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26. THE TASKS OF RABBIT (54, 59)

Rabbit asked food of an old man. Then the old man said to him, "Kill an alligator and bring it to me and when I see it I will enumerate to you all of the various kinds of food that you may eat." Rabbit started along thinking over what he should say to the Alligator in order to kill him. He got close to a river and thought, "I might tell him this." He went into the water and spoke aloud to any Alligator that was in the water, "Are you here, old person?" "Yes, I am here," the Alligator answered. "Why have you come here?" asked the Alligator, and Rabbit said, "Because they told me to bring you to fashion a wooden spoon." "All right, I will fashion it," the Alligator answered, and he came out. Now Rabbit started on ahead, and when he got some distance away Rabbit thought of a way to kill him. He picked up a stick and beat the Alligator repeatedly, but the latter ran back to the water and, with Rabbit still beating him, jumped into the stream and swam away. Rabbit stopped. He did not know how be was to make him believe again. Then he thought, "I might tell him this." He turned himself into a gray squirrel. There was a tree that hung over the water and bent down toward it, and the Rabbit thus turned into a gray squirrel, sat on the top of that tree and made a chattering noise which the Alligator heard as he lay in the water. "I am getting tired of your noise," said the Alligator finally. "Well," Rabbit answered, "the old man told Rabbit to bring you to chop out a wooden spoon for him. He went and has not returned, so he said to me, 'Go and see what is the matter.' That is why I am here." "One was around talking like that," said the Alligator, "and beat me a lot, and in spite of what you are saying you might do the same thing." "Rabbit is always a fool, they say. He came over and treated you so because he is just a fool. He came over because the old man wants to employ you to chop out a wooden spoon, but he treated you abominably. But come out and chop it for me and I will take it back." He came out and followed him. Both set out. When they got near the place where he had beaten him before the Alligator said, "Right here Rabbit beat me." After he had told him, they reached the place, and, while they were going along a little beyond it, the Alligator said, "If Rabbit had known where to hit me in order to kill me he could have done so. He did not know and so I am alive." "Where does one have to hit you to kill you?" the Gray Squirrel asked the Alligator. "My hip joint is the place on which to hit me. Then when I stop

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and raise my head, all that is necessary is to hit me on the back of my head. One must do that in order to kill me, but Rabbit did not know it. He hit me in another place and did not kill me."

Now while they were going on Rabbit again picked up a stick he found, turned and ran back to the Alligator and hit him on the hip joint. This stopped him and when the Alligator threw his head up he hit him upon the back of it and killed him. Then he cut off his tail, impaled it on the stick and took it to the old man.

But the old man said to him, "Pick up a sackful of ants and bring them back." So Rabbit took a sack and started off. He arrived at the Ants' home and said to them, "Many people were saying that the Ants can not fill this sack, but I said it could be filled, and so I have come here to prove it." When Rabbit told the Ants this they said, "There are many of us here. We can fill that sack." He opened the sack and all of the Ants went in, and then he closed it.

When he brought it back the old man said, "Kill a rattlesnake and bring it to me." He started off again and came to a place where he had noticed a rattlesnake was living. He sharpened a short stick at one end and carried it along. Then Rabbit said to the Rattlesnake, "People were saying, you are of about the length of this stick. 'No, he is a long fellow,' I said to them, and, when they would not believe me, I said, 'Well then, I will go and measure him,' and so I am here."

The Snake answered, "I am not a small fellow." He stretched out, and while he lay there Rabbit began measuring him from the end of his tail toward the bead. But when he got as far as the back of his head with the sharp stick, he stuck it through into the ground and killed him. He took him up and came back with him.

When he brought the body of the Rattlesnake to the old man the latter said, "I do not know what else to ask of you. Come to me." So Rabbit went up to the old man and the latter pulled his ears up and down. He stretched his long ears straight up. He slapped one cheek and made it flat. He did the same thing to both, so that both cheeks became flat.

This is how it is told.

Next: 27. Tie-Snake and Rabbit