HOW BROTHER RABBIT FOOLED THE WHALE AND THE ELEPHANT
[Adapted from two tales included in the records of the
American Folk-Lore Society.]
One day little Brother Rabbit was running
along on the sand, lippety, lippety,
when he saw the Whale and the Elephant
talking together. Little Brother Rabbit
crouched down and listened to what they
were saying. This was what they were saying:--
"You are the biggest thing on the land,
Brother Elephant," said the Whale, "and
I am the biggest thing in the sea; if we join
together we can rule all the animals in the
world, and have our way about everything."
"Very good, very good," trumpeted the
Elephant; "that suits me; we will do it."
Little Brother Rabbit snickered to
himself. "They won't rule me," he said. He
ran away and got a very long, very strong
rope, and he got his big drum, and hid the
drum a long way off in the bushes. Then
he went along the beach till he came to the
"Oh, please, dear, strong Mr. Whale,"
he said, "will you have the great kindness
to do me a favor? My cow is stuck in the
mud, a quarter of a mile from here. And
I can't pull her out. But you are so strong
and so obliging, that I venture to trust you
will help me out."
The Whale was so pleased with the compliment
that he said, "Yes," at once.
"Then," said the Rabbit, "I will tie this
end of my long rope to you, and I will run
away and tie the other end round my cow,
and when I am ready I will beat my big
drum. When you hear that, pull very, very
hard, for the cow is stuck very deep in the
"Huh!" grunted the Whale, "I'll pull
her out, if she is stuck to the horns."
Little Brother Rabbit tied the rope-end
to the whale, and ran off, lippety, lippety,
till he came to the place where the Elephant was.
"Oh, please, mighty and kindly Elephant,"
he said, making a very low bow
"will you do me a favor?"
"What is it?" asked the Elephant.
"My cow is stuck in the mud, about a
quarter of a mile from here," said little
Brother Rabbit, "and I cannot pull her
out. Of course you could. If you will be
so very obliging as to help me--"
"Certainly," said the Elephant grandly,
"Then," said little Brother Rabbit, "I
will tie one end of this long rope to your
trunk, and the other to my cow, and as
soon as I have tied her tightly I will beat
my big drum. When you hear that, pull;
pull as hard as you can, for my cow is very
"Never fear," said the Elephant, "I
could pull twenty cows."
"I am sure you could," said the Rabbit,
politely, "only be sure to begin gently, and
pull harder and harder till you get her."
Then he tied the end of the rope tightly
round the Elephant's trunk, and ran away
into the bushes. There he sat down and
beat the big drum.
The Whale began to pull, and the Elephant
began to pull, and in a jiffy the rope
tightened till it was stretched as hard as
"This is a remarkably heavy cow," said
the Elephant; "but I'll fetch her!" And
he braced his forefeet in the earth, and gave
a tremendous pull.
"Dear me!" said the Whale. "That
cow must be stuck mighty tight;" and he
drove his tail deep in the water, and gave
a marvelous pull.
He pulled harder; the Elephant pulled
harder. Pretty soon the Whale found
himself sliding toward the land. The
reason was, of course, that the Elephant
had something solid to brace against,
and, too, as fast as he pulled the rope in
a little, he took a turn with it round his
But when the Whale found himself
sliding toward the land he was so provoked
with the cow that he dove head first,
down to the bottom of the sea. That was
a pull! The Elephant was jerked off his
feet, and came slipping and sliding to the
beach, and into the surf. He was terribly
angry. He braced himself with all his
might, and pulled his best. At the jerk, up
came the Whale out of the water.
"Who is pulling me?" spouted the Whale.
"Who is pulling me?" trumpeted the Elephant.
And then each saw the rope in the other's hold.
"I'll teach you to play cow!" roared the Elephant.
"I'll show you how to fool me!" fumed
the Whale. And they began to pull again.
But this time the rope broke, the Whale
turned a somersault, and the Elephant fell
At that, they were both so ashamed that
neither would speak to the other. So that
broke up the bargain between them.
And little Brother Rabbit sat in the bushes
and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.