The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vol. XII: German
Hare and Hedgehog
By Jacob (17851863) and Wilhelm (17861859) Grimm
From Popular Tales
IT was a beautiful morning, about harvest-time; the buckwheat was in flower, the sun shining in the heavens, and the morning breeze waving the golden corn, while the lark sang blithely in the clear blue sky, and the bees were buzzing about the flowers. The villagers seemed all alive; many of them were dressed in their best clothes, hastening to the fair.
It was a lovely day, and all nature seemed happy, even to a little hedgehog, who stood at his own door. He had his arms folded, and was singing as merrily as little hedgehogs can do on a pleasant morning. While he thus stood amusing himself, his little wife was washing and dressing the children, and he thought he might as well go and see how the field of turnips was getting on, for as he and his family fed upon them, they appeared like his own property. No sooner said than done. He shut the house door after him and started off.
He had not gone farther than the little hedge bordering the turnip field when he met a hare who was on his way to inspect the cabbages, which he also considered belonged to him. When the hedgehog saw the hare he wished him good morning very pleasantly.
But the hare, who was a grand gentleman in his way, and not very good-tempered, took no notice of the hedgehogs greeting, but said, in a most impertinent manner, How is it that you are running about the fields so early this morning?
The hare agreed to wait, and away went the hedgehog, thinking to himself, The hare trusts in his long legs, but I will conquer him. He thinks himself a very grand gentleman, but he is only a stupid fellow after all, and he will have to pay for his pride.
What could Mrs. Hedgehog say after this? She could only obey and follow her husband, whether she liked it or not. As they walked along together he said to her, Now, pay attention to what I say. You see that large field? Well, we are going to race across it. The hare will run in one furrow, and I in another. All you have to do is to hide yourself in the furrow at the opposite end of the field from which we start, and when the hare comes up to you, pop up your head and say, Here I am!
Then let us start at once, and each placed himself in his furrow as the hare spoke. The hare counted One, two, three! and started like a whirlwind across the field. The hedgehog, however, only ran a few steps, and then popped down in the furrow and remained still.
The hare stood still in wonder, for the wife was so like her husband that he thought it must be he. There is something wrong about this, he thought. However, well have another try. So he turned and flew across the field at such a pace that his ears floated behind him.
Upon this the hare set off running, and actually crossed the field seventy-three times; and at one end the husband said, Here I am! and at the other end the wife said the same. But at the seventy-fourth run the hares strength came to an end, and he fell to the ground, and owned himself beaten.
The hedgehog won the guinea and the bottle of wine, and after calling his wife out of the furrow they went home together in very good spirits, to enjoy themselves together. And if they are not dead, they are living still.
The lesson to be learned from this story is, first, that however grand a person may think himself, he should never laugh at others whom he considers inferior until he knows what they can do; and, secondly, that when a man chooses a wife, he should take her from the class to which he himself belongs; and if he is a hedgehog, she should be one also.