Pacific NW: Woodrat and Rabbits

This story is part of the Pacific Northwest unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon, by Katharine Berry Judson (1910).


Woodrat and Rabbits
Modoc

A WOODRAT lived with its mother. Five cottontail rabbits lived nearby.

Rat said to Rabbit, "Let us have a quarrel."

Rabbit said, "Why do you want to quarrel with me?"

Woodrat replied, "That's all right. Let us have a fuss. Don't you always prefer the bitter leaves of some sort of cabbage to everything else?"

Rabbit answered, "You must be a thief. Only yesterday I saw you watching carefully for the right moment to steal something. Your big ears were bent sidewise."

Woodrat replied, "And you I see always skipping about with your crooked legs to snatch leaves from the cabbage bush."

Rabbit said, "You are an old fool. You are good for nothing except to eat holes in your grandmother's dress. That is why you want to attack me."

Woodrat went to a distance and spread out a net to catch Rabbit. Then he seized a stick, drove Rabbit into the net, and beat him to death.

Woodrat went to the Second Rabbit. "Let us have a fight."

"Why should we fight?" asked Second Rabbit.

They fought because Second Rabbit said Woodrat ate up his grandmother's long dress.

Woodrat went to Third Rabbit. "You are nothing but a fool — a good-for-nothing eater of cabbage leaves," said Woodrat.

Rabbit answered, "You are a thief. You live in an old wooden shed."

So Woodrat started a quarrel with all the cottontail rabbits. Thus Woodrat killed all five cottontail rabbits. Then Woodrat and his mother ate them up. They danced over them a medicine dance. While they danced, Woodrat's wooden lodge caught fire.

Thus Woodrat and his mother were burned to death. This is the end of the tale.



(300 words)




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