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Main > South African folktales > Fairy tale "Why the Hare's Nose is Slit"

Why the Hare's Nose is Slit

Then one night a silver horn hangs in the sky—thin, very thin. It is the new Moon that grows, and grows, and gets beautiful and golden.” By the aid of the small claw-like hands the moon grew to the full before the children’s interested eyes. “And so it goes on, always living, and growing, and dying, and living again.

“So the Lady Moon pinched old Oom Crocodile’s tail, and he gave one jump and off he started with the message. He went quickly while the Moon watched him, but soon he came to a bend in the road. Round he went with a great turn, for a Crocodile’s back is stiff like a plank, he can’t bend it; and then, when he thought he was out of sight, he went slower and slower—drif-draf-drippity-drif-draf, drif-draf-drippity-drif-draf, like a knee-haltered horse. He was toch too lazy.

“All of a sudden there was a noise—sh-h-h-h-h—and there was the Little Hare. ‘Ha! ha! ha!’ he laughed, ‘what is the meaning of this drif-draf-drippity-drif-draf? Where are you going in such a hurry, Oom Crocodile?’

“‘I can’t stop to speak to you, Neef Haasje,’ said Oom Crocodile, trying to look busy and to hurry up. ‘The Lady Moon has sent me with a message to Men.’

“‘And what is the message, Oom Crocodile?’

“‘It’s a very important one: “As I die and, dying, live, so also shall you die and, dying, live.”’

“‘Ach, but that is a stupid message. And you can’t ever run, Oom, you are so slow. You can only go drif-draf-drippity-drif-draf like a knee-haltered horse, but I go sh-h-h-h-h like the wind. Give the message to me and I will take it.’

“‘Very well,’ said the lazy Crocodile, ‘but you must say it over first and get it right.’

“So Neef Haasje said the message over and over, and then—sh-h-h-h-h—he was off like the wind. Here he was! there he was! and you could only see the white of his tail and his little behind legs getting small in the distance.

“At last he came to Men, and he called them together and said: ‘Listen, Sons of the Baboon, a wise man comes with a message. By the Lady Moon I am sent to tell you: “As I die and, dying, perish, so shall you also die and come wholly to an end.

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