TWO BEASTS ON THE MOON

 

In olden days there were no people la those lands. Only birds and animals lived in the rocky mountains. But once there appeared an old man.

«What for have you come here?» the surprised animals asked him. «Cats would catch mice, pike would cat roach, animals would catch animals, people would kill people. I have come here in search of a quiet place,» said the old man.

He had lived for a long time in those parts. One day when he went down to the river to wash himself, a trout came out of the water and asked him, «Uncle, a pike is going to swallow me. Where shall I hide myself?»

«Move to the stream among rocks and mountains,» said the old man. «Pike will not ascend to cold waters.» The trout did as he was told.

Another day, when the old man had climbed a mountain, he came across a woodgrouse.

«Uncle, where shall I go?» he asked. «A golden eagle is going to swoop down at me.»

«Flee to the forest,» said the old man. «The golden eagle flics only over the mountains.» The woodgrouse did so. Having come to the forest he went serenely to sleep.

Still another day, when the old man was walking on the meadow, he met two rocs. «Uncle,»– they said,– «save us, a wolf is chasing us. Rescue us.» So the old man gave them advice.

«Run in turn.»

«But while one of us is racing, the other will be falling behind,» the roes said.

«Come here then, let me bind you.» That's what the old man did. Bringing the rocs close together, putting them back to back, he tied them as a pair and said, «While one of you is running, the other one will be resting. If you get tired, turn over to your back. The wolf in pursuit of the roes continued his chase, but they escaped. The wolf kept following and the roes kept running in turn. Racing like this, the roes reached the top of a big mountain.

«Jump over to another mountain,» said the upper roe. The running roe leaped up to reach the other mountain but got to the Moon. The wolf who was chasing them, he jumped too, and fell down upon the face of the Moon.

Since those times the two animals are said to have remained on the face of the Moon. One always chasing the other. But the chaser can never catch up with the beast ahead of him because the latter has eight legs. When his four legs are running, the other four legs arc having a rest on his back. When the beast gets tired, he turns over to his back and races on.