Oral Literature: The Smart Rabbit  

Rabbit was very smart. He was always trying to trick the other animals. One day he met Antelope. “Let us make a garden and plant beans, “said Rabbit.


Antelope and Rabbit made a garden and planted beans. When the beans were ripe, Antelope stole some of Rabbit’s beans. And Rabbit stole a lot of Antelope’s beans.


When Rabbit noticed that Antelope had stolen some of his beans, he set a trap in his field. In the early morning, Rabbit went to his field. He found Antelope caught in the trap. “Don’t you think that I should kill you?” said Rabbit. “No, No – said Antelope -. Let us go back to my house and I will give you my hoe.” “All right,” said Rabbit and Antelope gave him the hoe. “I will not stay with you any longer – said Rabbit -. You stole beans from my field.”


Rabbit met Lizard by Elephant’s water hole. Lizard was watching the water hole so that no one could make it muddy. “Lizard – said Rabbit -. Why are you so lazy? You sit by the water hole and do nothing. You had better go and plant beans.”


“There will come a time when you are hungry and you will have nothing to eat. You must go to work now.” “How can I dig in a field and plant beans? – said Lizard -. I cannot hold a hoe with my short legs.” “I will help you,” said Rabbit.


And Lizard and Rabbit went to the field together. Rabbit tied the hoe on to Lizard’s tail. “Now you can dig in the field and plant beans,” said Rabbit. But Lizard could not move.


Rabbit ran to the water hole and drank all the water he wanted. Then he went swimming and made the water muddy. Rabbit went back to the field where Lizard lay on the ground. “Take this hoe off my tail,” cried Lizard. “I went swimming in the water hole – said Rabbit -. Now the water hole is muddy. I will not untie the hoe from your tail unless you tell Elephant that you made the water hole muddy.”


“All right, – said Lizard -, but untie this hoe from my tail for I cannot move.” Rabbit untied the hoe.


One day Rabbit was passing the water hole. He did not see anyone watching the water hole because Tortoise was hiding’ at the bottom in the mud. Rabbit went for a swim. And Tortoise caught his foot.


“Let go. Let go my foot.” cried Rabbit -. I was only taking a swim. “Get out of this water hole,” said Tortoise. Rabbit and Tortoise crawled out onto the grass. “Friend Tortoise, come with me – said Rabbit. I will show you where we can get some sweet potatoes.” Rabbit and Tortoise went off to the field and dug sweet potatoes.


When Rabbit had filled the bag that he carried with sweet potatoes, he said to Tortoise, “I hear someone coming. You had better go and see if the owner of the field is coming.” Tortoise was afraid and said, “You go one way and I will go the other.” “All right,” said Rabbit. And he ran off to look for the owner of the field.


But Tortoise did not run away. He crawled into the bag filled with sweet potatoes which Rabbit had left on the ground. Soon Rabbit came back because the owner of the field was not coming. He did not see Tortoise.


Rabbit laughed and said to himself, “I have fooled Tortoise.” Rabbit picked up the bag of sweet potatoes and ran away as fast as he could go.


Tortoise was inside the bag. He laughed to himself and began to eat the sweet potatoes and they were very good. Pretty soon Rabbit sat down to rest because the bag of sweet potatoes was very heavy. “Tortoise thinks he is so smart – said Rabbit -. But this time I tricked him. Now I will sit here and eat my sweet potatoes.”


Rabbit put his hand into the bag. “This is a great big sweet potato,” said Rabbit. He pulled out Tortoise. “This is no sweet potato,” cried Rabbit. And he threw Tortoise on the ground.


Tortoise crawled away under a bush as fast as he could go. Rabbit was very angry. He said to himself, “To think that I carried Tortoise on my back all of that time. He was very heavy. I guess this is once that Tortoise tricked me.”


(Folktale from South Africa)

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