The Hare of the Dog

December 6, 2011

I mentioned before that Bunnykins would tell stories to the young rabbits in the warren. This is one of the stories he told.

Bunnykins looked around as the young rabbits jostled each other to get near to the front where they could hear and see better. “If you’re all ready, then I’ll begin.”

He looked around expectantly and the youngsters were quiet and still.

“Once there was a farmer and the farmer had an old dog. Often he would take the dog with him when he strode around the field checking fences or doing some his of his chores that couldn’t be done with the tractor or land rover.

“Come, Bob” the Farmer would say and old Bob would lift his white muzzle and stretch his grey body in his basket and follow the Farmer where he went.

“I don’t know why you keep that old thing” said the Farmer’s wife one day “He does nothing but lie in that basket, stinking out my kitchen.”

“He’s been a good dog for me over the years” replied the farmer ” it’s his time to rest.”

The Farmer’s wife smiled “You softy! Well get him out from under my feet so I can clean his smelly old blanket.”

That’s how it was with old Bob. One day when the farmer took Bob out for a walk he saw him pick something up and carry it in his mouth.

“What have you got there old boy?” asked the farmer, but old Bob wouldn’t let him see and trottted off home with his prize.

The farmer followed him home and found him in his basket with a young hare between his front paws and Bob licking it clean.

“Well really!” exclaimed the farmer’s wife “What is he doing with that little creature?”

The Farmer shrugged “I guess we better wait and see. He seems to have a liking for it.”

Weeks past and soon drew into months. The young hare grew and was soon hopping around the kitchen, doing what comes naturally to young hares. Bob would look would wash him gently and farmer’s wife would feed him carrots or watch him sleeping in the basket with old Bob.

“My kitchen isn’t my own” she would mutter when in a grump some days “smelly dog and hare.” but other days she would smile as she saw the old dog and his companion stretched out in the basket.”

All would have been well if it hadn’t been for the bedding. One day the farmer had taken Bob out for his walk. The farmer’s wife was washing the bedding her mother had given her on her wedding day. Old bedding now, but she still prized it above all the other bedding that they owned. She had just put the bedding into the laundry basket when the telephone rang in the hall. She rushed off to answer it and the hare hopped over to the basket. It smelled nice, so he hopped in for a closer look. But once inside he found it damp and cold. The bedding wrapped itself around him and he struggled to get back out. So he bit and kicked and clawed and forced his way out. farmer’s wife returned to find her prized bedding in a mess. Worse still it was ripped and the damp culprit was in old Bob’s bed. Without thinking she picked up a pot and hurled it at him, hitting him on the head. The hare fell into a heap, the farmer’s wife shook him but he was quite dead.

“What will I do?” she moaned “I know I will make you into a stew and say I left the door open and you ran away.”

The farmer came home with Bob “That smells nice, dear, what is it?”

“Just a stew dear, nothing special.”

Old Bob went straight to his basket. He looked around and began to whimper. Round the kitchen he looked, searching for the hare.

“Where is the harr?” asked the Farmer “Bob is looking for him.”

“I hung out the washing, but the basket was heavy and I must have forgotten to close the door. When I came back he was gone.” replied the farmer’s wife, “Now get cleaned up, this stew is ready to eat!”

“Maybe it will come back then, if not Bob will get over it.”

But the hare didn’t come back and Bob didn’t get over it. He lay in his basket and pined. He wouldn’t eat and when the farmer coaxed him for a walk he would rush back and search his basket, then lie down sadly when he couldn’t find his friend.

One evening the farmer looked at his Wife “I am not sure how much longer Old Bob will be with us, he is fading away every day. What could have happened to that hare?”

His Wife dropped her eyes and blushed “Why you ate him Will.” and with that She blurted out the whole story.

The farmer nodded thoughtfully. “I am off out then, don’t wait up.”

Several nights passed and every night the farmer said the same thing until one night he came home with a young hare tucked inside his coat. “Finally caught one.” he smiled.

He put the trembling hare in the basket with old Bob, who glanced at it but didn’t move. The hare lay down between his paws and soon both were fast asleep.

Bob perked up again. He looked after the young Hare and fussed over him. Soon the pair were inseparable and the familiar routine began again. But Bob was getting on and one day the Farmer couldn’t rouse him for his walk. Old Bob was buried in the garden near the Kitchen door where he always lay in the warm Summer evenings.

Farmer got a new dog and a new basket, for Bob’s basket belonged to the Hare. If the new dog, Bonnie, tried to go into the basket She was told off roundly “Bad girl, go to your own basket.” With no Bob the Hare would often follow the Farmer’s wife around and some evenings She would sit with him on her lap, brushing his hair.

The hare lived on for a few more years and in the end was buried in the same grave as old Bob. The Farmer planted a Cherry blossom tree over the two friends and in Spring when the blooms were ablaze, he would think about Bob and the Hare. ”

Bunnykins looked around at the faces of the Rabbits around him. “Most dogs aren’t like old Bob. If you see one run and hide or they will eat you for their supper. Speaking of which, off you go home now.”

“Bunnykins, why were there no rabbits in today’s story?” asked one of rabbits.

Bunnykins smiled “Remember it isn’t always about us, there are many creatures in the world, not just rabbits. Now off home Scamp.”

The young rabbits hopped off home whilst Bunnykins wandered to the Farmer’s garden and lay down in the grass in the shade of the the old Cherry tree.

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VII

 

As Bunnykins hopped towards an entrance to the warren, two large fierce looking rabbits appeared as if from nowhere.

 

“Where do you think you are going?” barked one of them, his brown eyes flashing in the sunshine.

 

“Why I am here to visit an old friend.”

 

“We don’t allow visitors here.” Replied the Rabbit “Don’t you know the disease is spreading?”

 

“The Disease? What disease?”

 

“Who Myxy of course. A horrid thing. Those humans are cruel creatures.”

 

The second Rabbit was looking around Bunnykins carefully. “He doesn’t have any lumps or bumps, his eyes look clear and he has no swelling on the head. He looks clean to me, Brunswick.”

 

“We aren’t the judges of that, Stalkfinder. You know that.”

 

“Who are you looking to see?” asked Stalkfinder. “Perhaps we can send him out to you, but you can’t come in unless the elders permit it.”

 

Bunnykins nodded “that makes sense. I am looking for Startsfights he will probably expect me.”

 

Stalkfinder stared “Really? He is a bit loopy you know.”

 

“Really? Oh we will get on very well then, I am pretty much loopy myself” smiled Bunnykins.

 

Bunnykins waited and after some time Stalkfinder returned followed closely by another rabbit. The second rabbit hooped with a strangely lopsided gait. From time to time it would freeze, listening intently and the twitch its head before moving on. This is a weird looking rabbit, thought Bunnykins, but I guess that must be Startsfights. Startsfights hopped over to where Bunnykins was waiting and looked at Bunnykins quizzically. “So you are the famous Bunnykins? Not very impressive but you are who you are I guess.” Startsfights glanced back at the two Rabbits staring behind them “You needn’t worry I won’t be coming back into the burrow, we have some business to attend to.”

 

Stalkfinder and Brunswick looked relieved as the two rabbit hopped away from the warren and were soon out of view. “I will be glad if I never see anything of either of those two again.” Stalkfinder smiled “I don’t know, they are odd for sure, but I can’t help thinking they are both good rabbits at heart.”. Brunswick snorted “I can’t abide and optimist, let’s get back on duty.”

 

VIII

 

The two rabbits hopped into the distance and after some time Bunnykins noticed Startsfights gait had changed and was more what he would have thought of as being normal. Startsfights noticed him stare. “Oh you have noticed have you. I put my little act on for those idiots back at the warren. They think little of me, so I can get away with a lot.”

 

Bunnykins laughed “So this act is just for show then?”

 

“Of course that lot are dumb enough to fall for it, so all the better for me.” Startsfights hopped along beside Bunnykins and matched his pace without any noticeable effort.

 

“Where are we going?” asked Bunnykins

 

Startsfights laughed “I wish I could tell you that, all I know is that we are to seek out the Pixie Princess.”

 

Bunnykins stopped “What? What rubbish is this? There are no such things as Pixies”

 

A voice behind them startled both of the Rabbits “You think not do you? Well I don’t believe in rabbits either.”

