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The tale of Harad the hare who stole the golden egg from the sun king - or how the hare got his long legs and ears!

A long time never ago when, before there were stars in the sky, even before there was a sky, silence encased the dark world and the deep obsidian waters that covered the world lapped silently against the small reed covered islands that lay scattered o’er the waters.

Man and woman lived on these islands, yet they lived in silence and darkness, for they had no language to sing songs or recite poetry, they lived in the cold for they had no skills to make tools or build halls, they lived in darkness for they had no skill to make fire, and all around them the world was silent and dark.

Yet above the islands, and the darkness was the realm of the sun king and all was golden light, and here dwelt the great sun king in a golden hall that shone and shimmered in the light, and within the great hall the sun king dreamt creation, for whatever he wished to be came into being, here the sun king had once wished for a four legged hen and a talking fish amongst many, many things.

All beings honoured the sun king and acknowledged his greatness, yet there was another who lived without the great hall, the feckless Harad, Harad the hare, yet this was no hare as you and I know, no great ears and legs, no, he had small stubby little ears and short stubby little legs and he had no great hall, for he lived in a sandy scrape that nestled between the roots of the great world tree, and here he slept in the shade and scratched himself and yawned, oh how he was hungry and his stomach grumbled in agreement. So, stretching and yawning he pulled himself to his feet and made his way to wards the great hall of the sun king, where he knew that he could always find something to eat for nothing, once Harad had a four legged roast chicken and a fried fish that Harad had ‘found’ in the great hall, the fish seemed to disagree with Harad about being eaten, yet with incisive argument and with the help of a large stone Harad had won out.

The doors of the great hall swung open under Harad’s touch and in he sauntered, for the hare was too stupid to have fear of the great king and wandered the hall seeking sustenance, then turning a corner the hare came into the presence of the great sun king sitting upon a throne of great magnificence and size, and the golden glow of great king caused the hare to raise his paw to shield his eyes and the sight of the great sun king caused him to shake with trepidation, he was tall and beautiful, his skin shimmered like gold, his hair snaked and writhed like fiery snakes and leapt from his head like leaping fire, and his eyes glowed red like burning coals.  

“What are you doing here you lazy creature? Seeking more things to steal from my hall?” the great voice boomed out from the sun king. “No, of course not!” squeaked Harad, although he felt that the king could feel what was in his heart, for although the hare was not wicked, he was a maker of poor choices and his stomach often outweighed wisdom.

“ I come to bask in your glory, that is all” piped the hare.

“Do you think I’m a fool Harad, begone!” The hare backed away from the powerful being and that’s when he saw the golden egg that hovered above the ground in front of the king and he noticed how the king was stroking the egg. “Omelettes!” thought Harad, yet he was wise enough to not speak this out loud.

“My word, that is a marvellous egg that you have there my lord – what is it for?” the hare inquired.

“A gift for humanity, but not yet and there is much I need to do before it is ready for them, and I must concentrate, so be off with you! For I have no time for your pranks today”.

So Harad backed away carefully, wisdom winning out and Harad left with an empty stomach, which growled in complaint

Now Harad took himself back to his scrape and tried to sleep, yet it was a fitful sleep and Harad dreamt of omelettes and chasing giant eggs with a frying pan, and his stomach urged him onwards. So awaking from his troubled rest Harad made an unfortunate decision, he would sneak back into the great hall while the king slept and he would steal the egg for his supper, for Harad knew that the great sun king would have forgotten about the egg by now. Silently the hare set out on his nefarious deed….

Again entering the great hall and retracing his steps from earlier Harad found himself in the great throne room and there sat the king, asleep, and the king had changed, his skin no longer glowed like gold but now had the appearance of beaten copper, his hair no longer writhed like creatures alive but now they slithered slowly liking sleeping snakes and his eyes, no longer like burning coals had the appearance of embers in a firepit. Yet in front of him the golden egg still hovered gently rising and falling in time to breathing of the sun king. Harad almost turned tail and left the hall, yet his hunger took control over wisdom and slowly, slowly Harad reached out for the golden egg. Harad’s mouth watered at the thought of an omelette, and gently Harad plucking the egg from the shimmering air Harad turned towards the great doors, and he almost made it but as Harad stepped over the threshold the egg cried out. “Help! Help! Great sun king I’m being stolen by the wretch Harad, save me from becoming his meal!” “WHAT!” roared the sun king, now awake and raising to his full height he burst into flame with anger, his skin burnt like burning gold and his hair writhed like fiery snakes and his eyes boiled like molten amber “stop thief! And return the egg before I punish you for your temerity!”

