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Tasks of the Rabbit
Myths and Tales of the
Southeastern Indians, By John R. Swanton, 1929
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." The
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 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
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 someone 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 he said, "You
have more sense now than I could impart to you."
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