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Translated by James Riordan
Illustrated by Daviv Khaikin
Mother Rabbit had a whole burrow-ful of children. There was Jack Rabbit the Eldest, Peter the Next to Eldest, Fluffy Tail the Middle One, Bobtail the Next to Middle One, Baby Brown Ears, and, last of all, Little Willie.
Like all little rabbits they loved to hop, skip and jump, play hide-and-seek and they even fought now and again.
Only Little Willie did none of this. Instead, he counted. He would sit outside the front door - he was afraid of wandering farther away - and count.
A centipede came crawling by, hurrying home as fast as her tiny furry legs would carry her. Willie was pleased. Now he could count big numbers: “One leg, two legs, three legs....” Before he had time to say “four” the centipede had crawled away.
“Never mind,” thought Willie, “she walks too quickly. I shall find something easier to count.”
He stood on tiptoe and looked around. Not far off he spied a nestful of blue eggs in a hollow. The eggs lay on soft feathers, wisps of straw and grass.
Willie was pleased. “Now I can count something without them running away,” he said happily.
He made himself comfortable in the hollow and began: “One little egg, two little eggs, three little eggs, four....” Just then he heard a whistling in the air and a lark came down onto the eggs. She covered them all up with her body.
“What are you doing?” she cried angrily at Willie. “What do you mean by looking at my eggs?”
Willie did not know what to say. He stuttered and stammered and tried to explain that he only wanted to count them.
But the mother lark shooed him off.
Poor Willie walked away hanging his head. There was nothing for him to count. All of a sudden he spotted some grains of corn lying on the ground. A whole pile of them. Probably they had fallen out of a sack.
He brightened up at once and began to count the grains quickly. He had got up to four when out of nowhere a flock of hungry sparrows appeared. They flapped, and chattered and pecked up the grains. In a flash all the corn was gone and the sparrows took off again.
Willie was so sad he began to cry as he made his way home. Once there he lay down on his bed in the corner of the burrow and sniffed himself to sleep.
Towards evening all the little rabbits hopped home: Jack Rabbit the Eldest, Peter the Next to Eldest, Fluffy Tail the Middle One, Bobtail the Next to Middle One and Baby Brown Ears. They had their supper and wanted to play more games. Willie just did not feel like playing, though they tugged at his ear, pulled his leg, tickled him.... All in vain, he just huffed and refused to play.
“Poor little dear, he is tired,” said Mother Rabbit. She put her knitting to one side, took Willie on her knees and began to sing him a lullaby.
It was warm and cosy in his mother’s arms and Willie’s eyes began to close. From the doorway he could see a patch of dark blue sky with twinkling stars.
“Now, no one will stop me from counting”, he thought. “I shall count every little star in the sky.”
So he began: “One star, two stars, three stars, four....”
“Hush,” said Mother Rabbit to her other children. “Sshhh, our youngest baby rabbit is asleep.”Author: Vassilevskaya E.; illustrated by Khaikin D.
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