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Rabbit and His Cap


Once when the rabbit, that is, the mayor**, still had his antlers, he met a deer. The rabbit said to the deer:

"Brother, look at the cap [antlers] Our Father gave me." "Come here, brother," said the deer, "Lend it to me," said the deer to the rabbit. "You're too small, it doesn't fit you, but I'm big. Maybe your cap will fit me, I'm going to try it on my head."

The rabbit handed his cap to the deer and the deer put it on his head:

"Look brother, how nice it looks on me. I'm going to dance so you can see. Then I'm going for a walk and afterwards I'll come back here to you and I'll give you your cap back," said the deer to the rabbit. The deer went off and didn't come back with the rabbit's cap.

The rabbit was waiting for him, just waiting and crying because he didn't have his cap any more. It occurred to him to get up from where he was crying and go notify his king. He came before the king:

"Father," said the rabbit to the king. "What have you come to tell me, my son?" The king asked the rabbit. "My brother went off with the cap you gave me, father. My brother, the deer told me he was just going to try it on, and I gave him the cap you had given me, father.

Why did our father give it to you?' the deer asked me. Our father should have given it to me, because I'm big. Your cap fits me well,' my brother said. I thought he was my brother. So I gave it to him, but he just went off with it any way. He left, and I just sat waiting for him to come back with my cap. He didn't come back and I got tired of waiting for him so long. That's why I have come to ask you, father, to give me another cap in place of the one my brother took, and also make me taller because my uncle deer said I was too little.

That cap doesn't fit you,' he told me, father. That's why I want to grow as big as my uncle deer." "All right, I'll make your taller, my son. I'll make your body grow. If you do what I say, I'll give you what you ask for," said the king to the rabbit.

"What shall I do for you, father?" asked the rabbit.

"Now I'm telling you that if you want to be as big as your brother the deer, I'm going to grant your wish," said the king to the rabbit. "Now, go and bring me fifteen loads of skins. If you bring them to me I'll make your body grow and I'll give you your cap back."

"All right," said the rabbit, and went off to the fields, to the mountains and to the sea. The rabbit bought himself a guitar. When he came to a plain he sat down to rest. He had been playing music with his guitar for a while when an old snake came up to him.

"What are you doing, brother?" the snake asked brother rabbit.

"I've come to play music for you, uncle," said the rabbit to the snake.

"Oh, your son** is sad, uncle," said the snake to Uncle Rabbit.

"Yes," said the rabbit to the snake.

"May I dance a little?" the snake asked Uncle Rabbit. The rabbit answered:

"Of course you may dance. That's why I came to play a son for you. But I would just like to ask you, uncle, where is your weak spot? Because my marimba stick*** might reach your weak spot. Show it to me, so I can see where it is," said the rabbit to the snake.

"All right, brother," said the snake. "Here's my weak spot, right at the end of my tail."

"All right, brother, now that I've noticed where your weak spot is, you can dance without worrying," Uncle Rabbit told the snake. The rabbit needed to collect skins, but the snake didn't suspect what the rabbit was planning to do to him.

"Dance! Go ahead and dance. Enjoy your dance," said the rabbit to the snake, because that's why I came to play near your house. Dance, enjoy, and don't be afraid. Here, come close to me." When he saw him nearby, the rabbit thought:

"He's mine now. I know where his weak spot is." The snake danced and came near the rabbit. "Bring your tail near," said the rabbit to the snake. The snake raised his tail near the rabbit. The rabbit saw that the snake was near him and he killed him. Then he skinned him and went off with his skin.

The rabbit came to a mountain and began to play his guitar once more. Shortly after he had come to the mountain a big old lion**** approached Uncle Rabbit. He was playing his music when the lion arrived.

"Hey, uncle, why have you come here to play?" the lion asked the rabbit. "I've just have come to play, brother," the rabbit said. "Do you like music?"

"Yes, I like music." said the lion.

"Do you like to dance?" the rabbit asked the lion.

"Yes, I like to," the lion answered. "If you'll play a son for me, I'll be wanting to dance," said the lion.

"I'm going to play some music for you, because the reason I came to your house was to play music. Dance, enjoy your dance. Don't be afraid, Good, dance, only tell me where your weak spot is. I'd just like to ask you where your weak spot is. Dance, enjoy your dance," said the rabbit to the lion.

"All right, brother, here's my weak spot, right here, on the back of my neck."

"All right brother," said the rabbit. "Dance uncle, dance, dance, dance. Don't be afraid, come closer, come here beside me. I know where your weak spot is, so I won't hit you there. I know where it is. Try to dance a little bent over." The lion became careless while he was dancing, and the rabbit hit him on the head. The lion died, the rabbit skinned him and took away two more skins, two large skins.

