with Horse and Hound

The Coyote: An Allegory of “Want”

coyote.jim dugganJim Duggan photo

Here is the funniest, most perceptive and penetrating description of the coyote that I have ever read! Excerpted from Roughing It, a collection of Mark Twain's experiences while prospecting and reporting in the Wild West between 1861 and 1867.

Another night of alternate tranquility and turmoil. But morning came, by and by. It was another glad awakening to fresh breezes, vast expanses of level greensward, bright sunlight, and impressive solitude utterly without human beings or human habitations, and an atmosphere of such amazing properties that trees that seemed close at hand were more than three miles away.

We resumed undress uniform, climbed atop of the flying coach, dangled our legs over the side, shouted occasionally at our frantic mules, merely to see them lay their ears back and scamper faster, tied our hats on to keep our hair from blowing away, and leveled an outlook over the world-wide carpet about us for things new and strange to gaze at. Even at this day it thrills me through and through to think of the life, the gladness, and the wild sense of freedom that used to make the blood dance in my veins on those fine overland mornings!

Along about an hour after breakfast we saw the first prairie-dog villages, the first antelope, and the first wolf. If I remember rightly, this latter was the regular coyote (pronounced ky-o-te) of the farther deserts. And if it was, he was not a pretty creature or respectable either, for I got well acquainted with his race afterward, and can speak with confidence.

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