Ol' Possum and His New Trick

In the early days, all creatures spoke the same language and behaved much like us today. Even the cats and the dogs would talk to each other. They were connected by the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit watched over all with Eagle-Eyes.

One day, Ol’ Possum was coming up on a stream. Bear was there, and he was not in a mighty fine mood. Rabbit humiliated him the week before, and Bear was still upset. Humiliation makes a stomach grumble, so Ol’ Possum would not find Bear very friendly.

Possum saw Bear on the other side of the stream. “Ol’ Possum! Won’t you sit next to me?” To try this, Possum realized Bear must be very hungry.

“Bear! I like my spot right here, and we can talk fine!”

“I cannot hear you, Possum! Come over here!”

“Bear, you’re clever, but not enough! I will not come and be eaten by you!”

Bear was infuriated. He jumped in the stream to swim over, but Possum ran off.

The next day, Bear was waiting by the stream again. Ol’ Possum also came back. He was as thirsty as Bear was hungry. Possum hid in the brush and watched Bear from a distance. Bear had come upon another dead animal and would not eat it. “Hungry though I am, I cannot be a scavenger! I will not eat decaying flesh!”

Ol’ Possum now had an idea! He prepared himself in the bushes. He then wandered into the open and lay down, completely still on his back. Bear saw Possum and looked at him.

“You weren’t dead before! You are dead now though, Possum: you smell like it, wretched! But I am not Vulture!” Bear sighed and away he went. With one eye open, Possum watched until Bear went. He brushed himself off and drank his fill.

Bear wandered back before Ol’ Possum had a chance to get back into place. Bear stopped when he saw Possum. He was bewildered: “You were dead before! But now you’re alive, Ol’ Possum! How?”

“Does it matter, Bear Possum-monger? I am alive now!”

“But I cannot eat you now! You were dead! An animal such as you surely should be held above other creatures and not be eaten!” Bear’s stomach rumbled. “But I am still oh so hungry!”

Possum thought and thought. He again had an idea: he pointed to the nearby bee’s hive and the berries lining the trees. “Bear! You can eat other things besides possums, me, and my friends! I think you would like honey!” And so Bear, curious, began eating the other things of the woods and became an omnivore.

Ol’ Possum went on to try his trick on Wolf, Coyote, and Cougar, and it worked every time. And that is how clever Ol’ Possum became the best actor among all animals—he could do a decent death scene.

Ol' Possum and His New Trick


Joined January 2008

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Artist's Description

This is a legend, one of Old Possum and how he learned to be the greatest actor in the animal kingdom.


animal fable

Artwork Comments

  • Kerbachard
  • Fyfe
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