Sacred Texts  Native American  Southeast  Index  Previous  Next 

33. THE TAR BABY (63)

All of the wild animals appointed a time to dig for water and when the time came assembled and began digging. But presently Rabbit gave up digging, and the others went on digging without him. They found water. Then they stationed two people to watch it. But Rabbit became very thirsty. He killed a gray squirrel, stripped off its hide, got into it, and came to the watchers. It was Rabbit who did it, but in the form of the gray squirrel he said that he had become very thirsty for lack of water. "You may drink water because you are just a gray squirrel," they said to him, and he drank. He drank all he wanted and went away. Then he pulled off the hide.

But when he thought of going back to drink again the hide had become hard and he could not got it on, so when he became thirsty he dipped up the water at night. But when he set out water for his visitors they said to him, "Where did you find it?" and he answered, "I got it from the dew." Then, following the tracks by the water, they saw signs of Rabbit, made an image of a person out of pitch and set it up near the place where they had dug the well.

The next night Rabbit came and stood there. "Who are you?" he said. There was no reply and he continued, "If you do not speak I will strike you." Rabbit struck it with one hand and his hand stuck to it. "Let me go. If you do not let me go I will strike you with my other hand," he said, and he struck it with that hand. When he hit it that hand also stuck. "Let me go. Stop holding me. If you do not let me go I will kick you," he said, and he kicked it. When he kicked it his foot stuck. "If you do not let go I will kick you with my other foot," he said, and he kicked it with that foot. When he did so his other foot stuck. "Let me go," he said, "I have my head left, and if you do not let me go I will butt you." He pulled back and forth to get free and butted it with his head and his head stuck. Then he hung there all doubled up.

While he was hanging there day came. And when it was light the water watchers came and found Rabbit hanging there. They picked him up, made a prisoner of him, and carried him off. They assembled together to kill him. "Let us throw him into the fire,"

p. 259

they said, but Rabbit laughed and replied, "Nothing can happen to me there. That is where I travel around." "If that is the case we must kill him some other way," they said, and after they had debated a long time concluded, "Let us tie a rock around his neck and throw him into the water," but Rabbit laughed and called out, "I live all the time in water. Nothing can happen to me there." "Well," they said, "he will be hard to kill. How can we kill him?" After all had conferred for a while, they said, "I wonder what would become of him if we threw him into a brier patch?" At that Rabbit cried out loudly. "Now you have killed me," he said. "Now we have killed him," they replied. "If we had known that at first we would have had him killed already," so they carried him to a brier thicket, Rabbit weeping unceasingly as he was dragged along. Then they threw him into the brier thicket with all their strength, and he fell down, got up, and ran off at once, whooping.

Next: 34. Rabbit and Wildcat