Rabbit Stories

https://www.indigenouspeople.net/rabbit.htm

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How Rabbit Brought Fire to the People

In the beginning there was no fire and the earth was cold. Then the Thunderbirds sent their lightning to a sycamore tree on an island where the Weasels lived. The Weasels were the only ones who had fire and they would not give any of it away.

The people knew that there was fire on the island because they could see smoke coming from the sycamore, but the water was too deep for anyone to cross. When winter came the people suffered so much from the cold that they called a council to find some way of obtaining fire from the Weasels. They invited all the animals who could swim.

“How shall we obtain fire?” the people asked.

Most of the animals were afraid of the Weasels because they were bloodthirsty and ate mice and moles and fish and birds. Rabbit was the only one who was brave enough to try to steal fire from them. “I can run and swim faster than the Weasels,” he said. “I am also a good dancer. Every night the Weasels build a big fire and dance around it. Tonight I will swim across and join in the dancing. I will run away with some fire.”

He considered the matter for a while and then decided how he would do it. Before the sun set he rubbed his head with pine tar so as to make his hair stand up. Then, as darkness was falling, he swam across to the island.

The Weasels received Rabbit gladly because they had heard of his fame as a dancer. Soon they had a big fire blazing and all began dancing around it. As the Weasels danced, they approached nearer and nearer the fire in the centre of the circle. They would bow to the fire and then dance backwards away from it.

When Rabbit entered the dancing circle, the Weasels shouted to him: “Lead us, Rabbit!” He danced ahead of them, coming closer and closer to the fire. He bowed to the fire, bringing his head lower and lower as if he were going to take hold of it. While the Weasels were dancing faster and faster, trying to keep up with him, Rabbit suddenly bowed very low so that the pine tar in his hair caught fire in a flash of flame.

He ran off with his head ablaze, and the angry Weasels pursued him, crying, “Catch him! Catch him! He has stolen our sacred fire! Catch him, and throw him down!”

But Rabbit outran them and plunged into the water, leaving the Weasels on the shore. He swam across the water with the flames still blazing from his hair.

The Weasels now called on the Thunderbirds to make it rain so as to extinguish the fire stolen by Rabbit. For three days rain poured down upon the earth, and the Weasels were sure that no fire was left burning except in their sycamore tree.

Rabbit, however, had built a fire in a hollow tree, and when the rain stopped and the sun shone, he came out and gave fire to all the people. After that whenever it rained, they kept fires in their shelters, and that is how Rabbit brought fire to the people.

 

How Rabbit Fooled Alligator

Long ago, the Creek nation lived mostly in the area of Georgia and Florida. Tribal storytellers loved to relate the following legend over and over to their young people, who loved to hear it again and again.

When the animals talked with each other just like people do today, a very handsome alligator lay sunning himself luxuriously on a log in which we now call the Florida Everglades. Then along came Mr. Rabbit, who said to him, “Mr. Handsome Alligator, have you ever seen the devil?”

“No, Mr. Rabbit, but I am not afraid of the devil. Are you?” replied Mr. Alligator.

“Well now, Mr. A., I did see the devil. Do you know what he said about you?” asked Rabbit.

“Now, just what did the devil have to say about me?” Alligator replied.

“The devil said that you are afraid of him,” said Rabbit. “Besides, he said you would not even look at him.”

“Rubbish,” said Alligator. “I know that I am not afraid of the devil and I am not afraid to look at him. Please tell him so for me the next time you see him.”

“I do not think you are willing to crawl up the hill the day after tomorrow and allow me to introduce you to the devil himself,” said Rabbit.

“Oh, yes, I am willing and ready to go with you,” replied Alligator. “Let us go tomorrow.”

“That is just fine with me,” replied Rabbit. “But Mr. A., when you see some smoke rising somewhere, do not be afraid. It is a sign that the devil is moving about and will soon be on his way.”

“You do not have to worry about me,” said Alligator. “I told you I am not afraid of the devil.”

“When you see the friendly birds flying about, and the deer running at a gallop, do not be afraid,” said Rabbit.

“Don’t you be concerned, because I will not be afraid,” repeated Alligator.

“If you hear some fire crackling and its comes closer to you, do not be scared,” said Rabbit. “If the grasses near you begin to smoke, do not be scared. The devil is only wandering about. Then is the time for you to get a good look at him when the heat is hottest.”

After Rabbit’s final words of wisdom, he left Alligator sunning himself.

Next day, Rabbit returned and asked Alligator to crawl up the hill, following him. Rabbit led him to the very top and directed him to lie in the tallest grass. Then Rabbit left Alligator, laughing to himself all the way down the hill, because he had led Alligator to the farthest place away from his home in the water.

On his way, Rabbit came to a smoldering stump. He picked up a piece, carrying it back to the high grass, where he made a fire so the wind blew it toward Alligator.

Soon the fire surrounded the place, burning closer and closer to Alligator. Rabbit then ran to a sandy knoll and sat down to watch the fun, chuckling over the trick he had played on Mr. Alligator.

Only a short time passed when the smoke rose in thick spirals, and the birds flew upward and away. Other animals ran for their lives across the field.

Alligator cried out, “Oh, Mr. Rabbit, where are you?”

“You just lie there quietly,” replied Rabbit. “It’s only the devil prowling about.”

The fire began to roar and spread rapidly. “Oh, Mr. Rabbit, what is that I hear?” asked Alligator.

“That’s just the devil breathing hard,” replied Rabbit. “Do not be scared. You will see him soon!”

Rabbit became so amused that he rolled and rolled on the sandy knoll and kicked his heels up in the air with glee.

Soon the grass surrounding Alligator caught fire and began to burn beneath him. Alligator rolled and twisted with pain from his burns.

“Do not be afraid now, Mr. Alligator,” called Rabbit. “Just be quiet for a little while longer, and the devil will be there for you to get a firsthand look at him.”

Alligator could not stand any more toasting! He started to crawl as fast as he could down the hillside toward the water. He wriggled through the burning grass, snapping his jaws, rolling in pain, and choking from the smoke.

Rabbit, upon his sandy knoll, laughed and laughed, jumping up and down with delight at the trick he had played on Alligator.

“Wait a minute, Mr. A. Don’t be in such a hurry. You said you were not afraid of the devil,” called Rabbit.

By that time Alligator had reached his home in the water, tumbling in to stop the pain of his roasted skin.

Never again did Mr. Handsome Alligator trust that trickster, Mr. Rabbit, or any of his family, ever!

How Rabbit Fooled Wolf  

Two pretty girls lived not far from Rabbit and Wolf. One day Rabbit called upon Wolf and said, “Let’s go and visit those pretty girls up the road.”

“All right,” Wolf said, and they started off.

When they got to the girls’ house, they were invited in, but both girls took a great liking to Wolf and paid all their attention to him while Rabbit had to sit by and look on. Rabbit of course was not pleased by this, and he soon said, “We had better be going back.”

“Let’s wait a while longer,” Wolf replied, and they remained until late in the day. Before they left, Rabbit found a chance to speak to one of the girls so that Wolf could not overhear and he said, “The one you’ve been having so much fun with is my old horse.”

“I think you are lying,” the girl replied.

“No, I am not. You shall see me ride him up here tomorrow.”

“If we see you ride him up here,” the girl said with a laugh, “we’ll believe he’s only your old horse.”

When the two left the house, the girls said, “Well, call again.”

Next morning Wolf was up early, knocking on Rabbit’s door. “It’s time to visit those girls again,” he announced.

Rabbit groaned. “Oh, I was sick all night,” he answered, “and I hardly feel able to go.”

Wolf kept urging him, and finally Rabbit said, “If you will let me ride you, I might go along to keep you company.”

Wolf agreed to carry him astride of his back. But then Rabbit said, “I would like to put a saddle on you so as to brace myself” When Wolf agreed to this, Rabbit added: “I believe it would be better if I should also bridle you.”

Although Wolf objected at first to being bridled, he gave in when Rabbit said he did not think he could hold on and manage to get as far as the girls’ house without a bridle. Finally Rabbit wanted to put on spurs.

“I am too ticklish,” Wolf protested.

“I will not spur you with them,” Rabbit promised. “I will hold them away from you, but it would be nicer to have them on.”

At last Wolf agreed to this, but he repeated: “I am very ticklish. You must not spur me.”

“When we get near the girls’ house,” Rabbit said, “we will take everything off you and walk the rest of the way.”

And so they started up the road, Rabbit proudly riding upon Wolf’s back. When they were nearly in sight of the house, Rabbit raked his spurs into Wolf’s sides and Wolf galloped full speed right by the house.

“Those girls have seen you now,” Rabbit said. “I will tie you here and go up to see them and try to explain everything. I’ll come back after a while and get you.”

And so Rabbit went back to the house and said to the girls: “You both saw me riding my old horse, did you not?”

“Yes,” they answered, and he sat down and had a good time with them.

After a while Rabbit thought he ought to untie Wolf, and he started back to the place where he was fastened. He knew that Wolf must be very angry with him by this time, and he thought up a way to untie him and get rid of him without any danger to himself. He found a thin hollow log and began beating upon it as if it were a drum. Then he ran up to Wolf as fast as he could go, crying out: “The soldiers are hunting for you! You heard their drum. The soldiers are after you.”

Wolf was very much frightened of soldiers. “Let me go, let me go!” he shouted.

Rabbit was purposely slow in untying him and had barely freed him when Wolf broke away and ran as fast as he could into the woods. Then Rabbit returned home, laughing to himself over how he had fooled Wolf, and feeling satisfied that he could have the girls to himself for a while.

Near the girls’ house was a large peach orchard, and one day they asked Rabbit to shake the peaches off the tree for them. They went to the orchard together and he climbed up into a tree to shake the peaches off. While he was there Wolf suddenly appeared and called out: “Rabbit, old fellow, I’m going to even the score with you. I’m not going to leave you alone until I do.”

Rabbit raised his head and pretended to be looking at some people off in the distance. Then he shouted from the treetop: “Here is that fellow, Wolf, you’ve been hunting for!” At this, Wolf took fright and ran away again.

Some time after this, Rabbit was resting against a tree-trunk that leaned toward the ground. When he saw Wolf coming along toward him, he stood up so that the bent tree-trunk pressed against his shoulder.

“I have you now,” said Wolf, but Rabbit quickly replied: “Some people told me that if I would hold this tree up with the great power I have they would bring me four hogs in payment. Now, I don’t like hog meat as well as you do, so if you take my place they’ll give the hogs to you.”

Wolf’s greed was excited by this, and he said he was willing to hold up the tree. He squeezed in beside Rabbit, who said, “You must hold it tight or it will fall down.” Rabbit then ran off, and Wolf stood with his back pressed hard against the bent tree- trunk until he finally decidedhe could stand it no longer. He jumped away quickly so the tree would not fall upon him. Then he saw that it was only a leaning tree rooted in the earth. “That Rabbit is the biggest liar,” he cried. “If I can catch him I’ll certainly fix him.”

After that, Wolf hunted for Rabbit every day until he found him lying in a nice grassy place. He was about to spring upon him when Rabbit said, “My friend, I’ve been waiting to see you again. I have something good for you to eat. Somebody killed a pony out there in the road. If you wish I’ll help you drag it out of the road to a place where you can make a feast off it.”

“All right,” Wolf said, and he followed Rabbit out to the road where a pony was lying asleep.

“I’m not strong enough to move the pony by myself,” said Rabbit, “so I’ll tie its tail to yours and help you by pushing.”

Rabbit tied their tails together carefully so as not to awaken the pony. Then he grabbed the pony by the ears as if he were going to lift it up. The pony woke up, jumped to its feet, and ran away, dragging Wolf behind. Wolf struggled frantically to free his tail, but all he could do was scratch on the ground with his claws.

“Pull with all your might,” Rabbit shouted after him.

“How can I pull with all my might,” Wolf cried, “when I’m not standing on the ground?”

By and by, however, Wolf got loose, and then Rabbit had to go into hiding for a long, long time.

Run, Rabbit, Run

It was late winter or very early spring, for snow still lay on the ground, when Ableegumooch the Rabbit entertained two friends at a maple syrup feast. The two friends were Keoonik the Otter and Miko the Squirrel.

As they happily licked the last of the syrup off their paws, they exchanged news.

“Last night,” said Miko, “the moon looked into my den and woke me, and I heard wolves talking outside. I heard them offer Lusifee the Wild Cat two strings of wampum to kill somebody!”

“Really?” asked the rabbit, with interest. “Who?”

“They didn’t mention any name,” said the squirrel, “but only spoke of him as a servant and friend of Glooscap, one full of tricks, who knows his way through the forest.”

“Whoever he is,” said Keoonik darkly, “he is as good as dead, for that Lusifee is a cunning tracker and absolutely cold-blooded.”

“A friend of our Master’s,” mused Ableegumooch, “could be any of us.”

“Someone full of tricks,” remarked the otter uneasily. “It could even be me!”

“Hah!” snorted the rabbit, “you know very well that I am the one most full of tricks hereabouts.” And Keoonik did not deny it, for he had suffered much in the past from the rabbit’s mischief. Miko gave a little shiver.

“You know, when they spoke of one who knew his way through the forest, I couldn’t help wondering if they meant me, for I can find my way through the trees better than most.”

“Nonsense!” snapped Ableegumooch. “Anything a squirrel can do, a rabbit can do better. After all, I am Glooscap’s official forest guide. And his very good friend,” he added proudly.

“The thing is,” said Keoonik, his eyes dwelling unconsciously on the rabbit, “to find someone who fits all three requirements– someone full of tricks, one who knows the forest, and one who is a servant and friend of the Great Chief.”

The rabbit jumped as if a bee had stung him.

“Oh my! It’s me he’s after!”

Keoonik tried to comfort the stricken rabbit.

“We’ll stand by you,” he said. “Won’t we, Miko?”

“Y-yes,” said the squirrel doubtfully, for he feared that even the three of them together would be no match for the ferocious cat.

“Thanks, my friends,” said Ableegumooch, heartened by their loyalty, “but I may not need your help. I have a plan.”

Miko asked what he had in mind.

“Strength and speed are on Lusifee’s side, so I must rely on craft,” said Ableegumooch and grinned mysteriously. “When a rabbit’s skin falls short, he must borrow another’s. Well, he’s sure to come here to find me. I’m off!” And the rabbit sprang into the air, landing a long distance from his lodge, so as to leave no track near his home. Ableegumooch kept jumping in this way until he thought he was out of scent and sight, then scampered away like the wind.

Keoonik and Miko scurried to a hiding place nearby and waited to see what would happen. Presently, sure enough, Lusifee the Wild Cat appeared, slinking along with nose to the earth, his yellow eyes gleaming and his great paws padding silently over the snow.

