How Brother Rabbit Fooled the Whale and the Elephant
by Sara Cone Bryant
Adapted from two tales included in the records of the American
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
"Very good, very good," trumpeted the Elephant; "that suits me; we will
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 Whale.
"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
"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 mud."
"Huh!" grunted the Whale, "I'll pull her out, if she is stuck to the
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, "certainly."
"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 heavy."
"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 could be.
"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
"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 trunk!
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 over backwards.
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,