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How The Rabbit Lost His Tail





Once upon a time there were two brothers, one a great Genie and the
other a rabbit. Like all genie, the older could change himself into any
kind of an animal, bird, fish, cloud, thunder and lightning, or in fact
anything that he desired.

The younger brother (the rabbit) was very mischievous and was
continually getting into all kinds of trouble. His older brother was
kept busy getting Rabbit out of all kinds of scrapes.

When Rabbit had attained his full growth he wanted to travel around and
see something of the world. When he told his brother what he intended to
do, the brother said: "Now, Rabbit, you are Witkotko (mischievous), so
be very careful, and keep out of trouble as much as possible. In case
you get into any serious trouble, and can't get out by yourself, just
call on me for assistance, and no matter where you are, I will come to
you."

Rabbit started out and the first day he came to a very high house,
outside of which stood a very high pine tree. So high was the tree that
Rabbit could hardly see the top. Outside the door, on an enormous stool,
sat a very large giant fast asleep. Rabbit (having his bow and arrows
with him) strung up his bow, and, taking an arrow from his quiver, said:

"I want to see how big this man is, so I guess I will wake him up." So
saying he moved over to one side and took good aim, and shot the giant
upon the nose. This stung like fire and awoke the giant, who jumped up,
crying: "Who had the audacity to shoot me on the nose?" "I did," said
Rabbit.

The giant, hearing a voice, looked all around, but saw nothing, until he
looked down at the corner of the house, and there sat a rabbit.

"I had hiccoughs this morning and thought that I was going to have a
good big meal, and here is nothing but a toothful."

"I guess you won't make a toothful of me," said Rabbit, "I am as strong
as you, though I am little." "We will see," said the giant. He went into
the house and came out, bringing a hammer that weighed many tons.

"Now, Mr. Rabbit, we will see who can throw this hammer over the top of
that tree." "Get something harder to do," said Rabbit.

"Well, we will try this first," said the giant. With that he grasped the
hammer in both hands, swung it three times around his head and sent it
spinning thru the air. Up, up, it went, skimming the top of the tree,
and came down, shaking the ground and burying itself deep into the
earth.

"Now," said the giant, "if you don't accomplish this same feat, I am
going to swallow you at one mouthful." Rabbit said, "I always sing to my
brother before I attempt things like this." So he commenced singing and
calling his brother. "Cinye! Cinye!" (brother, brother) he sang. The
giant grew nervous, and said: "Boy, why do you call your brother?"

Pointing to a small black cloud that was approaching very swiftly,
Rabbit said: "That is my brother; he can destroy you, your house, and
pine tree in one breath."

"Stop him and you can go free," said the giant. Rabbit waved his paws
and the cloud disappeared.

From this place Rabbit continued on his trip towards the west. The next
day, while passing thru a deep forest, he thought he heard some one
moaning, as though in pain. He stopped and listened; soon the wind blew
and the moaning grew louder. Following the direction from whence came
the sound, he soon discovered a man stripped of his clothing, and caught
between two limbs of a tall elm tree. When the wind blew the limbs would
rub together and squeeze the man, who would give forth the mournful
groans.

"My, you have a fine place up there. Let us change. You can come down
and I will take your place." (Now this man had been placed up there for
punishment, by Rabbit's brother, and he could not get down unless some
one came along and proposed to take his place on the tree). "Very well,"
said the man. "Take off your clothes and come up. I will fasten you in
the limbs and you can have all the fun you want."

Rabbit disrobed and climbed up. The man placed him between the limbs and
slid down the tree. He hurriedly got into Rabbit's clothes, and just as
he had completed his toilet, the wind blew very hard. Rabbit was nearly
crazy with pain, and screamed and cried. Then he began to cry "Cinye,
Cinye" (brother, brother). "Call your brother as much as you like, he
can never find me." So saying the man disappeared in the forest.

Scarcely had he disappeared, when the brother arrived, and seeing Rabbit
in the tree, said: "Which way did he go?" Rabbit pointed the direction
taken by the man. The brother flew over the top of the trees, soon found
the man and brought him back, making him take his old place between the
limbs, and causing a heavy wind to blow and continue all afternoon and
night, for punishment to the man for having placed his brother up there.

After Rabbit got his clothes back on, his brother gave him a good
scolding, and wound up by saying: "I want you to be more careful in the
future. I have plenty of work to keep me as busy as I want to be, and I
can't be stopping every little while to be making trips to get you out
of some foolish scrape. It was only yesterday that I came five hundred
miles to help you from the giant, and today I have had to come a
thousand miles, so be more careful from this on."

