Why Little Hare has such a Short Tail
Old Hendrik was standing by the corner of the house, milking pail in hand, watching the slow procession of the cows homeward from the veldt. The calves in the kraal clamoured insistently to hasten their mammies home; those mammies answered now and then with a patient bellow of assurance as they continued their placid pace, and Old Hendrik seemed to be as vacant of thought or stir as they. But when little Annie came strolling out to enjoy the never-staling delight of seeing the headlong rush of each calf in turn to its mammy, the old Hottentot looked down at her and begun without further warning. “Ole King Lion had five cows, an’ t’ree o’ dem was wild an’ wand’ry.”
“Oh!” cried Annie, “I never heard of that. And what did he do with them, Ou’ Ta’?”
“Why, milk ’em, o’ course,” returned Old Hendrik. “What else? An’ some o’ de milk his ole missis an’ de kleinkies drink, an’ some he drink hisse’f. De rest he make de butter wid to grease all deir ole noses.”
“Oh, how funny!” cried Annie in huge delight. “And did he mind them himself?”
“Course not!” retorted Hendrik, a little scornfully. “Ain’t he a king? Kings don’t mind cows. Not him. He yust make all de animals try deir turn at it, but dese t’ree wand’ry ones dey’d keep gettin’ away, an’ den de animal dat come home wid dem t’ree missin’—well, he’d be a-missin’ too, an’ Ole King Lion he’d be dat much fatter.
“Well, it come Little Hahsie’s turn at last—Klein Hahsie, dat you call Little Hare, dat skellum Little Hare—but he yust prance out behind dem cows in de mawnin’ wid a high ole hop an a skip. He’d show ’em about mindin’ five bally ole cows, he would, ses he. He sticks a green twig in his mouf, an’ he biffs his ole hat down over his eyes, an’ he gets dem cows down in a hook o’ de river an’ squots down on a little koppiekie to watch ’em, all nice an’ all right. ‘Mind five ole cows,’ ses he; ‘by de jimminy, gi’e me sometin’ easier—if dere is any.’
“Well, it did look all serene-o, wid him dis side of ’em an’ de river bent all round ’em on de oder sides, an’ plenty o’ grass an’ water an’ nice trees about.