The Algonquin Legends of New England, by Charles G. Leland, , at sacred-texts.com
It happened once that Lox was living in great luxury. He had a wigwam full of hundreds of dried sea, ducks, moose meat, maple-sugar, and corn. He gave a dinner, and among the guests invited Marten and Mahtigwess, the Rabbit.
Now it is a great weakness of Master Rabbit that he is much given to hinting at one minute, and saying pretty plainly the next, that he has been in better society than that around him, and has lived among great people, and no one was quicker than the Marten to find out that wherein any one was foolish or feeble. So when Master Rabbit, smoothing down his white fur, said it was the only kind of a coat worn by the aristocracy, Marten humbly inquired, "if that were so, how he came by it."
"It shows," replied Master Rabbit, "that I have habitually kept company with gentlemen."
"How did you get that slit in your lip?" inquired Marten, who knew very well what this Indian really was.
"Ah!" replied the Rabbit, "where I live they use knives and forks. And one day,--while eating with some great sagamores, my knife slipped, and I cut my lip."
"And why are your mouth and whiskers always going when you are still? Is that high style?"
"Yes; I am meditating, planning, combining great
affairs; talking to myself, you see. That's the way we do."
"But why do you always hop? Why don't you sometimes walk, like other people?"
"Ah, that's our style. We gentlemen don't run, like the vulgar. We have a gait of our own, don't you know?"
"Indeed! Well, if you don't mind a question, I would like to know why you always scamper away so suddenly, and jump so far and so rapidly when you run."
"Aw! don't you know? I used to be employed in very genteel business; public service,--in fact, diplomatic. I carried dispatches (weegadigunn, Micmac; wighiggin, Pass.)--books, letters, papers, and so I got in the way of moving nimbly. Now it comes naturally to me. One of my old aristocratic habits." 1
Upon this Marten gave it up. He had seen something of good society himself, as he lived habitually with Glooskap, but Master Rabbit was too much for him.
226:1 This droll dialogue occurs in the middle of the Micmac story of Lox, or Badger, and the Ducks and Bear, where it evidently does not belong, or has been interpolated to make length. In the original, Marten carries his inquiries much further into certain physiological details, all of which Master Rabbit naively explains as the result of the delicate diet and the wine to which he as a gentleman had been accustomed.