Sacred Texts  Native American  Southeast  Index  Previous  Next 

22. THE OPOSSUM (48)

There was once a very pretty girl whom all creatures wanted to marry. Finally the Opossum went to see her and on the way he picked up all the pieces of paper he could find and put them into his pocket. When he got to the place he kept looking at these papers and then laying them aside, whereupon the people of the house asked him what he was looking at. Then he said that he had been a soldier and these papers were his pension money. So he got the girl at once. Then all of those who had tried to get this girl unsuccessfully became angry, and one night they put a hair-eating insect or caterpillar into the then bushy tail of the Opossum which ate all of the hair off of it. About daylight the Opossum woke up, and when he found how he had been treated he went out and climbed up into the top of a tree near by. When the girl awoke and found that the Opossum was not by her, she went out of doors, looked all around, and finally saw him up in the tree. She said, "Come down. What are you doing up in the tree?" He would not descend, however, and she said, "If you do not get down I will shake you off." As he still remained there she began picking up stones and sticks and throwing them up at him. Some of these hit him, and one of them finally struck him in the head, making him fall from the limb. When he began to fall, however, his tail wrapped around a limb and he hung there by it. From that time it has happened that the Opossum has been able to swing from a limb by its tail.

Next: 23. The Wolves and the Fawn