The hare and the hedgehog



This story, my dear young folks, seems to be false, but it really is true, for my grandfather, from whom I have it, used always, when relating it, to say complacently, "It must be true, my son, or else no one could tell it to you." The story is as follows. One Sunday morning about harvest time, just as the buckwheat was in bloom, the sun was shining brightly in heaven, the east wind was blowing warmly over the stubble-fields, the larks were singing in the air, the bees buzzing among the buckwheat, the people were all going in their Sunday clothes to church, and all creatures were happy, and the hedgehog was happy too.
The hedgehog, however, was standing by his door with his arms akimbo, enjoying the morning breezes, and slowly trilling a little song to himself, which was neither better nor worse than the songs which hedgehogs are in the habit of singing on a blessed Sunday morning. Whilst he was thus singing half aloud to himself, it suddenly occurred to him that, while his wife was washing and drying the children, he might very well take a walk into the field, and see how his turnips were going on. The turnips were, in fact, close beside his house, and he and his family were accustomed to eat them, for which reason he looked upon them as his own. No sooner said than done. The hedgehog shut the house-door behind him, and took the path to the field. He had not gone very far from home, and was just turning round the sloe-bush which stands there outside the field, to go up into the turnip-field, when he observed the hare who had gone out on business of the same kind, namely, to visit his cabbages. When the hedgehog caught sight of the hare, he bade him a friendly good morning. But the hare, who was in his own way a distinguished gentleman, and frightfully haughty, did not return the hedgehog's greeting, but said to him, assuming at the same time a very contemptuous manner, "How do you happen to be running about here in the field so early in the morning?" - "I am taking a walk," said the hedgehog. "A walk!" said the hare, with a smile. "It seems to me that you might use your legs for a better purpose." This answer made the hedgehog furiously angry, for he can bear anything but an attack on his legs, just because they are crooked by nature. So now the hedgehog said to the hare, "You seem to imagine that you can do more with your legs than I with mine." - "That is just what I do think," said the hare. "That can be put to the test," said the hedgehog. "I wager that if we run a race, I will outstrip you." - "That is ridiculous! You with your short legs!" said the hare, "but for my part I am willing, if you have such a monstrous fancy for it. What shall we wager?" - "A golden louis-d'or and a bottle of brandy," said the hedgehog. "Done," said the hare. "Shake hands on it, and then we may as well come off at once." - "Nay," said the hedgehog, "there is no such great hurry! I am still fasting, I will go home first, and have a little breakfast. In half-an-hour I will be back again at this place."

Hereupon the hedgehog departed, for the hare was quite satisfied with this. On his way the hedgehog thought to himself, "The hare relies on his long legs, but I will contrive to get the better of him. He may be a great man, but he is a very silly fellow, and he shall pay for what he has said." So when the hedgehog reached home, he said to his wife, "Wife, dress thyself quickly, thou must go out to the field with me." - "What is going on, then?" said his wife. "I have made a wager with the hare, for a gold louis-d'or and a bottle of brandy. I am to run a race with him, and thou must be present." - "Good heavens, husband," the wife now cried, "art thou not right in thy mind, hast thou completely lost thy wits? What can make thee want to run a race with the hare?" - "Hold thy tongue, woman," said the hedgehog, "that is my affair. Don't begin to discuss things which are matters for men. Be off, dress thyself, and come with me." What could the hedgehog's wife do? She was forced to obey him, whether she liked it or not.

So when they had set out on their way together, the hedgehog said to his wife, "Now pay attention to what I am going to say. Look you, I will make the long field our race-course. The hare shall run in one furrow, and I in another, and we will begin to run from the top. Now all that thou hast to do is to place thyself here below in the furrow, and when the hare arrives at the end of the furrow, on the other side of thee, thou must cry out to him, 'I am here already!'"

