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Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
Grandfather Mazay and the Hares

N. A. Nekrasov, 1870

Submitted by
Yuri Klitsenko, Russia

[Ed. Note]  This story reads like a loving account of a man of God who extends his love and compassion to the whole of creation, but as we get to the end, we see the hypocrisy and betrayal. 

I've heard the stories from Mazay
I wrote one of them for you, children.

Old Mazay chattered in the hut:
"In our swampy low-land place
we would have five times more game
If people would not catch them with nets and kill them in traps.
And hares, I feel sorry for them to tears when the spring waters come-- Hundreds of them die.
That is not enough! men run
Catch them, drown them, and beat them with sticks.
Where is their conscience?

Once I went for fire wood.
I took a boat--there are many of those
floating around here during the spring.
I catch hares as I go, the waters are rising.
I see a small island-
With hares gathered together on it.
With every minute the water was getting
closer to the poor animals, there was only
Less than an arshin of land wide and a sazhen long under them.
Here I come: they are shaking their ears,
But they were not moving.
I took one And commanded to the others:
Jump yourself!
My hares jumped, no problem!
As soon as they got into the boat
The entire island was covered with water.
I said: "Don't even argue with me.
Listen you hares to grandpa Mazay."
So, jumping around, we are moving in science.
Just like a pole, a hare on a stump
Stands crossing his legs, poor thing.
I took him also--not much weight!
Just as I started working with the paddle I saw a doe-hare in the bushes, Barely alive but fat like a merchants wife.
I covered her with my jacket.
She was shaking already...it was not early.
A log floated near the boat.
Standing and laying down
There were a dozen hares on it.
"I'd take you all, but you will sink my boat."
Still I felt sorry for them,
so I grabbed the log by the knot
And towed it behind the boat.

It was a lot of fun for women and children when Mazay went through the village with his boat full of hares "Look at what old Mazay is doing."

Ok, you can look but don't bother us.
We appeared behind a village in a river.
There my hares went insane.
They were looking, getting up on two legs
Shaking the boat, and were not letting me paddle.
They saw the shore, the rascals--
Bare land, forest and bushes.
I moved the log close to the land
Parked the boat and said "Go with God"

And the hares
started running away
I said to them "Ahh
Faster, living things
Lookout, save yourself
And stay out of my sight in winter.
I'll point my rifle at you and BOOM
You will be down"

My entire team ran away
All but a pair of them.
They were wet and weak: I put them
In a bag and took them home
They warmed up overnight--
Dried themselves, slept and ate.
I took them out on a glen
Let them out of the bag.
"Don't get near me in the winter."
I don't hunt them in spring or summer
Then their fur is bad 'cause it fades.

Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow.  He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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