Finding the rabbit’s wigwam empty, he snarled with disappointed fury. However, taking the wigwam for a centre, he kept going round and round it, making each circle a little wider than the one before, until at last he found the rabbit’s scent. He kept on circling until he reached the spot where the rabbit had stopped jumping. Then, swearing by his tail to catch Ableegumooch and kill him, he set out swiftly on a clear trail.

As the day passed, Lusifee knew by the freshness of the track that he was overtaking the rabbit, but he did not catch sight of his prey while daylight lasted. As night fell, Lusifee came upon a wigwam all alone on the open marsh, and he poked his head inside. There sat a grave and dignified old fox, whose white hair stuck up oddly on either side of his head. When asked if he had seen Ableegumooch, the old fellow shook his head, but invited Lusifee to pass the night with him.

“You can continue your search in the morning,” he said in a helpful manner. So, being tired and hungry, Lusifee accepted the invitation, and after a good supper, lay down by the fire and slept soundly.

Towards morning, however, he began to shiver and feel most uncomfortable. Waking at last, he looked around in amazement. He was no longer in the warm lodge but lying on the open marsh with snow blowing over him. Then Lusifee saw dimly the marks of a rabbit’s feet and knew Ableegumooch had fooled him. The rabbit, artful at disguise, had masqueraded as the fox and had removed himself and the wigwam while Lusifee slept.

Resuming the chase in a great rage, the cat swore by his teeth, as well as by his tail, that Ableegumooch would die before nightfall. But when darkness came again, he had still not caught sight of the rabbit.

Stopping at the first village he came to, which was that of a porcupine tribe, he asked the first young porcupine he met if he had seen a rabbit pass this way.

“Hush!” said the porcupine. “Can’t you see we are listening to the storyteller?” Then Lusifee noticed that the whole tribe was gathered around the fire listening to an old porcupine with white whiskers and oddly-shaped ears. In the land of the Wabanaki, the storyteller is greatly respected, and it is considered most impolite to interrupt him. So the cat was obliged to wait until the stories were over. Then he turned once more to the young porcupine.

“But have you seen a rabbit?”

“Hundreds of them,” answered the other impatiently, “are racing about in the cedar swamp near here. You can have as many as you want.”

“Those aren’t the ones I’m after,” complained the cat. “I want Ableegumooch, Glooscap’s forest guide.”

The young porcupine said he knew of no other sort of rabbit save the wild wood ones, but perhaps the storyteller who was old and wise could tell him something.

So Lusifee went to the storyteller and asked if he had seen a rabbit pass by.

“Rabbit?” The storyteller rattled his quills as he thought, and the cat moved back prudently. “No, I’ve seen no rabbit. But, my friend, you look tired. You may pass the night with me, if you like, in my lodge outside the village.”

The cat was glad of the invitation and went to sleep in a warm bed. Much later, he awoke, all a-shake and a-shiver in a wet cedar swamp, the wind blowing ten times worse than the night before, and all around him the tracks of a rabbit.

Lusifee sprang up more enraged than ever and, swearing now by his claws, as well as by his teeth and his tail, to be revenged on the rabbit, he set out again on the trail. He ran all day and at night came to another village, inhabited by a tribe of bears. He was so weary he could only gasp out:

“Have–you–seen–a rab–bit?”

The bears said they had not, but invited him to join in a feast with them, and when they had done eating, they politely asked him for a song. Now the cat was very vain about his voice, and right willingly he lifted up his voice in a song of hate against rabbits. The bears applauded and invited him to join in the dancing, but the cat begged to be excused on account of weariness and sat to one side, watching.

Now one of the bears was smaller than the others and his ears were somewhat longer than bears’ are usually. How ever, he was a great dancer and leaped higher in the air than any other. As he passed by Lusifee he accidentally, it seemed, gave the cat a fierce kick, cutting his head and knocking him senseless.

When the cat came back to consciousness, he found him self in a wigwam outside the village. A medicine man of the bear tribe was bending over him and the cat noticed that he wore long white feathers on either side of his head. By now Lusifee was growing more suspicious and he looked at the medicine man with narrowed eyes.

“I was asking if any rabbits had been around here,” said Lusifee, “and truly you look very much like one yourself. How did you get that split lip?”

“Oh, that is very simple,” said the medicine man, who was no other than Ableegumooch, of course. “Once I was hammering wampum beads, and the stone on which I beat them broke in halves and one piece flew up and split my lip.”

“But why are the soles of your feet so yellow, like a rabbit’s?”

“Simple, again,” said the medicine man. “I was once preparing some tobacco and as I needed both hands to work, I held it down with my feet–so the tobacco stained them yellow.”

Then Lusifee suspected no more and allowed the medicine man to doctor his cuts with salve, after which he fell asleep. But, alas, once more the unhappy cat awoke in dreadful misery, his head swollen and aching, his wound stuffed now with hemlock needles instead of salve.

Now Lusifee swore by his body and soul, as well as by his teeth and his claws and his tail, to kill the next thing he met, rabbit, or any other!

Forgetting pain and cold, he rushed off, exulting when he found the track of Ableegumooch very fresh. Evidently the rabbit too was tiring from the race and could not be far off. Yes, there was the tricky follow just ahead! In fact Ableegumooch had been obliged to stop short as he came to the edge of a broad river. The cat grinned with triumph, for he knew that rabbits are no good at swimming. “You can’t escape me now,” he shouted. Poor Ableegumooch. He could run no further.

Far away on Blomidon’s misty summit, Glooscap saw all that had happened and knew the rabbit had done all he could by himself. The Great Chief began to smoke his pipe very hard, puffing black rings into the blue sky, where they changed at once into birds.

Down in the forest, Ableegumooch had turned at bay and Lusifee was prepared to spring–when, suddenly, down from the sky hurled a great flock of giant hawks screaming their war cries. Lusifee snarled and turned to meet them, but they bore him down by force of numbers–picking at his eyes and beating him with their wings- -until at last, screaming with fear, the cat turned tail and fled into the forest, where if he is not dead he is running still!

Trembling with fright, Ableegumooch sank down to rest at last. He was not half so cocky as he had been when he started out, for he knew that but for the hawks he would have been a dead rabbit. A flute was playing far off, and the rabbit listened. Then he knew who had sent the hawks to him in the nick of time.

“Thank you, Master,” he whispered. Glooscap, far off on Blomidon, nodded–and played a triumphant tune to the returning birds.

Now, kespeadooksit–the story ends.

Ableegumooch, the Lazy Rabbit (Wabanaki)

In the Old Time, as you know, Ableegumooch was Glooscap’s forest guide and helped wayfarers lost in the forest. However, as time went on, Indians and animals learned to find their own way through the trees and did not need the rabbit’s services so often. Ableegumooch grew fat and lazy. If there was something easy and pleasant to do, he did it. If the thing were difficult or tiring, he did not. Now that is no way to keep a wigwam stocked with food. Often, poor old Noogumee, his grandmother, with whom he lived, had to hunt for food herself, or they would have gone hungry. And no matter how much she scolded him, Ableegumooch refused to mend his ways.

Glooscap, far away in his lodge on Blomidon, saw that the rabbit was becoming a thoroughly useless creature. He must be warned against the dangers of laziness. So, wasting no time, Glooscap descended from his lodge to the beach in three huge strides, launched his canoe, and paddled across the Bay of Fundy to the shore near the rabbit’s home.

It was a fine bright morning, the air cool and tasting of salt, as it always does in the Maritime Provinces. And presently along hopped the rabbit, singing with fine spirit:

It’s a lovely day to do
Nothing, nothing
All the day through!

He paid no attention to the tasty leaves and berries he might have been gathering for dinner. He was much more interested in watching other people work. There was Miko the Squirrel scampering up the big maple tree, his cheeks bulged out with nuts, pausing only long enough to scold Ableegumooch for coming too near his storehouse. There was Mechipchamooech the Bumble Bee, busy at the golden rod, gathering honey for his hive. And there was Teetees the Blue Jay, flying worms to his family in the big pine. It was all so interesting that Ableegumooch stopped beside a stately fir tree to enjoy the scene. Suddenly behind him, he heard a voice.

“Ableegumooch, be careful!”

The rabbit jumped and whirled about, but there was nobody there. The voice spoke again, from somewhere over his head.

“Take care, Ableegumooch, or your lazy ways will bring you pain and sorrow.”

The rabbit looked up and saw the fir tree shake like a leaf in a storm, yet not a breath of wind stirred. Frightened out of his wits, he ran–and he never stopped running until he was safe at home, where he told his grandmother what had happened.

“Glooscap has given you a warning,” said his grand mother. “Be sure to obey him, grandson, or you will be sorry.”

The rabbit’s legs were still trembling from fright and exertion, and he promised at once that he would take care to mend his lazy ways in future. And indeed, for a while, he went busily about his hunting and kept the wigwam well stocked with food. But, when autumn came, he grew lazy again and went back to his old careless ways.

It’s a lovely day to do
Nothing, nothing
All the day through!

So sang Ableegumooch as he sauntered through the glory of autumn trees. Noogumee begged and scolded and pleaded, but he continued to spend more time visiting his neighbours than gathering food. One day, when winter had come to the land, he came to the wigwam of Keoonik the Otter. Keoonik politely asked him to dine, and the rabbit promptly accepted. Keoonik turned to his elderly house keeper and addressed her in the usual Indian fashion:

“Noogumee, prepare the meal.”

Then he took some fishhooks and went off, the rabbit hopping along behind, curious to see what he was going to do. Keoonik sat on the snowy bank of the river and slid down an icy path into the water. In a moment, he reappeared with a string of eels which he carried to his grandmother, and she promptly cooked them for dinner.

“Gracious!” thought Ableegumooch. “If that isn’t an easy way to get a living. I can do that as well as Keoonik,” and he invited the otter to be his guest at dinner on the following day. Then he hurried home.

“Come,” he said to his grandmother, “we are going to move our lodge down to the river.” And in spite of all she could say, he insisted on moving it. Noogumee reminded him that the wigwam was empty of food, and he ought to be out hunting, but Ableegumooch paid no attention. He was busy making a slide like Keoonik’s. The weather was cold, so all he had to do was pour water down the snowy bank, where it soon froze, and there was his fishing slide. Early next day, the guest arrived. When it was time for dinner, Ableegumooch said to his grandmother:

“Noogumee, prepare the meal.”

“There is nothing to prepare,” said she, sadly.

“Oh, I will see to that,” said the rabbit with a confident laugh, and he took his place at the top of the slide to go fishing. When he tried to push off, however, he found it was not so easy. His coat was rough and bulky and dry, not smooth and slippery like the otter’s. He had to wriggle and push with his heels until at last he slid down and plunged into the water. The cold took his breath quite away, and he suddenly remembered he was unable to swim. Struggling and squealing, he thought no more of fishing, for he was in great danger of drowning.

“What on earth is the matter with him?” Keoonik asked the grandmother.

“I suppose he has seen someone else do that,” sighed Noogumee, “and he thinks he can do it too.”

Keoonik helped the freezing, half-drowned rabbit out of the water and, since there was nothing to eat, went home hungry and disgusted.

But do you think that cold bath cured Ableegumooch? Not at all. The very next day, as he ran idly through the forest, he came to the lodge of some female woodpeckers. He was delighted when these Antawaas invited him to dinner.

He watched eagerly to see how they found food.

One of the woodpeckers took a dish, went up the side of an old beech tree and quickly dug out a plentiful supply of food, which was cooked and placed before the rabbit.

“My, oh my!” thought Ableegumooch. “How easily some people get a living. What is to prevent me from getting mine in that fashion?” And he told the Antawaas they must come and dine with him.

On the day following, they appeared at the rabbit’s lodge and Ableegumooch said to his grandmother importantly:

“Noogumee, prepare the meal.”

“You foolish rabbit,” said she, “there is nothing to prepare.”

“Make the fire,” said the rabbit grandly, “and I shall see to the rest.”

He took the stone point from an eel spear and fastened it on his head in imitation of a woodpecker’s bill, then climbed a tree and began knocking his head against it. Soon his head was bruised and bleeding, and he lost his hold and fell to the earth with a tremendous crash. The Antawaas could not keep from laughing.

“Pray what was he doing up there?”

“I suppose he has seen someone else do that,” said Noogumee, shaking her head, “and thinks he can do it too.” And she advised them to go home, as there would be no food for them there that day.

Now, sore as he was, you would certainly think the rabbit had learned his lesson. Yet, a day or two later, he was idling in the woods as usual when he came upon Mooin the Bear, who invited him to dinner. He was greatly impressed at the way in which the bear got his meal. Mooin merely took a sharp knife and cut small pieces off the soles of his feet. These he placed in a kettle on the fire, and in a short while they enjoyed a delicious meal.

“This must be the easiest way of all to get a dinner,” marvelled Ableegumooch, and he invited Mooin to dine with him next day. Now what the rabbit did not know was that the bears preserve food on their feet. They press ripe blueberries with their paws and, after the cakes have dried upon them, cut bits off to eat. The silly rabbit thought Mooin had actually cut pieces off his paws!

At the appointed time, Ableegumooch ordered his grand mother to prepare the meal, and when she said there was nothing to prepare, he told her to put the kettle on and he would do the rest. Then he took a stone knife and began to cut at his feet as he had seen Mooin do. But oh dear me, it hurt. It hurt dreadfully! With tears streaming down his cheeks, he hacked and hacked, first at one foot and then at the other. Mooin the Bear was greatly astonished.

“What on earth is the fellow trying to do?” he asked.

Noogumee shook her head dismally.

“It is the same old thing. He has seen someone else do this.”

“Well!” said Mooin crossly, “It is most insulting to be asked to dinner and get nothing to eat. The trouble with that fellow is– he’s lazy!” and he went home in a huff.

Then at last, Ableegumooch, nursing his sore feet, remembered what Glooscap had said. All at once, he saw how silly he had been.

“Oh dear!” he said. “My own ways of getting food are hard, but others’ are harder. I shall stick to my own in the future,” and he did.

From then on, the wigwam of Ableegumooch and his grandmother was always well stored with food, winter and summer, and though he still sings, his song has changed:

It’s a wiser thing to be
Busy, busy
Constantly!

And far away on Blomidon, Glooscap, seeing his foolish rabbit mend his ways at last, set a light to his pipe and smoked contentedly.

And, kespeadooksit–the story ends.


How Rabbit Brought Fire to the People (Creek)

In the beginning there was no fire and the earth was cold. Then the Thunderbirds sent their lightning to a sycamore tree on an island where the Weasels lived. The Weasels were the only ones who had fire and they would not give any of it away.

