The Spring Easter Hare

Once many years ago Winter stayed a long, long time. The children liked Winter and they liked to play in the snow and slide on the ice. But they did want to see Spring again.
“Let us go to the woods”, they said, ” perhaps Spring is there”.
So they ran off to the woods, but they did not find Spring. It was cold in the woods and the trees were bare. They could not see any birds or flowers. North Wind and Jack Frost ran to meet them. They could not find Spring and again they went home sadly.
For a little while the children kept going to the woods every few days, but still they did not find Spring.
” Spring cannot be coming this year”, said the children sadly.”We shall not go to the goods again. What is the use?
So they stayed home.
But Spring did come at last. North Wind and jack Frost hurried away the minute they saw her.
The tree buds began to grow bigger and bigger and burst into pale green leaves. The little flowers lifted their heads out of the earth. The birds began to twitter and fly about with bits of straw for their nests.
“But where are the children?” asked Spring. “Every year they come to play with you birds and flowers and wood folk. I miss them.”
“We miss them, too”, twittered the birds.”They always liked to listen to our songs.”
” We miss them, too”, said the flowers.”They love our sweet-smelling blossoms. They are good children and they never tear our roots.”
The little baby rabbits said,”We want to see the children. We want to hide in our hoes and watch them play. Will you go, Robin?”
” I would like to go very much”, said the robin, ” but I’m very busy just now. I have to finish my nest. Perhaps the fox has time to go”.
” I would go gladly”, said the fox, “but the grown-up people do not like me. They would say I came to steal their chickens”.
“You are right about that”, said Spring. “Black Bear, won’t you go?”
“I am very sorry”, said Black Bear, ”
but the children are afraid of me. Besides, you know that I sleep all winter and have nothing to eat. Now I am very thin and very hungry, I have to eat and eat all day long. But the rabbit would be a good one to send. Children always love rabbits.”
“The very one”, said Spring. “Will you go, Rabbit?”
The rabbit was just going to say no, because rabbits are very shy. But it made him very happy to hear that the children loved him.
“Yes”, he began, “I will go”. Then he thought of the dogs, rabbits do not like dogs.
“The dogs will catch me”, said the rabbit.
“Oh, no”, said Spring.”You can go at night. The dogs will be sound asleep and they will not hear you”.
“All right”, said the rabbit, “but how shall I tell the children that you are here?”
Spring did not know. Then the birds and the flowers and the baby animals began to whisper together. After awhile they thought of a way for the rabbit to tell the children.
The wove a strong basket from twigs and leaves. They pulled soft green grass and made a lining for it. Then each little bird brought an egg from her nest and put it in the basket. Some eggs were as blue as the sky. Some were brown as the earth. Some had little brown specks as if they had been sprinkled with cinnamon. Over the eggs they laid a cover of fresh spring flowers, pink and blue and white.
Rabbit lifted the basket on his back and the birds and the animals tied it on firmly.
“Good bye, Rabbit”, called all the wood folk.
Rabbit hopped off toward the town. The streets were very quiet and everybody was asleep. He did not feel afraid at all.
Rabbit knew where all the children lived. First he hopped up to Betty’s house. He made a little nest of green grass. He put a blue egg in it and some violets and he laid the little nest on the doorstep.
Then he hopped off to Teddy’s house. He made another nest of soft green grass. He put a brown egg in this and some wildflowers. Then he laid it on the doorstep and hopped off to Polly’s house.
He made a little nest of soft green grass for her and for every other child in the town. In each one he put an egg and some spring flowers. He had enough eggs and flowers for all the children. When his basket was empty, he hopped away to the woods.
Next morning, Betty ran to the door to see if the sun was shining. There on the doorstep she saw the little green nest. “Oh, how pretty”, she cried.
Teddy run to his door and found his little green nest too. And so did all the children.
“Spring has come, Spring has come!”, they called to one another. “See, here are the rabbit’s footprints. The good rabbit came to tell us that Spring is here”.
And they ran off to the woods as fast as they could go. They listened to the songs of the birds and they smelled the spring flowers. The baby rabbits and foxes peeped out from their holes and watched the happy children.
The rabbit was very glad that he had gone to tell the children that Spring had come. He has been coming ever since at Easter time with nests of eggs and flowers. That is why he is called the Easter Rabbit.

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