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Why does the grasshopper run to and fro?

The Story of Jesus and the Unkind Reaper.
Another large kind of locust or grasshopper is also known by the name of "little horse" or "mower." For the explanation of the last name the following legend is told:

ONCE upon a time when Jesus and St. Joseph hid themselves for fear of the heathen in some very high grass which reached to their waist, it is told that a giant came there to cut the grass, and he carried a huge scythe, and with each stroke he cut down a large swath. Christ and St. Joseph, seeing the work of that man and fearing lest they should be discovered by the heathen if all the grass were cut down, asked him not to cut any more. But when he heard that Christ begged him to stop, he just went on with his work more furiously, full of spite, for was not he also a heathen who wanted to catch him? When Christ saw this he prayed to God to put as many obstacles in the giant's way as possible, for it was still some time before the sun would set, and he would otherwise quickly finish the cutting of the whole field. God heard him, and he sent a heat so fierce that it dried up even the tongue in the man's mouth. The mower, however, did not care. He only cast off all his clothes and went on with his work in his shirt. When God saw that the giant would not stop he changed the weather and made it so bad that you would not have allowed a dog to leave the house. But the mower went on with his work undisturbed. The only thing which he did was to pick up the clothes which he had cast off and to put them on again, and he made swaths as wide as the high road.

               When Christ saw the progress which he made he trembled like a reed. He feared lest the heathen would catch him. Angrily, he knelt down, and cursing the giant, he said: "Cursed shalt thou be, thou disobedient and callous mower, all thy life henceforth thou shalt be always only mowing and never gain any benefit from it. As long as the world stands thou shalt always be running to and fro among the reapers, who will cut thy legs as a punishment for not having listened to me." No sooner was this curse uttered, when the giant was turned into a small green insect with long legs, which to this very day is seen hopping between the blades of grass on meadows and fields, running in front of the scythes of cutters of grass. This insect is called the mower (Locusta viridissima).

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Why does the grasshopper run to and fro?
Tale Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Book Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Book Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1915
Country of Origin: Romania
Classification: unclassified

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