Because the Great Mystery Power had given Coyote much of his medicine, Coyote himself grew very powerful and very conceited. There was nothing, he believed that he couldn’t do. He even thought he was more powerful than the Great Mystery, for Coyote was sometimes wise but also a fool.
One day long ago, it came into his mind to dance with a star. He saw a bright star coming up from behind a mountain, and called out, “Ho, you star, wait and come down! I want to dance with you.”
The star descended so 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 got 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’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.”
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. After a long while, Coyote pulled himself up. He boasted, “Who besides me could dance with stars, and fall out of the sky 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 there 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, “Ho, strange star with the long tail! Wait for me; come down; let’s dance!” The strange star shot down, and Coyote grabbed hold.
The star whirled off into the vastness of the universe. Again, Coyote had made a bad mistake. This star was the fastest thing in the universe. It whirled Coyote around so swiftly that bit by bit, small pieces of Coyote were flung off, until at last only Coyote’s right hand was holding onto that fast star. Soon the strewn pieces of Coyote started looking for each other, slowly coming together, forming up into Coyote again.
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 gave 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, my friend. You must be patient. Wait until the star appears to you, then maybe he will shake your hand off.”
“How often does this star appear?”
“Once in a hundred lifetimes,” said the Great Mystery.