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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "The Beekeeper & the Bewitched Hare"

The Beekeeper & the Bewitched Hare

ACROSS FROM A MOOR IN SCOTLAND there once lived a lad who earned his living as a beekeeper. Though he lived by himself in a cottage he wasn't at all lonely, maybe because he felt a connection with his bees. In warm weather when heather blooms covered the moor, the bees buzzed about with a satisfied kind of hum, sipping nectar wherever they liked, and he felt happy for them. In late fall when wildflowers became scarce, their buzzing became more erratic and he understood their anxiety. Sometimes the lad complimented his bees on an especially large batch of honey, and they seemed to buzz about in pleasure and pride. Folks in town said the lad could talk to the bees. Of course that couldn't be true, but in a way he felt they knew each other very well.

One evening as he was checking his beehives, two hounds suddenly appeared from across the moor, barking wildly, and dashing directly toward him. The object of their chase soon became apparent when a white hare leapt out of the heather into his arms. Quickly the lad tucked the terrified animal under his jacket. The two hounds circled his legs, barking angrily. He picked up a stick and swung it around; eventually the dogs gave up and bounded away.

When the dogs disappeared from view, the lad set the hare back on the ground and returned to work. But instead of hopping into the thicket, the hare followed him, twitching its nose and eyeing him steadily. He went inside his cottage and the hare ambled in behind him.

"Well now, you act like you want to be my pet," he said. "It looks like you expect dinner. I suppose I might have a carrot for you." He let the hare nibble on a carrot while he scooped some stew into a bowl for his own dinner.

When they had both finished, the hare jumped onto his lap and he stroked its head and ears. "Ooch!" he said with surprise. "I've seen black or pink eyes on a white hare, but how did you get those blue eyes?" The hare responded by stretching its back for more petting.

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