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The Rainbow Book of Fairy Tales for Four-Year-Olds by  Lisa Ripperton

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The Foolish, Timid, Little Hare

Once upon a time there was a foolish, timid, little Hare, who was always expecting something awful to happen. She was forever saying, "Suppose the earth were to crack and swallow me up! O dear me! just suppose!" She said this over and over again till at last she really believed the earth was about to crack and swallow her up.

One day she was asleep under a palm tree when some Monkeys above dropped down a cocoanut. As soon as the little Hare heard the noise, up she jumped and cried, "O dear me! the earth is surely cracking!" Then she ran away as fast as she could, without ever looking behind her.

Presently she met an older Hare, who called out after her, "Why are you running so fast?"

The foolish, timid, little Hare answered, "The earth is cracking and I'm running away, so as not to be swallowed up!"

"Is that it?" cried the second Hare. "Dear me! Then I'll run away too!" and off he dashed beside her. Soon they met another Hare; they told him the earth was cracking, and off he dashed beside them. So it went on, till at last there were a hundred thousand Hares all running away as fast as they could.

By and by the Hares met a Deer.

"Why are you all running so fast?" asked the Deer.

"The earth is cracking!" they wailed. "We're running away so's not to be swallowed up!"

"The earth is cracking? O dear me!" cried the Deer, and she bounded away after them as fast as she could go.

A little farther on, they passed a Tiger.

"Why are you all running so fast?" called the Tiger.

"The earth is cracking!" wailed the crowd. "And we're running away so's not to be swallowed up!"

"The earth is cracking? O dear me!" howled the Tiger, and he sprang away after them as fast as he could go.

In a few moments more they met an Elephant.

"Why are you all running so fast?" asked the Elephant.

"The earth is cracking!" wailed the crowd. "And we're running away so's not to be swallowed up!"

"The earth is cracking? O dear me!" trumpeted the Elephant, and he lumbered off after them as fast as he could go.

At last the wise King Lion saw the animals running pell-mell, and he heard them cry, "The earth is cracking!" Straight out in front of the crowd he ran and roared three times till they halted.

"What is this you are saying?" he cried.

"Oh, King!" they answered. "The earth is cracking! We'll all be swallowed up!"

"The earth is cracking?" asked King Lion. "Who saw it crack?"

"Not I," said the Elephant. "Ask the Tiger. He must have seen it, for he told me!"

"Not I," said the Tiger. "Ask the Deer! She must have seen it, for she told me!"

"Not I," said the Deer. "Ask the Hares! They must have seen it, for they told me!"

So at last King Lion came to the Hares and the Hares all pointed to the one foolish, timid, little Hare. "She told us," they all cried.

Then the Lion said, "Little Hare, what made you say the earth was cracking?"

"I heard it crack."

"You heard it crack?" said the Lion. "Where?"

"By the big palm tree. I was fast asleep, and I woke up and thought, 'Suppose the earth should crack and swallow me up!' Just then I heard a cracking noise, as loud—as loud as thunder—and away I ran as fast as I could."

"Well then," said the Lion, "you and I will go back to the place where the earth is cracking and see what is the matter."

"No, no, no!" cried the foolish, timid, little Hare. "I would not go there again for anything."

"But," said the Lion, "I will take you on my back." So at last the foolish, timid, little Hare got up on the Lion's back and away they went like the wind, till they came to the Palm Tree. No sooner had they reached there, than they heard a loud thud—the Monkeys threw down another cocoanut! Then the Hare understood it was nothing at all but the falling of a cocoanut that had made her think the earth was cracking. So the Lion and the Hare went back to the other animals and the foolish, timid, little Hare stood up before them all and said, "The earth is not cracking."

"Well! Well! Well!" said the Elephant. "So the earth is not cracking!" And he turned around and lumbered away.

"Well! Well! Well!" said the Tiger. "So the earth is not cracking!" And he turned around and trotted away.

Thus every one of the animals turned around and went back to his place in the forest, and that was the end of the earthquake.

  
from Up One Pair of Stairs of My Bookhouse,
        edited by Olive Beaupre Miller, 1920
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