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Fables & Myths Presents

The Rabbit, the Elephant, and the Whale

Illustrations by Justin Winslow
Story adapted by Matt Evans
      This story comes from Mauritius, an island off the eastern coast of Africa, near the island of Madagascar. Mauritius has a very diverse community, with people who are descended from the Dutch, French, Africans, British, and Indians.

      If you like this fable and want to read more, check out: Kidz Zone - Myths & Fables From Around The World.


    One day Rabbit was taking a walk through the jungle and ran into Elephant, who was making a fine meal of the treetops.

    "Hello, brother," said Rabbit. "Fine day, isn't it?"

      Elephant paused to look down at the tiny little creature at his feet and snorted. "Leave me be, Rabbit. I don't have the time to waste on someone so small."

      Rabbit was shocked to be talked to in such a manner. He wasn't sure what to do so he left quietly to go and think about what had happened.



 

    As he walked along, he spied mighty Whale far out to sea and decided to ask her what she thought about Elephant's rudeness.

    He cupped his tiny paws and yelled as loud as he could, "Whaaaaale!! Come heeeeere!!"
     



 

    Whale swam over to see who was calling her and looked about. After a few minutes she spied tiny little Rabbit jumping up and down on a cliff.

    "Rabbit," Whale said impatiently, "Did you just call me over here?"

    "Of course," said Rabbit.
     

    "Just who do you think you are? You are far too small and weak to have anything to say to me." And at that she turned, flipped her huge tail, and set off back into the deep ocean.

    But just then Rabbit had an idea.


    He called out to her one more time, "Whale! You think that I am weak, but in fact, I am stronger than you! You wouldn't be so quick to ignore me if I beat you at Tug-of-War."

    Whale looked at him for a moment before falling into a fit of laughter. "Very well little one," said Whale. "Go get a rope and we will see who is stronger."


    Rabbit ran off to gather up the strongest and thickest vine he could.

    When he found it, he went to Elephant and said to the giant animal, "Elephant, you had no cause to treat me with such discourtesy this afternoon. I shall have to prove to you that we are equals.

    Elephant looked down between chews and chuckled. "And how will you do that, small one?"

    Rabbit stood up as high as he could, looked Elephant right in the eye and said, "By beating you at a game of Tug-of-War."
     

    Elephant laughed so hard he nearly choked on his leaves, but agreed to humor the tiny animal. He tied the vine around his huge, hefty waist, snickering the whole time.

    Rabbit took the other end and started off into the jungle. He called back to Elephant, "Wait until I say `pull' and then pull with all of your might."

    Rabbit took the other end of the rope to Whale and said, "Tie this to your tail and when I say `pull' you swim with all of your might."

    Whale tied the vine to her tail, all the while smirking at Rabbit's foolishness.

    "I will now go and tie the other end to my own waist," said Rabbit, and hopped off into the jungle.
     

    Rabbit hid in the bushes and then called out, at the top of his lungs, "PULL!!"
     

    Elephant started to walk away with a smile on his face, but the smile soon turned to a look of surprise when the vine stopped following him. "My goodness," he said to himself, "Rabbit is much stronger than I expected!"

    The look of surprise soon became a frown as Elephant pulled harder and harder, unable to make the tough vine budge any further.
     

    Meanwhile, Whale began to swim away from the shore, but almost lost her breath when the vine pulled tight and refused to come with her. She pulled harder and harder, but she could not pull it any further.

    "That little Rabbit could not possibly be stronger than me," she said in outrage.
     

    Soon the vine could take no more strain and, with an ear-splitting sound, snapped into two pieces.

    When this happened, poor Elephant went sailing through the jungle and tumbled head over heels down a steep valley.
     

    The end that was tied to Whale caught up to her suddenly and she went sailing through the ocean and smashed into a very scratchy and very uncomfortable coral reef.
     
    Rabbit left without a word and never mentioned the matter again.

    Elephant and Whale were completely confused and never did figure out how such a tiny creature as Rabbit could have beaten the largest of the animals.

    And to this day, they are very careful to greet little Rabbit with great respect whenever they meet.
     

 

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