throat, and ran up and down groaning and groaning and seeking for something to relieve the pain. He tried to induce every one he met to remove the bone.

“I would give anything,” said he, “if you would take it out.”

At last the Crane agreed to try, and told the Wolf to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he could. Then the Crane put its long neck down the Wolf‘s throat, and with its beak loosened the bone, till at last it got it out.

Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?” said the Crane.

The Wolf grinned and showed his teeth and said:

“Be content. You have put your head inside a Wolf’s mouth and taken it out again in safety; that ought to be reward enough for you.”

Gratitude and greed go not together.