Two children, Paulchen and Luischen, were wandering about in the country on Easter Day, they said sorrowfully to one another. “Has the Easter Hare quite forgotten us this year?” For three hours they tramped about, and hunted for eggs in every corner of the fields near the big forest. Suddenly Paulchen found a huge egg; he called to Luischen to come at once to see it, and she trotted along towards him, carrying a pretty little nest filled with Easter eggs in her hands, which she had also found.
The children were very happy; it was such a lovely sunny day, and they were so delighted with their treasures. However they did not give up hunting, and soon each of them found an Easter Hare made of the most delicious chocolate. Then Luischen discovered an egg which she called an April-fool’s egg; for when she tried to lick it to see what it tasted like, she found that it was made of soap.
“O, do come and see what a heap of eggs I’ve got,” said Paulchen, in tones of ecstasy.
Then little Luischen jumped up, calling out: “Look, look—O do come here, quick, quick, and see those two beautiful big nests filled with Easter eggs, and two lovely silver baskets beside them! O how exquisite! The Easter Hare is too good, he is a darling, did you ever see such beautiful things as he has given us. I can hardly hold mine!”
“Neither can I,” said Paul, “but look over there, Luischen, there are two large baskets. I expect they are meant for us, how very convenient! We can put all our things into them.”
“Let’s go and fetch them at once,” said Luischen. “Do you see that pretty bush with silver palm-buds on it over there?” she continued, “we will go and pick a few twigs from it and tie them on to our baskets with some grass; then they will look more ‘Eastery.’”
“If only we knew where the Easter Hare lives,” they said somewhat sadly, “we would go and call on him at once and thank him for all his kindness to us.”
“O but just look, Paulchen,” said Luischen excitedly, “there is something written on the rocks over there; perhaps the Easter Hare lives there. Paulchen, you can read a little, do see if you can make out what is written.”
“I am the Master Easter Hare
Lay eggs, in plenty, everywhere.”
“Come along, run, we will knock at the door,” said Luischen joyfully. So they went up to the rock and knocked.
“Come in,” said a clear voice.
They went in and turned to the door on the right from which the voice had come. They entered a comfortable room, and there on a cosy easy-chair, there sat father Easter Hare, who had just put on his spectacles to examine the eggs which his son, who was about seven years old, had painted.
“Good morning, dear Mr Easter Hare, we have come to thank you for the lovely eggs,” said the children.
“Dear, dear,” said Mr Easter Hare, “you found them of course in your garden, or——?”
“Alas, no, we have no home, we are orphans; the people in the orphanage did not treat us kindly, so we ran away, and meant to seek our fortune in the wide world,” said the children. “Then we were so lucky as to find these beautiful eggs in the fields over there!”
“Dear me, so you are orphans!—well then perhaps you would like to stay here with us and learn painting and housekeeping,” said Mr Easter Hare.
“Oh yes indeed, we should simply love to!” answered the children, “but where is your wife? Perhaps she will be able to teach us to be of some use in the household.”
“Well, well, my wife is in the kitchen cooking cabbage, and carrots, and making a famous salad.”
“Oh!” said both the children, “may we help her dress the salad?”
“Certainly, my wife will be very pleased to find that you can be so useful; there, just opposite in the passage, is a door that leads into the kitchen where my wife is busy.”
The children followed his directions and went into the kitchen, and there sat Mrs Easter Hare.
“Good morning, Mrs Easter Hare,” said the children politely, curtsying and bowing, “we have come to help you in the household, and to stay with you till we are grown up; but now please let us make the salad.”
“Well, that is very kind of you, I’m sure, to want to help me,” said Mrs Easter Hare, and the children set to work at once.
After this the children helped her every day in the kitchen in the morning, and in the afternoon they learnt from father Easter Hare how to paint the eggs smoothly and prettily, and how to read and write; for the Easter Hare is educated, you must know, and far more intelligent than ordinary hares. When they grew up and went out into the world again, Paulchen became a celebrated artist and lived in the artist colony at Cronberg, and little Luischen married, and became an exemplary housewife; but their best friends throughout their lives were always MR AND MRS EASTER HARE.