The rabbit walked, and walked and walked. He took his skins to a place on the beach, and played there once more. An alligator heard the rabbit playing a son and came up to him: "Is that you playing, Uncle Rabbit?" the alligator asked. "Yes, I'm the one who is playing for you," said the rabbit, "for I want you to dance. I thought maybe uncle would like a son. So I came to play a son for you.

"Oh, is it true what you say? I like sones and I would like you to play one for me," said the alligator.

"All right, I'll play you a son, but you have to dance." "Yes, I'll dance, for I really like to," the alligator told Uncle Rabbit.

"I'd like to ask you where your weak spot is. Just tell me where your weak spot is. Don't worry, just show me where it is. If my marimba stick hits you, you could die," said Uncle Rabbit to the alligator.

"All right, brother, my weak spot is here, right at the end of my tail," said the alligator.

"All right, so dance. Dance with all your might and stretch out your tail." While he was dancing the alligator became careless and the rabbit hit his weak spot. The alligator died and the rabbit skinned him.

The rabbit left the beach and came near a plantation where there was sugar cane, where there were bananas, where there were oranges, where there were sapotes. Near the plantation there was a house with monkeys and coatis, as well as two other households. He came to one of the houses bringing bananas.

"Ah," the monkeys said to him "do you have bananas, uncle?"

"Here, have some." said the rabbit to one of the monkeys.

"All right," said the monkey. The monkey ate the bananas. Then the rabbit said:

"Here you're just starving, but I have a plantation nearby where there are a lot of good things to eat. There are bananas, there is sugar cane, there are oranges, there are sapotes," said the rabbit to the monkeys.

"All right, uncle, give us some," said the monkeys to the rabbit.

"There's a lot of food, and it's just going to waste, because there's no one to eat it," said the rabbit to the monkeys. "Tomorrow we'll go to my plantation, all of you and your families, and if there are some others they can come with us too. Aren't there some other friends of ours here?" the rabbit asked the monkeys.

"Oh, if you please, there's another family of our friends that are hungry; they have no food," the monkeys told the rabbit.

"Tomorrow you're all going to go with me," the rabbit said to the monkeys. The next day all the monkeys and all the coatis set off for the plantation and arrived there.

"Eat, brothers, enjoy the food," said the rabbit to all of them.

"All right," they said and they were happy. That day passed.

"Are you all satisfied?" the rabbit asked them.

"Yes, we're fine, brother."

"So let's go. Each one of you can take something along," the rabbit said to them.

"All right, uncle," they said and set off. They came to a plain.

"We're going to rest," the rabbit said to them. They rested on the plain. The monkeys were playing with the coatis and didn't know that the rabbit was plotting against their lives. The rabbit said to them:

"Bring two nets, brothers."

"What are you saying uncle, are we going to play?"

"I want you to make me two nets," the rabbit said to them.

"Why?" they asked.

"I'm going to weigh you, so we can see who weighs the most," said the rabbit.

"All right," they said, and got into the nets.

"All you monkeys, get in there, and all you coatis get in over there. Push your snouts out through the net so you'll be able to breathe and won't suffocate."

"All right," the fools said. The rabbit closed up the nets and went to look for a club, saying: "When I come back you'll get out of the nets." But when the rabbit came back with the club he was ferocious, and struck them on the snout:

"Now uncles, you're going to pay for the bananas you ate." He killed the uncles in the two nets. All those that were in the two nets died, and he skinned them all. He used an armadillo as a pack animal, the armadillo carrying the skins for him. He had collected them as the king had ordered, so that he would increase his height and give him back his cap.

He returned and came before the king with fifteen loads of skins. The king didn't believe the rabbit was going to succeed, and so he didn't realize he was bringing all those skins. When he came before the king with the skins, the rabbit said: "See, father, I have brought the skins." The king was astonished. "Did you really go and get them?" he asked. "I don't believe you." "No father, they're here."

"Let's see them," the king said.

"Here they are, father." He took them out of his net one at a time and the king saw him take out the alligator's skin, the lion's skin, the big snake's skin, the monkeys' skins and the coatis' skins.

"Oh," said the king," getting angry, "What do you want in exchange for these skins?"

"I want you to make me taller and give me my cap back."

"Oh," said the king, "what a shameless rabbit you are. In spite of everything you want to be big. You actually killed your own brothers. You actually killed them. You're so small. If you were larger, if I made you bigger, you'd kill all your brothers. Look here, you killed the lion, the alligator, and the snake, even though you're real little. Well, now, you're going to have to forgive me, my son, but this is the punishment I've decreed:

Bring me your ears so I can stretch them. You shameless thing, you already killed your brothers who are bigger than you. Now never come back here again. You're going once and for all, I'm just going to make your ears grow.


** No one seems to know why the rabbit is called "the mayor."

** Slow, traditional Mayan dance, and the melody which accompanies it. The word also means 'marimba' and 'music' in the Q'anjob'al Mayan language.


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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.