Then they reached the field, and the hedgehog showed his wife her place, and then walked up the field. When he reached the top, the hare was already there. "Shall we start?" said the hare. "Certainly," said the hedgehog. "Then both at once." So saying, each placed himself in his own furrow. The hare counted, "Once, twice, thrice, and away!" and went off like a whirlwind down the field. The hedgehog, however, only ran about three paces, and then he stooped down in the furrow, and stayed quietly where he was. When the hare therefore arrived in full career at the lower end of the field, the hedgehog's wife met him with the cry, "I am here already!" The hare was shocked and wondered not a little, he thought no other than that it was the hedgehog himself who was calling to him, for the hedgehog's wife looked just like her husband. The hare, however, thought to himself, "That has not been done fairly," and cried, "It must be run again, let us have it again." And once more he went off like the wind in a storm, so that he seemed to fly. But the hedgehog's wife stayed quietly in her place. So when the hare reached the top of the field, the hedgehog himself cried out to him, "I am here already." The hare, however, quite beside himself with anger, cried, "It must be run again, we must have it again." - "All right," answered the hedgehog, "for my part we'll run as often as you choose." So the hare ran seventy-three times more, and the hedgehog always held out against him, and every time the hare reached either the top or the bottom, either the hedgehog or his wife said, "I am here already."

At the seventy-fourth time, however, the hare could no longer reach the end. In the middle of the field he fell to the ground, blood streamed out of his mouth, and he lay dead on the spot. But the hedgehog took the louis-d'or which he had won and the bottle of brandy, called his wife out of the furrow, and both went home together in great delight, and if they are not dead, they are living there still.

This is how it happened that the hedgehog made the hare run races with him on the Buxtehuder heath till he died, and since that time no hare has ever had any fancy for running races with a Buxtehuder hedgehog.

