[From Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort by Richard Dennett, 1898. See item #68 in the Bibliography.]

It was during an almost rainless hot season when all who had no wells were beginning to feel the pangs of thirst that the rabbit and the antelope formed a partnership to dig a deep well so that they could never be in want of water.

“Let us finish our food,” said the antelope, “and be off to our work.”

“No!” said the rabbit. “Had we not better keep the food for later on, when we are tired and hungry after our work?”

“Very well, hide the food, rabbit, and let us go to work; I am very thirsty.”

They arrived at the place where they purposed having the well and worked hard for a short time.

“Listen!” said the rabbit. “They are calling me to go back to town.”

“No, I do not hear them.”

“Yes, they are certainly calling me, and I must be off. My wife is about to present me with some children, and I must name them.”

“Go then, dear rabbit, but come back as soon as you can.”

The rabbit ran off to where he had hidden the food, and ate some of it, and then went back to his work.

“Well,” said the antelope, “what have you called your little one?”

“Not-Done-Yet,” said the rabbit.

“A strange name,” said the antelope.

Then they worked for a while.

“Again they are calling me,” cried the rabbit. “I must be off, so please excuse me. Can’t you hear them calling me?”

“No, said the antelope, “I hear nothing…”

Away ran the rabbit, leaving the poor antelope to do all the work, while the rabbit ate some more of the food that really belonged to them both. When he had had enough, he hid the food again and ran back to the well.

“And what have you called your latest child, rabbit?”


“What a funny little fellow you are! But come, get on with the digging; see how hard I have worked.”

Then they worked hard for quite a long time.

“Listen, now!” said the rabbit. “Surely you heard them calling me this time!”

“No, dear rabbit, I can hear nothing, but go and get back quickly.”

Away ran the rabbit, and this time he finished the food before going back to his work.

“Well, little one, what have you called your third child?”

“All-Done,” answered the rabbit.

Then they worked hard, and as night was setting in, they returned to their village.

“I am terribly tired, rabbit; run and get the food, or I shall faint.”

The rabbit went to look for the food, and then, calling out to the antelope, told him that some horrid cat must have been there, as the food was all gone and the pot quite clean. The antelope groaned and went hungry to bed.

The next day the naughty little rabbit played the antelope the same trick. And the next day he again tricked the antelope. And the next, and the next, until at last the antelope accused the rabbit of stealing the food. Then the rabbit got angry and dared him to take casca.

“We’ll both take it,” said the antelope, “and let him whose tail is the first to become wet be considered the guilty one.”

So they took the casca and went to bed. And as the medicine began to take effect upon the rabbit, he cried out to the antelope, “See, your tail is wet!”

“No, it is not!”

“Yes, it is!”

“No, but yours is, dear rabbit; see there!”

Then the rabbit feared greatly and tried to run away. But the antelope said, “Fear not, rabbit; I will do you no harm. Only you must promise not to drink of the water of my well and to leave my company forever.”

Accordingly the rabbit left him and went his way.

Some time after this, a bird told the antelope that the rabbit was drinking the water of the well every day. Then the antelope was greatly enraged and determined to kill the rabbit. So the antelope laid a trap for the silly little rabbit. He cut a piece of wood and shaped it into the figure of an animal about the size of the rabbit, and then he placed this figure firmly in the ground near to the well and smeared it all over with bird-lime.

The rabbit went as usual to drink the waters of the well and was much annoyed to find an animal there, as he thought, drinking the water also.

“And what may you be doing here, sir?” said the rabbit to the figure.

The figure answered not.

Then the rabbit, thinking that it was afraid of him, went close up to it and again asked what he was doing there.

But the figure made no answer.

“What!” said the rabbit. “Do you mean to insult me? Answer me at once, or I will strike you.”

The figure answered not.

Then the little rabbit lifted up his right hand and smacked the figure in the face. His hand stuck to the figure.

“What’s the matter?” said the rabbit. “Let my hand go, sir, at once, or I will hit you again.”

The figure held fast to the rabbit’s right hand.

Then the rabbit hit the figure a swinging blow with his left. The left hand stuck to the figure also.

“What can be the matter with you, sir? You are excessively silly. Let my hands go at once, or I will kick you.”

And the rabbit kicked the figure with his right foot, but his right foot stuck there. Then he got into a great rage and kicked the figure with his left. And his left leg stuck to the figure also. Then, overcome with rage, he bumped the figure with his head and stomach, but these parts also stuck to the figure. Then the rabbit cried with impotent rage.

The antelope, just about this time, came along to drink water, and when he saw the rabbit helplessly fastened to the figure, he laughed at him and then killed him.


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A Reader's Guide to African Folktales at the Internet Archive Copyright © 2022 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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