The people knew that there was fire on the island because they could see smoke coming from the sycamore, but the water was too deep for anyone to cross. When winter came the people suffered so much from the cold that they called a council to find some way of obtaining fire from the Weasels. They invited all the animals who could swim.

“How shall we obtain fire?” the people asked.

Most of the animals were afraid of the Weasels because they were bloodthirsty and ate mice and moles and fish and birds. Rabbit was the only one who was brave enough to try to steal fire from them. “I can run and swim faster than the Weasels,” he said. “I am also a good dancer. Every night the Weasels build a big fire and dance around it. Tonight I will swim across and join in the dancing. I will run away with some fire.”

He considered the matter for a while and then decided how he would do it. Before the sun set he rubbed his head with pine tar so as to make his hair stand up. Then, as darkness was falling, he swam across to the island.

The Weasels received Rabbit gladly because they had heard of his fame as a dancer. Soon they had a big fire blazing and all began dancing around it. As the Weasels danced, they approached nearer and nearer the fire in the centre of the circle. They would bow to the fire and then dance backwards away from it.

When Rabbit entered the dancing circle, the Weasels shouted to him: “Lead us, Rabbit!” He danced ahead of them, coming closer and closer to the fire. He bowed to the fire, bringing his head lower and lower as if he were going to take hold of it. While the Weasels were dancing faster and faster, trying to keep up with him, Rabbit suddenly bowed very low so that the pine tar in his hair caught fire in a flash of flame.

He ran off with his head ablaze, and the angry Weasels pursued him, crying, “Catch him! Catch him! He has stolen our sacred fire! Catch him, and throw him down!”

But Rabbit outran them and plunged into the water, leaving the Weasels on the shore. He swam across the water with the flames still blazing from his hair.

The Weasels now called on the Thunderbirds to make it rain so as to extinguish the fire stolen by Rabbit. For three days rain poured down upon the earth, and the Weasels were sure that no fire was left burning except in their sycamore tree.

Rabbit, however, had built a fire in a hollow tree, and when the rain stopped and the sun shone, he came out and gave fire to all the people. After that whenever it rained, they kept fires in their shelters, and that is how Rabbit brought fire to the people.

How Rabbit Fooled Alligator (Creek)

Long ago, the Creek nation lived mostly in the area of Georgia and Florida. Tribal storytellers loved to relate the following legend over and over to their young people, who loved to hear it again and again.

When the animals talked with each other just like people do today, a very handsome alligator lay sunning himself luxuriously on a log in which we now call the Florida Everglades. Then along came Mr. Rabbit, who said to him, “Mr. Handsome Alligator, have you ever seen the devil?”

“No, Mr. Rabbit, but I am not afraid of the devil. Are you?” replied Mr. Alligator.

“Well now, Mr. A., I did see the devil. Do you know what he said about you?” asked Rabbit.

“Now, just what did the devil have to say about me?” Alligator replied.

“The devil said that you are afraid of him,” said Rabbit. “Besides, he said you would not even look at him.”

“Rubbish,” said Alligator. “I know that I am not afraid of the devil and I am not afraid to look at him. Please tell him so for me the next time you see him.”

“I do not think you are willing to crawl up the hill the day after tomorrow and allow me to introduce you to the devil himself,” said Rabbit.

“Oh, yes, I am willing and ready to go with you,” replied Alligator. “Let us go tomorrow.”

“That is just fine with me,” replied Rabbit. “But Mr. A., when you see some smoke rising somewhere, do not be afraid. It is a sign that the devil is moving about and will soon be on his way.”

“You do not have to worry about me,” said Alligator. “I told you I am not afraid of the devil.”

“When you see the friendly birds flying about, and the deer running at a gallop, do not be afraid,” said Rabbit.

“Don’t you be concerned, because I will not be afraid,” repeated Alligator.

“If you hear some fire crackling and its comes closer to you, do not be scared,” said Rabbit. “If the grasses near you begin to smoke, do not be scared. The devil is only wandering about. Then is the time for you to get a good look at him when the heat is hottest.”

After Rabbit’s final words of wisdom, he left Alligator sunning himself.

Next day, Rabbit returned and asked Alligator to crawl up the hill, following him. Rabbit led him to the very top and directed him to lie in the tallest grass. Then Rabbit left Alligator, laughing to himself all the way down the hill, because he had led Alligator to the farthest place away from his home in the water.

On his way, Rabbit came to a smoldering stump. He picked up a piece, carrying it back to the high grass, where he made a fire so the wind blew it toward Alligator.

Soon the fire surrounded the place, burning closer and closer to Alligator. Rabbit then ran to a sandy knoll and sat down to watch the fun, chuckling over the trick he had played on Mr. Alligator.

Only a short time passed when the smoke rose in thick spirals, and the birds flew upward and away. Other animals ran for their lives across the field.

Alligator cried out, “Oh, Mr. Rabbit, where are you?”

“You just lie there quietly,” replied Rabbit. “It’s only the devil prowling about.”

The fire began to roar and spread rapidly. “Oh, Mr. Rabbit, what is that I hear?” asked Alligator.

“That’s just the devil breathing hard,” replied Rabbit. “Do not be scared. You will see him soon!”

Rabbit became so amused that he rolled and rolled on the sandy knoll and kicked his heels up in the air with glee.

Soon the grass surrounding Alligator caught fire and began to burn beneath him. Alligator rolled and twisted with pain from his burns.

“Do not be afraid now, Mr. Alligator,” called Rabbit. “Just be quiet for a little while longer, and the devil will be there for you to get a firsthand look at him.”

Alligator could not stand any more toasting! He started to crawl as fast as he could down the hillside toward the water. He wriggled through the burning grass, snapping his jaws, rolling in pain, and choking from the smoke.

Rabbit, upon his sandy knoll, laughed and laughed, jumping up and down with delight at the trick he had played on Alligator.

“Wait a minute, Mr. A. Don’t be in such a hurry. You said you were not afraid of the devil,” called Rabbit.

By that time Alligator had reached his home in the water, tumbling in to stop the pain of his roasted skin.

Never again did Mr. Handsome Alligator trust that trickster, Mr. Rabbit, or any of his family, ever!

How Rabbit Fooled Wolf (Creek)

Two pretty girls lived not far from Rabbit and Wolf. One day Rabbit called upon Wolf and said, “Let’s go and visit those pretty girls up the road.”

“All right,” Wolf said, and they started off.

When they got to the girls’ house, they were invited in, but both girls took a great liking to Wolf and paid all their attention to him while Rabbit had to sit by and look on. Rabbit of course was not pleased by this, and he soon said, “We had better be going back.”

“Let’s wait a while longer,” Wolf replied, and they remained until late in the day. Before they left, Rabbit found a chance to speak to one of the girls so that Wolf could not overhear and he said, “The one you’ve been having so much fun with is my old horse.”

“I think you are lying,” the girl replied.

“No, I am not. You shall see me ride him up here tomorrow.”

“If we see you ride him up here,” the girl said with a laugh, “we’ll believe he’s only your old horse.”

When the two left the house, the girls said, “Well, call again.”

Next morning Wolf was up early, knocking on Rabbit’s door. “It’s time to visit those girls again,” he announced.

Rabbit groaned. “Oh, I was sick all night,” he answered, “and I hardly feel able to go.”

Wolf kept urging him, and finally Rabbit said, “If you will let me ride you, I might go along to keep you company.”

Wolf agreed to carry him astride of his back. But then Rabbit said, “I would like to put a saddle on you so as to brace myself” When Wolf agreed to this, Rabbit added: “I believe it would be better if I should also bridle you.”

Although Wolf objected at first to being bridled, he gave in when Rabbit said he did not think he could hold on and manage to get as far as the girls’ house without a bridle. Finally Rabbit wanted to put on spurs.

“I am too ticklish,” Wolf protested.

“I will not spur you with them,” Rabbit promised. “I will hold them away from you, but it would be nicer to have them on.”

At last Wolf agreed to this, but he repeated: “I am very ticklish. You must not spur me.”

“When we get near the girls’ house,” Rabbit said, “we will take everything off you and walk the rest of the way.”

And so they started up the road, Rabbit proudly riding upon Wolf’s back. When they were nearly in sight of the house, Rabbit raked his spurs into Wolf’s sides and Wolf galloped full speed right by the house.

“Those girls have seen you now,” Rabbit said. “I will tie you here and go up to see them and try to explain everything. I’ll come back after a while and get you.”

And so Rabbit went back to the house and said to the girls: “You both saw me riding my old horse, did you not?”

“Yes,” they answered, and he sat down and had a good time with them.

After a while Rabbit thought he ought to untie Wolf, and he started back to the place where he was fastened. He knew that Wolf must be very angry with him by this time, and he thought up a way to untie him and get rid of him without any danger to himself. He found a thin hollow log and began beating upon it as if it were a drum. Then he ran up to Wolf as fast as he could go, crying out: “The soldiers are hunting for you! You heard their drum. The soldiers are after you.”

Wolf was very much frightened of soldiers. “Let me go, let me go!” he shouted.

Rabbit was purposely slow in untying him and had barely freed him when Wolf broke away and ran as fast as he could into the woods. Then Rabbit returned home, laughing to himself over how he had fooled Wolf, and feeling satisfied that he could have the girls to himself for a while.

Near the girls’ house was a large peach orchard, and one day they asked Rabbit to shake the peaches off the tree for them. They went to the orchard together and he climbed up into a tree to shake the peaches off. While he was there Wolf suddenly appeared and called out: “Rabbit, old fellow, I’m going to even the score with you. I’m not going to leave you alone until I do.”

Rabbit raised his head and pretended to be looking at some people off in the distance. Then he shouted from the treetop: “Here is that fellow, Wolf, you’ve been hunting for!” At this, Wolf took fright and ran away again.

Some time after this, Rabbit was resting against a tree-trunk that leaned toward the ground. When he saw Wolf coming along toward him, he stood up so that the bent tree-trunk pressed against his shoulder.

“I have you now,” said Wolf, but Rabbit quickly replied: “Some people told me that if I would hold this tree up with the great power I have they would bring me four hogs in payment. Now, I don’t like hog meat as well as you do, so if you take my place they’ll give the hogs to you.”

Wolf’s greed was excited by this, and he said he was willing to hold up the tree. He squeezed in beside Rabbit, who said, “You must hold it tight or it will fall down.” Rabbit then ran off, and Wolf stood with his back pressed hard against the bent tree- trunk until he finally decided he could stand it no longer. He jumped away quickly so the tree would not fall upon him. Then he saw that it was only a leaning tree rooted in the earth. “That Rabbit is the biggest liar,” he cried. “If I can catch him I’ll certainly fix him.”

After that, Wolf hunted for Rabbit every day until he found him lying in a nice grassy place. He was about to spring upon him when Rabbit said, “My friend, I’ve been waiting to see you again. I have something good for you to eat. Somebody killed a pony out there in the road. If you wish I’ll help you drag it out of the road to a place where you can make a feast off it.”

“All right,” Wolf said, and he followed Rabbit out to the road where a pony was lying asleep.

“I’m not strong enough to move the pony by myself,” said Rabbit, “so I’ll tie its tail to yours and help you by pushing.”

Rabbit tied their tails together carefully so as not to awaken the pony. Then he grabbed the pony by the ears as if he were going to lift it up. The pony woke up, jumped to its feet, and ran away, dragging Wolf behind. Wolf struggled frantically to free his tail, but all he could do was scratch on the ground with his claws.

“Pull with all your might,” Rabbit shouted after him.

“How can I pull with all my might,” Wolf cried, “when I’m not standing on the ground?”

By and by, however, Wolf got loose, and then Rabbit had to go into hiding for a long, long time.
How the Rabbit Lost His Tail (Wabanaki)

You have heard how Glooscap came to rule over the Wabanaki and how he made the animals, and how at first some of them were treacherous and disobedient. In time, however, he gave posts of honor to those whom he could trust, and they were proud to be Glooscap’s servants. Two dogs became his watchmen, and the loon his messenger and tale-bearer. And, because the rabbit had the kindest heart of all the animals in the forest, Glooscap made Ableegumooch his forest guide.

Now in those days Ableegumooch the Rabbit was a very different animal than he is today. His body was large and round, his legs were straight and even, and he had a long bushy tail. He could run and walk like other animals, not with a hop-hop-hop as he does today.

One day in springtime, when the woods were carpeted with star flowers and lilies-of-the-valley, and the ferns were waist-high, Ableegumooch lay resting beside a fallen log. Hearing a rustle on the path, he peered around his log to see who was coming. It was Uskool the Fisher, a large animal of the weasel tribe, and he was weeping.

“What is the matter with him,” wondered the rabbit, who was inquisitive as well as soft-hearted. He popped his head up over the log and Uskool nearly jumped out of his fur with surprise. “It’s only me–Ableegumooch,” said the rabbit. “Do you mind telling me why you are crying?”

“Oh, greetings, Ableegumooch,” sighed Uskool, when he had recovered from his fright. “I’m going to my wedding.”

“And that makes you cry?” asked the astonished rabbit.

“Of course not,” said Uskool. “I’ve lost my way, that’s the trouble.”

“Well, just take your time,” said the rabbit sensibly, “and you’ll soon find it again.”

“But I have no time to spare,” groaned the fisher. “My future father-in-law has sworn that if I do not arrive for the wedding by sunset today, he will marry his daughter to Kakakooch the Crow. And, look, already the sun is low in the sky!”

“In that case,” said Ableegumooch, “I’d better show you the way. Where are you going?”

“To a village called Wilnech,” said Uskool eagerly, “near the bend in the river!”

“I know it well,” said the rabbit. “Just follow me.”

“Thanks, Ableegumooch,” cried the happy fisher. “Now I shall be sure to arrive in time.”

So off they went on their journey. Uskool, who was not very quick on the ground, being more accustomed to travel in the trees, moved slowly.

“You go ahead,” he told the impatient rabbit, “and I’ll follow as fast as I can.”

So Ableegumooch ran ahead, and sometimes all Uskool could see of him was his long bushy tail whisking through the trees. So it was that Uskool, looking far ahead and not watching where he stepped, fell suddenly headfirst into a deep pit.

His cries soon brought Ableegumooch running back, and seeing the fisher’s trouble, he cried out cheerfully, “Never mind. I’ll get you out.”

He let his long tail hang down inside the pit.

“Catch hold, and hang on tight, while I pull.”

Uskool held on to the rabbit’s tail, and Ableegumooch strained mightily to haul him up. Alas, the weight of the fisher was too great. With a loud snap, the rabbit’s tail broke off short, within an inch of the root, and there was poor Ableegumooch with hardly any tail at all!

