Native American Legends
The Possum and the Jaguar
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
The mother of the small possum told her son, "I think it's
time that you went out and found someone to be your godfather."
So it was that the little possum went out to search for a godfather.
First he headed for the jaguar's lair. The jaguar came to attention
thinking that this would be an easy meal. The possum, however, quickly
shouted out the purpose of his visit. "Señ or Jaguar,
excuse me for bothering you, but the only thing I want is to ask
if you would like to be my godfather."
"Ah, so you want me to be your godfather?" the jaguar
"Yes," the possum replied.
"Very well, if that's what you want, then that's how it will
be. Tomorrow I'll come for you so that we can go out and eat,"
the jaguar said.
"Very good, Godfather. I will be ready and waiting in the
The next day the jaguar arrived at the possum's house and announced,
"I have come to see my godson."
"Of course," the mother said. "Come in. He's waiting
for you." So the possum went with his godfather to the plain
where there was a little fountain or "eye of the water."
There other animals came to drink. Then the jaguar told the possum,
"Get up in this tree and when I shout 'now there's meat', you
should come quickly to find me."
"Very good, I'll do it, Godfather," said the possum and
hid himself among the limbs of the tree. At noon the thirsty cattle
began to come down the hills to the spring, and the last to arrive
was a black bull.
"Now I will procure some food for my godson," said the
jaguar. So while the bull was drinking the jaguar leaped out of
his hiding place and attacked. He felled the bull in the mud at
the edge of the spring. When the meal was ready the jaguar shouted,
"Godson, come quickly. "Eat all that you want, dear godson.
There is plenty of meat," the jaguar said.
The possum began to eat, but he could hardly finish a mouthful.
"Eat, eat, my godson. Don't waste the food we now have so
abundantly," the jaguar said.
"Thank you godfather, but my stomach is very small and I cannot
eat much," the possum answered.
The jaguar ate all that he could and left part of the kill for
other animals. As they were leaving his godson said, "Many
thank;s godfather, now it is my turn to invite you to a banquet
as you have invited me."
On the day of the invitation the jaguar arrived at his godson's
house. This time the possum was ready to provide the food for the
banquet, and the jaguar accompanied his godson in search of meat.
The possum headed toward a little village where some laborers had
chickens and turkeys in their pens. They paused at the edge of the
village to wait until everyone went to sleep.
At midnight the possum entered a pen to hunt. One by one he was
carrying off the chickens and turkeys for his godfather to eat.
The jaguar said he was still hungry, so the possum returned to the
pen to capture more hens. This time the hens made a great racket
and woke up their owners who came out with dogs, sticks and machetes,
ready to chase those who were ravaging the hen house. They searched
the plain with flaming pine torches but found nothing.
A few days later the little possum said to his mother, "Come
with me to eat, Mama. I know how my godfather got very good meat
and I will do the same."
His mother went with him to the scene of the hunt. "Climb
up that tree while I hide in the bushes at the side of the spring
When I shout, 'Now there is meat' I want you to come quickly."
In this manner the possum hid himself in the same place from which
his godfather had ambushed his prey. At noon the cattle began to
come down from the hill to drink before they took their rest. In
a little while a single bull also came down. While the bull drank
water the possum leaped upon him in the same way his godfather had
done. But the bull was not frightened and simply began to shake
himself to get rid of this tickling on his shoulder. As he shook
himself he hurled the possum into the air. He landed and stuck in
the mud. Unable to get out, the possum called to his mother for
"Come here, Mama. Now there is meat" he shouted. His
mother jumped to the ground thinking the meat was now ready.
When she got to the spring she discovered her son almost dead,
and she leaped to his rescue. But she too got trapped in the mire
where it is said the two sadly died.
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