 

The Rabbits stared at a small figure dressed in green and brown standing on a branch of a nearby tree observing them. Her brown hair was pinned back and on top of her head nestled a small cap. On her feet she wore a pair of sturdy boots that flashed and shone as she moved. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you its rude to stare?” She smiled.” Like my boots? They are the latest thing amongst the young Pixies. The oldies still wear those silly felt things. Yuck!”

 

Bunnykins was astounded “Are you really a Pixie?”

 

The Pixie laughed, “Of course I am and you are really a Rabbit. What has taken you two so long? The Princess has sent me out to seek you, she fears you have got yourselves lost. Judging by your conversation I am not surprised. Come along, follow me.”

 

With that she began to hop from branch to branch, leading the Rabbits deeper into the woods until they came to a large clearing. In the centre stood an old tree stump. The Pixie alighted on the trunk and gave the trunk a kick with her boots. “That should do the trick.” She smiled.

 

A cross voice called from inside “I am coming, can’t you be patient.” A click was heard and the side of the trunk was opened revealing a wizened, elderly Pixie. “Heavens these newfangled boots make an awful noise. Now if you youngsters only stuck to traditional felt we would all be much happier.”

 

The Pixie put her hands on her Hips “Get with the times, Grandpa. We can’t stay in the dark ages forever you know.”

 

The elderly Pixie put his hands on his hips and glared “Why you young whipper snapper, show a bit of respect to your elders and don’t answer back. When I was young I would never.”

 

A gentle cough came from behind him “As I recall Bozman you were the worst scamp in the hive and the cheekiest around.”

 

Bozman looked ready to argue, but blushed and dropped his gaze. A Pixie stepped forth into the daylight. Her raven hair was piled on top of her head and she was clad entirely in green, Her gown sweeping to her delicate feet. “The Princess has asked me to bring the Rabbits to her. Could follow me please? Jeanne, well done in finding them so quickly, your mother asks that you come too.”.

 

She turned and started to walk down some shallow steps leading down from inside the hollow tree. After hesitating for a moment the two Rabies followed her “That is Catarina my mother’s favourite assistant.” whispered Jeanne as the Bozman closed the door behind them and the Rabbits hopped into the land of the Pixies.

 

IX

 

The tree trunk slammed shut behind them, but instead of the darkness Bunnykins was used to in the warren, small lights seemed to spring up on the walls lighting their way as they hopped or walked downstairs. Soon they were in a large underground chamber, lined by what looked like nests from which emerged the curious faces of many Pixies. In the centre of the chamber stood a simple chair on which sat the most an imposing and beautiful Pixie. Her white robe was sprinkled with what looked to Bunnykins like fallen stars that shimmered and sparkled in chamber’s lights. The Pixie stood and activity around her seemed to stop, “Welcome here Bunnykins. I have waited for your coming for a long time.” Bunnykins looked startled. The Princess smiled “Did you think this would be a surprise for me? No dear Bunny I have been told of your coming and of your quest. Come sit by me and bring your friend. He looks like he needs a nudge right now.”

 

Bunnykins turned to see Startsfights cowering and muttering “The white lady of the woods.” over and over again.

 

The Princess smiled “He is afraid as we normally discourage rabbits from this place. You can see how damaging their digging could be to our home. But, we never harm anyone, I assure you of that.”

 

The Rabbits hopped up together and lay down at the Princess’ feet. She smiled at them. “I am Princess Calandra. Welcome to our home. While you are here we will extend our hospitality to you and you will be under our protection.” on uttering these words, She gazed around the hall and stared pointedly at a tall Pixie who stood nearby “and on this point I speak for everyone.” The Pixie grimaced but bowed low to show that he understood.

 

Calandra looked back to Bunnykins “So young Bunnykins, you have had a hard time, but here you are. You both look like handsome young rabbits. Stay with us awhile then return to your homes. This quest is too much to lay on your shoulders.”

 

Bunnykins rose “No I must keep my promise. I will continue, so perhaps it is best if we leave.”

 

Calandra smiled “I knew you would say that but still I had to offer you a way out. Very well, rest tonight and tomorrow I will tell you where the Stone resides. I warn you that you will face a very dangerous foe. One who cares nothing for pain and will kill you if he can.”

 

Calandra beckoned “Jeanne show our guests to the chamber that has been prepared for them so that they may rest before they eat.”

 

Bunnykins and Startsfights followed a skipping Jeanne to a small hollow at the side of the chamber. “We tried to make it feel like a Rabbit Tunnel but I don’t know if we have managed.” The two Rabbits nodded happily, “This is fantastic” said Bunnykins and with that lay down and fell fast asleep. “Well that’s gratitude for you.” Muttered Jeanne as she walked out leaving the sleepy Rabbits to rest.

 

X

 

The noise was very soft, almost a whisper but Bunnykins heard the sound, his ears twitched and he sat upright. Next to him stood the Pixie he had noticed inside the hall. “Well, well MR Rabbit you have very keen hearing. Good I wish to speak to you.”

 

Bunnykins looked at him quizzically “Speak to me? What about?”

 

The Pixie smiled “Please don’t be coy. We both know your mission is to collect the Black stone. I don’t disagree with that, but I want the black stone brought here.”

 

Bunnykins looked surprised “But what good can it be to you? Surely it is a stone for Rabbits quite meaningless to you?”

 

The Pixie smiled “No it is a stone of great power. If we have the stone here we will have a great protection and strength. You must bring it to me, I mean us.”

 

Bunnykins shivered as he felt the power of the Pixie’s desire for the stone, a desire almost bordering on madness. “But I have promised to return the stone to my old burrow. If I don’t do that then I will have failed in my quest.”

 

The Pixie looked at him angrily “Your quest? It can fail here and now if I choose to throttle you.” Bunnykins gasped “If you bring the stone to me, I will protect you, but if you don’t I will punish every rabbit that comes my way. Do I make myself clear, you and your kin will suffer, I will make sure of it.”

 

A low growling noise came from behind him. The Pixie spun round to see Startsfights glaring at him angrily. “Get out of my way you wretch.” snarled the Pixie.

 

“Let him go Startsfights, we need to rest.”

 

The Pixie backed out of the entrance pausing to snarl “Remember what I said Rabbit, bring the stone here and all will be well. Fail and it will go badly for you and your kin.”

 

XI

 

The next morning Jeanne woke the Rabbits, as the dawn light was breaking overhead. “My mother wishes to see you. I am sorry it is so early but it seems to be very important.”

 

Jeanne ushered the two Rabbits through to hall and then across to a small recess where Calandra waited for them. “I hear you had a visitor last night.” Bunnykins nodded “I can guess what it was he was after, Brephus is ruthless in his demands. I wish I could have dealt with him a long time ago, but he has many friends and supporters. I am sure he has frightened you and your friend.” Startsfights shook his head vigorously. “Scared of him, I could bite him in two.” Calandra shook her head “Unfortunately not, brave little one. He is a powerful magician; he would use his powers long before you could bite. No we will have to deal with him our own way. In the meantime we must get you both away from here safely. Leave Brephus to us.”

 

Calandra looked worried at the Rabbits “What you seek is hidden in a warren on Horsefield Common. It is an evil place, run by a rabbit who calls himself Wroth. Beware that one; he carries a power within that is fed by evil. Jeanne, make sure our guests have something to eat and are well taken care of. When they are ready I want you to take them to the edge of the Common and return. Do not get involved, young Lady, come straight back here without delay. Do you hear?”

 

Jeanne nodded, but had Calandra looked closely she would have seen Jeanne cross her fingers behind her back as She smiled.

 

“Very well. Bunnykins there is something I will give you.” Calandra held a tiny package in her hand “this contains a substance which is very dangerous to use. Both to the person using it and to those it comes in contact with if they haven’t been placed under the counter spell.” Calandra muttered, making strange motions in the air and a light flared briefly and shone around Startsfights and Bunnykins “You are now protected my friends, but I warn you this weapon is dire and only to be used in extreme danger, when you have no other option.”

 

Calandra slipped the tiny package into Bunnykins’ right ear “It will be safe there until you need it. I pray not, but this may save your life.”

 

Bunnykins bowed hid head in thanks, wondering what the awful thing could be. “Jeanne” said Calandra “ look after our guests.”

