The White Hare and the Crocodiles - Read free bedtime stories for kids online

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This is a vintage fairy tale, and contains violence. We would encourage parents to read beforehand  if your child is sensitive to such themes.

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Long, long ago, when all the animals could talk, there lived in the province of Inaba in Japan a little white hare. His home was on the island of Oki, and just across the sea was the mainland of Inaba.

Now the hare wanted very much to cross over to Inaba. Day after day he would go out and sit on the shore and look longingly over the water in the direction of Inaba, and day after day he hoped to find some way of getting across.

One day as usual, the hare was standing on the beach, looking towards the mainland across the water, when he saw a great crocodile swimming near the island.

“This is very lucky!” thought the hare. “Now I shall be able to get my wish. I will ask the crocodile to carry me across the sea!”

But he was doubtful whether the crocodile would consent to do what wanted. So he thought instead of asking a favor he would try to get what he wanted by a trick.

So with a loud voice he called to the crocodile, and said:

“Oh, Mr. Crocodile, isn’t it a lovely day?”

The crocodile, who had come out all by itself that day to enjoy the bright sunshine, was just beginning to feel a bit lonely when the hare’s cheerful greeting broke the silence. The crocodile swam nearer the shore, very pleased to hear some one speak.

“I wonder who it was that spoke to me just now! Was it you, Mr. Hare? You must be very lonely all by yourself!”

“Oh, no, I am not at all lonely,” said the hare, “but as it was such a fine day I came out here to enjoy myself. Won’t you stop and play with me a little while?”

The crocodile came out of the sea and sat on the shore, and the two played together for some time. Then the hare said:

“Mr. Crocodile, you live in the sea and I live on this island, and we do not often meet, so I know very little about you. Tell me, do you think the number of your company is greater than mine?”

“Of course, there are more crocodiles than hares,” answered the crocodile. “Can you not see that for yourself? You live on this small island, while I live in the sea, which spreads through all parts of the world, so if I call together all the crocodiles who dwell in the sea you hares will be as nothing compared to us!” The crocodile was very conceited.

The hare, who meant to play a trick on the crocodile, said:

“Do you think it possible for you to call up enough crocodiles to form a line from this island across the sea to Inaba?”

The crocodile thought for a moment and then answered:

“Of course, it is possible.”

“Then do try,” said the artful hare, “and I will count the number from here!”

least idea that the hare intended to play a trick

go back into the sea

time. The hare, meanwhile, waited patiently on the shore. At last

a line between here and Inaba. There are enough crocodiles to stretch from here

as to form a bridge between the Island of Oki and the

this, however, with your permission, I must walk over on your backs to the other side, so

to the strange bridge of crocodiles, counting as

not be able to count. One, two,

content with getting his wish, he began to jeer at the crocodiles instead

crocodiles, now I

as to enable him to cross the sea, and that the hare was now laughing at them for their stupidity, they became furiously angry and made up their minds to take revenge. So some of them ran after the


of fur, they threw the poor hare on the

all he could do was to lie on the beach quite helpless and weep over the misfortune that had befallen him. Notwithstanding that it was his own fault that had brought all this misery and

King’s sons, happened to pass by, and seeing the hare lying

his head from between

was beaten, and they pulled out all my fur

a bad and spiteful disposition. But he

will cure your sore body. Go and bathe yourself in the sea, and then come and sit in

that he had found a cure. He went and bathed in the sea

drawn and hardened, and the salt increased the pain so much

great bag on his back. He saw the hare,

deceived by one very like the man who now

kind heart, and looked at

is all pulled out and that your skin

trick on the crocodiles and how he had come across the bridge they had made, thinking that he wished to count their number: how he had jeered at them for their stupidity, and then how the crocodiles had revenged themselves on him. Then he went on

his story, the man was

suffered, but remember, it was only the consequence

my mind never to use deceit again, so I beg you to show

the salt from your body. Then pick some of those kaba flowers that are growing near the edge of the water, spread them on the ground and

He crawled to the pond pointed out to him, bathed well in it,

saw his nice white fur growing again, the pain ceased,

went hopping joyfully towards the young man who had

for me! It is my earnest wish to do something

are my brothers. They have heard of a beautiful Princess called Yakami who lives in this province of Inaba, and they are on their way to find her and

fairy Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto, whom many in that part

the sea is one of your brothers. I am quite sure that the Princess, whom your brothers have gone to seek, will refuse to be the bride of any of them,

the little animal goodby, went on his way quickly and soon

to become the bride of any of the brothers, but when she

give myself,” and

of Japan, as a god, and the hare has become famous as “The White Hare of


the kind passing prince the truth about what he did, even though it is difficult to

better to always be honest, even


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