The Rabbit and the ‘Possum each wanted a wife; but no one would marry either one of them. They talked the matter over, and the Rabbit said: “We can’t get wives here. Let’s go to the next settlement. I’m the messenger for the council, and I’ll tell the people that I bring an order that everybody must take a mate at once, and then we’ll be sure to get wives.”
The ‘Possum thought this a fine plan; so they started off together to the next town.
As the Rabbit traveled so much faster, he arrived first, and calmly waited on the outside until the people noticed him, and took him into the house.
When the Chief came to ask him his business, the Rabbit said he brought an important message from the council that everybody must get married without delay.
The Chief called the people together, and delivered the message from the council, whereupon every animal took a mate at once, and the Rabbit got a wife.
The ‘Possum traveled so slowly that all the animals had their weddings before he got there, leaving him still without a wife.
Then the Rabbit pretended to feel sorry for him, and said comfortingly, “Never mind, I’ll carry the message to the people in the next settlement, and you hurry on as fast as you can, and this time you will get your wife.”
So he went on to the next won, and the ‘Possum followed close after him; but, when the Rabbit got to the town-house, he sent out the word that, as there had been peace so long there that everybody was getting lazy and the council had ordered there must be war at once; and they began right in the town-house.
They all began fighting; but the Rabbit made four great leaps and got away just as the ‘Possum came in.
Everybody jumped on the ‘Possum, who had not thought of bringing his weapons with him on a wedding trip, and so could not defend himself. They had nearly beaten the life out of him, when he fell over and pretended to be dead until he saw a good chance to jump up and get away.
The ‘Possum never got a wife. He was always too slow, always behind; but he learned a good lesson which he remembers, and he always shuts his eyes and pretends to be dead when the hunter has him in a close place.
—“Rabbit and the ‘Possum after a Wife,” from Cherokee legends and myths: Appendix to “Junaluska”, by Caroline Hawkins, 1916, online at http://bit.ly/eeoDf4 (Digital Library of Appalachia)