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32. THE WOLF AND THE RABBIT 1 (61, 62)

There was a girl whom the Wolf and the Rabbit both wanted to marry. The Wolf got her but afterwards the Rabbit came to court her. The girl's mother told him that her daughter belonged to the Wolf, but the Rabbit said that the Wolf was like a riding horse to him. Then the mother said, "If you will ride the Wolf here, I will believe you." After that, when the Rabbit and Wolf met, the former said, "When are you going to see this girl? When you go, come by and we will go together." When he was ready the Wolf came to his house, and the Rabbit said, "May I ride you? My stomach troubles me." The Rabbit got upon his back and then said, "It is hard for me to ride you. I will put a saddle on you." The Wolf agreed and the Rabbit put the saddle on him and got into it. But the Rabbit said, "If you will let me put spurs on I will sit steady in the saddle." So the Rabbit put spurs on and remounted. Still he was not quite satisfied and said, "It will be better if I put a bridle on you." He did this and got on, saying, "This is all right," and they started off. When they rode up to the door of the girl's house the Rabbit said, "I said I could do this. I have brought him up." Then he pulled the saddle off of the Wolf and put him into the horse stable. The people gave the Wolf hay and corn,

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but the Rabbit said, "He will not eat this hay and corn; he eats fresh meat." As they had none, the Wolf remained in the barn all day without eating. Meanwhile the girl and her mother agreed to take Rabbit, and he remained in the house that night. When night came the Wolf began to dig his way out and got away. When the Rabbit found this out he was afraid to go far from the house, thinking that the Wolf was waylaying him. During the night, however, he began to get hungry, and he began eating about among the weeds and grass. The Wolf found him there and chased him round and round, but the Rabbit finally escaped through a crack in the fence. The Wolf stayed around, however, chasing the Rabbit every chance he got. Finally the Rabbit hid in the garden and fed on the vegetables there, but the Wolf slipped up on him and caught him.

Now the Wolf took the Rabbit home, got an ax, and said he was going to cut his head off. The Rabbit said, "I do not care if you do kill me. When you cut my head off I shall become two." Then the Wolf tied the Rabbit down and built a big fire, saying, "I am going to burn you up in this fire." But the Rabbit said, "If I make water on this fire I shall put it out." Then the Wolf put a kettle of water over the fire and said, "I am going to scald you in this kettle of water." But the Rabbit replied, "If you put me into that kettle I will kick up my heels and break it." Then the Wolf said to the Rabbit, "I will throw you into this big brier patch." The Rabbit answered, "I will cry all I can when you do it." So the Wolf threw the Rabbit as far into the brier patch as he could, but when the Rabbit struck the ground he raised a great whoop and started off on the run. The Wolf was beside himself with rage at this and ran after him. He chased the Rabbit round and round until he finally chased him into a hollow tree. When he found he could not get him out of this he went to an Owl which lived close by and told him to keep watch, saying, "Don't let the Rabbit get away while I am gone." "If the Rabbit comes out I will kill him," said the Owl. So the Wolf started off after an ax. When the Rabbit found that the Owl was there he said, "Come and look at me. I am in a pretty hole." The Owl said, "It is too dark. I can not see well." The Rabbit said, "Open your eyes as wide as you can." Meanwhile, the Rabbit was chewing tobacco, and when the Owl opened his eyes wide he spit tobacco juice into them. Then the Owl suffered so much with his eyes that he fell off of the tree and staggered around trying to got relief, while the Rabbit came out of the hole in the tree and ran off. When the Wolf came back and said to the Owl, "Is the Rabbit in here?" he replied, "He got out. He said 'Come and look at me.' Then we had a fight." While the Owl staggered around he had defecated until there was a great heap of manure. So he said, "While we were fighting the Rabbit made that pile you see there."

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[paragraph continues] Then the Wolf said, "I am going to burn up this pile of rabbit manure," but the Owl answered "You will spoil it." The Owl objected so much that the Wolf finally said, "You must have made that big pile of manure yourself; you are so stingy with it." When the Wolf said this he struck the Owl on the side of the head with the handle of his ax and the Owl squealed, "O-o-o-o." Since then the Owl has always called out in this way, and his head swelled up from the blow so that he now has a big head.


256:1 Told to Watt Sam by Charlie Jumper, one of the three remaining speakers of Natchez, who got it from his grandmother.

Next: 33. The Tar Baby