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

Why the Hare's Nose is Slit

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“Then Men looked at each other and shivered. All of a sudden the flesh on their arms was like goose-flesh. ‘What shall we do? What is this message that the Lady Moon has sent? “As I die and, dying, perish, so shall you also die and come wholly to an end.”’

“They shivered again, and the goose-flesh crept right up their backs and into their hair, and their hair began to rise up on their heads just like—ach no, but Outa forgets, these baasjes don’t know how it is to feel so.” And the wide smile which accompanied these words hid the expression of sly teasing which sparkled in Outa’s dancing black eyes, for he knew what it was to be taken to task for impugning the courage of his young listeners.

“But Neef Haasje did not care. He danced away on his behind legs, and laughed and laughed to think how he had cheated Men.

“Then he returned again to the Moon, and she asked: ‘What have you said to Men?’

“‘O, Lady Moon, I have given them your message: “Like as I die and, dying, perish, so also shall you die and come wholly to an end,” and they are all stiff with fright. Ha! ha! ha!’ Haasje laughed at the thought of it.

“‘What! cried the Lady Moon, ‘what! did you tell them that? Child of the devil’s donkey! you must be punished.’

“Ach, but the Lady Moon was very angry. She took a big stick, a kierie—much bigger than the one Outa used to kill lions with when he was young—and if she could have hit him, then”—Outa shook his head hopelessly—“there would have been no more Little Hare: his head would have been cracked right through. But he is a slim kerel. When he saw the big stick coming near, one, two, three, he ducked and slipped away, and it caught him only on the nose.

“Foei! but it was sore! Neef Haasje forgot that the Moon was a Lady. He yelled and screamed; he jumped high into the air; he jumped with all his four feet at once; and—scratch, scratch, scratch, he was kicking, and hitting and clawing the Moon’s face till the pieces flew.

“Then he felt better and ran away as hard as he could, holding his broken nose with both hands.

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