Fairy Tales and Other Traditional Stories


“The Story of Little Tavwots”

by Mary Hunter Austin
Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1904
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Source: Austin, M. (1904), How to Tell Stories to Children, and Some Stories to Tell. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 3.8
  • Word Count: 501


This is the story an Indian woman told a little white boy who lived with his father and mother near the Indians’ country; and Tavwots is the name of the little rabbit.

But once, long ago, Tavwots was not little,—he was the largest of all four-footed things, and a mighty hunter. He used to hunt every day; as soon as it was day, and light enough to see, he used to get up, and go to his hunting. But every day he saw the track of a great foot on the trail, before him. This troubled him, for his pride was as big as his body.

“Who is this,” he cried, “that goes before me to the hunting, and makes so great a stride? Does he think to put me to shame?”

“T’-sst!” said his mother, “there is none greater than thou.”

“Still, there are the footprints in the trail,” said Tavwots.

And the next morning he got up earlier; but still the great footprints and the mighty stride were before him. The next morning he got up still earlier; but there were the mighty foot-tracks and the long, long stride.

“Now I will set me a trap for this impudent fellow,” said Tavwots, for he was very cunning. So he made a snare of his bowstring and set it in the trail overnight.

And when in the morning he went to look, behold, he had caught the sun in his snare! All that part of the earth was beginning to smoke with the heat of it.

“Is it you who made the tracks in my trail?” cried Tavwots.

“It is I,” said the sun; “come and set me free, before the whole earth is afire.”

Then Tavwots saw what he had to do, and he drew his sharp hunting-knife and ran to cut the bowstring. But the heat was so great that he ran back before he had done it; and when he ran back he was melted down to half his size! Then the earth began to burn, and the smoke curled up against the sky.

“Come again, Tavwots,” cried the sun.

And Tavwots ran again to cut the bowstring. But the heat was so great that he ran back before he had done it, and he was melted down to a quarter of his size!

“Come again, Tavwots, and quickly,” cried the sun, “or all the world will be burnt up.”

And Tavwots ran again; this time he cut the bowstring and set the sun free. But when he got back he was melted down to the size he is now! Only one thing is left of all his greatness: you may still see by the print of his feet as he leaps in the trail, how great his stride was when he caught the sun in his snare.