 

Jeanne led the Rabbits in to the hall where they had food and drink and were soon ready to leave. As Jeanne led them from the Pixie camp she whispered “Horsefield Common is around one mile East of here. Follow me and let’s leave quietly so that Brephus is unaware that we have gone.”

 

As they walked into the open air the tree trunk slammed behind them with an ominous bang, leaving them wondering if any of them would ever return.

 

XII

 

The journey through the forest was uneventful and soon Jeanne led them to the edge of Horsefield Common. “This is as far as I take you.” She smiled “The Common is just ahead.” Her smile was wistful as she whispered “I do wish my mother would see I am not a child any more. I would like a little excitement in my life.” She sighed and turned to leave. “Good luck little Rabbits” she called as she walked away.

 

Bunnykins and Startsfights looked away towards the common so did not see Jeanne as she muttered a spell that shrank her to the size of a flea. Fearfully she hopped back and into Bunnykins’ hair, and climbing up, settled down on his head. Bunnykins started and scratched his back.

 

“Are you alright?” asked Startsfights.

 

“Yes”-replied Bunnykins “I thought I felt something, but it must have been my imagination. This would be a bad time to catch fleas.”

 

Startsfights nodded “Stop it you will have me scratching next.” Laughing the two friends moved towards Horsefield Common. As they walked forward they became aware of a commotion in front of them. A harsh voice sounded out “Drag that carrot you miserable worm or you will suffer.”

 

The two friends dropped low and hid behind some small bushes. Soon they saw a line of Rabbits appear. Surrounded by larger rabbits who were cajoling, kicking and biting the Rabbits were carrying, or rather dragging food. Bunnykins had never seen Rabbit carry food. Normally they just ate it. But these Rabbits were being forced to take the food somewhere. “Slaves?” muttered Bunnykins “Can this really be Rabbits using others as slaves?” He had heard of this thing amongst humans and ants, but never amongst Rabbits.

 

Bunnykins looked at Startsfights. “This is my way in.”

 

Startsfights stared in disbelief. “Your way in. Don’t you mean our way in?”

 

“No my friend your job was to help me get here and you have done this. No they may not notice one extra slave but they would notice two. You are free to go my friend.”

 

Startsfights started to protest bu Bunnykins had already started to move towards the group. He picked up a fallen vegetable and fell in line.

 

“Where were you?” cried an angry voice at his side.

 

“Sir, I just needed a call of nature and went over there” replied Bunnykins. His reply was a sharp kick. “ Don’t try to be smart.” Snarled the voice as Bunnykins trudged towards the warren with the other captive rabbits.

 

Starts fights watched as his friend disappeared in the crowd of Rabbits. “I won’t leave you.” He whispered, “I will help you somehow.”

 

XIII

 

The line of Rabbits trudged into the burrow carrying their load, which was dropped in piles from which other rabbits were moving items to storerooms and to eating areas. Bunnykins carefully placed his carrot in the proper pile when he became aware of a sensation of being watched. He glanced round and saw the largest rabbit he had ever seen watching him intently. Bunnykins quickly dropped his head and started to hop away when he heard a harsh voice order “That one. Bring it to me.” Bunnykins stopped and stayed absolutely still in the hope that the command referred to someone else, but it was him. Two burly rabbits quickly shoved him to the side and moved him into a side tunnel and from there to a large chamber.

 

The large rabbit soon entered the chamber. Bunnykins looked at the huge Rabbit in fear. The rabbit seemed a mixture of brown, balck and white but as he moved the colours seemed to melt and flow into each other so that he was all of these and none at the same time. Bunnykins knew that this was the Rabbit Calandra had called Wroth.

 

Wroth sneered at him “Did you think I would not notice a stranger in our midst? I can smell the stench of Pixie scum from you.” Wroth shook hi head “Truly you are a sad specimen. Did they really think you would get away with spying on me.”

 

Bunnykins shook his head “I am sorry I have no idea what you are talking about.” Though large Wroth moved fast and clubbed Bunnykins across the side of the head “Don’t take me for a fool. What is it they are after?” Again, Bunnykins shook his head “I honestly don’t know what you are talking about. I have been your captive for many months.” Wroth laughed harshly and struck Bunnykins again “So you could show me the work rooms, the eating rooms and your sleeping chamber, Slave.” Bunnykins did not reply. “I thought not. A poor liar indeed.” Wroth stepped towards the prone Bunnykins and kicked him. “Soften him up I want to know who he is and why he is here.”

 

Wroth left the room as the two Rabbits began to systematically beat Bunnykins around his head and back. Wroth hesitated on the threshold “Not too enthusiastic, I want him alive to get the information I need.” and with that he swept away.

 

XIV

 

Brephus fumed that the Rabbits had slipped his grasp. He had especially wanted to have a chat with Bunnykins again to make sure he understood how serious Brephus was in getting the stone. “ I should be the leader of the Pixie’s,” he muttered as he hurried along a passage to a meeting room where his supporters were waiting him. He flung open the door and strode inside. “They have gone. Did no one notice them leave?” Heads shook and eyes dropped in response “Must I do everything myself?” He strode around the room his anger growing, and then just as suddenly he cooled again. I need these fools, he thought, I can’t afford to alienate them. “Very well what is done is done. I want to send a small group of you to the Rabbit warren; perhaps you can gain entry whilst the Rabbit acts as a decoy. In the meantime I have had enough of Princess Calandra and her kind. It is time to take control of the clan from her. You” he said pointing to a nearby Pixie “take four of these and go to Horsefield Common. Attempt to enter the warren and gain the stone.” The Pixie paled “But we have failed in this task every time we have attempted it. That’s why you said the task must be achieved by a Rabbit.” Brephus marched towards the Pixie glaring “Are you defying me?” The Pixie quickly shook his head “Then go now. Pick your team and leave.”

 

When the Pixie had gone Brephus sat down and looked at the crowd inside the room. “It is time to move against her. I feel we will gain the stone this time and that will secure our power. In the meantime we must move to capture her and her entourage. When she is in our prison she will sing a different tune.” Brephus whirled as the door was suddenly thrust open and Calandra strode in followed by a large contingent of guards. She bowed to one of the Pixies “Thank you for telling me of this little plot. You may leave.” The Pixie hurriedly left the chamber. Calandra laughed, “Did you think I wouldn’t hear of your little plot?” Brephus snarled and moved towards her “I wouldn’t take me on Brephus, my power is greater than yours and I have no real wish to harm you.” Brephus stopped “You have no evidence, you can’t hold me.” Calandra smiled “Silly creature, of course I have evidence. This is just the last straw. Think yourself lucky I decided to stop your little game now to prevent bloodshed. Guards take him to the dungeons where he may ponder the error of his ways.” She glared around the room “Does any one wish to accompany him? Those who wish to may leave and plot no more.” The room quickly emptied and Brephus was led away to the cells.

 

“Your Majesty, what of the group who left, should we fetch them back?”

 

Calandra shook her head “No those ones stand no chance against Wroth and his minions, but they may provide a distraction that will aide Bunnykins in his mission. Allow them to leave, we can deal with that problem should they ever return.” With that she swept from the chamber.

 

XV

 

Wroth came back into the chamber, where Bunnykins lay groaning in pain. “I see my team have carried out a good job on you then, Mr Rabbit. Are you ready to talk now?”

 

Bunnykins groaned and tried to move away from the voice. Shoots of pain radiated through his body, where the Rabbits had pummelled, kicked and bitten him. “Why are you here then?”

 

Bunnykins shook his head “You captured me, and have kept me here against my will. It isn’t my choice.”

 

Wroth lashed out at Bunnykins in fury. “Don’t lie to me!” He produced a black back “I know you are after this aren’t you? You want my precious jewel, my black stone.” The bag opened and inside Bunnykins could see what seemed like a stone figure of a black rabbit, but as he look shots of white light ran through the stone, turning the Rabbit white. “Who sent you here? How did you know? You must tell me.” Over and over again he struck Bunnykins around the head and body. So violent was the attack that Bunnykins passed out from the pain.

 

“Wake up Rabbit” Snarled Wroth as the door was suddenly opened and a figure called, “Sir, we are under attack.” Wroth looked sharply around, “Attack? Who would dare to attack us?” The rabbit before him looked shaken and alarmed “Very well I will come and attend to this problem myself. I can’t rely on you fools for anything, can I?” As he spun to leave he Kicked Bunnykins one more time “I will be back Rabbit, have no fear this isn’t over.” And strode out leaving the Black Stone on the floor next to Bunnykins.

