The Rabbit and the Jaguar

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The Rabbit and the Jaguar

A Mexican folk tale told by David Heathfield


There lived once, an old man and an old woman. And all they had in the world was one rabbit and one jaguar.

They kept the rabbit in a cage.

One day, the Jaguar came to the cage: ‘Oh, Rabbit..? Conejo..? The old man and the old woman are preparing a pan of hot water. They are going to boil you. They are going to eat you. They are going to give some to me.’  

‘Oh no,’ said Conejo. ‘No indeed. They are going to make hot chocolate. And if you come in the cage with me, they will bring some for you, Jaguar.’

Jaguar opened the door of the cage and slinked inside. With a hop and a skip, Rabbit was out of the cage and away through the door of the house.

JaguarJaguar waited there, and waited there, and waited there some more…

‘I’ve been tricked! There is no hot chocolate!’

Jaguar leapt out of the cage and out through the door, and through the forest he went looking for where Conejo had gone. He went through the forest until he came to the mountain. And there in the side of the mountain was a cave. Inside the cave, there was Conejo.

‘You tricked me! You, Conejo!’

‘Who, I?’ said Conejo. ‘You must be talking about some other rabbit. I am making my house here. But see how I am holding up the walls? If I do not hold them up, they will fall down. I must go and find a stick to prop up the walls. Jaguar, would you not help me by putting your paws against the wall of my house?’

Jaguar slinked into the cave and put his strong paws against the wall of the cave.

With a hop and a skip, Conejo was out of the cave and away into the forest.

Jaguar waited there, and waited there, and waited there some more.

He waited there, and he waited there, longer than before…

‘I’ve been tricked!’

Jaguar leapt out of the cave and away through the forest, looking for Conejo. He could not find him.

He stopped and listened. He could hear Conejo laughing – ‘ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee!’ – at how he had tricked Jaguar.

Jaguar crept closer and spied Conejo. He was hanging from an elastic vine, bouncing up and down, laughing with glee.

Jaguar prepared to pounce…

He leapt through the air and landed with his paws upon Conejo, pressing him down to the ground. But Conejo he wriggled and wriggled, and between Jaguar’s paws he squeezed and popped with the spring of the elastic flying high into the air – high, high into the sky he flew, until Conejo landed on the moon. And there Conejo remains: lying on his back on the moon. And they say, in Mayan culture, that if you gaze up at the moon when it is full and red, you see Conejo there still, lying on his back and laughing at how he tricked Jaguar.