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Home » Children's Stories » Why the Agouti Has No Tail



Why the Agouti Has No Tail

Floella Benjamin


An agouti is a small animal that lives in the West Indies. It looks something like a squirrel, only it doesn't have a tail. A long time ago, however, the agouti did have a fine tail and this is the story of how it lost it.

Once upon a time the dog and the agouti were very good friends and lived together happily. One day Agouti and Dog were lazing in the garden, enjoying the afternoon sun when along came Goat, who was looking very pleased with himself.

"What are you so happy about?" asked Dog.

"I've been invited to a party," replied Goat with satisfaction.

Now, both Dog and Agouti loved parties and when they heard this their ears pricked up.

"What party is this?" said Agouti. "We want to come as well."

"Oh, you can't come," said Goat haughtily. "This party is only for animals which have horns." Then he trotted off with his head in the air. Dog and Agouti looked at each other. Neither of them had horns and that meant that they would definitely not be going to the party.

"Oh, dear," said Dog. "I do love parties; there is always lots of food to eat."

"This has spoilt my whole day," said Agouti, and he went indoors to sulk.

The next day Dog and Agouti went into town. The news of the party had spread and everyone was talking about it, especially the animals with horns.

Apparently, the party was to be held on a small island some distance away. There

was to be a barbecue and lots of rum-punch to drink. All the horned animals were to leave for the island, by boat, the next morning and return in the evening after the party.

"It's not fair," said Dog. "I must find a way to go to the party."

"But you don't have horns," said Agouti. "You would soon be spotted and then there would be trouble."

"Don't worry, I will find a way," said Dog, and he disappeared into the forest, leaving his friend Agouti behind.

Dog walked along a narrow path which led through the trees. He just had to think of a way to get invited to the party, but however hard he thought, he couldn't come up with any ideas.

Suddenly, as he rounded a corner, he saw a pile of old bones in front of him on the path. They were the remains of a cow that had died many years ago. what luck, thought Dog, as he spotted a lovely pair of horns amongst the pile of bones. He picked them up and tied them to his head with a strong piece of vine. Then he rushed home to show his friend Agouti.

But Agouti was not very pleased when he saw Dog with the horns. "It's all right for you. You are large enough to pass as a horned animal. But what about me? I would soon be spotted. There are no horned animals as small as I am. I still can't go to the party." Agouti was more miserable than ever and he sat in a corner and sulked.

The next morning Dog was up bright and early. He tied the horns to his head as tightly as he could. "Come down to the jetty with me, Agouti," he pleaded, "and see if my disguise works."

Reluctantly, Agouti agreed. He was interested to see if Dog could get away with the deception.

The jetty was bustling with horned animals, all wait- for the boat to arrive and take them across to the island. So none of them noticed as Dog, wearing his horns, slipped quietly amongst them.

Agouti watched as Dog climbed aboard the boat and sat down next to Goat. His heart beat faster, as he realized that his best friend was going to get away with the trick and go to the party without him. He was so that, before he could stop himself, he cried out,

"Stop! Stop! There is an imposter aboard."

At this, all the horned animals looked at Dog and saw that he had tricked them. They picked him up angrily threw him into the water.

When Agouti realized what his jealous betrayal had done, he turned and ran as fast as he could, with Dog close on his heels. He ran and ran as fast as his short legs could carry him, but Dog was angry and humiliated-and soon caught up with Agouti, who scurried into a nearby hole. But Agouti wasn't quite fast enough and Dog snapped off his tail as he disappeared down the hole.

Well, needless to say, Dog and Agouti were no longer friends, and if you are ever in the West Indies and you see a dog scratching and barking at a hole, it is probably because there is an agouti down there. That is how the agouti lost its tail.


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