Several days after this the Rabbit was traveling along the banks of a
small river, when he came to a small clearing in the woods, and in the
center of the clearing stood a nice little log hut. Rabbit was wondering
who could be living here when the door slowly opened and an old man
appeared in the doorway, bearing a tripe water pail in his right hand.
In his left hand he held a string which was fastened to the inside of
the house. He kept hold of the string and came slowly down to the river.
When he got to the water he stooped down and dipped the pail into it and
returned to the house, still holding the string for guidance.

Soon he reappeared holding on to another string, and, following this
one, went to a large pile of wood and returned to the house with it.
Rabbit wanted to see if the old man would come out again, but he came
out no more. Seeing smoke ascending from the mud chimney, he thought
he would go over and see what the old man was doing. He knocked at the
door, and a weak voice bade him enter. He noticed that the old man was
cooking dinner.

"Hello Tunkasina (grandfather), you must have a nice time, living here
alone. I see that you have everything handy. You can get wood and water,
and that is all you have to do. How do you get your provisions?"

"The wolves bring my meat, the mice my rice and ground beans, and the
birds bring me the cherry leaves for my tea. Yet it is a hard life, as I
am all alone most of the time and have no one to talk to, and besides, I
am blind."

"Say, grandfather," said Rabbit, "let us change places. I think I would
like to live here."

"If we exchange clothes," said the other, "you will become old and
blind, while I will assume your youth and good looks." (Now, this old
man was placed here for punishment by Rabbit's brother. He had killed
his wife, so the genie made him old and blind, and he would remain so
until some one came who would exchange places with him).

"I don't care for youth and good looks," said Rabbit, "let us make the
change."

They changed clothes, and Rabbit became old and blind, whilst the old
man became young and handsome.

"Well, I must go," said the man. He went out and cutting the strings
close to the door, ran off laughing. "You will get enough of your living
alone, you crazy boy," and saying this he ran into the woods.

Rabbit thought he would like to get some fresh water and try the string
paths so that he would get accustomed to it. He bumped around the room
and finally found the tripe water bucket. He took hold of the string and
started out. When he had gotten a short distance from the door he came
to the end of the string so suddenly, that he lost the end which he
had in his hand, and he wandered about, bumping against the trees, and
tangling himself up in plum bushes and thorns, scratching his face
and hands so badly that the blood ran from them. Then it was that he
commenced again to cry, "Cinye! Cinye!" (brother, brother). Soon his
brother arrived, and asked which way the old man had gone.

"I don't know," said Rabbit, "I couldn't see which path he took, as I
was blind."

The genie called the birds, and they came flying from every direction.
As fast as they arrived the brother asked them if they had seen the man
whom he had placed here for punishment, but none had seen him. The owl
came last, and when asked if he had seen the man, he said "hoo-hoo."
"The man who lived here," said the brother. "Last night I was hunting
mice in the woods south of here and I saw a man sleeping beneath a plum
tree. I thought it was your brother, Rabbit, so I didn't awaken him,"
said the owl.

"Good for you, owl," said the brother, "for this good news, you shall
hereafter roam around only at night, and I will fix your eyes, so the
darker the night the better you will be able to see. You will always
have the fine cool nights to hunt your food. You other birds can hunt
your food during the hot daylight." (Since then the owl has been the
night bird).

The brother flew to the woods and brought the man back and cut the
strings short, and said to him: "Now you can get a taste of what you
gave my brother."

To Rabbit he said: "I ought not to have helped you this time. Any one
who is so crazy as to change places with a blind man should be left
without help, so be careful, as I am getting tired of your foolishness,
and will not help you again if you do anything as foolish as you did
this time."

Rabbit started to return to his home. When he had nearly completed his
journey he came to a little creek, and being thirsty took a good long
drink. While he was drinking he heard a noise as though a wolf or cat
was scratching the earth. Looking up to a hill which overhung the creek,
he saw four wolves, with their tails intertwined, pulling with all their
might. As Rabbit came up to them one pulled loose, and Rabbit saw that
his tail was broken.

"Let me pull tails with you. My tail is long and strong," said Rabbit,
and the wolves assenting, Rabbit interlocked his long tail with those
of the three wolves and commenced pulling and the wolves pulled so
hard that they pulled Rabbit's tail off at the second joint. The wolves
disappeared.

"Cinye! Cinye! (Brother, brother.) I have lost my tail," cried Rabbit.
The genie came and seeing his brother Rabbit's tail missing, said: "You
look better without a tail anyway."

From that time on rabbits have had no tails.





Next: Unktomi And The Arrowheads

Previous: Story Of The Rabbits



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