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The Basket Woman
A Book of Indian Tales for Children

written by "Austin, Mary Hunter, 1868-1934" day's journey. They crossed a great plain where waters of mirage rolled over a cracked and parching earth and the rim of the world was hidden in a bluish mist; so they came at last to another range of hills, not so high but tumbled thickly together, and beyond these, at the end of the hundred days, to the Big Water quaking along the sand at the foot of the Burning Mountain. It stood up in a high and peaked cone, and the smoke of its burning rolled out and broke along the sky. By night the glare of it reddened the waves far out on the Big Water when the Fire Spirits began their dance.[Pg 116] Then said the Counselor to the boy who was soon to be called the Fire Bringer, "Do you stay here until I bring you a brand from the burning; be ready and right for running, and lose no time, for I shall be far spent when I come again, and the Fire Spirits will pursue me." Then he went up the mountain, and the Fire Spirits when they saw him come were laughing and very merry, for his appearance was much against him. Lean he was, and his coat much the worse for the long way he had come. Slinking he looked, inconsiderable, scurvy, and mean, as he has always looked, and it served him as well then as it serves him now. So the Fire Spirits only laughed, and paid him no farther heed. Along in the night, when they came out to begin their dance about the mountain, the Coyote stole the fire and began to run away with it down the slope of the Burning Mountain. When the Fire Spirits saw what he had done, they streamed out after him red and angry in pursuit, with a sound like a swarm of bees. The boy saw them come, and stood up in[Pg 117] his place clean limbed and taut for running. He saw the sparks of the brand stream back along the Coyote's flanks as he carried it in his mouth and stretched forward on the trail, bright against the dark bulk of the mountain like a falling star. He heard the singing sound of the Fire Spirits behind and th...

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