Chee mahtigwess, or the Great Rabbit, was once very stout or large of body, having a very long tail. And one day in the old times, as he sat on the rock, with his fine long tail trailing afar into the bushes, an old man came by who asked the way. And Master Rabbit, being as usual obliging offered to show it to him. So they talked together and grew intimate, but as the old man went very slowly, while Rabbit was always running, he said, "Go on before, and I will follow." So the guide was soon out of sight, and then the old man, hurrying without heeding, fell down into a deep pit or chasm, where he cried out aloud for help, but was not heard. After a time, Rabbit, missing his follower, turned back and tracked him till he found the pit. Yet they could not between them manage to bring the traveler up again, until Rabbit said, "Catch hold of my tail;" and when this was done he gave a jump, but alas! the fine tail broke off short within an inch of the root.
One would think that by this time Master Rabbit must have had enough of helping, but all the stories of him show that he never gave up anything which he had once begun. So he simply said to the old man, "Catch hold of me round the waist;" and when this was done he gave another leap, and brought the prisoner out. But the man, being heavy, had slipped down, and almost broken Rabbit's back. So it came to pass that since that day Master Rabbit has had a very short tail and a slender waist.
The old man was on his way to marry a young girl. But she was in love with Mikumwess, the forest fairy. However, the old man married her, and invited Master Rabbit to the dance, which in old times made the ceremony. And the guest dressed for the occasion by putting ear-rings on his heels, for Rabbits or Hares dance on their tip-toes, and a beautiful bangle round his neck, and he danced opposite the bride. Now the bride had on only a very short skirt, and in crossing a brook it had got wet. So that as she danced, it began to shrink and shrink, until Master Rabbit, pitying the poor girl, ran out and got a deer-skin, and hastily twisted a cord to tie it with. But it seemed as if Master Rabbit's efforts to oblige people always got him into trouble, for he twisted this string so rapidly and earnestly, holding one end of it in his teeth as he did so, that he cut his upper lip through to the nose, for which reason his descendants all have harelips to this day.
Now having dressed the bride, she was so grateful to Rabbit that she danced with him all the night. The old man, seeing this, was so angry at her fickleness that, without saying a word, he walked away, and left her to Mahtigwess, with whom she lived very happily until she ran away with Mikumwess; with whom, if she has not run away again, she is living yet. This story is at an end.
Go Back To: Passamaquoddy Nation