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
"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
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
"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
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
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.