How the Rabbit Lost His Tail

How the Rabbit Lost His Tail
Brazilian Folk-Lore
Elsie Spicer Eells
*Audio file at the end

Once upon a time, ages and ages ago, the rabbit had a long tail, but
the cat had none. She looked with envious eyes at the one which the
rabbit had. It was exactly the sort of a tail she longed to have.

The rabbit was always a thoughtless careless little beast. One day he
went to sleep with his beautiful long tail hanging straight out behind
him. Along came Mistress Puss carrying a sharp knife, and with one
blow she cut off Mr. Rabbit’s tail. Mistress Puss was very spry and
she had the tail nearly sewed on to her own body before Mr. Rabbit
saw what she was doing.

“Don’t you think it looks better on me than it did on you?” asked
Mistress Puss.

“It surely is very becoming to you,” replied the generous unselfish
rabbit. “It was a little too long for me anyway and I’ll tell you what
I’ll do. I’ll let you keep it if you will give me that sharp knife in
exchange for it.”

The cat gave Mr. Rabbit the knife and he started out into the deep
forest with it. “I’ve lost my tail but I’ve gained a knife,” said he;
“I’ll get a new tail or something else just as good.”

Mr. Rabbit hopped along through the forest for a long time and at last
he came to a little old man who was busily engaged in making baskets.
He was making the baskets out of rushes and he was biting them off
with his teeth. He looked up and spied Mr. Rabbit with the knife in
his mouth.

“O, please, Mr. Rabbit,” said he, “will you not be so kind as to let
me borrow that sharp knife you are carrying? It is very hard work to
bite the rushes off with my teeth.”

Mr. Rabbit let him take the knife. He started to cut off the rushes
with it, when _snap_ went the knife! It broke into halves.

“O, dear! O, dear!” cried Mr. Rabbit. “What shall I do! What shall I
do! You have broken my nice new knife.”

The little old man said that he was very sorry and that he did not
mean to do it.

Then Mr. Rabbit said, “A broken knife is of no use to me but perhaps
you can use it, even if it is broken. I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
I’ll let you keep the knife if you will give me one of your baskets in
exchange for it.”

The little old man gave Mr. Rabbit a basket and he started on through
the deep forest with it. “I lost my tail but I gained a knife. I’ve
lost my knife but I’ve gained a basket,” said he. “I’ll get a new tail
or something else just as good.”

Mr. Rabbit hopped along through the deep forest for a long time until
at last he came to a clearing. Here there was an old woman busily
engaged in picking lettuce. When she had gathered it she put it into
her apron. She looked up and spied Mr. Rabbit hopping along with his
basket.

“O, please, Mr. Rabbit,” said she, “will you not be so kind as to let
me borrow that nice basket you are carrying?”

Mr. Rabbit let her take the basket. She began to put her lettuce into
it when out fell the bottom of the basket.

“O, dear! O, dear!” cried Mr. Rabbit. “What shall I do! What shall I
do! You have broken the bottom out of my nice new basket.”

The old woman said that she was very sorry and that she did not mean
to do it.

Then said Mr. Rabbit, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll let you keep
that broken basket if you will give me some of your lettuce.”

The old woman gave Mr. Rabbit some lettuce and he hopped along with
it, saying, “I lost my tail but I gained a knife. I lost my knife but
I gained a basket. I lost my basket but I gained some lettuce.”

The rabbit was getting very hungry and how nice the lettuce smelled!
He took a bite. It was just the very best thing he had ever tasted in
all his life. “I don’t care if I did lose my tail,” said he, “I’ve
found something I like very much better.”

From that day to this no rabbit has ever had a tail. Neither has there
ever been a rabbit who cared because he had no tail. From that time to
this there has never been a rabbit who did not like lettuce to eat and
who was not perfectly happy and contented if there was plenty of it.

Listen to the audio from LibriVox here:

Leave a Reply