302N: The Wisdom of the Weasel

This is a story which I remember hearing on the radio when I was about four years old in 1948.  I’m pretty sure the radio program was the “No School Today” show with Big Jon and Sparkie.  I have the impression that this story was on a record Big John played, rather than a story he told or read himself.

The story as I remember it is that two young rabbits, one brown and one white, were friends and played together in the woods.  Someone (the fox?) started a rumor among the white rabbits that the brown rabbits were dangerous to them because the hunters could see the brown rabbits so easily when the snow was on the ground in the winter.  “And when the hunters find the brown rabbits, they’ll find you too.”  Another rumor (also from the fox?) started among the brown rabbits that the white rabbits were dangerous to be around because the hunters could see the white rabbits so easily when the leaves were on the ground in the fall.  “And when the hunters find the white rabbits, they’ll find you too.”  The rabbit community was split.

The two friends consulted the oldest and wisest animal in the woods, the great ermine weasel.  He told them that he knew both sides of this split because his coat was white in the winter (except for the tip of his tail that was then black) and brown the rest of the year (except for the tip of his tail that was then white.)  He told them that rather than being dangerous to each other, the white and brown rabbits should help each other.  In the fall, the brown rabbits should go out first in the morning, and tell the white rabbits to come out only when the brown rabbits had made sure that there were no hunters around.  And in the winter, the white rabbits should go out first and make sure it was safe.

The two friends carried this wisdom back to their rabbit village, the rumors were defeated, and the split in the community was healed.  (And the fox went away hungry?)

What is the name of this story, who wrote it, and where was it published?

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