The Legend of the Rabbit and the Rattlesnake

Gah was a small rabbit-in fact, the smallest in his family of twelve. While the rest of the family hopped all over the forest, Gah stayed close to the huge oak tree where he was born in a cozy hole under a root.

Before Gah's mother and sisters and brothers hopped down to the creek to eat the tender clover that grew at the edge of the water, his mother warned him not to stray far away because the world was a dangerous place for a small rabbit.

Gah nibbled some plants and looked at the sky to watch for eagles and hawks. He watched the forest to make sure no foxes or wolves or coyotes sneaked up on him. Just as he was feeling safe, he hopped around the tree and came face to face with Chu'a, a huge rattlesnake.

Gah froze in terror. Chu'a hissed and shook his rattles.

Chu'a raised his head to strike.

Gah knew the snake could easily sink his fangs into him, and he would be unable to move and the snake would swallow him. His mother and sisters and brothers would come home from the creek, and Gah wouldn't be there. They'd never know what happened to him.

"I'm so glad it is you I met today. I was afraid I would run into Askook," Gah said.

Chu'a had never had any rabbit speak to him-they either ran, died from fright, or died when his poisonous fangs bit them.

"Don't you know who I am? Don't you know you are about to die?" Chu'a said.

"Yes, but at least I will be eaten by you and not Askook," Gah said. "Nothing could be worse than being struck by Askook. His fangs are as long and sharp as two knives; he can shoot venom out of his fangs that is so poisonous it can paralyze an elk. He is ten feet long and so big around that he could swallow a fawn. He is faster than anything in the forest. In fact, he is the most feared of all the creatures in the forest."

"He can't be more feared than me, he can not be bigger than me," Chu'a said. "I am the biggest, most dangerous snake in the forest."

"No, you are the second biggest, second most dangerous snake the in the forest," Gah said. "You shouldn't feel badly that Askook laughs at you."

"Askook laughs at me?" Chu'a asked. "No one can laugh at me! Where is this Askook, I will sink my fangs into him and he will die and he will know I am the most dangerous snake in the forest! Where can I find him?"

"He lives under the giant oak tree and when he comes out, he crawls around the trunk three times before he goes out to hunt," Gah said.

"I will go to the giant oak tree and find him and kill him, and then I will come back and eat you," Chu'a said and began crawling toward the oak tree.

"If you can strike Askook before he strikes you, and if you kill him, then I will be honored to be eaten by the snake who killed the biggest snake in the forest-but you must strike hard and fast. If you don't strike first, you don't have a chance."

Gah watched as Chu'a slithered away and began crawling around the trunk of the tree.

"You must go faster! You'll never catch him going so slowly!" Gah shouted.

Chu'a began going faster and faster.

"He's right behind you! If you don't strike now, he'll kill you!" Gah shouted.

Chu'a saw Askook's rattles about to disappear behind the tree, and he struck hard and fast, sending all his deadly venom into Askook's tail.

Too late, Chu'a realized he'd bitten his own tail and would soon be dead.

"You have killed me,"Chu'a said. "A baby rabbit has killed the great Chu'a."

"No," Gah said. "Your own ego and pride have killed you. You couldn't stand being the second-most feared snake in the forest; your jealousy made you strike without seeing another snake."

Chu'a was dead. He would no longer eat the small rabbits and birds and mice in the forest.

"You are not the biggest rabbit in the forest," Gah's mother said when she returned home with the family. "But you are the bravest and most clever, and you have saved many lives."

All the animals in the forest thanked Gah and praised him for his courage, but he didn't take their praise too seriously. He knew what happened to creatures who were vain and thought they were more important than other creatures-their own actions could come back to bite them in the tail.

Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins.

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