Now you would think that this might have discouraged the rabbit from helping Uskool, but not so. When Ableegumooch made up his mind to do something for somebody, he did it. Holding on to a stout tree with his front paws, he lowered his hinder part into the pit.

“Take hold of my legs,” he cried, “and hang on tight. I’ll soon pull you out.”

Ableegumooch pulled and he pulled until his waist was drawn out thin, and he could feel his hind legs stretching and stretching– and soon he feared he might lose them too. But at last, just as he thought he must give up, the fisher’s head rose above the edge of the pit and he scrambled to safety.

“Well!” said the rabbit as he sat down to catch his breath. “My waist isn’t so round as it was, and my hind legs seem a good bit longer than they were. I believe it will make walking rather difficult.”

And sure enough, it did. When the rabbit tried to walk, he tumbled head over heels. Finally, to get along at all, he had to hop.

“Oh, well,” said the rabbit, “hopping is better than nothing,” and after a little practice, he found he could hop quite fast. And so they hurried on through the forest.

At last, just before the sun touched the rim of the trees, they arrived at the bride’s village. All the fishers were gathered, waiting, and they smiled and cheered at sight of Uskool and his guide–all but Kakakooch the Crow, who was far from glad to see them! In fact, as soon as he saw Uskool take the bride’s hand, he flew out of the village in a temper, and never came back again. But nobody cared about him.

Ableegumooch was the most welcome guest at the wedding when Uskool told the other fishers what he had done. All was feasting and merriment, and the rabbit danced with the bride so hard she fell into a bramble bush and tore her gown. She was in a dreadful state when she found she was not fit to be seen in company, and ran to hide behind a tree. The rabbit was terribly sorry and wanted to help her, so he hopped away to get a caribou skin he had seen drying in the sun, and made a new dress out of it for the bride.

“You must have a fine girdle to go with it,” said he, and he cut a thin strip off the end of the skin. Then he put one end of the strip in his mouth and held the other end with his front paws, twisting the strip into a fancy cord. He twisted and twisted, and he twisted it so hard the cord snapped out of his teeth and split his upper lip right up to his nose! And now you see why it is that rabbits are hare lipped!

“Never mind,” said Ableegumooch, when the bride wept at his mishap, “it can’t be helped,” and he gave her the cord just as it was, to tie around her waist.

“Wait right here,” said the bride, and she ran off. In a moment she was back, carrying a lovely white fur coat.

“This is for you,” she said shyly. “It is the color of the snow, so if you wear it in winter, your enemies will not be able to see you.”

Ableegumooch was delighted with his present and promised not to put it on till the snow came, as his brown coat would hide him better in summer. The wedding was over now, and he said good-bye to Uskool and the bride, and started for home.

Now it happened that before he had gone far, he came to a small pool in the woods, so smooth it was like a mirror. Looking into it, the rabbit saw himself for the first time since his accidents, and was aghast. Was this he–this creature with the split lip, the hind legs stretched out of shape, and a tail like a blob of down?

“Oh dear, oh dear,” sobbed Ableegumooch, “how can I face my friends looking like this?” Then, in his misery, he remembered Glooscap, his Master. “O Master! See what has happened to your poor guide. I’m not fit to be seen any more, except to laugh at. Please put me back to my former shape.”

High up on Blomidon, Glooscap heard the rabbit and came striding down from his lodge to see what was wrong. When he saw poor Ableegumooch, all out of shape, he had all he could do to keep from laughing, though of course he kept a sober face so as not to hurt the rabbit’s feelings.

“Come now,” he said, “things may not be as bad as you think. You know how fond you are of clover, Ableegumooch?”

The rabbit nodded piteously.

“And you know how hard it is to find. Well, with that long cleft in your lip, you will be able to smell clover even when it is miles away!”

“That’s good,” said the rabbit, cheering up a little, “but it’s very uncomfortable having to hop everywhere I go.”

“Perhaps, for a time,” said Glooscap, “but have you noticed how much faster you hop than you used to run?”

The rabbit did a little hop, and a jump or two, just to see.

“Why I believe you’re right!” he cried, but then his face fell again. “But my tail, Master! I mind that most of all. I was so proud of it.”

“It was certainly a handsome tail,” admitted the Great Chief, “but recall how it used to catch in thorns and brambles.”

“That’s true!” cried the rabbit, excitedly, “and it was very awkward when Wokwes the Fox was chasing me! Now I can slip through the narrowest places with no trouble at all!” And he laughed with delight. “Why–with my new legs, my cleft lip, and without my long tiresome tail, I’m a better rabbit than I was before!”

“So you are!” said Glooscap, and at last he was able to laugh. When Glooscap laughs heartily, the land shakes and the trees bend over, so the rabbit had to hold on tightly to a tree to keep from being knocked over. “So you are indeed!” laughed Glooscap.

And that is why the rabbit and the rabbit’s children, and his children’s children have had, ever since that day, a little white scut of a tail, a cleft lip, and long hind legs on which they can hop all day and never tire. And since then, too, in winter, rabbits wear white coats.

And thus, kespeadooksit–the story ends.

Rabbit and Fox
[Iroquois]

One winter Rabbit was going along through the snow when he saw Fox. It was too late to hide, for Fox had caught Rabbit’s scent.

“I am Ongwe Ias, the one who eats you!” barked Fox. “Yon cannot escape me!”

Rabbit began to run for his life. He ran as fast as he could around trees and between rocks, making a great circle in the hope that he would lose Fox. But when he looked back he saw that Fox was gaining on him. “I am Ongwe Ias,” Fox barked again. “You cannot escape.”

Rabbit knew that he had to use his wits. He slipped off his moccasins and said, “Run on ahead of me.” The moccasins began to run, leaving tracks in the snow. Then, using his magic power, Rabbit made himself look like a dead, half-rotten rabbit and lay down by the trail.

When Fox came to the dead rabbit, he did not even stop to sniff at it. “This meat has gone bad,” he said. Then, seeing the tracks that led on through the snow he took up the chase again and finally caught up with Rabbit’s old moccasins.

“Hah,” Fox snarled, “this time he has fooled me. Next time I will eat the meat no matter how rotten it looks.” He began to backtrack. Just as he expected when he came to the place where the dead rabbit had been, it was gone. There were tracks leading away through the bushes, and Fox began to follow them.

He hadn’t gone far when he came upon an old woman sitting by the trail. In front of her was a pot, and she was making a stew.

“Sit down, grandson,” she said. “Have some of this good stew.”

Fox sat down. “Have you seen a rabbit go by?”

“Yes,” said the old woman, handing him a beautifully carved wooden bowl filled with hot stew. “I saw a very skinny rabbit go by. There was no flesh on his bones, and he looked old and tough.”

“I am going to eat that rabbit,” said Fox.

“Indeed?” said the old woman. “You will surely do so, for the rabbit looked tired and frightened. He must have known you were close behind him. Now eat the good stew I have given you.”

Fox began to eat and, as he did so, he looked at the old woman. “Why do you wear those two tall feathers on your head, old woman?” he asked.

“These feathers?” said the old woman. “I wear them to remind me of my son who is a hunter. Look behind you–here he comes now.”

Fox turned to look and, as he did so, the old woman threw off her blankets and leaped high in the air. She went right over Fox’s head and hit him hard with a big stick that had been hidden under the blankets.

When Fox woke up his head was sore. He looked for the stew pot, but all he could see was a hollow stump. He looked for the wooden soup bowl, but all he could find was a folded piece of bark with mud and dirty water in it. All around him were rabbit tracks. “So, he has fooled me again,” Fox said. “It will be the last time.” He jumped up and began to follow the tracks once more.

Before he had gone far he came to a man sitting by the trail. The man held a turtle-shell rattle in his hand and was dressed as a medicine man.

“Have you seen a rabbit go by?” asked Fox.

“Indeed,” said the medicine man, “and he looked sick and weak.”

“I am going to eat that rabbit,” Fox said.

“Ah,” said the medicine man, “that is why he looked so afraid. When a great warrior like you decides to catch someone, surely he cannot escape.”

Fox was very pleased. “Yes,” he said, “I am Ongwe Ias. No rabbit alive can escape me.”

“But, Grandson,” said the medicine man, shaking his turtle-shell rattle, “what has happened to your head? You are hurt.”

“It is nothing,” said the Fox. “A branch fell and struck me.”

“Grandson,” said the medicine man, “you must let me treat that wound, so that it heals quickly. Rabbit cannot go far. Come here and sit down.”

Fox sat down, and the medicine man came close to him. He opened up his pouch and began to sprinkle something into the wound.

Fox looked closely at the medicine man. “Why are you wearing two feathers?” he asked.

“These two feathers,” the medicine man answered, “show that I have great power. I just have to shake them like this, and an eagle will fly down. Look, over there! An eagle is flying down now.”

Fox looked and, as he did so, the medicine man leaped high in the air over Fox’s head and struck him hard with his turtle-shell rattle.

When Fox woke up, he was alone in a small clearing. The wound on his head was full of burrs and thorns, the medicine man was gone, and all around him were rabbit tracks.

“I will not be fooled again!” Fox snarled. He gave a loud and terrible war cry. “I am Ongwe Ias,” he shouted. “I am Fox!”

Ahead of him on the trail, Rabbit heard Fox’s war cry. He was still too tired to run and so he turned himself into an old dead tree.

When Fox came to the tree he stopped. “This tree must be Rabbit,” he said, and he struck at one of the small dead limbs. It broke off and fell to the ground. “No,” said Fox, “I am wrong.

This is indeed a tree.” He ran on again, until he realized the tracks he was following were old ones. He had been going in a circle. “That tree!” he said.

He hurried back to the place where the tree had been. It was gone, but there were a few drops of blood on the ground where the small limb had fallen. Though Fox didn’t know it, the branch he had struck had been the end of Rabbit’s nose, and ever since then rabbits’ noses have been quite short.

Leading away into the bushes were fresh rabbit tracks. “Now I shall catch you!” Fox shouted.

Rabbit was worn out. He had used all his tricks, and still Fox was after him. He came to a dead tree by the side of the trail. He ran around it four times and then, with one last great leap, lumped into the middle of some blackberry bushes close by. Then, holding his breath, he waited.

Fox came to the dead tree and looked at the rabbit tracks all around it. “Hah,” Fox laughed, “you are trying to trick me again.” He bit at the dead tree, and a piece of rotten wood came away in his mouth. “Hah,” Fox said, “you have even made yourself taste like a dead tree. But I am Ongwe Ias, I am Fox. You cannot fool me again.”

Then, coughing and choking, Fox ate the whole tree. From his hiding place in the blackberry bushes, Rabbit watched and tried not to laugh. When Fox had finished his meal he went away, still coughing and choking and not feeling well at all.

After a time, Rabbit came out of his hiding place and went on his way.

Rabbit and Fox
(Apache)

https://www.indigenouspeople.net/apachfox.htm#rabbit

 

Fox one day met a Rabbit who was sewing a sack. “What do you intend to do with that sack?” asked he. “I am making this coat to protect myself from being killed by the hard hail which we are going to have today,” replied Rabbit.

“My friend, you know how to make them; give me this coat and make another for yourself.”

Rabbit agreed to this, and Fox put on the sack over his head. Rabbit then hung him on a limb and pelted him with stones, while Fox, thinking it was hail striking him, endured the punishment as long as he could, but finally fell nearly dead from the tree, and looked out, to see no signs of hail, but discovered the Rabbit running away.

Fox wished to avenge himself by killing Rabbit, and set off in pursuit of him.

When overtaken Rabbit was chewing soft gum with which to make spectacles. Fox’s curiosity was stronger than his passion for revenge. “What are you making those for?” said he.

“It is going to be very hot, and I am making them to protect my eyes,” answered Rabbit.

“Let me have this pair; you know how to make them and can make yourself another pair.”

“Very well,” said Rabbit, and he put the eye-shields on Fox, who could then see nothing, as the gum was soft and filled his eyes.

Rabbit set fire to the brush all around Fox, who was badly singed in running through it. The gum melted in the fire, and yet remains as the dark rings around his eyes. Fox again started on the trail of Rabbit, with the determination of eating him as soon as he saw him.

He found Rabbit sitting beside the opening of a beehive. “I am going to eat you,” said Fox ; “you have tried to kill me.”

“You must not kill me,” replied Rabbit. “I am teaching these children,” and he closed the opening of the hive, so that Fox could not see what was inside. Fox desired very much to see what was in the hive making such a noise. “If you wish to see, stay here and teach them while I rest. When it is dinner time, strike them with a club,” said Rabbit, who then ran away.

Fox patiently awaited the dinner hour, and then struck the hive with such force that he broke into it. The bees poured out and stung him until he rolled in agony.

“When I see you again, I will kill you before you can say a word!” declared he, as he started after Rabbit again.

Fox tracked the Rabbit to a small hole in the fence around a field of watermelons belonging to a Mexican. The Rabbit had entered to steal, and was angered at sight of the gum figure of a man which the owner of the field had placed beside the path.

“What do you desire from me?” he cried, as he struck at the figure with his forefoot, which stuck fast in the soft gum. He struck at the gum with every foot, and even his head was soon stuck in the gum.

Thus Fox found him. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“They put me in here because I would not eat chicken for them,” said Rabbit.

“I will take your place,” said Fox ; “I know how to eat chicken.”

The Mexican found him in the morning and skinned him, and then let him go, — still on the trail of the Rabbit who had so frequently outwitted him.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Rabbit and Otter, The Bungling Host (MicMac)

Many native American tribes have legends in which various animals display their ways and means of obtaining food from others, sometimes using trickster methods. They return meal invitations and even attempt to provide food of a similar nature and in the manner of the previous host. Sometimes, this leads to trouble.

There were two wigwams. Otter lived in one with his grandmother, and Rabbit lived with his grandmother in the other. One day Rabbit started out and wandered over to visit Otter in his camp. When Rabbit entered Otter’s wigwam, Otter asked if he had anything to eat at home. “No,” replied Rabbit. So Otter asked his grandmother if she would cook something for Rabbit, but she told him she had nothing to cook.

So Otter went out to the pond directly in front of his camp, jumped in, and caught a nice long string of eels. Meanwhile, Rabbit was looking to see how Otter would catch his food. With Otter’s great success, Rabbit thought he could do the same.

Rabbit then invited Otter to come over to his camp the next day. His grandmother had already told him that she had nothing to cook for their meal, but asked him to go out and find something. Then Rabbit went out to the same pond where Otter had found the string of eels; but he could get nothing, not one fish, as he could not dive no matter how hard he tried.

