After all those humans we had the last two days and the demon on top yesterday, let’s go back to lovely animal tales today.
A Rabbit with Horns
(by Jean de La Fontaine)
On a beautiful summer morning a little rabbit was enjoying the sun in a small clearance which was surrounded by thick bushes. Here the rabbit felt safe. Happily it hopped over a few tufts of heathen, it ran around carefree and wallowed contentedly in the sun-warm sand. It was almost bursting with love for life and happiness.But suddenly the rabbit duck down into a small hollow in the ground. A stag jumped over the bushes and right afterwards a ram followed. And then a heavy bull also disrespectfully trampled right through the sunny morning realm of the little rabbit.
“What a rude lot,” cried the rabbit, “ruining my beautiful morning like this!” At it had just gotten back onto its feet, a goat jumped over the bushes. “Stop!” yelled the rabbit. “What is the meaning of this, where are you all running to?”
The goat which was always up for a prank looked long and earnestly at the rabbit’s ears before she happily bleated: “”Didn’t you hear about the king’s new law then? A bold brother of mine accidentally bumped the king into his side with his proudly curved horns. But the king could not take the joke and ordered for all animals who carry horns to leave his kingdom. Who is still here by this evening will be punished by death. Therefore I must hurry now. Be well, master rabbit.”
“Curious,” thought the rabbit which unfortunately was not as clever as its grandfather, “the lion is banishing his own prey? How very curious.”
Suddenly the rabbit winced. Now it realised why the goat had stared at it so strangely. Of course, that was it. In the sand the rabbit saw the shadow of its own ears. They appeared gigantic and it was afraid that the king could mistake its ears for horns.
“What am I to do, oh, what am I to do?” the rabbit repeated again and again while it trembled like the grass in the wind. “I was born and raised here, here I know every blade of grass. I don’t want to leave. Oh, if my ears would only be as small as those of a mouse.”
A cricket had heard the goat’s words and as she was now listening to the stupid rabbit’s moaning, she had to laugh. “You stupid, cowardly little rabbit, the goat was only playing a prank on you. What you do have on your head are perfectly normal ears.”
“But here they are taken for horns,” the rabbit replied sadly. “What help is it to me that I, you and God know that they are ears, if the lion will not believe so.” And chicken-heartedly it ran away.
Copyright for translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: Hans Hoffmann’s Hare in the forest @ WikiMedia Commons
Jean de La Fontaine is kind of the French equivalent to Lessing – remember his Furies? – when it comes to the importance he had for the fable production in his country. But what do you think? Much lighter, funnier and thus perhaps even bound to be more successful for their pedagogic mission of enlightening the masses?