Native American Legends
Why the Deer has no gall
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
"It was long, long ago, of course. All these things happened
long ago when the world was young, as you are now. It was on a summer
morning, and the Deer was traveling across the plains country to
reach the mountains on the far-off side, where he had relatives.
He grew thirsty, for it was very warm, and stopped to drink from
a water-hole on the plains. When he had finished drinking he looked
up, and there was his own cousin, the Antelope, drinking near him.
'Good morning, cousin,' said the Deer. 'It is a warm morning and
water tastes good, doesn't it?'
"'Yes,' replied the Antelope, 'it is warm today, but I can
beat you running, just the same.'
"'Ha-ha!' laughed the Deer -- 'you beat me running? Why, you
can't run half as fast as I can, but if you want to run a race let
us bet something. What shall it be?'
"'I will bet you my gall-sack,' replied the Antelope.
"'Good,' said the Deer, 'but let us run toward that range
of mountains, for I am going that way, anyhow, to see my relations.'
"'All right,' said the Antelope. 'All ready, and here we go.'
"Away they ran toward the far-off range. All the way the Antelope
was far ahead of the Deer; and just at the foot of the mountains
he stopped to wait for him to catch up.
"Both were out of breath from running, but both declared they
had done their best, and the Deer, being beaten, gave the Antelope
his sack of gall.
"'This ground is too flat for me,' said the Deer. 'Come up
the hillside where the gulches cut the country, and rocks are in
our way, and I will show you how to run. I can't run on flat ground.
It's too easy for me.'
"'All right,' replied the Antelope, 'I will run another race
with you on your own ground, and I think I can beat you there, too.'
"Together they climbed the hill until they reached a rough
country, when the Deer said:
"'This is my kind of country. Let us run a race here. Whoever
gets ahead and stays there, must keep on running until the other
calls on him to stop.'
"'That suits me,' replied the Antelope, 'but what shall we
bet this time? I don't want to waste my breath for nothing. I'll
tell you -- let us bet our dew-claws.'
"'Good. I'll bet you my dew-claws against your own, that I
can beat you again. Are you all ready? -- Go!'
"Away they went over logs, over stones and across great gulches
that cut the hills in two. On and on they ran, with the Deer far
ahead of the Antelope. Both were getting tired, when the Antelope
"'Hi, there -- you! Stop, you can beat me. I give up.'
"So the Deer stopped and waited until the Antelope came up
to him, and they both laughed over the fun, but the Antelope had
to give the Deer his dew-claws, and now he goes without himself.
The Deer wears dew-claws and always will, because of that race,
but on his liver there is no gall, while the Antelope carries a
gall-sack like the other animals with cloven hoofs.
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