There was a rabbit who enjoyed playing tricks on other animals.
One day as he was walking in the woods, near the sea he came across a huge elephant pulling out and eating leaves from a tree.
“How are you, Mr Elephant?” he called out. “ My, how much you eat!”
“That’s because I’m so big,” replied the elephant. “ Small animals like you don’t need much food, but large and powerful animals like me need a lot!”
“Large you certainly are!” said the rabbit, “but powerful…?”
“You don’t think I’m powerful?” asked the elephant, sounding surprised, and also a little annoyed.
“I’m sure you are" said the rabbit. "But are you more powerful than me?”
The elephant thought he had not heard right.
The elephant doubled up with laughter.
“You’re laughing because you don’t know how strong I am,” said the rabbit. “If you let me tie a rope around your middle, I’ll drag you into the sea.”
“Drag me into the sea?!” laughed the elephant. “Hoo-hooo – hoooo!!
Well, go ahead! Tie a rope around me and let me sea how far you can pull me!”
The rabbit tied a thick rope around the elephant’s body.
“When you feel a tug on the rope, be ready to pull,” he said, “or you’ll be dragged into the sea before you know what’s happening!”
“Please don’t pull too hard,” mocked the elephant.
The rabbit ran to the seashore with the other end of the rope.
He saw a whale swimming some distance away, and called out to it. When the whale drew near he said, “Mr Whale you’re so big but are you strong?”
“I’m the strongest animal on earth!” bellowed the whale.
“I’ll show you how wrong you are,” said the rabbit.” Let me tie this rope around your middle.”
“I’ll drag you ashore.”
The whale doubled up with laughter.
“All right, go ahead,” he giggled.” Tie your rope around me and pull me out!”
The rabbit tied the rope securely around the whale’s middle. Then he ran ashore and rushing into the woods, hid behind a tree and shouted,
The elephant, intending to throw the rabbit high into the sky to frighten him, wrapped his trunk around the rope and gave a mighty heave upwards. The whale countered with a tug that almost brought the elephant to his knees. The two animals, hidden from each other’s sight
by the trees in between, marveled at the strength of the rabbit. They pulled and heaved and exerted their strength to the utmost, but neither could get the better of the other. Finally the rope broke and the two animals fled in opposite directions.
From then on whenever the elephant saw the rabbit, he would quickly hide himself or run away, to the great amusement of the rabbit.
Adapted from a West African Folktale.