 

XVI

 

The Pixies approached the edge of the Common debating what to do next. “I don’t believe that we can do this. It’s a death sentence for us?” argued one. “But we have supported him and if he wins and we don’t do would he asks then it will go more the worse for us.”

 

One of the Pixie’s shook his head “I don’t like the feel of this at all, in fact I would prefer Calandra to what he is doing. The question is how do we do this and come out of it alive?”

 

As they were debating Startsfights hopped towards them. “Pixies am I glad to see you!” The Pixies stared at the Rabbit as he gave what in the Rabbit world passes for a grin. “Bunnykins has gone into the warren and I am worried he will never return. We must do something to get him out. Maybe if we make a fuss we can give him a chance to escape?”

 

The Pixies looked at each other “Can we speak alone for a minute?” Startsfights nodded. The Pixies whispered “Look here’s the thing if we do it this way, Brephus will think we did it for him if he succeeds. If not Calandra will think we did it to help that Rabbit. Either we could be alright.” One of the Pixies shook her head “We may well die doing this, we should just return and say we tried.” The first Pixie paused and looked at her, “You know that could be certain death from either of those two, let’s take our chance with the Rabbits.” All the Pixies nodded in agreement.

 

“Very well” we agree to help you. You are a Rabbit how do you suggest we help?”

 

Startsfights paused “Let’s spread out and find an entrance to the burrow and make a fuss there to make it seem that they are under attack. There may only be six of us, but we may be able to cause confusion. You have your magic and I my feet and teeth, let’s fight.”

 

Finding the entrances the Pixies and Startsfights started to make a lot of noise and soon there were rabbits rushing out to face a battle with magic and of course sharp kicks and bites for Startsfights. Word was sent to Wroth of the attack and he broke of his questioning of Bunnykins to rush to the fray.

 

Wroth burst on the field and at the sight of a Rabbit they had heard so much about the Pixie’s abandoned the field and rushed away. Wroth hopped briskly over to Startsfights. “What do we have here?” growled Wroth. A better Rabbit than you replied Startsfights and soon the two Rabbits were striking and kicking each other. Startsfights fought with speed and accuracy but Wroth with anger and deadly force. Remorselessly he pounded Startsfights until the smaller rabbit was forced to the ground> Steeping forward Wroth stood on Startsfights head and brought down his other foot on his neck, snapping it. Startsfights twitched and started, then moved no more. “Hang him over there for all my enemies to see, to remind them never to defy me. I have work to do.” With that he returned to question Bunnykins.

 

XVII

 

“Bunnykins wake up.” Whispered Frankie Wake up>“ Bunnykins woke with a start to find Jeanne shaking him “Wake up she” said.

 

Bunnykins looked around drowsily “Did I dream all of that?” Jeanne shook her head “No and we are in trouble.” Bunnykins looked around in dismay “Why are here? Your mother said you had to go straight back.”

 

Jeanne laughed, “Did you really think I would miss out on this? We don’t have much time he could be back any minute. Let me get the thing from your ear that my mother gave you.” Quickly she fetched the tiny package from his ear and hid behind against the side of the entrance wall as Wroth swept back in. “Well Bunny, your friends have failed and now I need to deal with you.” He pounced towards Bunnykins kicking and snarling when he was aware of someone else in the room.

 

He spun around just as Jeanne hurled the contents of the packet at him. The powder fell over him making him cough and wretch. “What have you done to me?” He roared. Bunnykins looked in dismay as Wroth’s head began to swell, his eyes watered and became milky and his nose began to run.” Jeanne looked on to “My mother was right it is Myxy, it is awful.” Rabbits were running toward Wroth as they heard him scream but on seeing him they backed away soon cries of “Myxy” were running through the burrow as Rabbits fled.

 

Jeanne picked up the bag and put it on Bunnykins back. “Come little Rabbit I know you are weak, but this is our chance to get out of here.”

 

Wroth made a last desperate lunge towards them, but missing he collapsed to the floor as Bunnykins hopped feebly away.

 

XVIII

 

Bunnykins looked at the body of Startsfights. Tied by his ankles he swung in the evening breeze. A shadow fell over him and Bunnykins flinched expecting the worst. He looked up to see the face of the Travelling man looking down on him. “Poor Bunny your and in an awful state. Come and I will put you in my bag.” Bunnykins hopped over to where Startsfights swung. The Travelling man looked puzzled, then his face cleared “This must be Startsfights I am guessing. Let’s take the poor fellow down and make sure he has a decent burial. It’s the least we can do.” The Travelling man cut the rope and gently took Startsfights and placed him inside a pocket inside his large coat. Bunnykins hopped slowly over to him. “Come on old boy, let me lift you in. I put your friend inside my coat; he will be warm and safe there. No point having you in with a dead rabbit is there. As for you young lady” he added looking at Jeanne “I think you have had enough excitement for one day. Get off home.”

 

Jeanne stroked Bunnykins fur and hugged him tight “Please get well my friend and come and visit us.” And with a last glance she rushed home.

 

On the ground near where Bunnykins had been he saw a black sack from which there was a dim glow. The travelling man lifted up and put it in the bag with Bunnykins. “I am guessing this what what you came to fetch little bunny. We best be on our way then.”

 

The Travelling Man’s long legs carried the Bunnies over hill and dale until they came in sight of Bunnykin’s warren. Inside the bag Bunnykins slowly felt his life force slipping away from him, but he was determined to deliver the great Stone to his burrow.

 

The Travelling man sat down and put his bag down beside him. He looked at Bunnykins sadly. “You are in a bad way old fellow, but not as bad as your friend here. This seems like a good spot to bury the poor fellow” He reached into his pocket and lifted out Startsfights. As he did so, the rabbit gave a small gasps and his body jerked. “My word,” gasped the Travelling Man “he is still alive!” Startsfights opened an eye, and then closed it just as quickly. “I hope they can look after him in your burrow old fellow for this is as far as I can go.”

 

The Travelling Man left the two rabbits near the entrance to the burrow and moved away to a safe distance. Soon some rabbits came out and looked at the two Rabbits. Carefully they nudged them and moved them down into the tunnels and they were lost from the sight of the Travelling Man.

 

XIX

 

The two rabbits were taken down the tunnels to a chamber where sick rabbits were taken to recover or die. A rather sever rabbit hopped over. He looked at Startsfights. “This one is in a bad way but I think we might be able to do something for him. Go and fetch the herbs for me and we can start treatment.” A young Rabbit bounded off at his command.

 

He looked at Bunnykins and shook his head sadly. “I can’t do anything for this one. He is beyond help. We can make him comfortable and that is all. Fetch some Monkshood we will help him from his pain.”

 

Bunnykins opened an eye; weakly he groaned “Fetch the council I have some important news for them.” The Rabbit looked blankly at Bunnykins. Bunnykins coughed “Please I ask you send them here I have news for them.”

 

“Well this is all very unusual but, very well.” The Rabbit glared at an assistant, “You heard him go and respectfully ask the Council to come here”

 

Soon the Council members entered the chamber, news of the Rabbits having arrived to them they were curious to see them.

 

Bunnykins rolled over gently and looked at them “I am sorry to call you here like this but I have brought you a great gift.” He nuzzled the bag towards them “Inside is the Great Stone, the black Stone. You must keep it safe here for all of the Rabbits.”

 

The Council members stared in disbelief, while Bunnykins shook the bag and the Stone rolled into view. “You must keep it safe for there are those who will seek to steal it.”

 

An astonished murmur arose as the Black Stone rolled into view, it’s surface flickering with a dull light. Soon the Council were marvelling at the Stone and ordering it to be moved to the centre of the warren where all could see it and it could be best protected.

 

Cries of “It’s not a myth, it’s real” and “Its wonderful may we see it?” resounded through the warren.

 

Bunnykins slumped back “May I see Frankie?” Frankie came towards him She recognised the strange Bunny whom she had met before.

 

“You are very ill.” She whispered.

 

“I am indeed Frankie. You know who I am don’t you?” Frankie shook her head but as She looked she saw Bunnykins slowly change from brown to white in front of her eyes. “Bunnykins? Is it really you?”

