by Mary Waddell
ONE day Nina ran across the field, crawled through -an' old rail fence, andhad a great time playing in the border of the forest. After a while shefelt tired and sat down by a little tree near the fence.Just then a,rabbit hopped by and disappeared through the underbrush. Resting herhead on her knees, -Nina sang- softly to herself:
'The raccoon had a busy tail,
The possum's tall was bare,
The rabbit didn't have any tail at all
Just a little bunch of hair,
Just a little-bunch-of-'
SuddenlyMr. and Mrs. Rabbit, and Jack and Bunny Rabbit and several of theirfriends appeared before her.-Mr. Rabbit too ok off his hat and bowed,and Mrs. Rabbit bowed also. Bunny's's curiosity-led him nearer: thanthe others, but be was ready for flight at any moment. They all lookedso funny that Nina laughed.
"Why how do you do, Mr. Rabbit, and Mrs. Rabbit, and Jack andBunny all the rest," she said. "I am very glad to see you I am sure;but pray tell me why I am ho honored by this visit?"
Mr. Rabbit bowed again and said: "We chanced to be passingby on the other side of the fence when we heard you singing about ourtails. Jack and Bunny urged us to stop and explain to you how we happento have 'just a little bunch of hair' instead of a bushy tail like theracoon, or a long slick cl-one like the 'possum."
"Indeed, I shall be very glad to know. I have often wonder about it-but won't you all sit down while you talk?
"Oh,-no, thank you," replied Mrs. Rabbit. "I'm afraid we'd muss ourclothes. The grass is getting damp and-Jack! Ho many times must I tellyou to stop that sniffing! You should break yourself of such a badhabit."
"Well," said Mr. Rabbit, as he took a bite from acabbage leaf he carried in his pocket, "it was many, many years agothat all rabbits had longer tails than the 'possum, and a mor bushy onethan the racoon. One of my ancestors met with very serious and painfulaccident one day. He- was hopping along through the fields when hislong bushy tail collected s many burs from the plants growing there,that it became ver heavy and cumbersome, indeed. He was just trying tothin of some plan to get rid of the burs when all at once a fierce docame bouncing toward him. My noble ancestor ran as fast he could; butwhat chance for escape had he with that heavy tail dragging alongbehind him? the dog kept getting closer and closer till at last itgrabbed the tail at no great distance from the body. The rabbit,however, did not wait. It was ver painful of course; but when he lookedback and saw the do with a part of the tail in his mouth and the reststuck tight t the fur on his face, he just hopped for joy. The weightbeing gone he was able to escape with ease.
"When all the other rabbits found how fast myancestors could travel, they were filled with envy. They began at on tohold conventions to discuss ways by which they might r move theirtails."
"Why couldn't they get the dog to bite theirs off, too asked Nina.
"Mydear girl," said Mrs. Rabbit, while Jack and Bunny snickered, "such athing- was impossible. That dog choked t death on the burs, and allother dogs refused to attempt it. they could not get beyond the tail,they gave up the chase."
"Go on," urged Bunny. "Tell her what they didnext." "Well," continued Mr. Rabbit, "they tried all kinds of thing Onefellow left his tail sticking out in the cold at night, hoping it wouldfreeze off; but it only fluffed the more when war weather came. I cannot tell you all the things they did, b some got all the hair off, andothers made theirs sore. At last however, one wise rabbit thought ofsoaking his in a jar of whisky."
"What did that do?" asked Nina.
"Why,the whisky burnt up all that could be kept in the vessel. just a littlenext to the body was left. That is why the little bunch of hair isstill there!"
"Did you all fix your tails that way?"
"O,no indeed! That was a long, long time ago; but it became the style andwas done so much that after a while all rabbits ceased to have tails.It was a good thing any way for-"
"O my! Where am I? Oh! My neck hurts. I thinkI've been asleep." jumping up, Nina ran home as fast as she could totell her mother about her strange dream. "Why do you suppose I dreamedabout burning tails off with whisky, Mother?" she asked.
"Perhaps it was because I had been reading to you about the effects of alcohol on the body."
"O,I remember now. Our bodies are made of little bits of things calledcells. Every time any one drinks whisky, the alcohol in it burns someof them up and they stay burned always."
"Yes; and the more cells there are destroyed,the weaker the body becomes. It is very easy then to take some disease.In your dream, only that part of the rabbit's tail that was coveredwith whisky was burned; but alcohol on the inside goes through allparts of the body."
"Mother, why don't our country make people quit drinking?"
"There is a law against it, Nina; but the law will do no good unless people are compelled to obey it."
"If I learn to respect and obey you, it will be easier to obey the laws of the country, won't it, Mother?
"Yes, dear. To be a good child or citizen is a great thing. I hope-Nina, what are you laughing at?"
"I beg your pardon, Mother, I was listening to you, but Ijust happened to think about how funny the rabbits looked.
Published by the Licoln-Lee Legion, Westerville Ohio
Copyright, 1922. The American Issue Publishing Co.
A hard copy of this story can be found at the Anti-Saloon League Museum: ID Number: Story.
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