The moral of this story, however, is, firstly, that no one, however great he may be, should permit himself to jest at any one beneath him, even if he be only a hedgehog. And, secondly, it teaches, that when a man marries, he should take a wife in his own position, who looks just as he himself looks. So whosoever is a hedgehog let him see to it that his wife is a hedgehog also, and so forth.
孩子们,我这故事听起来像是捏造的,但它却是千真万确的。 故事是从我爷爷那听来的,他每次给我讲时,总说:
这故事是这样的。 在收获季节的一个星期天早上,荞麦花开得正盛,阳光明媚,微风和煦地吹拂着田间的草梗,云雀在空中欢唱,蜜蜂在荞麦间嗡嗡地飞来飞去,人们正穿着盛装去教堂做礼拜。 万物欢喜,刺猬也不例外。
刺猬正双手叉腰,靠门站着,享受这清晨的和风,悠闲地哼着小曲,这首歌和他平时星期天早上唱的歌没有什么两样。 他悠闲地半哼半唱着 ,突然想起了要趁自己的女人正给孩子们洗澡的当儿,去看看他的萝卜长势如何。 这些萝卜其实并不是他的,只是离他家很近,他和他的家人就习以为常地靠吃这些萝卜度日,他也理所当然地把它当成是他自己的了。 说干就干,只见他关上身后的门,随即就踏上了去萝卜地的路。 他在离家不远的地方绕过了地边仅有的一丛灌木,正准备到地里去时,他看到了为同样目的出门的野兔,他也想去看看自己的白菜长得怎样了。 刺猬看到野兔时友好地和他道了声早安,但野兔自以为是位不同寻常的绅士,表现得非常傲慢无礼,连刺猬的问候也不搭理,只是以一种很轻蔑的态度对刺猬说:"你怎么这么一大清早就在地边跑?""我在散步。"刺猬说。 "散步?"野兔微微一笑,"我想你可以用你的腿干点更好的事吧。"刺猬听到这回答非常气愤,他一切都可忍受,只有自己的腿不能提,因为大自然给了他一双短短的弯腿。 于是他对野兔说:"你以为你的腿能比我的腿派上更大的用场?""我正是这样认为的。"野兔说。 "这个我们可以验证一下,我打赌如果我们赛跑,我一定会胜过你。"刺猬说道。 "真是滑稽,瞧你那对短短的腿。不过我倒很乐意,既然你有这种荒诞的想法,我们来赌点什么呢?"野兔说道。 "一个金路易和一瓶白兰地。"刺猬说道。 "一言为定。"野兔说。 "来,击掌为证,我们现在就可以开始。""不,"刺猬说,"没必要这么急嘛,我还没吃过早饭呢!我得先回家,吃完饭。半小时后我就会回来。"
于是刺猬离开了,野兔对这一切也很满意。 在回家的路上刺猬想:"野兔仗着他的腿长,很得意,但我会设法胜过他的。他或许是个人物,但他却是个愚蠢透顶的家伙,他会为他所说的话招报应的。"当他回到家时,他对自己的女人说:"老婆,快点穿好衣服,跟我到地里走一趟。""出了什么事?"他女人问道。 "我和野兔打了个赌,赌一个金路易和一瓶白兰地。我要和他赛跑,你也得到场。""天哪,老公,"他女人叫道,"你没有毛病吧,你是不是疯了,你怎么会想到要和野兔赛跑呢?""住嘴,你这女人,"刺猬叫道,"这是我的事,男人的事你最好少插嘴。快去穿上衣服跟我走。"刺猬的老婆拿他没办法,不管她愿意不愿意,她都得听他的。
于是他们一起上路了。 刺猬告诉她的女人说:"现在听好我的话,你瞧,我会把这块地作为我们的赛跑路线,他跑一畦,我跑一畦。我们会从那头上跑下来,现在要做的就是呆在这畦的底下,当他到达你身旁那畦的终点线时,你就对他叫:我早就在这里了。"
他们到地里后,刺猬告诉他的女人该呆的地方,然后他就往头上走去。 他到头上的时候,野兔已经在那儿了。 "可以开始了吗?"野兔问道。 "当然,"刺猬说 ,"咱们一起跑。"说着,他们就各自在自己的菜畦上准备好了。 野兔数:"一、二、三,跑。"然后就像一阵风似地冲下了这块地。 但那只刺猬只跑了两三步远就蹲在了菜畦沟里,并安安静静地呆在了那儿。
当野兔全速冲到那头时,刺猬的女人迎了上去,叫道:"我早就在这里了。"野兔大吃一惊,十分奇怪。 由于刺猬的女人长得和刺猬一样,他认为除了刺猬外没人会叫他。 然而,野兔想:"这不公平。"于是叫道,"再跑一次,咱们得重新来一次。"他又一次像风一样往前跑了,他看起来像是在飞。 但刺猬的女人仍安安静静地呆在那儿。 当野兔跑到菜地的顶端时,刺猬就在那儿对他叫道:"我早就在这里了。"这下野兔可气坏了,叫道:"重跑一次,我们再来一次。""没问题,"刺猬答道,"对我来说,你愿意跑多少次都行。"于是野兔又跑了七十三次,刺猬总是奉陪着。 每次野兔跑到底端或顶端时,刺猬和他的女人总叫:"我早就在这里了。"
到了第七十四次时,野兔再也跑不动了,跑到一半就倒在地上,嘴角流着血,躺在地上死了。 刺猬拿走了他赢的白兰地和金路易,把他的女人从菜畦里叫了出来,欢天喜地回家了。 要是还活着的话,他们准还住在那儿呢!
这就是刺猬如何在布克斯胡德荒地上与野兔赛跑,直到把野兔跑死。 打那以后,野兔再也不敢与布克斯胡德的刺猬赛跑了。
这则故事的寓意是:第一,无论什么人,不管他如何伟大,都不该嘲笑比自己差的人,就算是刺猬这样的小动物也不可小瞧;第二,它告诉我们,一个男人必须依据自己的情况,挑一个和自己相貌相配的人为妻。 那么谁遇到了刺猬,就得留心刺猬的女人也是刺猬。

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