 

Bunnykins smiled weakly “Yes it is. I have come back if only for a short while.”

 

Frankie gasped” You are back, get well.” turning to the other Rabbits she whispered “Please make him well.”

 

Bunnykins coughed weakly “No one can make me well now. I need to rest.” He closed his eyes and smiled, gave a small gasp and was gone.

 

The Council looked on in astonishment as Frankie was led from the chamber. “This one must have a special burial. News of this must be spread far and wide. Bunnykins came back and has returned to death. We have seen a wonderful thing.”

 

XXI

 

Bunnykins carefully opened his eyes. Shots of pain exploded in his body. Semesgren sat nearby. She hopped over to him and gently stroked his head.

 

“Well young Rabbit, I had my doubts, but you have achieved what you were sent to do. It’s time for you to rest. Let me take you there so that you may seek peace and love.”

 

Bunnykins shook his head “You must send me back you promised.”

 

Semesgren shook her head “Don’t persist in this, it is folly.”

 

“I must go back.” insisted Bunnykins.

 

Semesgren laughed, “You have spirit I will give you that. Very well, but I did warn you that your return would not be what you expect. In any case the world always needs a white rabbit.”

 

Bunnykins closed his eyes. He felt a strange floating motion and then stirring, a pulsing, flashing light. He smelled something warm, comfortable and inviting. Crawling forward he latched on to his other’s teat and was content.

 

In a nearby field, the Travelling man was preparing some supper. He paused from stirring his beans, sniffed the air and smiled. “Welcome back Bunnykins.” Nodding he served his well-deserved meal.

 

The End

 

 

 

I

Bunnykins awoke slowly and carefully. Flashes of pain ran up and down his body. He felt desolate and alone. He closed his eyes tightly wondering what on earth was going on. A voice echoed in his mind

“Open your eyes Bunnykins”

He closed his eyes tighter

“I said open your eyes Bunny, do it now!”

Bunnykins slowly opened his eyes and saw the largest blackest rabbit he had ever seen.

“Don’t stare, don’t you know it’s rude.”

Bunnykins flinched and closed his eyes shaking.

“What’s wrong young rabbit? Why are you afraid”

Bunnykins whimpered, “You are the black rabbit of Semesgren and you have come to take my soul.”

The Rabbit guffawed. “Children’s’ stories young rabbit. I am he, but my task is not to steal your soul but to greet you! Don’t be afraid I am a servant of the great God Recroat and I mean you no harm. Come open your eyes.”

Slowly Bunnykins opened his eyes and looked around. All around was a mist and the black rabbit. Nothing else.

“Where are we, Sir and how did I get here?” He whispered

“Fear not young Rabbit. You are between worlds. You are at a crossroads. A decision point and clearly you are addled young rabbit if you can’t tell a doe from a buck. Sir indeed!”

“A decision point?” Asked Bunnykins

“Oh yes, the choice you make now will decide where you go next.” The black rabbit waved a large paw. “Open your eyes and listen carefully. This is your choice. Look here”

Bunnykins looked and saw the most beautiful field he could have ever imagined and in the field were rabbits of all shapes and sizes. Lolling, fighting, sexing eating and doing all the things that a rabbit will do.

“You may choose this and go there. It is the place for all rabbits. It is a sanctuary for you. But I have been given a task for you. It involves going back to where you came from. You will face dangers, you will face pain but I have an important task for you”

Bunnykins looked to where Semesgren was pointing and saw the field and his friends playing.

“You wont be there for long. No one will recognise you of course. You will be brown like everyone else. You wont stay long either, as a friend will come for you. Which do you choose?”

Bunykins looked at Semesgren feeling suddenly brave.

“What’s in it for me if I do this job then?”

Semesgren rose on to her back legs. She seemed to grow in stature and her eyes blazed.

“You dare to try to bargain with me young bunny! I walked your earth when the big creatures roamed and tore the throats of the little ones. I watched the ice crash across the land and swallow them whole. I saw the grass return and little maggots like you crawl from the ground to eat! You dare try to bargain with ME!”

“Oh,Okay” said Bunnykins “Its just you said I have a choice and this is an important job. So I was thinking that those bunnies do look pretty happy, so” Bunnykins paused and waited.

Semesgren looked at Bunnykins and curled her lip. “What is it you want? Why are you bunnies never simple to work with?” she muttered

“Well I was thinking when I complete this task I want to go home”

“You want to go back?” Spluttered Semesgren “Impossible you cant go back!”

“No? Maybe I will just go to the other place then.”

“Let me think”, said Semesgren “there may be a way. But remember what we ask for isn’t always quite what we get.”

“what do you mean by that?”

“Time will tell young Rabbit. DO you accept? Said Semesgren

“Accept what you have told me nothing yet?”

Semesgren grew tall and menacing again “Accept and I will tell you for it is only for the ears of those whose accept the quest”

Bunnykins laughed “Keep your hair on! I accept. What do you want me to do?”

Semesgren shrunk in size and gazed at Bunnykins

“Young Rabbit I am laying a hard task on you. You must seek for the Black Stone of Recroat ..”

“The Black Stone? That’s a myth!”

“No young Rabbit it is real. Very real. It was stolen by a Rabbit who has hidden is from view. It has been handed down inside his clan and we do not know where it is. The Stone is so important to Recroat and faith is disappearing. We must recover the stone!”

“Where will I find it and where will I take it?”

“The finding of the thing is your quest. But you must take it back to your old home for it is from there a great revival of belief will begin. “

“Back home! I accept! “ Exclaimed Bunnykins.”

But you must understand no one will recognise you. You will look and sound different. You must blend in! Wait there until an old friend comes to collect you and then your quest will begin. Close your eyes Bunnykins.”

II

Bunnykins felt a sharp thump to his side and groaned in pain. He opened his eyes to see two large guard rabbits staring at him and muttering.

“How on earth did this one get past us? Hazelnut will never believe we were here on watch. He will you think you were off with that young doe you’ve been chasing and that I have been asleep”

“What doe? Don’t know what you are talking about and as for being asleep, you were asleep. Left me on my own you lazy sod. How we going to explain this?”

Bunnykins groaned. “Will I kick him again?” said the larger of the two Rabbits.

“No, no” said Bunnykins “that won’t be required. Say aren’t you Tail Thumper, used to live near the Scroggins?”

Suddenly Bunnykins was pushed back and the large Rabbit pinned him to the ground.

“Who are you and how do you know my name, stranger?” snarled Tail Thumper.

“Why I ….” suddenly Bunnykins realised what Semesgren had said, about looking different, the rabbits didn’t know home “ … used to be friend with a rabbit from this burrow. Bunnykins was him name. A fine, upstanding bunny as I recall. He introduced us and I have a fine memory for names”

“I don’t remember you.”

“It was quite a while ago. “

“How did you get here?” snarled the second Rabbit. “How could you get past our guards?”

“I remembered a secret way that Bunnykins had shown me. You know what he was like for wandering and he liked to come and go when he liked.”

“That’s true,” said Tail Thumper “he was a bit wild and liked to wander. But you must show us this secret passage so that we can secure it. Let’s take him to the great council so that they can decide what must be done. Stand up rabbit and come with us.” Bunnykins was forced to his feet and led through the tunnels to the centre of the burrow.

III

“Stand straight before the leaders”

Bunnykins stood straight and looked straight at the leaders and amongst them was Frankie. Without thinking he gave a small gasp and whispered “Frankie”

Frankie’s sharp ears heard the stranger whisper her name. She looked at him for a moment, a puzzled expression on her face, then shook her head and looked away as the proceedings began.

“This Rabbit was found asleep in a corridor of the East wing of the burrow. He isn’t one of the set, so we need to establish who he is, how he got in to the burrow undetected and what actions we will need to take to ensure this doesn’t happen again” boomed an imposing rabbit whose name was Bigwig. “Tail Thumper come forward and tell the Council what you saw.”

“We were on a patrol when we found this rabbit asleep in in one of the tunnels. We challenged him and he said he was a friend of Bunnykins and had come in through and old disused tunnel.”

“Permission to speak.” said Bunnykins, when Bigwig nodded he continued “Look he can’t tell you any more than you already know. I can show you the tunnel so that you can deal with it. I wasn’t hiding. The patrol found me easily and I didn’t try to escape. I won’t be here for long so won’t be a problem to the set. I ask you to show me rabbit hospitality for the short time I will be here.”

