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Rabbit As Cowherd

Once there was a rabbit who went looking for work. He found a man and asked him for a job.

"Sir, by any chance would you have any work for me? I'm poor and I'm looking for work. I can't find anybody who will give me a job," said the rabbit.

"I'm sorry friend, but there isn't any work right now. Lots of friends have been by looking for work, but there just isn't any," said the man.

"I'm not particular about the type of work. I just want to work. That's why I've come here to ask you," said the rabbit.

"All right, if you want to you, can take care of some of my animals," said the man, and they agreed. "All right, come back tomorrow and we'll leave it that way," said the man. The next day the rabbit came to work. A few days went by. He did something once when he was taking care of the man's cattle, and some cattle merchants came by.

"Hey, friend, why don't you sell us your cows? We'll pay you whatever you ask," they said.

"It can't be done, my friends, I can't sell them as you might think, for I'm just a hired hand. If they were mine, there would be no problem doing what you ask me, because you are in the business of buying cattle."

They kept insisting, and the rabbit thought about what he ought to do. After a while he answered:

"All right, if you want to buy them, but don't go over there where the boss is. If you do, he'll find out I sold them to you."

"All right," the men said, "don't worry."

They bought the cows and herded them off. After the rabbit sold the cows he began to place some empty gourds in the tops of some large trees. And when he had finished placing them, he went to notify the owner of the livestock.

"Sir, I've come to tell you that some thieves came and stole all the cows," he said. "Who knows where they took the animals. When they stole them, they threatened me. If I had gone after them, they would have beaten me up," said the rabbit.

"Let's go and look for them now," said the man, and saddled up his horse. They went to where the rabbit had sold the cows. When they got there they heard the cows mooing. But it was only the wind passing through the gourds. The rabbit knew that it was the gourds that were making the sound. As the gourds were mooing, he asked the man:

"Sir, don't you hear them mooing?" The man heard the mooing and answered: "You're right, friend, the animals are far away from us." And they started to look for the cows and as they were looking for them they heard them mooing across the way. "Listen, they're mooing over there," said the rabbit. "Let's do this: we'll separate, you go this way and I'll go that way."

"All right," said the man, and they separated to go look for the cows, because the owner imagined they were far away. But when they were far apart, the rabbit took the opportunity to escape once more. This is what the rabbit did the time he sold the cows.

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