Why The Possum's Tail Is Bare
Category: CHEROKEE TALES
Source: Indian Legends Retold
A long time ago, the Possum had a fine bushy tail of which he was very
proud, so much so that he would even sing of it at the dance. As the
Rabbit's tail is short and stubby, he had no patience with such absurd
vanity, and at last he thought of a way to put a stop to it.
There was to be a large council and dance to which all the animals
were invited, and Rabbit stopped in on his way home to inquire whether
Possum was going.
"I shall not attend unless I can be assured of a good seat," declared
Possum with much dignity, "for I think my tail entitles me to so much,
"Certainly, I will arrange that," replied Rabbit, with a great show of
deference, "and I shall be glad if you will allow me to send a barber
to comb and dress your beautiful tail so that it may appear to the
On these conditions Possum agreed to attend the dance, and the
Cricket, who was an expert barber, was sent to him with private
instructions. As fast as he combed and brushed the tail, he wrapped it
around with red string to keep it smooth, and no sooner had he
finished his work than Possum hurried away in good spirits.
He found the council house crowded, but all made room for him at once,
and when his turn came he quickly unwrapped his long tail and took the
center of the floor, waving it proudly as he danced. He was greatly
surprised to be greeted with loud peals of laughter. He ventured to
speak of his tail in the accompanying song, and the people laughed
louder than ever. At last, looking down, he discovered that the
Cricket, according to the secret orders he had received, had shaved
that splendid tail to the very roots, and it has remained entirely
bare ever since.
In his great mortification, Possum rolled over on his back helpless,
and this he still does whenever he is taken by surprise.
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