How The Spark Of Fire Was Saved
: Nature Myths And Stories For Little Children
Long ago when fire was first brought to earth, it was given into the
care of two beldams at the end of the world.
The Cahroc Indians knew where it was hidden. They needed fire and were
always planning ways to get it.
They went at last to the wise coyote.
"That is simple enough," said he, "I will show you a way to get it. Fire
is a great blessing and should be free to all people
The coyote knew every inch of the road to the beldams' hut.
Along the path leading to it, he stationed beasts, the strongest and
best runners nearer the hut and the weaker ones farther off.
Nearest the guarded den, he placed one of the sinewy Cahroc men.
Then he walked boldly up to the door of the hut and knocked.
The beldams, not fearing a coyote in the least, invited him in.
They were often lonely, living so near the end of the world.
When the coyote had rested before the fire for some time, he said, "The
Cahroc nation need fire. Could you not give them one small spark? You
would never miss it. Here it is of no use."
The beldams answered, "We do not love it, but we dare not give it away.
We must guard it while we live."
The coyote had expected them to say this.
He sprang to the window, and instantly outside were heard such sounds,
that the beldams rushed out to see what the frightful noise could be.
Each animal in the line was sounding the watch-word of fire in his own
The wild horse neighed, the mountain lion roared, the gray wolf howled,
the serpent hissed, the buffalo bellowed, and every small animal did its
part equally well.
Indeed, it is no wonder that the beldams were frightened nearly to
The Cahroc man brought water and told them not to fear for themselves.
The coyote seized a half-burned brand and was off in an instant.
The beldams sprang after him and followed him closely over hill and
valley. Faster than the wind they flew.
They were stronger than he, and though he put all his wild-wood nerve to
the strain, they steadily gained.
Soon the race must end!
But Puma, the monstrous cat, was watching, and leaped up just in time to
save the brand.
Each animal was in its place and the good fire passed on.
It came at last to the Cahroc nation, and was afterwards free to all
people under the sun.
There were only two mishaps in all the race.
As the squirrel turned a corner of stumps and bowlders, his beautiful
tail caught fire, and a brown track was burned up over his back to his
shoulders, and the curl has remained in his tail to this day.
The frog had a harder fate.
He was the last one in the line of beasts. When the brand reached him it
was smaller than the smallest coal in the grate.
He seized it carefully and jumped forward as fast as he could, but the
hand of the foremost beldam caught him and held him fast.
How his heart beat!
His eyeballs bulged out of his head, and he has looked ever since much
in the same scared way.
He did not lose his courage, however. He swallowed the coal and sprang
into the water.
Sad to tell, the beldam still held in her hand his special pride and
care, his tail.
Henceforth only the tadpoles could wear tails.
The frog sought a log and sat down upon it to think.
"I did my duty, even if I lost my beauty," he thought; "that is enough
for a frog. This spark must be saved."
After much choking he spat the swallowed spark well into the bark.
The gift came, in this way, to all men; for, in even the wettest
weather, if you rub two sticks together, fire is sure to come.
Because we know how the frog hurt his throat that day, we like to listen
to his hoarse voice when we hear him singing to his children in the