The council discussed the situation. Bigwig declared “You may stay as our guest, but you must show us the tunnel so it can be sealed off.” Bunnykins quickly agreed grateful that he knew a tunnel he could show them.

The Council broke up and as the rabbits left the chamber Bigwig signalled several to remain behind. “I don’t trust that one. I want you to keep an eye on him, I sense he will bring trouble to the burrow.”

IV

For several days Bunnykins hung around the field waiting to be collected. He saw Frankie several times, but always from a distance and she always seemed to be heading in the opposite direction to his. One day he was ambling down a tunnel when they almost collided.

“Frankie, how are you?” asked a startled Bunnykins.

Frankie looked at him “Who are you? You are so familiar but I know we have never met before.”

“I was a friend of Bunnykins” his story was cut short by Frankie’s snort.

“Bunnykins my foot. There’s more to this I can tell. If you can let me past I have things to do.” He stood aside with a sigh and watched as Frankie bustled away.

The days seemed to flit passed as he settled into the rhythm of life in the burrow. He was aware of being shadowed as he wandered around, but felt no need to shake them off, as he wasn’t doing anything untoward. Let them follow me, he thought, they won’t see anything anyway.

One day he was stretched out on the grass when a familiar shadow passed over him.

“Well, well Mr Rabbit, we meet again.” said the travelling Man as he sat in the grass next to the Bunny. “Today’s the day to be off so if you have any goodbyes to say you best do it now.”

Bunnykins stretched and looked towards an entrance to the burrow. He realised there was no one he really needed to say goodbye to, so he climbed into the Travelling Man’s waiting bag. “Come on then. “ said the Travelling man “we best get off.”

Unseen by either of them Frankie watched from another tunnel entrance. She recognised the man immediately as the one who had helped Bunnykins and she before. The way he spoke to the strange rabbit made her wonder even more as to what strange things were afoot in the world.

V

The Travelling Man strode purposely down the road, his step lively and quick. Though not a young man any more, he knew the roads and paths and felt comfortable walking them. Several days before he had dreamt of picking up the rabbit and taking him to another burrow a distance away. So he had gone for him. He knew the rabbit, though he had changed and looked totally different. The Travelling Man puffed thoughtfully on his pipe. “These Rabbits seem the simplest of creatures, eating, digging and creating new life, and yet they are complex with their own hierarchies and organisation.” he mused. The rabbit in his bag moved slightly and the Man smiled to himself as he strode on.

As he walked along he hummed a song to himself, striding in the distance as he went. Eventually he stopped for a rest near a running stream. “There you go little rabbit, here is some nice fresh grass for you and I will fetch us water.”

The travelling man fetched water in a can and put some in a small cup for Bunnykins. “There you go Bunny.” He sighed, “I am not sure how much longer I can keep this going you know. Maybe after this outing I will give up wandering. The old bones could do with a soft bed.” He sighed, “Who am I kidding. I have lived most of my life on the road and will probably die there. When my daughter died and my wife left me, there didn’t seem much point staying around in an empty house.” Bunnykins looked intently at the man, then moved towards him and leant against his leg. The Travelling Man looked at him, “Yes I think you have been through the mill too old lad. You may look different, but your heart is the same.” They sat that way for some time, then the Travelling man stood up, washed his face in the running stream and declared “right into the bag old chap its time we were off again.”

The day wore on and still the Travelling Man strode further on. “I don’t think we’ll make it tonight old lad, but there’s an old shelter up here a bit we can rest for the night. We’ll get there tomorrow.”

Further on the road they came to an abandoned old barn. Though it was musty, the roof still held so it was fairly warm and dry. There the two comrades spent the night with a feeling of such companionship that filled the travelling man with joy.

VI

The next morning Bunnykins awoke groggily. The Travelling Man was already up and around, preparing some food for himself. “Here you go, young Rabbit, I have fetched you some dandelion leaves, grass and a carrot from a local farmer whilst you were asleep. You are a tired Bunny.”

Bunnykins staggered to his feet and hopped off for some privacy. Soon he hopped back and ate the food hungrily.

“Well youngster it’s time we were off. Another few hours and we should arrive. When we get there you have to look for a rabbit named Startsfights. I hope he doesn’t live up to his name. Jump into the bag and we’ll be off.”

Bunnykins climbed in and soon they were off again. The heat in the bag and the rhythm of its movement, meant that soon Bunnykins was fast asleep. He dreamt

              _____________

Frankie hopped up to him. She shook him roughly awake.

“Who are you? I don’t believe you are a friend of Bunnykins, so tell me the truth.”

“I can’t, I have promised.”

“You must tell me, how do you know Bunnykins. How do you know so much? Why do I feel I know you when I have never met you?”

“I am sorry I can’t tell you.” he whispered “Oh Frankie it’s been so long.”

Frankie stared at him “Bunnykins, is that you? Can it really be you?” She caught hold of him and shook him “You must tell me, you must.” She was shaking him, shaking ..

             ____________________

The bag shook as the Travelling man sat it on the ground. “Well my friend, the time has come for us to part. Over in that field there is the warren where you will find Startsfights. Be careful young Bunny.”

With that he watched Bunnykins hop from the bag and move in the direction of the warren. With that the Travelling Man closed his bag. “Be seeing you soon” he muttered as he strode away into the distance

 

.

Bunnykins liked to wander here and there. He was never still for long but spent all of his time exploring and finding new places. But of all the places he found, underneath the great Oak was his favourite. There he would frolic and play with other rabbits, but often he would stretch out under it’s great branches and sleep contentedly.
One day he was just about to slip into a delightful doze when he felt as if he was being watched. Slowly and carefully he looked around and found a doe looking at him with curiosity. “Not very alert are you Bunnykins? I have been sitting here watching you for a long time and yet you didn’t even know I was here.”

“Of course I knew” bluffed Bunnykins “I just pretended not to.”

“Of course you did.” she retorted ironically. “you like it here don’t you, lying here under the shade of the great tree? I often watch you here.”

“So who are you? Why are you watching me?”

The rabbit moved closer and looked at Bunnykins “I am growing old young rabbit and my time is coming close. I never thought I would live to see the white rabbit.”
Bunnykins laughed, “Well you have seen one now.”

“I have indeed you scamp” She laughed, “I am Gudrun, the keeper of stories.”

“What so you are a teller of tall tales? A story maker?”

“No young rabbit I am a memory keeper and this is the memory tree under which I live. All the stories I tell are part of the story of all rabbits. Settle down young rabbit and I will tell you a story”

Bunnykins lay down and listened as Gudrun began.

“A long time ago when the world was new, Recroat was walking with the black rabbit, Semesgren. Then all the animals lived in their own areas, the rabbits in their lands, the foxes and squirrels in theirs. Recroat noticed that whenever he entered the land of the rabbits, they would run and hide under bushes and any undergrowth.

“Why do they hide from me?” asked Recroat.

“You are so large and powerful and they fear that.” replied Semesgren.

“What have they to fear of me? Do they not love and trust me?”

“It is not that they don’t trust you, its just that they think that you are so big and they so small that you will not see them and tread on them.”

“Then shall I send you before me so that you may warn them I am coming?”

“They fear me as they call me the rabbit of death and other such things and would hide from me too.”

Recroat thought for a moment, then he said “The I shall give the rabbit the ability to dig. Should they hear me approach then their strong back legs will help them to dig tunnels to escape to. But they also have angered me in their fear so I will make of them an enemy in the wolf, the fox, the eagle and the human. They will run away and hide for their lives.”

“Is that not harsh?”

“No but to show them I have not forgotten them, from time to time I will send them a white rabbit to remind them of my love.”

“Am I such a white rabbit?”

“Then is not for me to answer. Only time will tell Bunnykins.” Gudrun replied.

Often Bunnykins would go and sit beneath the memory tree and listen to Gudrun’s stories, drinking in every detail. One day when he went to see her she was nowhere to be found. He returned day after day, but Gudrun was gone. “Where have you gone?” he asked aloud and jumped when a voice whispered in his ear, “I am still here Bunnykins. You have heard my stories now you must pass them on and tell tall tales of your own.” “Am I such a white rabbit?”

Then is not for me to answer. Only time will tell Bunnykins.” Gudrun replied.

