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[065] How Deer Got His Horns

How the Deer Got His Horns

How the Deer Got His Horns

_Cherokee_

Long ago, in the beginning, Deer had no horns. His head was smooth like a doe's. Now Deer was a very fast runner, but Rabbit was a famous jumper. So the animals used to talk about it and wonder which could go the farther in the same time. They talked about it a great deal. They decided to have a race between the two, and they made a pair of large antlers to be given to whoever could run the faster. Deer and Rabbit were to start together from one side of a thicket, go through it, and then turn and come back. The one who came out of the thicket first was to receive the horns.

On a certain day all the animals were there. They put the antlers down on the ground to mark the starting point. Everyone admired the horns. But Rabbit said, "I don't know this part of the country; I want to look through the bushes where I am to run."

So the Rabbit went into the thicket, and stayed a long time. He was gone so long the animals suspected he was playing a trick. They sent a messenger after him. Right in the middle of the thicket he found Rabbit, gnawing down the bushes and pulling them away to make a clear road for himself.

The messenger came back quietly and told the animals. When Rabbit came back, they accused him of cheating. Rabbit said, "No," but at last they all went into the thicket and found the road he had made. Therefore the animals gave the antlers to Deer, saying that he was the better runner. That is why deer have antlers. And because Rabbit cut the bushes down, he is obliged to keep cutting them down, as he does to this day.

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