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Native American Legends

Why Rabbit has a short tail

A Cherokee Legend

Back when the world was young, Rabbit had a very long bushy tail. In fact, his tail was longer and bushier than Fox's tail. Rabbit was very proud of his tail and he was constantly telling all the other animals about how beautiful his tail was. One day Fox became so tired of hearing Rabbit brag about his tail that he decided to put an end to Rabbit's boasting once and for all.

The weather was getting colder. One day it finally became so cold that the waters in the lake and streams froze. A few days later, Fox went down to the lake carrying four fish. When he got to the lake, he cut a hole in the ice. He tied those four fish to his tail, then sat down and waited for Rabbit to come.

Soon Rabbit came hopping over the top of the ridge. When Fox saw Rabbit, he quickly dropped his tail into the cold water. Rabbit hopped right up to Fox and said, "What are you doing?" "I'm fishing, Rabbit," answered Fox. "With your tail?" Rabbit asked. "Oh yes, that's the very best way to catch the most fish," Fox replied.

Rabbit said, "How long you been a fishing?" Fox lied and said, "Oh, only about fifteen minutes." "Have you caught any fish yet?" asked Rabbit. Then Fox pulled up his tail, and there were those four fish hanging on it.

"What do you plan to do with the fish you catch?" asked Rabbit. Fox said, "Well, I figure I'll fish for about a week. Then I am going to take all those fish down to the Cherokee Village and trade them in for a pair of beautiful tail combs. There is only one set of tail combs left and I really want them." Fox could see that Rabbit was thinking. Rabbit thought to himself, "If I fished all night long, I bet I would have enough fish by morning to trade at the Cherokee Village. Then I could get those tail combs for myself."

Fox said, "It's getting late and I'm cold. I think I'll come back and fish some more in the morning. See ya, Rabbit." Then Fox loped off over the top of the ridge. As soon as Fox was out of sight, Rabbit dropped his tail down into the icy water of the lake. Brrrrr, it was cold! But Rabbit thought, "Oh, no. I want those tail combs more than anything." So he sat down on the hole in the ice and fished all night long.

Soon after the sun came up, Fox loped over the top of the ridge. He ran right up to Rabbit. He said, "What are ya doing there, Rabbit?" Rabbit's teeth began to chatter. "I'm ffffissshing, Fffox." "Have you caught any fish?" Fox inquired. Rabbit started to get up but he found he couldn't budge. He said, "Fffox you've ggott to helppp me. I'mmm ssstttuck."

So Fox, with a big smile on his face walked behind Rabbit. He gave Rabbit one mighty big shove. Rabbit popped out of that hole and landed clear across the other side of the lake...But his tail...was still stuck in the frozen water. And that's why from that day to this, Rabbit has such a very short, short tail.

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