In the meantime, his grandmother was waiting. She sent Otter out to find Rabbit, who searched and finally found him at the same pond, soaked and with nothing to show for his efforts.

“What’s the matter with you?” he asked.

“I’m trying hard to get us some food,” he replied.

So friendly Otter jumped into the pond and again caught a string of fish, this time for Rabbit’s grandmother to cook for their dinner. Then Otter went home.

The next day, Rabbit started out to visit Woodpecker. When he reached Woodpecker’s wigwam, Rabbit found him at home with his grandmother. She got out her large pot to cook a meal, but said, “We have nothing to cook in the pot.” So Woodpecker went out front to a dry tree-trunk, from which he picked a quantity of meal. This he took to his grandmother, and she made a good dinner for them.

Rabbit had watched how Woodpecker obtained his meal, so he invited Woodpecker over to visit him. The very next day Woodpecker arrived at Rabbit’s wigwam for a visit. Rabbit asked his grandmother to hang up her pot and cook them some dinner.

“But we have nothing to cook,” she replied. So Rabbit went outside with his birch-bark vessel to fill it with meal. He tried to dig out the meal with his nose, as he had seen Woodpecker do. Soon Woodpecker came out to see what caused the delay.

Poor Rabbit was hurt, with his nose flattened out and split in the middle from trying to break into the wood. Woodpecker left to return to his own wigwam without any dinner. Ever since then, Rabbit has had to carry around his split nose.

Another day, desperate for food, Rabbit thought he would go and steal some of Otter’s eels. He got into the habit of doing this every second night. Toward spring, Otter began to wonder where his eels had gone as his barrel was getting low.

Otter thought he would keep watch and soon found Rabbit’s foot tracks, and said to himself, “For that, I am going to kill Rabbit.” Now Rabbit knew what was going on in Otter’s mind, and when Otter reached Rabbit’s camp, he fled.

Otter asked Rabbit’s grandmother, “Where has Rabbit gone?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. “Last night he brought home some eels, then he went away.”

“He has been stealing my eels,” said Otter. “Now, I’m going to kill him.”

So began Otter’s search for Rabbit, who guessed Otter would be trailing him. Otter began to gain on Rabbit, who picked up a small chip and asked it to become a wigwam. Immediately, the chip became a wigwam and Rabbit became an old man sitting inside.

When Otter came along and saw the wigwam, he also saw the gray- headed old man sitting inside. He pretended to be blind. Otter did not know that this was Rabbit himself. Out of pity for him, Otter gathered some firewood for the old man and asked if he had heard Rabbit passing by. “No, I have not heard any one today.” So Otter continued his search.

Later, Rabbit left his wigwam and started out on another road. Otter could not pick up Rabbit’s trail, so he returned to the wigwam. Not only was it empty, but gone entirely. Only a chip remained in its place.

Otter then saw Rabbit’s tracks where he had jumped out of the wigwam. This trick made Otter very angry and he cried out, “You won’t fool me again.” Otter followed the new trail.

When Rabbit sensed Otter was closing in on him, he picked up another chip and wished it to become a house, and there was the house, ready to live in. Otter came along and was suspicious as soon as he saw the house with a veranda across the front, and a big gentleman walking back and forth all dressed in white, reading a paper.

This, of course, was Rabbit himself, but Otter did not know it. He asked the big gentleman, “Have you seen Rabbit go this way?” The man appeared not to hear. So Otter asked again. The gentleman replied in Pidgin English a phrase that meant, “Never saw Rabbit.” But Otter looked hard at him and noticed the man’s feet, which were Rabbit feet. So Otter felt certain this was his prey.

The big gentleman gave Otter some bread and wine, and Otter left hurriedly to again track Rabbit back to the house. He came to the place, but the house was not there. Otter could see the tracks where Rabbit started running away.

“He’ll never have a chance to trick me again, that’s his last time!” declared Otter.

Rabbit soon came to the head of a bay where there was a very small island, so small that a person could almost jump over it. He jumped onto the island and wished it to become a man-of-war.

Otter came to the same shore and saw the big ship anchored there, and the big gentleman in a white suit walking the deck. Otter called to him, “You can’t trick me now! You’re the man I want.”

Then Otter swam out toward the ship, to board it and to kill Rabbit. But the big gentleman sang out to this sailors, “Shoot him! His skin is worth a lot of money in France.”

Rabbit and the Moon Man (MicMac)

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/rabbmoon.htm

Long ago, Rabbit was a great hunter. He lived with his grandmother in a lodge which stood deep in the Micmac forest. It was winter and Rabbit set traps and laid snares to catch game for food. He caught many small animals and birds, until one day he discovered that some mysterious being was robbing his traps. Rabbit and his grandmother became hungry. Though he visited his traps very early each morning, he always found them empty.

At first Rabbit thought that the robber might be a cunning wolverine, until one morning he found long, narrow footprints alongside his trap line. It was, he thought, the tracks of the robber, but they looked like moonbeams. Each morning Rabbit rose earlier and earlier, but the being of the long foot was always ahead of him and always his traps were empty.

Rabbit made a trap from a bowstring with the loop so cleverly fastened that he felt certain that he would catch the robber when it came. He took one end of the thong with him and hid himself behind a clump of bushes from which he could watch his snare. It was bright moonlight while he waited, but suddenly it became very dark as the moon disappeared. A few stars were still shining and there were no clouds in the sky, so Rabbit wondered what had happened to the moon.

Someone or something came stealthily through the trees and then Rabbit was almost blinded by a flash of bright, white light which went straight to his trap line and shone through the snare which he had set. Quick as a lightning flash, Rabbit jerked the bowstring and tightened the noose. There was a sound of struggling and the light lurched from side to side. Rabbit knew b the tugging on his string that he had caught the robber. He fastened the bowstring to a nearby sapling to hold the loop tight.

Rabbit raced back to tell his grandmother, who was a wise old woman, what had happened. She told him that he must return at once and see who or what he had caught. Rabbit, who was very frightened, wanted to wait for daylight but his grandmother said that might be too late, so he returned to his trap line.

When he came near his traps, Rabbit saw that the bright light was still there. It was so bright that it hurt his eyes. He bathed them in the icy water of a nearby brook, but still they smarted. He made big snowballs and threw them at the light, in the hope of putting it out. As they went close to the light, he heard them sizzle and saw them melt. Next, Rabbit scooped up great pawfuls of soft clay from the stream and made many big clay balls. He was a good shot and threw the balls with all of his force at the dancing white light. He heard them strike hard and then his prisoner shouted.

Then a strange, quivering voice asked why he had been snared and demanded that he be set free at once, because he was the man in the moon and he must be home before dawn came. His face had been spotted with clay and, when Rabbit went closer, the moon man saw him and threatened to kill him and all of his tribe if he were not released at once.

Rabbit was so terrified that he raced back to tell his grandmother about his strange captive. She too was much afraid and told Rabbit to return and release the thief immediately. Rabbit went back, and his voice shook with fear as he told the man in the moon that he would be released if he promised never to rob the snares again. To make doubly sure, Rabbit asked him to promise that he would never return to ear, and the moon man swore that he would never do so. Rabbit could hardly see in the dazzling light, but at last he managed to gnaw through the bowstring with his teeth and the man in the moon soon disappeared in the sky, leaving a bright trail of light behind him.

Rabbit had been nearly blinded by the great light and his shoulders were badly scorched. Even today, rabbits blink as though light is too strong for their eyes; their eyelids are pink, and their eyes water if they look at a bright light. Their lips quiver, telling of Rabbit’s terror.

The man in the moon has never returned to earth. When he lights the world, one can still see the marks of the clay which Rabbit threw on his face. Sometimes he disappears for a few nights, when he is trying to rub the marks of the clay balls from his face. Then the world is dark; but when the man in the moon appears again, one can see that he has never been able to clean the clay marks from his shining face.

Rabbit Calls a Truce (Wabanaki)

In the long ago when Glooscap ruled over the Wabanaki, there lived two lively animals–Keoonik the Otter, and Ableegumooch the Rabbit, who were forever playing tricks on each other.

One day, when Keoonik was in swimming, Ableegumooch ran off with a string of eels he had left on the shore. Keoonik rushed out of the water and went in angry pursuit. He had no difficulty in tracking the rabbit, for the mark of the fish, touching the ground between jumps, clearly showed the way. He was astonished, however, when the trail ended at a clearing in the woods where a withered old woman sat by a small fire.

“Kwah-ee, Noogumee,” said Keoonik, using the formal address for an elderly female. “Did you see a rabbit hopping this way, dragging a string of eels?”

“Rabbit? Rabbit?” muttered the old woman. “What kind of animal is that?”

The otter explained that it was a small brown jumping creature with long ears and a short tail.

“I saw no such animal,” the old woman grumbled, “but I’m glad you came along, for I’m cold and sick. Do please gather a little wood for my fire.”

Obligingly, Keoonik went off to do so. Returning with the wood, he stared around in surprise. The old woman was gone. On the spot where she had sat, he saw the mark of a rabbit’s haunches, and familiar paw-prints leading away in to the woods. Then he remembered that Ableegumooch was very clever at changing his appearance and fooling people.

“Oh, that miserable rabbit!” cried Keoonik and set off again on the trail. This time the tracks led straight to a village of the Penobscot Indians, where Keoonik could see the rabbit in conversation with a thin sad man wearing the feather of a Chief in his hair string. The wily otter cut himself a stout stick and waited behind a tree. Presently, Ableegumooch came strolling down the path, his face creased in an absent-minded frown.

Keoonik was ready for him. He brought the stick down on the rabbit’s head with a thud, and Ableegumooch collapsed on the grass.

“That should teach him,” thought Keoonik, with satisfaction, and he sat down to wait for the rabbit to recover.

Presently Ableegumooch came to his senses and staggered to his feet with a dazed expression.

“What did you do with my eels?” demanded Keoonik.

“I gave them to the Indians,” muttered the rabbit, exploring the bump on his head with a groan.

“What did you do that for, you silly creature?”

“Those Penobscots are starving, Keoonik,” said the rabbit. “For many moons someone has been stealing their food.”

“Just the same,” grumbled Keoonik, “those were my eels.”

The rabbit thumped his hind legs on the ground with an air of great determination.

“Keoonik, we must find the robbers and punish them!”

“We?” asked Keoonik in astonishment.

“Yes, you and I,” said his companion firmly. “Let there be a truce between us until we discover the thieves.”

Keoonik thought to himself that Ableegumooch was a fine one to complain of people stealing other people’s food! However, he too felt sorry for the Penobscots.

“All right,” he agreed. “We’ll have a truce,” and they shook hands solemnly. Then they started back to the village to ask the Chief what they might do to help, but when they were still some way off they saw two other animals talking to him. These were Uskoos the Weasel and Abukcheech the Mouse, two animals so troublesome even their own families would have nothing to do with them.

“Let’s listen,” whispered Ableegumooch, drawing Keoonik behind a tree.

“We will find those robbers for you, Chief,” they heard Uskoos say. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”

“You can depend on us,” chimed in Abukcheech.

Ableegumooch nudged the otter.

“Did you hear that?”

“I heard,” said Keoonik. “So the Indians don’t need our help after all.”

“I wonder,” said the rabbit thoughtfully.

“What do you wonder? And why are we whispering?”

“Shhh! Let’s think about it a little, Keoonik. Have you any idea how those two get their living? They sleep all day and go hunting only after dark.”

“Some of us like to hunt after dark,” Keoonik said fairly.

“Well, but listen,” said the rabbit. “All the fur robes in the camp have been chewed and scratched and spoiled. What animals chew and scratch wherever they go?”

“Weasels and mice,” answered Keoonik promptly. “Very well. Let’s follow them and see what happens.”

So Keoonik and Ableegumooch, keeping out of sight themselves, followed the weasel and the mouse a very long way, to a large burrow in the side of a hill where a number of other weasels and mice of bad reputation were gathered. All greeted Uskoos and Abukcheech and listened to what they had to say, while the rabbit and otter, hidden behind a blueberry bush, listened too.

“We were very sympathetic,” smirked Uskoos, “and said we would help them.”

“So now they won’t suspect us,” said Abukcheech, and all the mice and weasels chortled gleefully.

“It is time now,” said Uskoos, “to call all the animals together and plan the conquest of the Penobscots. For we are smarter than the Indians and deserve to have all the food for ourselves.”

“Very true!” all shouted.

“How will we get the rest to join us?” asked Abukcheech.

“The smaller ones will be afraid to say no to us,” declared Uskoos. “We will use trickery on the others. We will tell them the Penobscots plan to destroy all the animals in the land, and we must unite in order to defend ourselves.”

“Then, with Wolf and Bear and Moose to help us,” cried Abukcheech, “we’ll soon have all the Indians at our mercy!”

The otter and the rabbit could hardly believe their ears. Someone must warn the Indians.

“Come on,” whispered Keoonik, but the rabbit only crouched where he was, tense and unmoving. The fact is, he wanted to sneeze! Ableegumooch wanted to sneeze more than he ever wanted to sneeze in his life before, but he mustn’t sneeze–the sound would give them away. So he tried and he tried to hold that sneeze back. He pressed his upper lip, he grew red in the face, and his eyes watered– but nothing was any good.

“Ahhhhhh-ahhhhhh-choo!”

Instantly, the weasels and mice pounced on Keoonik and Ableegumooch and dragged them out of hiding.

“Spies!” growled Uskoos.

“Kill them, kill them!” screamed Abukcheech.

“I have a better plan,” said Uskoos. “These two will be our first recruits.” Then he told the prisoners they must become members of his band, or be killed.

Poor Ableegumooch. Poor Keoonik. They did not wish to die, yet they could never do as the thieves wished, for the Penobscots were their friends. Ableegumooch opened his mouth, meaning to defy the villains no matter what the consequences, and then his mouth snapped shut. He had heard a strange sound, the sound of a flute piping far away, and he knew what it was. It was the magic flute of Glooscap, and the Great Chief was sending him a message.

Into the rabbit’s head popped the memory of something Glooscap had said to him once long ago, half in fun, half in earnest. “Ableegumooch,” he seemed to hear the words again, “the best way to catch a snake is to think like a snake!” At once the rabbit understood. He set himself to think like the mice and the weasels, feeling the greed and selfishness that was in them. Then he had a plan.

“Very well,” he said, “we will join you. Those Indians are certainly very cruel and dishonest. They deserve the worst that can happen to them. Why, only yesterday”–and here he gave Keoonik a secret nudge–“my friend and I saw them hide away a great store of food in a secret place. Didn’t we, Keoonik?”