Often Bunnykins would go and sit beneath the memory tree and listen to Gudrun’s stories, drinking in every detail. One day when he went to see her she was nowhere to be found. He returned day after day, but Gudrun was gone. “Where have you gone?” he asked aloud and jump when a voice whispered in his ear, “I am still here Bunnykins. You have heard my stories now you must pass them on and tell tall tales of your own.”

1. The Birth of Bunnykins

August 11, 2011

 

Once upon a time there was a rabbit burrow. The burrow was in a huge green field under the shade of an oak tree. There were many happy rabbits in the burrow that hopped around the field and frolicked in the sun. They were content, but two of the bunnies were the most content and happy of all. They were mates and went everywhere together. Pete and Nibbles were beautiful rabbits, sleek strong and very, very brown. The only problem was that Nibbles’ family didn’t like Pete and had hoped she would do better for herself than him. But they persisted for as a couple they were perfect and soon Nibbles was expecting her first litter.

 

The day came for her to give birth and she went off to a quiet corner where she gave birth to newborn rabbits. Pink, hairless and vulnerable little things they crawled to their mothers’ teats and soon latched on. The last one, the runt was smaller and weaker than the rest and always last to the teat. Nibbles would sometimes push away a kitten to let him feed. “Poor little Bunnykins” she would murmur. And so he gained his name. After a few days hair began to sprout amongst the rabbits and soon Bunnykins was showing a sprinkling of white fuzzy down whilst the others were a striking brown. “It will soon pass and proper hair grow in” thought Nibbles, but no the white hair grew stronger and thicker and soon it was clear that Bunnykins was a white rabbit. The only white rabbit in the burrow. You would think that would make him special right? But no, Bunnykins felt out of place amongst all the brown rabbits. Often he would wander off by himself and hop around the fields. Some of the other bunnies would whisper, “White haired freak” just loud enough for him to hear.

 

One day he was walking when he saw something moving in the long grass. He hopped slowly over and there was the smallest hedgehog he had ever seen. Of course he had seen hedgehogs before but when he went passed they would roll up into a ball and show their spikes. This hedgehog just blinked at him “Who are you?” asked Bunnykins. The hedgehog blinked and replied in a high squeaky voice “ can’t tell you that I am not allowed to speak to strange animals.”

 

Bunnykins looked at the little hedgehog “But you are speaking.” he said. The little hedgehog looked puzzled “But …” he began and then stammered “my name is Herbert and I am lost.”

 

“Lost?” said Bunnykins “let me help you find your way home.” Bunnykins looked around the field “I saw hedgehogs over that way.” and he ran off.

 

“Wait” cried a small voice “I can’t run so fast because of my leg. That’s why I was left behind by my brothers and sisters.”

 

Bunnykins hopped back and looked at Herbert’s leg. His rear right leg was shorter and he walked with a strange rolling gait. “I will walk slower” said Bunnykins. So the two new friends walked slowly across the field and Bunnykins led Herbert home. .  

Suddenly Bunnykins was surrounded by bristling angry hedgehogs. “Leave him alone, rabbit!” Hissed one of the hedgehogs. “Leave him alone, he helped me when I was lost and brought me home.” answered Herbert. So it was that Bunnykins and Herbert became the best of friends. The other hedgehogs were soon used to seeing Herbert with the strange white rabbit who played with hedgehogs.

.

Bunnykins loved to romp and play in the fields with the young rabbits but he was getting old now. One day, after a particular tiring session he sneaked off to a nearby wheat field for some quiet sleep time away from the noise of the community.

Soon he was fast asleep. So deeply did he sleep that the approach of an engine didn’t wake him up. The blades of the combine harvester sliced through the wheat, trundling and roaring as it went. On the tractor Farmer Giles was wearing a gigantic pair of headphones and was listening to the latest UK Hip Hop by Professor Green. As the blades approached Bunnykins blinked and tried to run, but too late, the great blades cut and pounded him. Mercifully death came quickly, he felt little. Farmer Giles noticed something wrong with the noise of the machine. He stopped it and examined the blades

“Bloody Pesky rabbit” he muttered as he removed what was left of Bunnykins

“You would have made nice gloves for my wife, but not now, still I will boil you up as a treat for the dogs”

He put Mr Bunnykins in a sack and hung him from a hook on the machine.

Mr Bunnykins screams echoed in the field nearby. The rabbits froze and soon realised that Bunnykins was not amongst them any more. But life amongst rabbits, just like humans moves on, and soon Frankie found a new mate.

One day she stretched whilst grooming shook herself and the very last Bunnykins hair that had lodged itself in her long angora hair flew free and swirled in the breeze. It swirled in the air until it came to the hands of the travelling man. He caught the hair, folded it neatly and placed it in a little box. Wherever he went after that a little bit of Bunnykins travelled with him.

The End …… or is it?

It was several months since Bunnykins had returned from the lab. Hazel came to see him often but she was kept busy in her new job and in her own life. When she did visit he would hippity hoppity over for a hug and an ear tickle. Bunnykins felt he was missing something, he just didn’t know what it was. Mating season came and went and somehow the White one was never the one to mate with. He was bitten, kicked and spurned. He was alone.

One day when he felt lonely he saw a human come from the road and into the field. He ambled along and sat on the ground where he unfolded a large sack and removed some food. Bunnykins felt curious about the man and slowly worked his way towards him. The man showed no sign of noticing at first, but slowly sat back and watched him.

” Boy you seem pretty tame. Are you someone’s pet who has got lost?”
Bunnykins had no idea what the human had said. But he seemed so non-threatening that he moved close to the man. The man lay down flat and went to sleep! Bunnkins looked at him and decided to have a little look in the man’s bag. It was warm and roomy so Bunnykins snuggled down for a sleep.

The man woke up stretched and grabbed his back from the ground, picked up his bag and prepared to leave. “This bag is heavier than I recall, I must be getting old.” he thought. Inside the bag Bunnykins slept on.

The man strode out and walked on. He wondered where the friendly rabbit had gone then promptly forgot about him. He was heading across country to see a farmer who normally needed help at this time of year in exchange for food and a bed.

He walked for several miles then stopped to rest. The bag moved. He stared, It moved again, “What the Devil” he thought, then opened the bag to see a dazed and blinking bunny. “Don’t be scared little man you are fine. Did you want to travel with me?” The man opened the bag a little so Bunnykins could see out and then set off again.

The man walked for miles until he came to a small village. As he entered a small child saw him and called out in excitement ” he’s come back”. Soon there were children all around come to see the man with the stories and magic tricks. One little girl asked ” sir is that a rabbit in your bag?”. The travelling man gently took Bunnykins from the bag and the children loved the frightened rabbit.

The two friends passed from village to village where the man seemed to be known and eventually reached the farm. The farmer was happy to see the travelling man but less than happy to see Bunnykin

“That can’t stay in the house. ” he said

“Don’t worry about him I will sleep in the barn and make sure he doesn’t get into any mischief.”

So all was settled and the travelling man and Bunnykins settled in to the barn.

Now this farmer had a son, and the son owned a beautiful fluffy white Angora rabbit called Frankie. He saw the travelling man with Bunnykins and wanted him to breed with Frankie. So he started to pester his father to get him Bunnykins. He was a mean, spoiled child used to getting what he wanted. His father gave into all his demands so he put pressure on the travelling man who finally sold him Bunnykins. Work for the travelling man was coning to an end so with a heavy heart he left Bunnykins behind with the boy.

Bunnykins was a free rabbit, never caged apart from the short time in the lab so when he was put into a hutch with another rabbit he didn’t know what to make of it. Frankie was a long legged beautiful rabbit, but sadly neglected. She saw this new rabbit and made sure he wasn’t getting anywhere near her!

Weeks passed and the boy started to lose interest. Only when his father forced him would he put the rabbits in a run on the grass to clean out there hutch. Feeding was irregular and soon the rabbits were looking sorry and neglected. Bunnykins couldn’t stand it any more.

“Frankie I know you don’t like me but we cant go on like this we need to get out of here!”

Frankie looked at him “Stupid rabbit don’t you think i know that, but I have a plan!”

A few days later the boy put the rabbits into the run, grumbling about cleaning their beds. As soon as he closed the door Bunnykins lay on his side and started to twitch. The boy knew his father had paid a lot of money for the rabbit so would be angry if it was ill.

