The winter was long and cruel and Nin suffered greatly. Each day was a struggle for survival—food was scarce and hard to come by. The cold was pervasive, Nin was never warm. Predators were everywhere.
There was little time for idleness, he could hardly stop to scratch his nose before the arctic hare was upon him, telling him to do this or that.
He found peace when he could, wherever and whenever it appeared—mere moments, not the hours or days he’d known as a prince. He learned to take joy in smaller and smaller things. Sights, scents, and sounds he’d once dismissed as plain or ordinary now filled him with strange new pleasure.
During these brief moments he thought he was close to understanding the little truth that beat within his heart. The daily adversity was slowly attuning his ears to the sound.
On one occasion he told the arctic hare that he sought the secret that lies buried at the heart of the world, how this beating in his heart would reveal the truth of the world to him. The arctic hare took his paw and held it against her chest and there he felt her pulse. “All hearts beat,” she said. “That is the only truth I know.”
Nin could not decide if this was a very profound answer, or if she merely did not understand his meaning.
On another occasion, as he surveyed the arctic plains as they sparkled in the early dawn, he asked the hare, “Why is the snow white?” to which she replied simply, “Because there is no blood on it.”
And Nin began to regard the arctic hare not just as a mentor, but as a sage and saint.