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Why Brother Opossum Has No Hair On His Tail

Among Brother Rabbit's neighbours there was one who was neither his enemy nor his real friend. He was not strong enough to be his enemy, and he was not clever enough to be his friend. It was Brother Opossum. Brother Rabbit wanted to give him some good lessons, because Brother Opossum was a great coward. Besides that, Brother Opossum was very lazy and very greedy. He did not like to work, but he could eat more than anybody else. And if he found a dirty piece of bread on the ground, he picked it up and ate it with great pleasure.

One day Brother Opossum was very, very hungry, and he could not bear it any longer. He wanted to eat some plums. He wanted plums and nothing else. Brother Opossum was very lazy, but he wanted plums so much that he went out to look for some. "The first man whom he met was Brother Rabbit. They sat down by the side of the big road and talked. At last Brother Opossum said:

"I am dying of hunger, Brother Rabbit. I must eat some plums, or I shall die."

Brother Rabbit jumped up, clapped his hands together and said:

"I know where you can get some nice plums, Brother Opossum!"
"Where, Brother Rabbit?"
"In Brother Bear's garden, that's where!"
"But Brother Bear doesn't eat plums."
"No, he doesn't. But he has many plum-trees because he loves honey."
"I know that he loves honey, Brother Rabbit, but I don't understand you."
"Well, there is honey in the flowers on the plum-trees and the bees come to get it. When they fly away, old Brother Bear follows them and finds the bee-tree with the honey in it."

Brother Opossum's mouth began to water, and he went at once to Brother Bear's garden. Soon he was sitting in the highest tree and eating plums.

At the same time Brother Rabbit ran to Brother Bear's house and cried out:

"Brother Bear! Somebody is breaking one of your plum-trees!"

Brother Bear came out of his house at once and ran to his garden.

From time to time Brother Opossum thought that he heard Brother Bear's heavy steps. But each time he said:

"I'll eat one plum more, and then I'll go. One plum more, and then I'll go."

At last he heard Brother Bear's steps near the gate. But again he said:

"One plum more, and then I'll go."

At this moment Brother Bear ran into the garden and began to shake the tree, and Brot tier Opossum fell to the ground together with a lot of ripe plums. When he fell down, he jumped to his feet at once, and ran to the fence, and Brother Bear ran after him. Brother Opossum was already at the fence, but Brother Bear caught him by the tail. Brother Opossum was already on the other side of the fence. So he pulled very hard and pulled his tail out of Brother Bear's mouth! But here is what happened: 'Brother Bear held the tail so tight, and Brother Opossum pulled so hard, that all the hair came off, and remained in Brother Bear's mouth. It almost choked old Brother Bear, but Brother Rabbit was already there with some water in a bucket, and that's why Brother Bear did not choke to death.

From that day Brother Opossum and all his children have no hair on their tails.

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