The White Hare

A white hare seen in Looe signals misfortune to men who have betrayed their lovers and a warning to fishermen that a storm is brewing at sea.

Sarah was a serious girl with every good intention; she worked in the harbour hawking the catch. She had her life planned and made certain she got what she wanted. Simon was a cheerful lad but fickle. He loved Sarah deeply for a year and a day until he changed his mind. He decided Sarah was a bit bland, and he started dating Sally, a barmaid at the Jolly Sailor.

Now Sarah still loved Simon truly and deeply and she could not change her opinion. She thought Simon would make a suitable husband and had their life together all planned- but it was not to be. Simon now loved Sally. The humiliation of rejection stung and jibbed at poor serious Sarah's soul. Her pride was hurt and her spirit seethed with resentment.When Simon became Sally's husband and not Sarah's, Sarah died of a broken heart.

Simon lived together with Sally in a higgledy built house in West Looe. Their home was just up from the harbour and a tiny saunter from The Jolly Sailor Inn. Now a little of Sarah's anguish lingered after her death and fixated on hurting Simon's happiness. Every night, her ghost bounded down Talland Hill in the form of a White Hare and followed Simon into the Jolly Sailor. The White Hare haunted him with all the force of her humiliation.

One night, on her way down the hill, the White Hare spotted a storm brewing out at sea. Many a member of Sarah's family would be heading out in their boats and Sarah had to warn them. From that night on whenever she sensed a storm, Sarah took to bounding between the ropes tying the boats along the harbour. It became common for the people of Looe to see a large white hare running between the boats. The Town people came to recognise the helpful hare was trying to warn of a storm and save the lives of the men of her town. And though she was very relieved at the success of her new ghostly task, the bitterness kept Sarah appearing on her nightly mission and she always doubled back to find Simon; the man who had betrayed her.

Not being a very strong character himself, Simon was soon overcome by the taunts of the White Hare and its constant reminder of his jilting of serious Sarah. There was nothing jolly Sally could do to calm his regret, for the hare was always there to remind them. Within the year, Simon too died of ill health and the ghost of the hare stood ready to claim him.

Sometimes still the white hare is spotted on West Looe Hill - sign of another fickle lad, sign of another broken hearted maid, sign of a fierce storm brewing.


retold by Anna Chorlton

  • Looe