Many, many years ago there were six rabbits who lived on the shore of a lake, in a forest. One fine day, a big ripe fruit on one of the biggest trees fell down into the lake, making a loud “plop!” when it hit the water. The rabbits were terrified, not knowing what this noise could be, and at once made off as fast as their four legs could carry them.

A fox saw them fleeing and called out, “Why are you flying?”

The rabbits said, “Plop is coming!”

When the fox heard this, he immediately started to flee with them. Next they ran into a monkey, who queried, “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“Plop is coming!” replied the fox. So the monkey also joined in their flight.

Thus the news spread from mouth to mouth until a deer, a pig, a buffalo, a rhinoceros, an elephant, a black bear, a brown bear, a leopard, a tiger, and a lion were all running away, helter-skelter.

They had no thought at all, except to fly. The faster they ran, the more frightened they became.

At the foot of the hill there lived a lion with a great long mane. When he caught sight of the other lion running, he roared to him, “Brother, you have claws and teeth, and you are the strongest of all animals. Why are you running like mad?”

“Plop is coming!” the running lion panted.

“Who’s Plop? Where is he?” the lion with the long mane demanded.

“Well, I don’t really know,” he faltered.

“Why make such a fuss then?” the long-maned lion went on. “Let’s find out what it is first. Who told you about it?”

“The tiger told me.”

The inquisitive lion with the long mane asked the tiger, who said that the leopard had told him, so the lion turned to the leopard, and the leopard answered that he had heard it from the brown bear. The question was passed on to the brown bear, who said he had heard it from the black bear. In this way, the black bear, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the buffalo, the pig, and the deer were all asked, one by one, and each of them said he was told by someone else.

Finally it came down to the fox’s testimony, and he said, “The rabbits told me.”

Then the lion went up to the rabbits, who squeaked in chorus, “All six of us heard this terrible plop with our own ears. Come with us, we’ll show you where we heard him.”

They led him to the forest, and pointing at it, they told the lion, “The terrible plop is there.”

Just at this moment another big fruit fell from the tree and dropped into the water with a deep “plop!”

The lion sneered.

“Now, look, all of you!” he said. “You’ve all seen what that plop is. It’s only the sound of a fruit dropping into the water. What is so terrifying about that? You almost ran your legs off!”

They breathed a sigh of relief. The panic was all for naught.

Primary Source: D.L. Ashliman (1999) http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type2033.html#tibet

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