Monday, January 28, 2013

How The Rabbit Brought The Easter Eggs

(Translated from the German)

      Once upon a time, many years ago, Spring had come back to the earth, and after a long, hard fight with sturdy, old Winter, had succeeded in driving him up into the mountains with his ice and snow.
      Then Spring walked through the bare woods, and under his feet little blades of green grass spring up, violets and anemones opened their dainty flowers, and out of the ground crept thousands of insects, rubbing their eyes after their long winter's sleep.
      Spring touched the trees, and at once the buds burst open and tender little leaves and blossoms peeped out of their warm winter covering. Soon large flocks of birds returned from the south, joyously greeted their old friends who had stayed at home and braved the cold winter. 
      Spring smiled as he looked around in his happy little world. Then he said to himself:
      "Everything is ready for the great reception, but where are the people? They do not seem to know that I have chased the cold Winter away. Probably they are still sitting around their stoves waiting for him to go. I must send word and invite them to come out."
      He called a little bird who was hopping near him with a bit of wood in his beak and said to him:
      "Birdie, I want you to be my messenger. Fly to the city and tell the people that we are waiting for them to go out into the wood and have a happy day with us."
      But the little bird said:
      "Dear Spring, I thank you very much for the honor, and should be only too happy to carry your message, but my little wife and I have just commenced to build my nest, and if I leave it now the wind will blow it all to pieces, for my wife is not strong enough to go building it alone."
      "Well, go and finish your nest," said Spring, kindly, and called another bird who had, he knew, finished his nest, and told him of the message he wanted him to carry.
      "Will you not excuse me, kind Spring?" asked the little bird. "We have seven beautiful eggs in our nest, and my wife is hatching them. If I go away she would starve to death, for she wouldn't leave eggs a minute to get something to eat."
      Spring spoke to two or three other birds, but he found it was the same with all of them. They were all busy with their own affairs, and he was too kind to send them away when they were so much needed in their homes. He looked around for another messenger when a rabbit ran across his path. 
      "Stop, little fellow," he cried. "Come here; I want you." He explained to him on what errand he wanted him to go. If you have ever seen a rabbit in the open field you know that he is the most timid fellow that ever was. At the least noise he starts off on a run and never stops until he reaches his home.
      He trembled all over when Spring spoke to him, and his voice shook as he said:
      "Oh, please, dear Spring, do not send me to the city. You know how many of my friends people kill every year with their terrible guns. I know some one will shoot me before I have even had time to deliver your message, and then what good will it do you?"
      "What a little coward you are!" laughed Spring. "But you need not talk to the big people at all; you can tell the dear little children. You are not afraid of them, are you?"
      "Oh, yes," sobbed the poor little rabbit. "They will throw stones at me and hurt me. I'm so afraid, please don't make me go!"
      "No, no, dear little Bunny; I cannot excuse you. But I won't let anybody hurt you. I have and idea! Come along with me and I will tell you."
      And they walked down to the brook, the rabbit trotting by his side, still trembling. He cut tender little twigs from the willow trees, wove a pretty little basket, and lined it with soft moss. Then he went back into the woods and looked into the all the bird's nests, and when he found one full of eggs he took one little egg out and laid it carefully in the basket.
      There were white eggs, there were brown ones, and there were eggs of sky blue. The robin gave one of her five blue eggs; the sparrow one of her brown speckled eggs; the woodpecker one of her white eggs, and the catbird a greenish blue one. Then Spring cut some pussy willow branches, placed them on top of the eggs, and tied the basket on the back of the rabbit, who had been looking on wonderingly.
      "Now, my little Bunny, we are ready to send our message. When night comes you run down to the city. Everybody will be asleep, so no one will see you. If you hurry, you can get back her before morning. You will not have to say a word; but on the doorstep of each house lay down one of these twigs of pussy willow and a little egg, and I'm sure all the people will understand what we wish to tell them."
      The rabbit nodded. He was not afraid to do that. He did as Spring told him.
      Next morning there was great joy in the city.
      "Papa, mamma, see what we have found." the happy children shouted. "The pussy willows are out; the birds have come back. Spring must be here. "Oh, let's go out to the woods."
      Everybody went, and such a happy time they had, gathering flowers and listening to the birds. This was Easter time. (The Washington Times, Sunday, April 23, 1905 - transcribed by Kathy Grimm)

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