Rabbit Steals Fire

In ancient times there was no fire. It exhisted only on the other side of the ocean to the east. The people came togeather and said, "How shall we obtain fire?" Big Man-eater said, "I can bring it." So he started off. He jumped into the ocean. But was never seen again. Rabbit said, "I can bring the fire." No one else knows how, but I know how to bring it back." So he started off.

When he got to the ocean, he pulled off his shirt and threw it down. He placed wooden sticks on it. Then he sat on it and crossed the water. The people who had the fire welcomed Rabbit and gave him a dance to celebrate his coming. Rabbit entered the dancing square wearing a cap into which he had stuck four sticks of pine resin. The dancers danced nearer and nearer the sacred fire. Rabbit also bowed lower and lower to the fire. Suddenly, as he bent very low, the sticks of resin caught fire. His head burst into flame. When the people saw what happened, they cried, "He has dared to touch the sacred fire. Catch him." They grabbed at the Rabbit. But Rabbit ran away, with the people chasing him. When he got to the great water, he plunged in and swam away from the people. who could only watch from the shore.

Rabbit swam all the way across the ocean with the flames blazing from his cap and returned to his people and gave them fire. After the people had gotten the fire from the people across the ocean, they were forbidden to build a fire except in the Busk (ceremonial) ground. It was customary to build a fire when there was a dance. Rabbit heard about the dance and thought, "I will steal fire from the Busk ground." This time he rubbed his head with pine resin to make his hair stand up. Then he went down to the Busk ground where many people had gathered. When they saw Rabbit they said, " You must lead the dance." Rabbit agreed. He began singing as he danced around the fire, with many people following him. They all danced harder and harder as Rabbit circled closer and closer to the fire. Suddenly he poked his head into the fire. His head blazed up, and Rabbit ran. The people shouted, "Hulloa! Catch Him."But Rabbit disappeared.

The people made it rain for four days. "That is long enough to put out the fire Rabbit has stolen," they said. But the Rabbit had built a fire in a hollow tree and stayed there while it rained. When the rain stopped, he came out and set fires all around. Again it rained, and the fires were put out. But the Rabbit again had built a fire inside a hollow tree. The next time the rain stopped and Rabbit set fires all around, the people took the fires and ran off with them. This is how Rabbit stole the fire from the Busk ground and scattered it so all the people could have fire.