“Oh, yes, certainly,” stammered Keoonik, wondering what trick the rabbit was up to now.

The weasels and mice jumped about in mad excitement. “Where? Where? Where is this place?”

“Take us there at once!” cried Uskoos, licking his lips.

“Certainly,” said Ableegumooch, starting old towards the woods. “Just follow us.”

Abukcheech the Mouse was right at their heels, but Uskoos soon shouldered him aside. Then each animal fought to be in front, and in this way all rushed through the forest, across the meadows, down into the valleys and over the hills, until at last–pushing and panting and grunting–they all reached the bottom of a grassy hill. Ableegumooch pointed to a pile of rocks at the top.

“You will find the wealth you seek up there,” he cried. “Hurry, hurry! The best will go to those who get there first.”

Away they all went, each struggling to be first. The ra bit and the otter stood aside and watched as the wild mob scrambled up the hill–up and up until suddenly, too late to stop, they found themselves teetering on the edge of a cliff, with nothing in front of them but space, and the sea far below. Those who were first tried to stop but were pushed over by those crowding behind–and so, screaming with terror, down they all went, headlong into the sea.

“Well,” said Keoonik, peering over the edge of the cliff with a shiver, “their tribes are well rid of them.”

“So are the Penobscots,” said the rabbit. “And now that together we have saved our friends from the mice and the weasels, Keoonik, let us go home together in peace as good neighbours should.”

“I’m willing,” said the otter, but he had no sooner taken a step than he sprawled on the ground. Ableegumooch had tripped him.

“That’s for the knock on the head!” the rabbit laughed, and made for the woods.

Picking himself up furiously, Keoonik was after him, shouting, “Just wait till I catch you, I’ll teach you to play tricks!” Their truce was over.

And Glooscap, looking down from Blomidon, laughed at their antics, for he knew that with all their mischief there was no greed or spite in the hearts of Keoonik and Ableegumooch, against the Indians or against each other.

Once more, kespeadooksit–the story ends.

Rabbit Shoots the Sun

It was the height of summer, the time of year called Hadotso, the Great Heat. All day long, from a blue and cloudless sky, the blazing sun beat down upon the earth. No rain had fallen for many days and there was not the slightest breath of wind to cool the stifling air. Everything was hot and dry. Even the rose-red cliffs of the canyons and mesas seemed to take on a more brilliant colour than before.

The animals drooped with misery. They were parched and hungry, for it was too hot to hunt for food and, panting heavily, they sough what shade they could under the rocks and bushes.

Rabbit was the unhappiest of all. Twice that day the shimmering heat had tempted him across the baked earth towards visions of water and cool, shady trees. He had exhausted himself in his desperate attempts to reach tem, only to find the mirages dissolve before him, receding further and further into the distance.

Now, tired and wretched, he dragged himself into the shadow of an overhanging rock and crouched there listlessly. His soft fur was caked with the red dust of the desert. His head swam and his eyes ached from the sun’s glare.

‘Why does it have to be so hot?’ he groaned. ‘What have we done to deserve such torment?’ He squinted up at the sun and shouted furiously, ‘Go away! You are making everything too hot!’

Sun took no notice at all and continued to pour down his fiery beams, forcing Rabbit to retreat once more into the shade of the rock. ‘Sun needs to be taught a lesson,’ grumbled Rabbit. ‘I have a good mind to go and fight him. If he refuses to stop shining, I will kill him!’

His determination to punish Sun made him forget his weariness and, in spite of the oppressive heat, he set off at a run towards the eastern edge of the world where the Sun came up each morning.

As he ran, he practised with his bow and arrows and, to make himself brave and strong, he fought with everything which crossed his path. He fought with the gophers and the lizards. He hurled his throwing stick at beetles, ants and dragonflies. He shot at the yucca and the giant cactus. He became a very fierce rabbit indeed.

By the time he reached the edge of the world, Sun had left the sky and was nowhere to be seen.

‘The coward!’ sneered Rabbit. ‘He is afraid to fight, but he will not escape me so easily,’ and he settled to wait behind a clump of bushes.

In those days, Sun did not appear slowly as he does now. Instead he rushed up over the horizon and into the heavens with one mighty bound. Rabbit knew that he would have to act quickly in order to ambush him and he fixed his eyes intently on the spot where the Sun usually appeared.

Sun, however, had heard all Rabbit’s threats and had watched him fighting. He knew that he was lying in wait among the bushes. He was not at all afraid of this puny creature and he thought that he might have some amusement at his expense.

He rolled some distance away from his usual place and swept up into the sky before Rabbit knew what was happening. By the time Rabbit had gathered his startled wits and released his bowstring, Sun was already high above him and out of range.

Rabbit stamped and shouted with rage and vexation. Sun laughed and laughed and shone even more fiercely than before.

Although almost dead from heat, Rabbit would not give up. Next morning he tried again, but this time Sun came up in a different place and evaded him once more.

Day after day the same thing happened. Sometimes Sun sprang up on Rabbit’s right, sometimes on his left and sometimes straight in front of him, but always where Rabbit least expected him.

One morning, however, Sun grew careless. He rose more leisurely than usual, and this time, Rabbit was ready. Swiftly he drew his bow. His arrow whizzed through the air and buried itself deep in Sun’s side.

Rabbit was jubilant! At last he had shot his enemy! Wild with joy, he leaped up and down. He rolled on the ground, hugging himself. He turned somersaults. He looked at Sun again – and stopped short.

Where his arrow had pierce Sun, there was a gaping wound and, from that wound, there gushed a stream of liquid fire. Suddenly it seemed as if the whole world had been set ablaze. Flames shot up and rushed towards Rabbit, crackling and roaring.

Rabbit paused not a moment longer. He took to his heels in panic and ran as fast as he could away from the fire. He spied a lone cottonwood tree and scuttled towards it.

‘Everything is burning!’ he cried. ‘Will you shelter me?’

The cottonwood shook its slender branches mournfully. ‘What can I do?’ it asked. ‘I will be burned to the ground.’

Rabbit ran on. Behind him, the flames were coming closer. He could feel their breath on his back. A greasewood tree lay in his path.

‘Hide me! Hide me!’ Rabbit gasped. ‘The fire is coming.’

‘I cannot help you,’ answered the greasewood tree. ‘I will be burned up roots and branches.’

Terrified and almost out of breath, Rabbit continued to run, but his strength was failing. He could feel the fire licking at his heels and his fur was beginning to singe. Suddenly he heard a voice calling to him.

‘Quickly, come under me!’ The fire will pass over me so swiftly that it will only scorch my top.’

It was the voice of a small green bush with flowers like bunches of cotton capping its thin branches. Gratefully, Rabbit dived below it and lay there quivering, his eyes tightly shut, his ears flat against his body.

With a thunderous roar, the sheet of flame leaped overhead. The little bush crackled and sizzled. Then, gradually, the noise receded and everything grew quiet once more.

Rabbit raised his head cautiously and looked around. Everywhere the earth lay black and smoking, but the fire had passed on. He was safe!

The little bush which had sheltered him was no longer green. Burned and scorched by the fire, it had turned a golden yellow. People now call it the desert yellow brush, for, although it first grows green, it always turns yellow when it feels the heat of the sun.

Rabbit never recovered from his fright. To this day, he bears brown spots where the fire scorched the back of his neck. He is no longer fierce and quarrelsome, but runs and hides at the slightest noise.

As for Sun, he too was never quite the same. He now makes himself so bright that no one can look at him long enough to sight an arrow and he always peers very warily over the horizon before he brings his full body into view.

Run, Rabbit, Run (Wabanaki)

It was late winter or very early spring, for snow still lay on the ground, when Ableegumooch the Rabbit entertained two friends at a maple syrup feast. The two friends were Keoonik the Otter and Miko the Squirrel.

As they happily licked the last of the syrup off their paws, they exchanged news.

“Last night,” said Miko, “the moon looked into my den and woke me, and I heard wolves talking outside. I heard them offer Lusifee the Wild Cat two strings of wampum to kill somebody!”

“Really?” asked the rabbit, with interest. “Who?”

“They didn’t mention any name,” said the squirrel, “but only spoke of him as a servant and friend of Glooscap, one full of tricks, who knows his way through the forest.”

“Whoever he is,” said Keoonik darkly, “he is as good as dead, for that Lusifee is a cunning tracker and absolutely cold-blooded.”

“A friend of our Master’s,” mused Ableegumooch, “could be any of us.”

“Someone full of tricks,” remarked the otter uneasily. “It could even be me!”

“Hah!” snorted the rabbit, “you know very well that I am the one most full of tricks hereabouts.” And Keoonik did not deny it, for he had suffered much in the past from the rabbit’s mischief. Miko gave a little shiver.

“You know, when they spoke of one who knew his way through the forest, I couldn’t help wondering if they meant me, for I can find my way through the trees better than most.”

“Nonsense!” snapped Ableegumooch. “Anything a squirrel can do, a rabbit can do better. After all, I am Glooscap’s official forest guide. And his very good friend,” he added proudly.

“The thing is,” said Keoonik, his eyes dwelling unconsciously on the rabbit, “to find someone who fits all three requirements– someone full of tricks, one who knows the forest, and one who is a servant and friend of the Great Chief.”

The rabbit jumped as if a bee had stung him.

“Oh my! It’s me he’s after!”

Keoonik tried to comfort the stricken rabbit.

“We’ll stand by you,” he said. “Won’t we, Miko?”

“Y-yes,” said the squirrel doubtfully, for he feared that even the three of them together would be no match for the ferocious cat.

“Thanks, my friends,” said Ableegumooch, heartened by their loyalty, “but I may not need your help. I have a plan.”

Miko asked what he had in mind.

“Strength and speed are on Lusifee’s side, so I must rely on craft,” said Ableegumooch and grinned mysteriously. “When a rabbit’s skin falls short, he must borrow another’s. Well, he’s sure to come here to find me. I’m off!” And the rabbit sprang into the air, landing a long distance from his lodge, so as to leave no track near his home. Ableegumooch kept jumping in this way until he thought he was out of scent and sight, then scampered away like the wind.

Keoonik and Miko scurried to a hiding place nearby and waited to see what would happen. Presently, sure enough, Lusifee the Wild Cat appeared, slinking along with nose to the earth, his yellow eyes gleaming and his great paws padding silently over the snow.

Finding the rabbit’s wigwam empty, he snarled with disappointed fury. However, taking the wigwam for a centre, he kept going round and round it, making each circle a little wider than the one before, until at last he found the rabbit’s scent. He kept on circling until he reached the spot where the rabbit had stopped jumping. Then, swearing by his tail to catch Ableegumooch and kill him, he set out swiftly on a clear trail.

As the day passed, Lusifee knew by the freshness of the track that he was overtaking the rabbit, but he did not catch sight of his prey while daylight lasted. As night fell, Lusifee came upon a wigwam all alone on the open marsh, and he poked his head inside. There sat a grave and dignified old fox, whose white hair stuck up oddly on either side of his head. When asked if he had seen Ableegumooch, the old fellow shook his head, but invited Lusifee to pass the night with him.

“You can continue your search in the morning,” he said in a helpful manner. So, being tired and hungry, Lusifee accepted the invitation, and after a good supper, lay down by the fire and slept soundly.

Towards morning, however, he began to shiver and feel most uncomfortable. Waking at last, he looked around in amazement. He was no longer in the warm lodge but lying on the open marsh with snow blowing over him. Then Lusifee saw dimly the marks of a rabbit’s feet and knew Ableegumooch had fooled him. The rabbit, artful at disguise, had masqueraded as the fox and had removed himself and the wigwam while Lusifee slept.

Resuming the chase in a great rage, the cat swore by his teeth, as well as by his tail, that Ableegumooch would die before nightfall. But when darkness came again, he had still not caught sight of the rabbit.

Stopping at the first village he came to, which was that of a porcupine tribe, he asked the first young porcupine he met if he had seen a rabbit pass this way.

“Hush!” said the porcupine. “Can’t you see we are listening to the storyteller?” Then Lusifee noticed that the whole tribe was gathered around the fire listening to an old porcupine with white whiskers and oddly-shaped ears. In the land of the Wabanaki, the storyteller is greatly respected, and it is considered most impolite to interrupt him. So the cat was obliged to wait until the stories were over. Then he turned once more to the young porcupine.

“But have you seen a rabbit?”

“Hundreds of them,” answered the other impatiently, “are racing about in the cedar swamp near here. You can have as many as you want.”

“Those aren’t the ones I’m after,” complained the cat. “I want Ableegumooch, Glooscap’s forest guide.”

The young porcupine said he knew of no other sort of rabbit save the wild wood ones, but perhaps the storyteller who was old and wise could tell him something.

So Lusifee went to the storyteller and asked if he had seen a rabbit pass by.

“Rabbit?” The storyteller rattled his quills as he thought, and the cat moved back prudently. “No, I’ve seen no rabbit. But, my friend, you look tired. You may pass the night with me, if you like, in my lodge outside the village.”

The cat was glad of the invitation and went to sleep in a warm bed. Much later, he awoke, all a-shake and a-shiver in a wet cedar swamp, the wind blowing ten times worse than the night before, and all around him the tracks of a rabbit.

Lusifee sprang up more enraged than ever and, swearing now by his claws, as well as by his teeth and his tail, to be revenged on the rabbit, he set out again on the trail. He ran all day and at night came to another village, inhabited by a tribe of bears. He was so weary he could only gasp out:

“Have–you–seen–a rab–bit?”

The bears said they had not, but invited him to join in a feast with them, and when they had done eating, they politely asked him for a song. Now the cat was very vain about his voice, and right willingly he lifted up his voice in a song of hate against rabbits. The bears applauded and invited him to join in the dancing, but the cat begged to be excused on account of weariness and sat to one side, watching.

Now one of the bears was smaller than the others and his ears were somewhat longer than bears’ are usually. How ever, he was a great dancer and leaped higher in the air than any other. As he passed by Lusifee he accidentally, it seemed, gave the cat a fierce kick, cutting his head and knocking him senseless.

When the cat came back to consciousness, he found him self in a wigwam outside the village. A medicine man of the bear tribe was bending over him and the cat noticed that he wore long white feathers on either side of his head. By now Lusifee was growing more suspicious and he looked at the medicine man with narrowed eyes.

“I was asking if any rabbits had been around here,” said Lusifee, “and truly you look very much like one yourself. How did you get that split lip?”

“Oh, that is very simple,” said the medicine man, who was no other than Ableegumooch, of course. “Once I was hammering wampum beads, and the stone on which I beat them broke in halves and one piece flew up and split my lip.”

“But why are the soles of your feet so yellow, like a rabbit’s?”

