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p. 69


(Tuggle collection)

The Rabbit was under arrest and, when brought before the assembled council of all the other animals, he said to them:

"I have a great message to deliver to all of you. God has appeared to me and he has told me that he intends to destroy the world, because you animals are so wicked. The only way for you to escape is to choose me to rule over you to guide you aright. God will destroy the world in a short time if you do not act better."

The animals greeted his speech with laughter. "You are such a great liar," said they, "that we know this is another trick."

"Well, all you have to do is to wait and see," replied the Rabbit, with a solemn look.

"We are not afraid of your lies."

The following night, after the council had separated, the Rabbit sought out the king of the Partridges and said to him:

"I have a plan by which you can save me from this trouble and I can be of great service to you. If you will help me I will see that you and your subjects shall have the privilege of roving over the whole world and eating where you will instead of being restricted to one kind of food, as you now are."

"What can I do?" asked the king of the Partridges.

"This. Go and gather all the Partridges into one immense flock and to-morrow, when the council meets, station your subjects to the south of the council ground and, at a certain signal from me, let every Partridge fly into the air and flutter with all his might, and make as much noise as possible."

The king of the Partridges consented.

"On the second day," continued the Rabbit, "carry your subjects to the east of the council ground and act likewise when you see me stand before the council and give the signal. On the third day go to the north, and on the fourth day be in the west, but remember to keep out of sight all the time, and on each day make a louder noise than on the preceding day. Do this and the world shall be your feeding ground."

Then they separated.

The council assembled again and summoned the Rabbit, who came smiling and bowing and said: "I love all of you, and am sorry to know that your wickedness is leading you to destruction. God will not permit such wicked animals to live. To-day, I fear, you will hear a warning in the south. If you do not heed it and turn an innocent brother loose, then, to-morrow, the warning will become louder in the east. On the third day the sound of coming down will be heard in the north and, if you still persist in your persecution, a terrible

p. 70

rumbling in the west will precede the world's destruction, and then, on the fifth day, the world will be destroyed."

For this the animals jeered at him and cried, "Oh, what a lie. Tell us another."

Then the Rabbit turned to the south and gave the agreed signal when a strange low, rumbling sound came from that direction.

The animals looked at one another and whispered, "What is that?"

"God's warning," replied the Rabbit.

Some said: "Let's let him go. He may be innocent." Others said, "It's one of his tricks. He is a cunning little rascal."

The second day came, and the Rabbit said, "You are doomed. To-day another warning will come from the east." He gave the signal and there was a louder thundering than on the previous day.

Some of the animals became alarmed at this and said, "Perhaps he's speaking the truth this time. Maybe the world will be destroyed."

"It is one of his tricks," said others. "But how can he make such a noise? He is here and the noise is yonder."

The council separated without a decision. On the third day the Rabbit appeared with a solemn air and, when called on, said:

"You still refuse to do me justice. The warning will come to-day from the north." Hardly had he spoken, when there came a tremendous roar, shaking the air and ground, and the animals trembled in terror.

"Let him go, let him go," shouted many to their leaders.

It was decided to wait one day more and if no trick could be discovered the Rabbit should be let go.

On the fourth day the animals came slowly to the council ground and cast fearful looks to the west. The Rabbit, amid profound silence, was led out.

"Alas," said he, "what a fate--all the animals to be destroyed--when one act of justice could save them," and suddenly from the west came such a fluttering, buzzing, quivering, shaking roar that all the animals cried aloud:

"Let him go, let him go. He is right. The world will be destroyed."

So they let him go, and away he hopped to the king of the Partridges. "The world is yours," said he, "Go where you will and eat your fill."

Ever since then partridges have roved over the whole world, whereas they had no such privilege before that time.

Next: 77. Rabbit Escapes From the Box