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p. 68

75. THE TAR BABY (63)

(Tuggle collection)

A man missed peas from his garden and, after vain efforts to catch the thief, he made a tar-person and put it in the garden near the peas.

A Rabbit had been coming every night for the peas and the tar-person was quickly discovered by him. Stopping near, he said: "Who's that? What's your name?" and, receiving no reply, he hopped close to the figure and said: "If you don't speak I will hit you." He struck the tar-person and his paw stuck. Again he asked, "Why don't you speak? Let go of my foot or I will hit you harder," but the second paw stuck as he hit him again. "I have got another foot, stronger than these, and I'll hit you still harder," and the third time he hit the tar-person. "I have got one more foot and I will have to kill you if you don't let go of my feet." He kicked with the last foot and that stuck fast. The Rabbit then struck with his head and it stuck.

Next morning the man came into his garden and, when the Rabbit saw him, he called out "Oh, I have caught the thief who's been stealing your peas. Here he is."

"Yes, I see the thief," replied the man, "and I intend to kill him." Seizing the Rabbit he pulled him away from the tar-person and carried him to a stake near a pigpen. There he securely fastened the Rabbit, saying:

"I will go to the house and get some boiling water to scald you."

As soon as the man had left a Wolf came along and, seeing the Rabbit tied, asked him what it meant.

"Oh, this man wanted me to eat up all these pigs in the pen and because I could not do so he tied me here."

"I can eat them for him," said Wolf, "let me take your place." "All right," responded the Rabbit, so the Wolf untied him and took his place at the stake and was in turn tied by the Rabbit, who ran away and crawled into a hollow tree. When the man returned and saw the, Wolf, "So," he said, "you are at your old tricks and have changed yourself so as to look like a wolf. Well, I will scald you anyway." He poured the boiling water on the Wolf, who howled in pain and finally broke the string and ran off. Then he sat at the foot of the very tree in which the Rabbit was concealed and as he licked his scalded hide the Rabbit reached down and stuck a splinter into him. Jumping up, the Wolf exclaimed, "I wish the ants would stop biting me and adding to my afflictions!"

Next: 76. Rabbit Deceives the Other Animals