THE LITTLE HARE 327
The little hare saw that there was no use trying to hide it, so he answered pertly, ' It was I who drank the water, but I made them think it was the rabbit.' Then he turned and ran as fast as he could, with all the other beasts pursuing him.
They were almost up to him when he dashed into a very narrow cleft in the rock, much too small for them to follow; but in his hurry he had left one of his long ears sticking out, which they just managed to seize. But pull as hard as they might they could not drag him out of the hole, and at last they gave it up and left him, with his ear very much torn and scratched.
When the last tail was out of sight the little hare crept cautiously out, and the first person he met was the rabbit. He had plenty of impudence, so he put a bold face on the matter, and said, ' Well, my good rabbit, you see I have had a beating as well as you.'
But the rabbit was still sore and sulky, and he did not care to talk, so he answered, coldly, ' You have treated me very badly. It was really you who drank that water, and you accused me of having done it.'
' Oh, my good rabbit, never mind that! I 've got such a wonderful secret to tell you! Do you know what to do so as to escape death ?'
' No, I don't.'
' Well, we must begin by digging a hole.'
So they dug a hole, and then the little hare said, ' The next thing is to make a fire in the hole,' and they set to work to collect wood, and lit quite a large fire.
When it was burning brightly the little hare said to the rabbit, ' Rabbit, my friend, throw me into the fire, and when you hear my fur crackling, and I call " Itchi, Itchi," then be quick and pull me out.'
The rabbit did as he was told, and threw the little hare into the fire; but no sooner did the little hare begin to feel the heat of the flames than he took some green bay leaves he had plucked for the purpose and held them in