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      /  Literature   /  The Hare and the Hedgehog
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    The Hare and the Hedgehog

    Grimm Brothers

    One Sunday morning about harvest time, a hedgehog walks to the field. He had not gone very far from home, and was just turning round the sloe-bush which stands there outside the field, to go up into the turnip-field, when he observed the hare who had gone out on business of the same kind, namely, to visit his cabbages. When the hedgehog caught sight of the hare, he bade him a friendly good morning.

    But the hare, who was frightfully haughty, did not return the hedgehog’s greeting, but said to him, “How do you happen to be running about here in the field so early in the morning?” – “I am taking a walk,“ said the hedgehog. “A walk!“ said the hare, with a smile. “It seems to me that you might use your legs for a better purpose.”

    This answer made the hedgehog furiously angry. So, he now said to the hare, “You seem to imagine that you can do more with your legs than I with mine.” –“That is just what I do think,” said the hare. “That can be put to the test,” said the hedgehog. “I wager that if we run a race, I will outstrip you.” – “That is ridiculous!” said the hare, “but for my part I am willing”. hedgehog replied. “Done,” said the hare. “I am still fasting, I will go home first, and have a little breakfast. In half-an-hour I will be back again at this place.“ said the hedgehog.

    So when the hedgehog reached home, he said to his wife, “Wife, dress thyself quickly, thou must go out to the field with me. I have made a wager with the hare, I am to run a race with him, and thou must be present.” – “Good heavens, husband,” the wife now cried, “art thou not right in thy mind?” – “Hold thy tongue, woman,” said the hedgehog, “that is my affair. Be off, dress thyself, and come with me.”

    So when they had set out on their way together, the hedgehog said to his wife, “Now pay attention to what I am going to say. Look you, I will make the long field our race-course. The hare shall run in one furrow, and I in another, and we will begin to run from the top. Now all that thou hast to do is to place thyself here below in the furrow, and when the hare arrives at the end of the furrow, on the other side of thee, thou must cry out to him, ‚I am here already!”

    Then they reached the field, and the hedgehog showed his wife her place, and then walked up the field. When he reached the top, the hare was already there. “Shall we start?” said the hare. “Certainly,” said the hedgehog. “Then both at once.” So saying, each placed himself in his own furrow. The hare counted, “One, two, three, and away!” and went off like a whirlwind down the field. The hedgehog, however, only ran about three paces, and then he stooped down in the furrow, and stayed quietly where he was. When the hare therefore arrived in full career at the lower end of the field, the hedgehog’s wife met him with the cry, “I am here already!”

    The hare was shocked, he thought no other than that it was the hedgehog himself who was calling to him, for the hedgehog’s wife looked just like her husband. The hare, however, thought to himself, “That has not been done fairly,” and cried, “It must be run again, let us have it again.” And once more he went off like the wind in a storm, so that he seemed to fly. But the hedgehog’s wife stayed quietly in her place. So when the hare reached the top of the field, the hedgehog himself cried out to him, “I am here already.“ The hare, however, quite beside himself with anger, cried, “It must be run again, we must have it again.” – “All right,” answered the hedgehog, “for my part we’ll run as often as you choose.”

    So the hare ran seventy-three times more, and the hedgehog always held out against him, and every time the hare reached either the top or the bottom, either the hedgehog or his wife said, “I am here already.”

    At the seventy-fourth time, however, the hare could no longer reach the end. In the middle of the field he fell to the ground, blood streamed out of his mouth, and he lay dead on the spot. But the hedgehog called his wife out of the furrow, and both went home together in great delight, and if they are not dead, they are living there still.