Native American Legends
The Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting
A Cherokee Legend
The Rabbit was so boastful that he would claim to do whatever he
saw anyone else do, and so tricky that he could usually make the
other animals believe it all.
Once he pretended that he could swim in the water and eat fish
just as the Otter did, and when the others told him to prove it
he fixed up a plan so that the Otter himself was deceived.
Soon afterward they met again and the Otter said, "I eat ducks
Said the Rabbit, "Well, I eat ducks too."
The Otter challenged him to try it; so they went up along the river
until they saw several ducks in the water and managed to get near
without being seen. The Rabbit told the Otter to go first. The Otter
never hesitated, but dived from the bank and swam under water until
he reached the ducks, when he pulled one down without being noticed
by the others, and came back in the same way.
While the Otter had been under the water the Rabbit had peeled
some bark from a sapling and made himself a noose. "Now,"
he said, "Just watch me;" and he dived in and swam a little
way under the water until he was nearly choking and had to come
up to the top to breathe.
He went under again and came up again a little nearer to the ducks.
He took another breath and dived under, and this time he came up
among the ducks and threw the noose over the head of one and caught
it. The duck struggled hard and finally spread its wings and flew
up from the water with the Rabbit hanging on to the noose.
It flew on and on until at last the Rabbit could not hold on any
longer, but had to let go and drop. As it happened, he fell into
a tall, hollow sycamore stump without any hole at the bottom to
get out from, and there he stayed until he was so hungry that he
had to eat his own fur, as the rabbit does ever since when he is
starving. After several days, when he was very weak with hunger,
he heard children playing outside around the trees. He began to
Cut a door and look at me; I'm the prettiest thing you ever did
The children ran home and told their father, who came and began
to cut a hole in the tree.
As he chopped away the Rabbit inside kept singing, "Cut it
larger, so you can see me better; I'm so pretty."
They made the hole larger, and then the Rabbit told them to stand
back so that they could take a good look as he came out. They stood
away back, and the Rabbit watched for his chance and jumped out
and got away.
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