Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes

Page: 42

“You are the man who said I could not catch you. Now who is the fastest runner?” And before Rabbit could answer Panther ate him up. But Rabbit was such a boastful man.




ALL the animals were of different sizes and wore different coats. Some wore long fur and others wore short fur. Some had rings on their tails; others had no tails at all. The coats of the animals were of many colors—brown, or black, or yellow, or gray.

The animals were always quarreling about whose coat was the finest. Therefore they held a council to decide the matter.

Now everyone had heard a great deal about Otter, but he lived far up the trail; he did not often visit the others. It was said he had the finest coat of all, but it was so long since they had seen him that no one remembered what it was like. They did not even know just where he lived, but they knew he would come when he heard of the council.

Rabbit was afraid the council would say that Otter had the finest coat. He learned by what trail Otter would come to the council. Then he went a four days’ march up the trail to meet him. At last he saw Otter [119] coming. He knew him at once by his beautiful coat of soft brown fur.

Otter said, “Where are you going?”

“They sent me to bring you to the council,” answered Rabbit. “They were afraid you might not know the trail.”

So Rabbit turned back and they traveled together. They traveled all day. At night Rabbit picked out a camping place. Otter was a stranger in that part. Rabbit cut down bushes for beds and made everything comfortable. Next morning they started on again.

In the afternoon, Rabbit picked up pieces of bark and wood, as they followed the trail, and loaded them on his back.

“Why are you doing that?” asked Otter.

“So that we may be warm and comfortable tonight,” said Rabbit. Near sunset they stopped and made camp. After supper Rabbit began to whittle a stick, shaving it down to a paddle.

“Why are you doing that?” asked Otter again.

“Oh,” said Rabbit, “I have good dreams when I sleep with a paddle under my head.”

When the paddle was finished, Rabbit began to cut a good trail through the bushes to the river.

“Why are you doing that?” asked Otter.

“This is called ‘The Place Where It Rains Fire,’ [120] and sometimes it does rain fire here,” said Rabbit. “The sky looks a little that way tonight. You go to sleep and I will sit up and watch. If you hear me shout, you run and jump into the river. Better hang your coat on that limb over there, so it will not get burned.”