The star descended until Coyote could get hold of him, and then soared up into the sky, with Coyote hanging on for dear life. Round and round the sky went the star. Coyote became very tired, and the arm that was holding onto the star grew numb, as if it were coming out of its socket! “Star,” he said, “I believe I’ve done enough dancing for now. I’ll let go and be getting back home.” “No, wait; we’re too high up,” said the star. “Wait until I come lower over the mountain where I picked you up.”
Coyote looked down at the earth. He thought it seemed quite near. “I’m tired, star; I think I’ll leave now; we’re low enough,” he said, and let go.
Coyote had made a bad mistake. He dropped down, down, down. He fell for a full ten winters. He plopped through the earth clouds at last, and when he finally hit ground, he was flattened out like a tanned, stretched deerskin. So he died right there.
Now, the Great Mystery Power had amused himself by giving Coyote several lives. It took Coyote quite a few winters, however, to puff himself up again into his old shape. He had grown quite a bit older in all that time, but he had not grown less foolish. He boasted: “Who besides me could dance with stars, and fall out of the sky for ten long winters, and be flattened out like a deer hide,and live to tell the tale? I am Coyote. I am powerful. I can do anything!”
Coyote was sitting in front of his lodge one night, when from behind the mountain rose a strange kind of star, a very fast one, trailing a long, shining tail. Coyote said to himself: “Look at that fast star; what fun to dance with him!” He called out: “Hoh, strange star with the long tail! Wait for me; come down; let’s dance!”
The strange, fast star shot down, and Coyote grabbed hold. The star whirled off into the vastness of the universe. Again Coyote had made a bad mistake. Looking up from his lodge into the sky, he had had no idea of that star’s real speed. It was the fastest thing in the universe.
Coyote fell back down to earth in little pieces, a bit here and a bit there. But soon the pieces started looking for each other, slowly coming together, forming up into Coyote again.
It took a long time; several winters. At last Coyote was whole again except for his right hand, which was still whirling around in space with the star. Coyote called out: “Great Mystery! I was wrong.!! I’m not as powerful as you. I’m not as powerful as I thought, Have pity on me!”
Then the Great Mystery Power spoke: “Friend Coyote. I have given you four lives. Two you have already wasted foolishly. Better watch out!” “Have pity on me,” wailed Coyote. “Give me back my right hand.” “That’s up to the star with the long tail, my friend. You must have patience. Wait until the star appears to you, rising from behind the mountain again. Then maybe he will shake your hand off.” “How often does this star come over the mountain?”
“Once in a hundred lifetimes,” said the Great Mystery.