Now, if Harad was sensible he would have stopped and turned to face the sun king, for the king wasn’t angry for long and would have forgiven the hare for his error of judgement, for you see, Harad was not an evil creature, just foolish and made bad choices of decision, but no. Harad, clutching the egg to his chest charged onwards and out of the great hall with the sun king in pursuit! Harad looked to the left and right and wondered where to hide, and then his eyes fell on the great world tree that grew up from in front of the great hall and whose branches disappeared into the heavens. ‘There!’ thought Harad and he leapt into the lower branches and climbed into the hiding in the leaves, his heart pounding.

The great sun king burst from the great hall roaring in rage and seeking the miscreant hare. “Harad! Where are you give me the egg back and I will forgive your stupidity!” No answer came from the hare, yet Harad wasn’t the only creature in the tree, and the birds, who knew Harad and his perchance for eggs and who had suffered from his pranks before, cried out. “Sun king, Sun king, Harad the hare is here! He is hiding in the world tree!” The sun king thunderous in his anger turned to the tree! “Traitors!” Cried the hare.

“Traitors, a curse on all of your nests!” He leapt from the tree into the sky, and the birds were all cursed by the hare, all except the owl who was asleep at the time and didn’t give the hare away.

The hare leapt through the sky with the sun king in pursuit, his heart pounding and the egg clasped to his chest, the sun king grew closer and closer until he thrust out his hands and they closed on the small stubby thing that Harad called a tail “HISS!” went the air as the tail was instantly turned to white ash, and so this is how the hare got his white tail. “YEEOOWW!” called the hare and he leapt away from the sun king, his burnt tail giving a new turn of speed. Yet the sun king caught up with the hare again and this time he grabbed Harad’s short stubby legs and pulled, but Harad was going so fast that his short stubby legs began to stretch longer and longer and longer, until with a flick and a kick Harad was away, and this how the hare got his long legs.

His new legs gave him a new impetus and he leapt through the sky, away from the sun king, but the king was not to be averted from his task! Catching up once again the sun king reached and caught the hare by the tips of his ears, which instantly charred to charcoal, and this is how the hare got the black tips to his ears, with a shake of his head the hare shook off the sun king and raced ever onward.

The sun king reached out again and this time grabbed the ears with a tighter grasp and pulled, but the hare was going too fast to stop and his ears stretched and stretched, and thus giving the hare his long ears, and just as Harad thought that his ears would pop from his head, his back legs caught up with him and overtook his head.

The hare turned somersaults in the air and the golden egg tumbled from his grasp and turned end over end and down into the darkness and the waters below, SMASH! The egg and exploded into myriad golden shards that were strewn over the darkness and thus created the stars in the night sky.

Both Harad the hare and the sun king came to a sudden halt and stared in disbelief at the scene what lay before them. “Oh! Forgive me great sun king, I was foolish and hungry, I meant no harm, please, please forgive me! I am so sorry to break your golden egg!”

“Fool of a hare, you know nothing of what you have done, that egg was a gift for humanity within it lay the skill to make fire and to smelt iron to make tools, the skill to make halls and the gift of language to sing songs and tell tales. Yet also in the egg was the skill to make weapons, the power to lie and cheat, the willingness to kill and to deceive. Those things I was removing from the egg, but now they are there in the world and I those things I cannot take back, and so I will have to watch over humanity, but I cannot be in all places and so you will have to watch the world when I am away”.

Harad shivered in fear, and gulped back tears, “I’m so sorry great king, please be kind.”

The sun king, who had made all things including Harad, could not be unkind in his choice of punishment for the wilful hare.

“No Harad I cannot forget your actions and you must pay, but you have shown regret for your actions and so I will be kind, you will still take your duty to watch over humanity but I will build you a silver prison, one which you shall have the key because I want you to learn self-discipline and restraint in your actions, and so because have shown remorse I will grant you some freedom to do as you wish, and for each month you are to guard humanity you will have three days to do as you will.”

So when you are alone at night in the dark and the silver moon rides high in the sky, look carefully at the moon and you will see Harad the hare in his silver cage watching down on humanity, and, as to the curse that Harad called down on the birds? They all remembered how they had betrayed the wilful hare, and ashamed by their actions they did not fly at night in case Harad the hare caught them unawares, all except the owl who had not betrayed Harad and was free to come and go as he wished in the dark night sky!