The Fox and Rabbit
A Seneca Legend
One day a hunter was going along over a light, freshly fallen snow. His footsteps made no noise.
All at once he saw a man coming toward him and that man shouted, "I am a man-eater!"
The hunter ran for his life. He circled around and around to escape, but the man followed and was gaining on him. When the hunter saw that he was losing ground, he took off his moccasins and said to them, "Run ahead as fast as you can." Then he lay down and became a dead rabbit, dirty and black.
When the man-eater came up and saw the black, dirty old body and the fresh tracks going on, he followed the tracks. When he came to the end of the trail and saw only moccasins, he was angry, and thought, "That fellow fooled me, the next time I will eat anything I see."
The man-eater turned back and sure enough the dead rabbit was gone. He followed the tracks and soon came upon a man who sat rolling pieces of bark, making rope.
He asked, "Have you seen a hunter pass?"
No answer. He asked again and pushed the rope-maker till he fell over, then the rope-maker said, "Some one passed just now."
The man-eater hurried away. The rope-maker sprang up, ran forward, made a circle and was ahead of the man-eater, then he turned himself into an old tree with dry limbs.
When the man-eater came to the tree, he said, "Maybe he has turned himself into a tree."
He punched the tree and broke off a twig that looked like a nose, but it was dead wood.
"I don't think it is he," said the man-eater, and again he followed the moccasin tracks.
When he overtook the moccasins he said, "That tree was the man and he has fooled me again."
He hurried back and when he came to where the tree had been, it was gone, and where he had thrown down the twig there was blood, then he knew the tree was the man, and he followed the tracks that he found there.
Just as the hunter saw that his enemy was near he chanced to come upon a dead man; he pushed the body on to the trail and when the man-eater came up, he said, "I will eat him this time! He won't fool me again, I'll finish him." And he ate the putrid carcass. The hunter escaped.
The man with the moccasins was a rabbit; the man-eater was a fox.
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