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Why There Is A Hare In The Moon






Source: The Book Of Nature Myths

Many strange things happened long ago, and one of them was that a hare,
a monkey, and a fox agreed to live together. They talked about their
plan a long time. Then the hare said, "I promise to help the monkey and
the fox." The monkey declared, "I promise to help the fox and the hare."
The fox said, "I promise to help the hare and the monkey." They shook
hands, or rather shook paws. There was something else to which they
agreed, and that was that they would kill no living creature.

The manito was much pleased when he heard of this plan, but he said to
himself, "I should like to make sure that what I have heard is true, and
that they are really gentle and kind to others as well as to themselves.
I will go to the forest and see how they behave toward strangers."

The manito appeared before the three animals, but they thought he was a
hunter. "May I come into your lodge and rest?" he asked. "I am very
weary."

All three came toward him and gave him a welcome. "Come into our lodge,"
they said. "We have agreed to help one another, so we will help one
another to help you."

"I have been hungry all day," said the manito, "but I should rather have
such a welcome than food."

"But if you are hungry, you must have food," declared the three animals.
"If there were anything in our lodge that you would care to eat, you
might have part of it or all of it, but there is nothing here that you
would like."

Then said the monkey, "I have a plan. I will go out into the forest and
find you some food."

When the monkey came back, he said, "I found a tree with some fruit on
it. I climbed it and shook it, and here is the fruit. There was only a
little of it, for fruit was scarce."

"Will you not eat part of it yourself?" asked the manito.

"No," answered the monkey. "I had rather see you eat it, for I think you
are more hungry than I."

The manito wished to know whether the fox and the hare would behave as
unselfishly toward him, and he said, "My good friends, the fruit was
indeed welcome, but I am still hungry."

Then the fox said, "I will go out into the forest and see what I can
find for you."

When the fox came back, he said, "I shook the trees, but no more fruit
fell. I could not climb the trees, for my paws are not made for
climbing, but I searched on the ground, and at last I found some hominy
that a traveler had left, and I have brought you that."

The manito had soon eaten the hominy. He wished to know whether the hare
would behave as kindly as the others, and before long he said, "My good
friends, the hominy was indeed welcome, but I am still hungry."

Then the hare said, "I will gladly go out into the forest and search for
food." He was gone a long time, but when he came back, he brought no
food.

"I am very hungry," said the manito.

"Stranger," said the hare, "if you will build a fire beside the rock, I
can give you some food."

The manito built a fire, and the hare said, "Now I will spring from the
top of the rock upon the fire. I have heard that men eat flesh, that is
taken from the fire, and I will give you my own."

The hare sprang from the rock, but the manito caught him in his hands
before the flame could touch him, and said, "Dear, unselfish little
hare, the monkey and the fox have welcomed me and searched the forest
through to find me food, but you have done more, for you have given me
yourself. I will take the gift, little hare, and I will carry you in my
arms up to the moon, so that every one on the earth may see you and hear
the tale of your kindness and unselfishness."



The Indians can see a hare in the moon, and this is the story that they
tell their children about it.





Next: The Children In The Moon

Previous: Why All Men Love The Moon



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