HERR OSTER HASE
Mr. Easter Hare. An old German legend.
A LONG time ago, in a far-off country, there was a
famine; and this is how it came about: In the early
spring, when the first grass peeped out, the sun shone
so hot that the grass was dried up. No rains fell
 through the long summer months, so that the seed
and grain that were planted could not grow, and
everywhere the fields and meadows—usually so green and
rich—were a dull gray-brown. Here and there a green
tree waved its dusty branches in the hot wind. When
fall came, instead of the well-filled granaries and
barns, there was great emptiness; and instead of happy
fathers and mothers, there were grave, troubled ones.
But the children were just as happy as ever. They were
glad, even, that it had not rained, for they could play
out of doors all day long; and the dust-piles had never
been so large and fine.
The people had to be very saving of the things that had
been left from the year before. All the following
winter, by being very careful, they managed to provide
simple food for their families. When Christmas came
there were not many presents, but the children did not
miss them as we would, because in that land they did
not give many presents at Christmas-time.
Their holiday was Easter Sunday. On that day they had
a great celebration, and there were always goodies and
presents for the little boys and girls. As the time
came nearer, the parents wondered what they should do
for the children's holiday. Every new day it was
harder than the day before to get just plain, coarse
bread to eat; and where would they find all the
sweetmeats and pretty things that the children had
always had at Easter-time?
One evening some of the mothers met, after the
children were in bed, to talk about what they should
do. One mother said: "We can have eggs. All the
chickens are laying; but the children are so tired of
eggs, for they have them every day."
 So they decided that eggs would never do for an
Easter treat; and they went home sorrowfully, thinking
that Easter must come and go like any other day. And
one mother was more sorry than any of the others. Her
dear little boy and girl had been planning and talking
about the beautiful time they were to have on the great
After the mother had gone to bed, she wondered and
thought if there were any way by which she could give
her little ones their happy time. All at once she
cried right out in the dark: "I know! I have thought
of something to make the children happy!"
She could hardly wait until morning, and the first
thing she did was to run into the next house and tell
her neighbor of the bright plan she had thought of.
And the neighbor told some one else, and so the secret
flew until, before night, all the mothers had heard it,
but not a single child.
There was still a week before Easter, so there was a
good deal of whispering; and the fathers and mothers
smiled every time they thought of the secret. When
Easter Sunday came, every one went, first of all, to
the great stone church—mothers and fathers and
children. When church was over, instead of going home,
the older people suggested walking to the great woods
just back of the church.
"Perhaps we may find some flowers," they said.
So on they went, and soon the merry children were
scattered though the woods, among the trees.
Then a shout went up—now here, now there—from all
"Father, mother, look here!"
"See what I have found—some beautiful eggs!"
"Here's a red one!"
 "I've found a yellow one!"
"Here's a whole nestful—all different colors!"
And the children came running, bringing beautiful
colored eggs which they had found in the soft moss
under the trees. What kind of eggs could they be?
They were too large for bird's eggs; they were large,
like hens' eggs; but who ever saw a hen's egg so
Just then, from behind a large tree where the children
had found a nest full of eggs, there jumped a rabbit,
and with long leaps he disappeared in the deep woods,
where he was hidden from view by the trees and the
"It must be that the rabbit laid the pretty eggs," said
one little girl.
"I am sure it was the rabbit," said her mother.
"Hurrah for the rabbit! Hurrah for the Easter rabbit!
Hurrah for Herr Oster Hase!" the children cried; and the
fathers and mothers were glad with the children.
So this is the story of the first Easter eggs, for,
ever since then, in that far-away land and in other
countries, too, has Herr Oster Hase brought the little
children at Easter-time some beautiful colored eggs.