ONE night the moon looked down from the sky upon the people on the earth and said to herself, "How sorrowful they look! I wish I knew what troubles them. The stars and I are never sad, and I do not see why men should be troubled." She listened closely, and she heard the people say, "How happy we should be if death never came to us. Death is always before us."
The path of the moon lies across the sky, and she could not leave it to go to the earth, but she called the white rabbit and said, "Rabbit, should you be afraid to go down to the earth?"
"No," answered the rabbit, "I am not afraid."
"The people on the earth are troubled because death is before them. Now will you go to them and whisper, 'The moon dies every night. You can see it go down into the darkness, but when another night comes, then the moon rises again,'—can you remember to tell them that?"
"Yes," said the rabbit, "I will remember."
"Say this," said the moon:
The rabbit was so glad to go to the earth that he danced and leaped and sprang and frolicked, but when he tried to tell the people what the moon had said, he could not remember, and he said, "The moon says that she dies and will not rise again, and so you will die and will not rise again."
The moon saw that the people were still troubled, and she called the rabbit and asked what he had said to them.
"I said that as you die and do not rise, so they too will die and not rise," said the rabbit.
"You did not try to remember, and you must be punished," said the moon, and she fired an arrow tipped with flint at the rabbit.
The arrow struck the rabbit's lip and split it. From that time every rabbit has had a split lip. The rabbit was afraid of the moon, and he was afraid of the people on the earth. He had been brave before, but now he is the most timid of animals, for he is afraid of everything and everybody.