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59. THE TAR BABY (63, 66)

During the night Rabbit continually stole watermelons, onions, and other similar things. By and by the people made an image like that of a man, rubbed it with pine pitch, and fixed it in a standing position. When Rabbit came to steal he saw the man. He went to shake hands with him. After he had held his hand out to shake hands for some time with no response, he said, "O ho," and slapped him. When he hit him, his hand stuck. "I have another one,"

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he said. He struck him with the other hand, and that one also stuck. "Hē, I will kick you," he said, but when he kicked him his foot stuck. He kicked him with the other foot and that stuck. He was there until daylight.

Next day, when the people came to look, lo! there he was. "O ho, the thief is here," they said, and they seized him. They put him into a box, nailed it up, and placed it on the bank of a stream. When they were ready to roll him in the men said they would eat dinner first. So they went away and Rabbit lay there inside of the box wailing. Presently a negro came up and said, "Hulloa, why are you crying?" Rabbit answered, "Oh! I am crying because they are going to send me to some pretty women, and I think they will hurt me." The negro said, "I will go instead." "All right, open this for me, lie down inside and let me shut you up, and you can go." So the negro lay down inside and Rabbit nailed the box together and disappeared. By and by the men came back and rolled the box into the water thinking that it contained Rabbit.

After that Rabbit traveled to a certain place and came back driving a herd of sheep. And he said, "I wish you would throw me into the water again so that I could get a lot more sheep. A person who comes back from the place where I have been does not want to leave. I came although there were lots of pretty girls who wanted me to stay."

Another person wanted to go. "I, too, will come back," he said. Then they put him into another box, nailed it up, and threw it into the water. And when he did not come back Rabbit said, "That is what I thought would happen. He wants to stay there." Others went until nearly all were gone. By and by they found a box floating on the water and when they opened it they saw a [dead] man inside.

Now they pursued Rabbit in order to kill him, Crane accompanying them. Rabbit went into a hollow tree, and when Crane got there they said, "You stay here and watch him, and if he tries to come out, shout!" So Crane remained to watch while they went after an ax.

Rabbit laughed inside of the hollow tree, while Crane outside watched him. By and by Rabbit said, "Look at this!" When Crane looked into the hollow tree, Rabbit said, "Look way inside!" Crane did so, and Rabbit tied a strong cord about him and choked him to death. Then he ran away. Dog was chasing Rabbit; therefore rabbits are always afraid of dogs.

Next: 60. Rabbit and the Turkeys