Gateway to the Classics: The Red Indian Fairy Book by Frances Jenkins Olcott
The Red Indian Fairy Book by  Frances Jenkins Olcott

How Master Rabbit Went Fishing


In old times, Master Rabbit lived with his grandmother in a comfortable little wigwam. In Summer it was easy for him to get food, but when Winter came and the ice was thick on the river, and the snow was deep on the plain, he and his grandmother often went hungry.

One cold day Master Rabbit was running through the forest looking for something to eat, and by and by he came to a lonely wigwam on the bank of a river. A smooth path of ice slanted from the door down to the water. And inside the wigwam sat the Otter.

Master Rabbit went in, and the Otter welcomed him, and told his daughter to get the fire ready to cook the dinner. Then the Otter took from the wall his hooks on which he strung Fish, and went to fetch a mess. He sat on the top of the icy slide and, coasting down it, plunged under the water. Soon he came back with a great bunch of Eels strung on his hooks. His daughter dressed the Eels, and cooked them, and they all sat down to eat.

"Hi! Ho!" thought Master Rabbit, "but that is an easy way to get a living! I am clever, so why can't I do the same thing as well as this Otter? Of course I can! I'll try!" So he invited the Otter to dine with him in three days, and went home.

The next morning, Master Rabbit said to his grandmother, "Come, let us move our wigwam down to the lake." So they moved it, and he chose a spot close to the edge of the shore. Then he made a nice slide of ice, like the Otter's, from the door of the wigwam down to the water.

On the third day the Otter came, and entered the wigwam. Master Rabbit welcomed him, and told his grandmother to get the fire ready to cook the dinner.

"What am I to cook, Grandson?" asked she.

"I'll see to that," said he. And he took from the wall a stick on which to string Eels.

Then he sat on the slide and tried to coast down it, but he did not know how. First he went to the right, then he went to the left, then he spun around. After that he shot down the slide, and went head over heels into the water. There he lost his breath; and the water was cold, and he was almost drowned.

"What strange thing is he trying to do?" asked the Otter.

"He must have seen some one do that," said the grandmother, with surprise, "and is trying to do the same thing."

"Is that all!" said the Otter. Then he called out to Master Rabbit, "Hi! Ho! Come out of there, and give me your Eel stick!"


So poor Master Rabbit came creeping out of the water, sputtering, shivering, and almost frozen. He limped into the wigwam, and his grandmother dried his fur, and warmed him by the fire.

As for the Otter, he plunged into the lake, and soon returned with a load of Fish. He threw them down on the floor, and went off in disgust, without waiting for dinner.

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