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One day a little rabbit was running along on the sand, lippety, lippety, when he saw the whale and the elephant talking together. The little rabbit crouched down to listen and this was what they were saying:
“You are the biggest thing on the land, brother elephant,” said the whale, “and I am the biggest thing in the sea; if we join together we can rule all the animals in the world, and have our way about everything.”
“Very good, very good,” said the elephant; “I like that; let’s do it.”
The smart little rabbit said to himself. “They won’t rule me!” He then ran away and got a very long, very strong rope, and he got his big drum, and hid the drum a long way off in the bushes. Then he went back and hopped along the beach till he came to the whale.
“Oh, please, dear, strong whale,” he said, “will you do me a favor? My cow is stuck in the mud, a long way from here. And I can’t pull her out. But you are so strong and powerful it would be easy for you. Will you will help me out?”
The whale was so pleased with the compliment that he said, “Yes,” at once.
“Great, thank you” said the rabbit, “I will tie this end of my long rope to you, and I will run away and tie the other end around my cow, and when I am ready I will beat my big drum. When you hear my drum, pull very, very hard, because the cow is stuck very deep in the mud.”
“Huh!” grunted the Whale, “I’ll pull her out, even if she is sunk to the horns.”
The little rabbit then tied the rope-end to the whale, and ran off, lippety, lippety, till he came to the place where the elephant was.
“Oh, please, mighty elephant,” the rabbit said, making a very low bow “will you do me a favor?”
“What is it?” asked the elephant.
“My cow is stuck in the mud, a long way from here,” said the little rabbit, “and I cannot pull her out. But with your great strength it would be easy for you. Would you be so kind as to help me?”
“Certainly,” said the elephant confidently.
“Then,” said the little rabbit, “I will tie one end of this long rope to your trunk, and the other to my cow, and as soon as I have tied her tightly I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull; pull as hard as you can, for my cow is very heavy.”
“Never fear,” said the elephant, “I could pull twenty cows.”
“I am sure you could,” said the rabbit, politely,”only be sure to begin gently, and pull harder and harder till you get her.”
Then he tied the end of the rope tightly round the Elephant’s trunk, and ran away into the bushes. There he sat down and beat the big drum.
The whale began to pull, and the elephant began to pull, and in a jiffy the rope tightened till it was stretched as hard as could be.
“This is a remarkably heavy cow,” said the elephant; “but I’ll save her!” And he braced his front feet in the earth, and gave a tremendous pull.
“Oh my!” said the whale. “That cow must be stuck mighty tight;” and he drove his tail deep in the water, and gave a great pull.
The whale pulled harder; the elephant pulled harder. Pretty soon the whale found himself sliding toward the land. The reason was, of course, that the elephant had something solid to brace against, and, too, as fast as he pulled the rope in a little, he took a turn with it round his trunk!
But when the whale found himself sliding toward the land he was so provoked with the cow that he dove head first, down to the bottom of the sea. What a powerful pull! The elephant was jerked off his feet, and came slipping and sliding to the beach, and into the surf. He was terribly angry. He braced himself with all his might, and pulled his best. At the jerk, up came the whale out of the water.
“Who is pulling me?” spouted the whale.
“who is pulling me?” trumpeted the Elephant.
Then each saw the rope in the other’s hold.
“I’ll teach you to play tricks with me!” roared the elephant.
“I’ll teach you not to fool with me!” yelled the whale. And they began to pull again. But this time the rope broke, the whale turned a somersault, and the elephant fell over backwards.
At that, they were both so ashamed that neither would speak to the other. So that broke up the bargain between them.
And the little rabbit sat in the bushes and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.