Sacred Texts  Native American  Southeast  Index  Previous  Next 

64. THE TASKS OF RABBIT (54, 68)

Rabbit went to the Master and asked him for wisdom. He said, "I haven't much sense and want you to give me more."

Then the Master gave Rabbit a sack and told him to fill it with small red ants. "Fill it," he said, "and I will teach you sense." The Master thought that if he did not have any sense he couldn't get one ant into the sack. Rabbit went to the anthill and said, "The Great Master has been saying that you could not fill this sack, but I said you could. What do you think about it?" They answered, "We will fill it," and as they were very anxious to show that they could do so, all went in, whereupon Rabbit tied it up and carried it to the Master. "Here it is," he said, "now give me some knowledge."

The Master said, "There is a big Rattlesnake over yonder. If you bring him here, I will impart to you some knowledge." He thought if Rabbit was really ignorant he would not know what to do. Rabbit went off, cut a stick, and went to find the snake. Then he said to it, "The Master says you are not as long as this stick, but I say you are longer." "I think I am longer. Measure me," said the snake. So Rabbit measured him by laying the stick beside him with its sharp end toward his head and as he was doing so ran the point into his head and killed him. He carried him back to the Master on the end of the stick.

Next the Master said, "There is an Alligator over yonder in the lake. Bring him to me and I will give you knowledge." So Rabbit went to the lake and called out, "Halpata hadjo, halpata hadjo." 1The Alligator came up in the middle of the lake and poked his head above the water. "What's the matter?" he said. "An ox has been killed for the Master and they want you to come and get timbers for

p. 59

a scaffold on which to roast it." So Alligator came out of the water and followed Rabbit. Before they had gone far Rabbit turned round and struck him with a club. The Alligator started for the lake and although Rabbit pursued him, beating him all the way, he got safely back into the water.

After that Rabbit went off and lay down on the hillside in the sunshine for some time. Then he went and called to the Alligator once more, "Halpata hadjo, halpata hadjo, halpata hadjo." The Alligator came out in the middle of the lake as before and said, "What's the matter?" "Pasikola (story name of Rabbit) was sent here some time ago and nothing has been seen of him, so they told me to come and see what had happened to him." The Alligator answered that some one had come to him before with such a story and had beaten him. "They thought he might have done something of the sort," said Rabbit, "for he is a mean, devilish kind of person. They told him to get you to bring the forked pieces for a scaffold on which to roast an ox and as he didn't come back they sent me to find out what had happened." Upon that the Alligator came out of the water again and they set out. As they went along Rabbit said, "That Pasikola is very bad and they ought not to have sent him. He has no sense. Did he beat you very badly?" "He beat me a great deal, but did not hit a dangerous place." "If he had hit you in a dangerous spot would you have lived?" "No; it would certainly have killed me." "Where would one hit to hurt you?" "If one struck me across the hips it would finish me." And so, having learned what he wanted to know, Rabbit presently struck the Alligator across the hips and laid him out dead. Then he picked him up and took him to the Master. And when the Master saw him be said, "You have more sense now than I could impart to you."

The end.


58:1 "Alligator hadjo" is an honorary name bestowed on the reptile.

Next: 65. The Tasks of Rabbit (Second Version)