“Simple, again,” said the medicine man. “I was once preparing some tobacco and as I needed both hands to work, I held it down with my feet–so the tobacco stained them yellow.”

Then Lusifee suspected no more and allowed the medicine man to doctor his cuts with salve, after which he fell asleep. But, alas, once more the unhappy cat awoke in dreadful misery, his head swollen and aching, his wound stuffed now with hemlock needles instead of salve.

Now Lusifee swore by his body and soul, as well as by his teeth and his claws and his tail, to kill the next thing he met, rabbit, or any other!

Forgetting pain and cold, he rushed off, exulting when he found the track of Ableegumooch very fresh. Evidently the rabbit too was tiring from the race and could not be far off. Yes, there was the tricky follow just ahead! In fact Ableegumooch had been obliged to stop short as he came to the edge of a broad river. The cat grinned with triumph, for he knew that rabbits are no good at swimming. “You can’t escape me now,” he shouted. Poor Ableegumooch. He could run no further.

Far away on Blomidon’s misty summit, Glooscap saw all that had happened and knew the rabbit had done all he could by himself. The Great Chief began to smoke his pipe very hard, puffing black rings into the blue sky, where they changed at once into birds.

Down in the forest, Ableegumooch had turned at bay and Lusifee was prepared to spring–when, suddenly, down from the sky hurled a great flock of giant hawks screaming their war cries. Lusifee snarled and turned to meet them, but they bore him down by force of numbers–picking at his eyes and beating him with their wings- -until at last, screaming with fear, the cat turned tail and fled into the forest, where if he is not dead he is running still!

Trembling with fright, Ableegumooch sank down to rest at last. He was not half so cocky as he had been when he started out, for he knew that but for the hawks he would have been a dead rabbit. A flute was playing far off, and the rabbit listened. Then he knew who had sent the hawks to him in the nick of time.

“Thank you, Master,” he whispered. Glooscap, far off on Blomidon, nodded–and played a triumphant tune to the returning birds.

Now, kespeadooksit–the story ends.

Two Fawns and a Rabbit (Ute)

Two young Fawns sat on the ground talking about their condition. They were two boys without a mother. “We used to have a deer for our mother,” they said. Rabbit came to them and said “I’m hungry. I’ve travelled without eating, and I’ve come a long way.”

The Fawns said, “We have nothing to eat here; our food is not here.” Where is it?” asked Rabbit. “It is not here, I say to you again,” said one Fawn.

Rabbit said, “Tell me where it is, I am hungry and I want to eat.” He continued talking about the Fawns’ food for a long time. But they concealed from him how they obtained it.

Then Rabbit said, “I think you both are too lazy to get the food. Show me the path and I will go after it; I will cut off enough for all of us and bring it here.”

“But we never eat here,” the Fawns said. Rabbit said, “You boys do not know me. I am your grandfather. You did not recognize me; that is why you hid your food from me.” The one boy nudged the other and whispered to him, “I think he is our grandfather; I will tell him where we eat.”

For a while, the other boy said nothing. Then he spoke up and said, “What we eat is not on the ground; our food is far up in the sky; and we eat at a certain time. When we ask for our food, something always comes down from the sky; it is white like a cloud. At the end of the cloud it’s like a person; it has an eye, a mouth, and it watches us. It comes only at a certain time. If we ask before time, it will think someone else wants our food. But when it’s time for us to ask for it, we will hide you out of sight.” Then they hid him.

One ran toward the East, the other toward the West; then they ran toward each other. When they met, they cried like young animals at play. They circled about, met each other again, crying, and gradually came nearer to the tent. Something white came down from the sky. Rabbit saw it coming. It looked like a cloud with a face above it; like a man sitting on their food.

The boys took up dull knives, and when the food arrived, they cut off a piece. They cut more than usual, so there would be enough for their grandfather. Then the cloud flew upward as fast as lightning.

The Fawn boys cut up their food and called Rabbit to come out and eat with them. The food tasted good and sweet, and Rabbit wanted more and asked the boys to make the thing come again. The Fawns said, “But it only comes at set times.” Rabbit replied, “I will live with you, for your food is very good.” He made a burrow in the brush nearby and watched.

The food did come down again. The person riding on it looked around like an antelope watching. Rabbit took a bow and arrow from his quiver. Just before the cloud came low enough for the boys to cut off another piece of food, Rabbit shot at the manlike object on the cloud. The white object fell down in a heap.

“I thought that was what it would do,” said the older brother to the younger, as if blaming him. Rabbit said to them, “Well, my grandchildren, I will leave you now. You have something to eat and it will last you a long time. After you have consumed all of it, you will go to the mountains and eat grass and become Deer.”


Mayan Rabbit Stories

Mayan Calendar Day Sign Lamat - Star - Rabbit


The rabbit represented the “struggle to overcome the material state.” Apparently it was believed that even as a spirit, after death one is still attached to physical things, which is described in the recent near-death literature.


Rabbit and His Cap

Once when the rabbit, that is, the mayor**, still had his antlers, he met a deer. The rabbit said to the deer:

“Brother, look at the cap [antlers] Our Father gave me.” “Come here, brother,” said the deer, “Lend it to me,” said the deer to the rabbit. “You’re too small, it doesn’t fit you, but I’m big. Maybe your cap will fit me, I’m going to try it on my head.”

The rabbit handed his cap to the deer and the deer put it on his head:

“Look brother, how nice it looks on me. I’m going to dance so you can see. Then I’m going for a walk and afterwards I’ll come back here to you and I’ll give you your cap back,” said the deer to the rabbit. The deer went off and didn’t come back with the rabbit’s cap.

The rabbit was waiting for him, just waiting and crying because he didn’t have his cap any more. It occurred to him to get up from where he was crying and go notify his king. He came before the king:

“Father,” said the rabbit to the king. “What have you come to tell me, my son?” The king asked the rabbit. “My brother went off with the cap you gave me, father. My brother, the deer told me he was just going to try it on, and I gave him the cap you had given me, father.

Why did our father give it to you?’ the deer asked me. Our father should have given it to me, because I’m big. Your cap fits me well,’ my brother said. I thought he was my brother. So I gave it to him, but he just went off with it any way. He left, and I just sat waiting for him to come back with my cap. He didn’t come back and I got tired of waiting for him so long. That’s why I have come to ask you, father, to give me another cap in place of the one my brother took, and also make me taller because my uncle deer said I was too little.

That cap doesn’t fit you,’ he told me, father. That’s why I want to grow as big as my uncle deer.” “All right, I’ll make your taller, my son. I’ll make your body grow. If you do what I say, I’ll give you what you ask for,” said the king to the rabbit.

“What shall I do for you, father?” asked the rabbit.

“Now I’m telling you that if you want to be as big as your brother the deer, I’m going to grant your wish,” said the king to the rabbit. “Now, go and bring me fifteen loads of skins. If you bring them to me I’ll make your body grow and I’ll give you your cap back.”

“All right,” said the rabbit, and went off to the fields, to the mountains and to the sea. The rabbit bought himself a guitar. When he came to a plain he sat down to rest. He had been playing music with his guitar for a while when an old snake came up to him.

“What are you doing, brother?” the snake asked brother rabbit.

“I’ve come to play music for you, uncle,” said the rabbit to the snake.

“Oh, your son** is sad, uncle,” said the snake to Uncle Rabbit.

“Yes,” said the rabbit to the snake.

“May I dance a little?” the snake asked Uncle Rabbit. The rabbit answered:

“Of course you may dance. That’s why I came to play a son for you. But I would just like to ask you, uncle, where is your weak spot? Because my marimba stick*** might reach your weak spot. Show it to me, so I can see where it is,” said the rabbit to the snake.

“All right, brother,” said the snake. “Here’s my weak spot, right at the end of my tail.”

“All right, brother, now that I’ve noticed where your weak spot is, you can dance without worrying,” Uncle Rabbit told the snake. The rabbit needed to collect skins, but the snake didn’t suspect what the rabbit was planning to do to him.

“Dance! Go ahead and dance. Enjoy your dance,” said the rabbit to the snake, because that’s why I came to play near your house. Dance, enjoy, and don’t be afraid. Here, come close to me.” When he saw him nearby, the rabbit thought:

“He’s mine now. I know where his weak spot is.” The snake danced and came near the rabbit. “Bring your tail near,” said the rabbit to the snake. The snake raised his tail near the rabbit. The rabbit saw that the snake was near him and he killed him. Then he skinned him and went off with his skin.

The rabbit came to a mountain and began to play his guitar once more. Shortly after he had come to the mountain a big old lion**** approached Uncle Rabbit. He was playing his music when the lion arrived.

“Hey, uncle, why have you come here to play?” the lion asked the rabbit. “I just have come to play, brother,” the rabbit said. “Do you like music?”

“Yes, I like music.” said the lion.

“Do you like to dance?” the rabbit asked the lion.

“Yes, I like to,” the lion answered. “If you’ll play a son for me, I’ll be wanting to dance,” said the lion.

“I’m going to play some music for you, because the reason I came to your house was to play music. Dance, enjoy your dance. Don’t be afraid, Good, dance, only tell me where your weak spot is. I’d just like to ask you where your weak spot is. Dance, enjoy your dance,” said the rabbit to the lion.

“All right, brother, here’s my weak spot, right here, on the back of my neck.”

“All right brother,” said the rabbit. “Dance uncle, dance, dance, dance. Don’t be afraid, come closer, come here beside me. I know where your weak spot is, so I won’t hit you there. I know where it is. Try to dance a little bent over.” The lion became careless while he was dancing, and the rabbit hit him on the head. The lion died, the rabbit skinned him and took away two more skins, two large skins.

The rabbit walked, and walked and walked. He took his skins to a place on the beach, and played there once more. An alligator heard the rabbit playing a son and came up to him: “Is that you playing, Uncle Rabbit?” the alligator asked. “Yes, I’m the one who is playing for you,” said the rabbit, “for I want you to dance. I thought maybe uncle would like a son. So I came to play a son for you.

“Oh, is it true what you say? I like sones and I would like you to play one for me,” said the alligator.

“All right, I’ll play you a son, but you have to dance.” “Yes, I’ll dance, for I really like to,” the alligator told Uncle Rabbit.

“I’d like to ask you where your weak spot is. Just tell me where your weak spot is. Don’t worry, just show me where it is. If my marimba stick hits you, you could die,” said Uncle Rabbit to the alligator.

“All right, brother, my weak spot is here, right at the end of my tail,” said the alligator.

“All right, so dance. Dance with all your might and stretch out your tail.” While he was dancing the alligator became careless and the rabbit hit his weak spot. The alligator died and the rabbit skinned him.

The rabbit left the beach and came near a plantation where there was sugar cane, where there were bananas, where there were oranges, where there were sapotes. Near the plantation there was a house with monkeys and coatis, as well as two other households. He came to one of the houses bringing bananas.

“Ah,” the monkeys said to him “do you have bananas, uncle?”

“Here, have some.” said the rabbit to one of the monkeys.

“All right,” said the monkey. The monkey ate the bananas. Then the rabbit said:

“Here you’re just starving, but I have a plantation nearby where there are a lot of good things to eat. There are bananas, there is sugar cane, there are oranges, there are sapotes,” said the rabbit to the monkeys.

“All right, uncle, give us some,” said the monkeys to the rabbit.

“There’s a lot of food, and it’s just going to waste, because there’s no one to eat it,” said the rabbit to the monkeys. “Tomorrow we’ll go to my plantation, all of you and your families, and if there are some others they can come with us too. Aren’t there some other friends of ours here?” the rabbit asked the monkeys.

“Oh, if you please, there’s another family of our friends that are hungry; they have no food,” the monkeys told the rabbit.

“Tomorrow you’re all going to go with me,” the rabbit said to the monkeys. The next day all the monkeys and all the coatis set off for the plantation and arrived there.

“Eat, brothers, enjoy the food,” said the rabbit to all of them.

“All right,” they said and they were happy. That day passed.

“Are you all satisfied?” the rabbit asked them.

“Yes, we’re fine, brother.”

“So let’s go. Each one of you can take something along,” the rabbit said to them.

“All right, uncle,” they said and set off. They came to a plain.

“We’re going to rest,” the rabbit said to them. They rested on the plain. The monkeys were playing with the coatis and didn’t know that the rabbit was plotting against their lives. The rabbit said to them:

“Bring two nets, brothers.”

“What are you saying uncle, are we going to play?”

“I want you to make me two nets,” the rabbit said to them.

“Why?” they asked.

“I’m going to weigh you, so we can see who weighs the most,” said the rabbit.

“All right,” they said, and got into the nets.

“All you monkeys, get in there, and all you coatis get in over there. Push your snouts out through the net so you’ll be able to breathe and won’t suffocate.”

“All right,” the fools said. The rabbit closed up the nets and went to look for a club, saying: “When I come back you’ll get out of the nets.” But when the rabbit came back with the club he was ferocious, and struck them on the snout:

“Now uncles, you’re going to pay for the bananas you ate.” He killed the uncles in the two nets. All those that were in the two nets died, and he skinned them all. He used an armadillo as a pack animal, the armadillo carrying the skins for him. He had collected them as the king had ordered, so that he would increase his height and give him back his cap.

He returned and came before the king with fifteen loads of skins. The king didn’t believe the rabbit was going to succeed, and so he didn’t realize he was bringing all those skins. When he came before the king with the skins, the rabbit said: “See, father, I have brought the skins.” The king was astonished. “Did you really go and get them?” he asked. “I don’t believe you.” “No father, they’re here.”

“Let’s see them,” the king said.

“Here they are, father.” He took them out of his net one at a time and the king saw him take out the alligator’s skin, the lion’s skin, the big snake’s skin, the monkeys’ skins and the coatis’ skins.

“Oh,” said the king,” getting angry, “What do you want in exchange for these skins?”

“I want you to make me taller and give me my cap back.”

“Oh,” said the king, “what a shameless rabbit you are. In spite of everything you want to be big. You actually killed your own brothers. You actually killed them. You’re so small. If you were larger, if I made you bigger, you’d kill all your brothers. Look here, you killed the lion, the alligator, and the snake, even though you’re real little. Well, now, you’re going to have to forgive me, my son, but this is the punishment I’ve decreed:

Bring me your ears so I can stretch them. You shameless thing, you already killed your brothers who are bigger than you. Now never come back here again. You’re going once and for all, I’m just going to make your ears grow.


** No one seems to know why the rabbit is called “the mayor.”

** Slow, traditional Mayan dance, and the melody which accompanies it. The word also means ‘marimba’ and ‘music’ in the Q’anjob’al Mayan language.

