"Why should he think me cruel Or that he is betrayed? I'd have him love the thing that was Before the world was made."
- W.B. Yeats, A woman Young and Old
"Now, El-ahrairah was among the animals in those days and he has many wives. He has so many wives that there was no counting them, and the wives has so many young that even Frith could not count them, and they ate the grass and the dandelions and the lettuces and the clover, and El-ahrairah was the father of them all."
"And after a time, the grass began to grow thin and the rabbits wandered everywhere, multiplying and eating as they went."
"Then Frith said to El-ahrairah, 'Prince Rabbit, if you cannot control your people, I shall find ways to control them. So mark what I say, But El-ahrairah would not listen and he said to Frith, "My people are the strongest in the world, for they breed faster and eat more than any of the other people". And this shows how much they love Lord Frith, for of all the animals they are the most responsive to his warmth and brightness. You must realize, my lord how important they are and not hinder them in their beautifyl lives".
Frith could have killed El-ahrairah at once, but he had a mind to keep him in the world, because he needed him to sport and jest and play tricks. So he determined to get the better of him, not by means of his own great power but by means of a trick. He gave out that he would hold a great meeting and that at that meeting he would give a present to every animal and bird, to make each one different from the rest. And all the creatures set out to go to the meeting place. But they all arrived at diffent times, because Frith made sure that it would happen so. And when the blackbird came, he have him his beautiful song, and when the cow came, he have her sharp horns and the strength to be aftaid of no other creature. And so when their turn came, the fox and the stoat and the weasel. And to each of them Frith gave the cunning and the fierceness and the desire to hint and slay and eat the children of El-ahrairah. And so they went away from Frith full of nothing but hunger to kill the rabbits.
Now all this time El-ahrairah was dancing and mating and boasting that he was going to Frith's meeting to receive a great gift. And at last he set out for the meeting place. But as he was going there, he stopped to rest on a soft, sandy hillside. And while he was resting, over the hill came flying the dark swift, screaming as he went 'News! News! News!' For you know, this is what he has said ever since that day. So El-ahrairah called up to him and said, 'What news?' 'Why,' said the swift, 'I would not be you, El-ahrairah. For Frith has given the fox and the weasel cunning hearts and sharp teeth, and to the cat he has given silent feet and eyes that can see in the dark, and they are gone away from Frith's place to kill and devour all that belongs to El-ahrairah." And he dashed on over the hills. And at that moment El-ahrairah heard the voice of Frith calling, 'Where is El-ahrairah? For all the others have taken their gifts and gone and I have come to look for him.'
"Then El-ahrairah knew Frith was too clever for him and was frightened. He thought that the fox and the weasel were coming with Frith and he turned to the face of the hill and began to dig. Hu dug a hole, but he has dug only a little of it when Frith came over the hill alone. And he saw El-ahrairah's bottom sticking out of the hole and the sand flying out in showers as the digging went on. When he saw that, he called out, 'My friend, have you seen El-ahrairah, for I am looking for him to give him my gift?' 'No,' answered El-ahrairah, withour coming out, 'I have not seen him. He is far away, He could not come.' So Frith said, 'Then come out of that hole and I will bless you instead of him,' 'No, I cannont,' said El-ahrairah, 'I am busy. The fox and the weasel are coming. If you want to bless me you can bless my bottom, for it is sticking our of the hole.'
"Then Frith felt himself in friendship with El-ahrairah, because of his resourcefulness, and because he would not give up evenwhen he thought the fox and the weasel were coming. And he said, 'Very well, I will bless your bottom as it sticks out of the hole. Bottom, be strength and warning and speed forever and save the life of your master. Be it so!' And as he spoke, El-ahrairah's tail grew shining white and flashed like a star; and his back legs grew long and powerful and he thumped the hillside until the very beetles fell off the grass stems. He came out of the hole and tore across the hill faster than any creature in the world. And Frith called after him, 'El-ahrairah, your people cannont rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince With A Thousand Enemies, ans whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first, they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.' And El-ahrairah knew then that although he would not be mocked, Frith was still his friend.
And every evening, when Frith has dont his day's work and lies calm and easy in the red sky, El-ahrairah and his children and his children's children come out of thier warren and feed and play in his signt, for they are his friends, and he had promised then taht they can never be destroyed."