Why There Is a Hare in the Moon
MANY strange things happened long ago, and one of them was that a hare, a monkey, and a fox agreed to live together. They talked about their plan a long time. Then the hare said, "I promise to help the monkey and the fox." The monkey declared, "I promise to help the fox and the hare." The fox said, "I promise to help the hare and the monkey." They shook hands, or rather shook paws. There was something else to which they agreed, and that was that they would kill no living creature.
The manito was much pleased when he heard of this plan, but he said to himself, "I should like to make sure that what I have heard is true, and that they are really gentle and kind to others as well as to themselves. I will go to the forest and see how they behave toward strangers."
The manito appeared before the three animals, but they thought he was a hunter. "May I come into your lodge and rest?" he asked. "I am very weary."
All three came toward him and gave him a welcome. "Come into our lodge," they said. "We have agreed to help one another, so we will help one another to help you."
"I have been hungry all day," said the manito, "but I should rather have such a welcome than food."
"But if you are hungry, you must have food," declared the three animals. "If there were anything in our lodge that you would care to eat, you might have part of it or all of it, but there is nothing here that you would like."
Then said the monkey, "I have a plan. I will go out into the forest and find you some food."
When the monkey came back, he said, "I found a tree with some fruit on it. I climbed it and shook it, and here is the fruit. There was only a little of it, for fruit was scarce."
"Will you not eat part of it yourself?" asked the manito.
"No," answered the monkey. "I had rather see you eat it, for I think you are more hungry than I."
The manito wished to know whether the fox and the hare would behave as unselfishly toward him, and he said, "My good friends, the fruit was indeed welcome, but I am still hungry."
Then the fox said, "I will go out into the forest and see what I can find for you."
When the fox came back, he said, "I shook the trees, but no more fruit fell. I could not climb the trees, for my paws are not made for climbing, but I searched on the ground, and at last I found some hominy that a traveler had left, and I have brought you that."
The manito had soon eaten the hominy. He wished to know whether the hare would behave as kindly as the others, and before long he said, "My good friends, the hominy was indeed welcome, but I am still hungry."
Then the hare said, "I will gladly go out into the forest and search for food." He was gone a long time, but when he came back, he brought no food.
"I am very hungry," said the manito.
"Stranger," said the hare, "if you will build a fire beside the rock, I can give you some food."
The manito built a fire, and the hare said, "Now I will spring from the top of the rock upon the fire. I have heard that men eat flesh, that is taken from the fire, and I will give you my own."
The hare sprang from the rock, but the manito caught him in his hands before the flame could touch him, and said, "Dear, unselfish little hare, the monkey and the fox have welcomed me and searched the forest through to find me food, but you have done more, for you have given me yourself. I will take the gift, little hare, and I will carry you in my arms up to the moon, so that every one on the earth may see you and hear the tale of your kindness and unselfishness."
The Indians can see a hare in the moon, and this is the story that they tell their children about it.