Rabbit and the Coyote

This is a story of Uncle Rabbit and the coyote. The rabbit came to a big rock, and there he deceived the coyote. He was leaning on the rock when the coyote came by.

“What are you doing, brother?” the coyote asked the rabbit.

“Come here quickly, brother, the sky is falling down on top of us. Lean against the rock and hold it up while I go for a stick. We’ll prop it up with that,” said the rabbit to the coyote.

“All right,” said the coyote and began holding it up with all his might. Since the coyote was so stupid, he did exactly what the rabbit told him to. The rabbit had said that he was going to get a stick, but he went and left the coyote holding up the rock. When the rabbit didn’t return the coyote shouted:

“Come back, brother! The weight of the rock has made me tired.”

The rabbit still didn’t come back.

“No matter, I’m going to leave even though the sky may fall down on top of us,” said the coyote. But when he ran away he fell into a ravine. The rabbit never came back to the rock and the coyote was lost.

Later the rabbit came to a pond and saw the reflection of the moon in there. As the rabbit was very tricky, he was always deceiving the coyote. The dumb coyote always followed him and didn’t know that the rabbit was deceiving him. The coyote came to the pond where the rabbit was. When he saw the coyote coming he began to drink the water from the pond.

“What are you doing, brother? The coyote asked the rabbit.

“Look, brother, there’s a lot of food down there,” answered the rabbit.

“What kind of food?”

“Look,” the rabbit told the coyote.

The coyote looked in the water and said: “I see it. What is it?”

“There’s a cheese in the water,” the rabbit said to the coyote. “If we drink all the water we can get the cheese. Drink it, you’re big and you can finish all the water.”

“All right, brother,” he said, and began to drink the water.

“I’m going for a walk,” said the rabbit, and left.

The coyote continued to drink the water, but the rabbit was gone. The coyote’s stomach began to hurt him, and he got the runs. He wasn’t able to finish the water, so the coyote abandoned the effort and left.

Rabbit and the Crab

Once upon a time the rabbit teamed up with the crab to grow some carrots. They worked for several days together in harmony. First they chose the seed and then they planted it. Then they took care of the young plants, the two of them always in agreement. They harvested the crop and separated the tops from the carrots.

But the arguments began when the time came to divide the crop. The rabbit wanted to deceive the crab with sweet talk:

“See? We have two piles there, a big one and a little one. You can have the big one and I’ll take the small one.”

After seeing that the big pile was of tops and the small one was of carrots, the crab answered:

“Thank you very much, my dear friend, but I like to be fair. Let’s divide the two piles in half, I’ll divide and you choose, or you divide and I’ll choose, as you prefer. What do you say?”

“No, no! I can’t agree,” said the rabbit. Let’s walk some thirty paces from here and we’ll come back running. The first one to get there gets the carrots and the other one gets the tops. What do you say?”

“Well, all right, it seems fair to me,” answered the crab.

“Finally we’re in agreement!” said the rabbit. He was very happy, because he was sure he was going to win: “I’m so pleased about this, that if you win, I’m prepared to give you all the carrots and all the tops. Do you agree?”

“I agree!” repeated the crab.

“There’s one other thing,” said the rabbit, “since I know you’re slower than me, I’m going to give you a ten-pace handicap.”

“No, that’s too much! I can’t accept that,” said the crab, pretending that he didn’t want to take advantage of him. “You’re the one that ought to have a ten-pace handicap. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“I accept, I accept,” the rabbit hastened to answer, not wanting to contradict him, and glad to do what he asked. That way the other fellow wouldn’t get angry, and he threw himself in behind the crab.

With this agreement they went together in a friendly fashion to the place where the race was going to start. The rabbit went ahead to take the ten-pace handicap. But, as soon as he turned his back, the crab, who was neither slow nor lazy, seized the rabbit’s tail with his claws, without him realizing it.

When they came to where the carrots were, the rabbit turned around thinking that he had left the crab far behind. But then the crab opened his claws and fell real quietly on top of the carrots.

“Where are you, friend?” the rabbit asked happily when he didn’t see him anywhere.

“Here I am!” answered the crab behind him.

The rabbit jumped with surprise and then stood frozen in his tracks, not believing what he saw. There was the crab, climbing over the piles of carrots:

“Here I am! And I got here before you did!”

That day was the first time ever that the rabbit lost. He was very sad because he could not understand how the crab got ahead of him. That’s how the crab got to keep the carrots.

This was the story of the rabbit and the crab.

Rabbit and the Ram

There was once a ram who liked to roam in a bean patch. He was very mischievous, and when they weren’t paying attention, he would abandon his companions and end up eating in the bean patch. One day he stayed there enjoying eating the bean plants when the sun set. His stomach was full but he kept on eating. When it got dark he wanted to go back but his horns had become tangled up in the bean tendrils. He kept trying to free himself, but the tendrils wouldn’t release him. He was beginning to move from one side to the other among the bean plants when the rabbit arrived.

“What’s the matter, friend?” the rabbit asked the ram.

“Just look at what happened to me, just because I was looking for food. I’m in a real predicament,” said the ram.

“Don’t worry, my friend, I’m going to untangle you right now. There’s no problem. After all, aren’t we friends?” asked the rabbit.

“Thanks, friend, if you hadn’t come, who knows what would have happened to me,” said the ram.

The rabbit finished setting him free and then told him this:

“Let’s go and eat far from here at a place I know where there’s food.” The rabbit took the ram to that place. After they were through eating, they looked for a place to spend the night.

“Listen, my friend, we’re going to look for a good place to sleep, so we won’t have any problems and nothing will happen to us tonight, for there are some people who hate us. Not everyone is kind,” said the rabbit. They were near a big rock.

“It’s a good idea to get on top of that rock,” they said.

They got on top of the rock to sleep. At midnight some big animals began to approach the foot of the rock that they had climbed onto: the lion, the jaguar and the coyote.

“My friend, what’s going to happen to us? Maybe they’ll finish us off.” “Don’t move, because if you move they’ll know someone is up here,” said the rabbit.

The ram felt the need to pass water. “I feel like passing water, friend, I’m going down to pass water, so as not to wet myself up here,” said the ram.

“Something could happen to us, friend. Maybe you ought to leave well enough alone. If they hear you climbing down, that’ll be the end of us. Lie on your back and relieve yourself that way. Look how thick your wool is: the wetness will disappear into your wool. If I were like you, I wouldn’t have to worry about that,” said the rabbit.

“I’m going to try now,” said the ram.

The ram tried to lie on his back, but he didn’t have any hands to hold on with and he fell down among those who were at the foot of the rock. They were all asleep when the ram fell among them and they all fled out of fear. The rabbit and the ram spent the night in the other animals’ house.

When dawn came those who had been sleeping at the foot of the rock came back. From afar they were looking to see if the rabbit and the ram were still there. They saw that the rabbit was moving his paws from side to side, and beginning to lick them. So they said to each other:

“The little one is the most rascally one, and the big one keeps saying úyes, sir; yes, sir.’ When they look at us, it is as if they’re telling us that they’re going to knock us down. They’re gesturing with their hands,” they said.

They were all very frightened. But the rabbit was just shooing away flies. That’s why he was moving his hands to and fro, and the ram was just complaining. Later they went to eat some more where they had eaten the previous afternoon. The other animals had fled out of fear that night and they never saw them again.

After they had gone out to eat again, the ram’s master arrived. When the ram realized that he was out looking for him, he said to the rabbit:

“Now, my friend, we’re going to part company, they’re coming for me, take care. We’ll meet another time,” said the ram.

“All right, my friend, you take care of yourself too.” And so they parted. This is what happened to these two animals, the ram and the rabbit.

Rabbit As Cowherd

Once there was a rabbit who went looking for work. He found a man and asked him for a job.

“Sir, by any chance would you have any work for me? I’m poor and I’m looking for work. I can’t find anybody who will give me a job,” said the rabbit.

“I’m sorry friend, but there isn’t any work right now. Lots of friends have been by looking for work, but there just isn’t any,” said the man.

“I’m not particular about the type of work. I just want to work. That’s why I’ve come here to ask you,” said the rabbit.

“All right, if you want to you, can take care of some of my animals,” said the man, and they agreed. “All right, come back tomorrow and we’ll leave it that way,” said the man. The next day the rabbit came to work. A few days went by. He did something once when he was taking care of the man’s cattle, and some cattle merchants came by.

“Hey, friend, why don’t you sell us your cows? We’ll pay you whatever you ask,” they said.

“It can’t be done, my friends, I can’t sell them as you might think, for I’m just a hired hand. If they were mine, there would be no problem doing what you ask me, because you are in the business of buying cattle.”

They kept insisting, and the rabbit thought about what he ought to do. After a while he answered:

“All right, if you want to buy them, but don’t go over there where the boss is. If you do, he’ll find out I sold them to you.”

“All right,” the men said, “don’t worry.”

They bought the cows and herded them off. After the rabbit sold the cows he began to place some empty gourds in the tops of some large trees. And when he had finished placing them, he went to notify the owner of the livestock.

“Sir, I’ve come to tell you that some thieves came and stole all the cows,” he said. “Who knows where they took the animals. When they stole them, they threatened me. If I had gone after them, they would have beaten me up,” said the rabbit.

“Let’s go and look for them now,” said the man, and saddled up his horse. They went to where the rabbit had sold the cows. When they got there they heard the cows mooing. But it was only the wind passing through the gourds. The rabbit knew that it was the gourds that were making the sound. As the gourds were mooing, he asked the man:

“Sir, don’t you hear them mooing?” The man heard the mooing and answered: “You’re right, friend, the animals are far away from us.” And they started to look for the cows and as they were looking for them they heard them mooing across the way. “Listen, they’re mooing over there,” said the rabbit. “Let’s do this: we’ll separate, you go this way and I’ll go that way.”

“All right,” said the man, and they separated to go look for the cows, because the owner imagined they were far away. But when they were far apart, the rabbit took the opportunity to escape once more. This is what the rabbit did the time he sold the cows.

Rabbit As Swineherd

Once the rabbit went out looking for work and he went very far. When he came up to a man he asked him:

“Sir, by any chance would you have some work you could give me? For I haven’t been able to find anything,” he said.

“Sorry, friend, there won’t be any work for a few months, although come to think of it, there might be some now,” said the man. “If you agree, you can take care of some of my pigs.” “Just give me some work, sir, because that’s what I’m looking for,” said the rabbit.

“All right, we’re in agreement, then. Tomorrow you’ll come and work for me,” said the man.

At dawn of the next day the rabbit went to watch the pigs. As he was watching the pigs, some hog merchants came by.

“Why don’t you sell us your pigs, friend?” the hog merchants asked him.

“No, friends, they aren’t mine, I’m just a hired hand and I can’t decide all by myself,” the rabbit said. They kept on pressuring the rabbit, saying:

“Sell us the animals,” they said.

“All right, but if it’s O. K. with you, I’m going to cut off their tails,” said the rabbit.

“All right, then, cut them off,” they said, and they were very pleased. The merchants took the pigs and went off with them. The rabbit buried the tails in the ground. When he had them all buried he went to talk to the pigs’ owner.

“Boss, all the pigs have sunk into the swamp,” he said. After he told him, the boss went with all his digging tools to where the rabbit deceived him. This is what the rabbit did; he abandoned his boss.

Rabbit Throws Out His Sandal

The rabbit was in the cave that was the abode of all the animals: the snake, the turkey vulture, the buzzard, the deer, the lion, the skunk and the coyote. They began to get together there to discuss how they could kill the rabbit mayor. But the rabbit mayor was very clever and was looking for a way to escape. They began to keep watch on him in that house because they intended to kill him, but they were not able to kill him as they had planned. They had wanted to smash him to pieces.

“Make him come out so that he will die right now. Don’t let him escape; that good-for-nothing mayor has deceived us too many times. Well, now he’s surely going to be finished, we’re going to finish him off. Be on your guard and don’t let him get away. When he comes out of the cave we’re going to smash him to pieces, for there’s a lot of us. Pity him. Compared to all of us, he’s nothing. We are many against one. I hope now he’s going to pay for all the crimes he has committed against us. That’s why he must to die now. You, turkey vulture, go and watch for him to come out, and you deer, go right after him. Since you can run as fast as the mayor, you’ll be able to catch up with him. Be on guard, all of you.”

“All right,” they said. “Snake, you look to see when he comes out, and we’ll all pile on top of him. You snake, call him.”

“Come on out, hurry,” said the townspeople.

“Wait,” said the rabbit, “I’m taking off my sandal.”

“But hurry,” said the snake.

“Wait, I’m coming out. Wait for me there, I’m coming out.”

“Well, hurry,” said the townspeople.

“Come on out,” the snake said to the rabbit.

“I’m coming out. Wait,” said the rabbit.

“Well, hurry,” said the townspeople.

“All right,” said the rabbit. “I’m coming out now. Please catch my sandal, I beg you.” The townspeople answered:

“Catch his sandal, throw it over there. It’s not as if it were your father’s sandal, that you’re obliged to carry it.”

“All right, mayor. Throw out your sandal.” And the turkey vulture caught the sandal. He gave it to the deer and the deer threw it away, as they thought that it was the rabbit’s sandal. They were all shouting in the cave. They didn’t know it was the mayor they had thrown away.

“Come on out,” shouted the snake into the cave, “come out right away.” When they realized that he wasn’t answering them they were sad. They sent the snake into the cave and the snake shouted:

“He’s not here, he’s not here.”

“Throw it far away.”

“He’s not here, he’s not here. He came out,” said the snake.

“He’s not here. Maybe it was him we threw.”

“Did you notice if it was his sandal that you threw away?” the lion asked the deer. “Come on out, snake.”

“All right.” The snake came out.

Afterwards they began to kill each other on account of the mayor rabbit. He managed to go free, and when he was far away he laughed at them:

“Some day you’ll pay for the crimes you committed against me, the mayor. You wanted to kill me, but you weren’t able to. Just wait and see what’s going to happen to you later on.”

Mayan Leaders Including 18 Rabbit
Mayan Leaders Including “18 Rabbit”
Click on image for 640×480 version.
Copan Ruinas Photos


NOTES

** No one seems to know why the rabbit is called “the mayor.”

** Slow, traditional Mayan dance, and the melody which accompanies it. The word also means ‘marimba’ and ‘music’ in the Q…njob…l Mayan language.

*** An inexplicable change of instrument. When the storyteller, don Pedro Miguel Say was asked about it, he simply said that he had learned the story this way.

**** Some Q…njob…les insist that there are lions living in the Cuchumat…n Mountains near their homeland.

Stories © by Yax T» Press    

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