“Stupid Rabbit” he muttered, “what’s up with you? You best not get me in trouble!”

He opened the door to pick up Bunnykins and, as he did so, Frankie ran straight out of the door!

” Oi! Come back here!” he shouted and started to chase Frankie.

At once Bunnykins was up and running too. A miraculous recovery! Suddenly the boy was chasing two rabbits, two determined and agile rabbits. And that is how they got away! They ducked and dived and soon disappeared.

“So now what?” said Frankie.

“Lets go back to my old burrow. we will be safer there!.” replied Bunnykins.

So off they set, a big journey for two rabbits, but Bunnykins was sure they could make it! They walked, and walked, and walked. They were frequently exhausted and fell into a sleep wherever they could. One day when it seemed they couldn’t go on Bunnykins heard a familiar voice.

“Is it really you?”

The travelling man was standing over them.

“I am sorry I sold you to that man. I will never work there again. Look at you both!”

The rabbits were a sorry sight indeed. He scooped both of them into his bag and carried the bunnies back to the warren. He spoke to them as he went feeding them and tending to them. Soon they were back in familiar fields, but not one white bunny but two.

There was a brief flurry of excitement at Bunnykins return, but that soon died away. Life returned to normal again. But Bunnykins and Frankie were close now. They were often together. Frankie was healthy and happy, free from the Boy. Bunnykins was happy he had found a friend! When breeding time came again Frankie stayed close to Bunnykins, she kicked and bit any other bucks that came near her. So in the spring when the newborn were hopping around on the field there were several white bunnies hopping around. That year something strange and wonderful happened. Perhaps a bird passing over had dropped some seeds? But a Poppy and a Sweet Pea started to grow together in the field. The rabbits looked at them but didn’t touch. At the farm the old farm dog had some puppies and the new puppies played around the flowers and were friendly with the rabbits. Bunnykins had the happiest summer of his life with Frankie and the kits. Hazel still came to visit and watch Bunnykins play in the field and sometimes Polly came with her.

AS for the travelling man, he was not seen in those parts for many years. Some said he was a myth, some said he had gone off to the city and died of a broken heart. But Bunnykins knew that he had come to bring him to Frankie, and if he were ever needed he WOULD be back.

Bunnykins lay in the back of the van, dazed and confused. Around him was the smell of human beings, and small noises. He knew he wasn’t alone and that there were other animals in there. Small creatures like him in the belly of the beast. Fear gnawed at his stomach. Where am I going? Will I ever see my home again?

After what seemed like an eternity the van came to a halt. Bunnykins heard some rough voices outside.

“Got some good ones here tonight, what are you needing?”

“We especially need a male rabbit for some work we have in mind” replied a softer voice.

“I have the very thing and it is an albino so it doesn’t even look wild.”

“Perfect” replied the other “Lets have it then. The usual price OK?”

There was a rumbling noise and Bunnykins felt himself being lifted roughly and swung around till he thought he would be sick. The swinging continued and he heard a series of loud bangs, until the bag was dropped down. In the room he could smell fear and with it another smell, one he found strong and sickly. He was very afraid now.

The bag was opened and a face peered in. “Perfect, he’s a little chubby but will do the job. Into the cage fatso”

Bunnykins looked out of sadly. Though he could see everywhere when he tried to move away he found there was something he could see through but not walk through. Trouble ahead.

The next morning he woke to the sound of animals waking. Barking, yaming and making other animal noises. a human came in and began feeding the animals. He stopped at Bunnykins cage

“Nothing for you then, you are in pre-op” He moved away. Bunnykins had no idea what the human said it just didn’t feel right.

Some time later he woke to find a pair of hands seize him by the ears and yank him to the air.

“Come on little bunny, Think yourself lucky your not over there with your buddies getting shampoo poured in your eyes. You are off for something special.”

Bunnykins kicked hard with his back legs but felt a sharp pain in his side. The attendant lay the bunny on his side and shaved away the hair from a large patch.

“Ready for you miss.”

The vet came into the room. Selected a small scalpel and made an incision in Bunnykins side.

“Get me the ear” she said. Opening the box she took a rabbit ear and deftly attached it too bunnykins side.

“Right lets start to monitor how well blood supply is established and general health of the host”

Bunnykins awoke feeling groggy and in pain. His side felt strange but there was something that stopped his head turning round. He was in so much trouble now!

Days past he was picked up, weighed and prodded. He didn’t eat. He didn’t feel like eating. Instead he slept and began to fade. The lab people put him on a drip but it didn’t help.

One person in the lab was always gentle with him. She handled him carefully and whispered “Poor Mr Bunny. It will be over soon”

One night he was fast asleep, when there was a small sound.

“Right we better break open the cages then”

Four humans dressed all in black moved round the cages, breaking them open and putting animals into boxes.

“Gotta move fast.”

Bunnykins felt himself lifted by a pair of hands that seemed familiar. He had no strength to resist. Before he knew it he heard the rumble of a beast and he was moving again.

Hands touched him gently, he felt another sting and he slept.

He awoke, a sharp pain in his side but a different pain. Voices, “Right we need to get these animals sent out to centres for safe keeping”

“Not Mr Bunny” replied a familiar voice “He’s coming home with me.”

“Aw Hazel you know the risks”

“He’s coming home with me, the end.”

So Hazel took Bunnykins home and tended him, feeding him liquefied vegetables and caring for him. She stayed at the lab for a few more months but resigned saying she had decided on a career change.

One day she looked at Bunnkins. His hair grown back and he looked plump and happy again.

“I think its time to take you home Mr Bunny!” Hazel lifted him gently, hugged him and put him in a carrier.

Later he saw a sight he never thought he would see again, his home. The busy road behind him he leaped and ran away into the distance!

Bunnykins was fascinated by the busy road. He could remember a time before the road, when the old oak tree stood tall in the field and he played around it or lay in it’s shade in a happy heap of slumbering bunnies.

One day some people came and walked around making holes in the ground and carrying big heavy sticks. Then a man called swampy something dug some tunnels near the tree. He left again after a while which was good as his constant digging was so noisy. Then came the big machines that growled in the night, until the oak tree was gone and in it’s place was the road. A road full of roaring monsters that sped along eating the unwary.

One day his friend Herbert, the sweetest hedgehog in the field, was swallowed by a huge monster that ran on the road. Bunnykins stopped going to the road for a while. But somehow watching the lights on the road was so fascinating sometimes Bunnykins sneaked from the burrow to watch the monsters when his brothers and sisters were asleep. He knew he it was wrong but couldn’t help himself.

One night he saw a big White monster that was sitting still near the road. He crept towards it. Nearer and nearer. The monster was still and quiet. No harm looking. The smell was strange, people smell and something else something dark and strange. Bunnykins went closer to the White van looking at it intently. He didn’t see the man standing close by. The sack was swooped over his body before he could blink. He felt himself lifted from the ground and with a bump he felt himself thrown into the monster. He was trapped. The van growled alive and took Bunnykins off into the night! …… To be continued

Bunnykins was a white rabbit, the whitest rabbit you can imagine with the smoothest hair. He was enormously proud of his hair and kept it glowing white and clean. He was the only white rabbit in his burrow, and a white rabbit amongst all those brown rabbits sticks out like a sore thumb.

Bunnykins loved to run free in the field, bounding from place to place. A human girl called Hazel lived nearby and somehow Bunnykins sensed that she would never hurt him. One day Hazel was walking in the field and when Bunnykins saw Hazel and hopped close to her. Closer than he had ever been to a human. He was lonely and wanted to feel the thrill of a chase. He ran around her ankles then set off to see if she would follow.

He ran into Farmer Giles’ field past the big haystack while the swallows turned in the sky and thought of a fading summer and the long flight to Egypt. He ran over the fields towards the farm and the big barn where he had slept one night amidst the heat and soft hay.

There was still no sign of Hazel so he lay down in a tired heap just outside the open kitchen door to wait for her. It was one of those warm, drowsy Autumn days that have the last heat of Summer and Bunnykins fell fast asleep.

Suddenly he was grasped at the back of his neck by large hand and lifted into the air. He bucked and kicked but to no avail. Farmer’s wife had him in her grasp. She hit him roughly at the back of his neck and he slumped into unconsciousness.

Bunnykins was the luckiest rabbit in Rabbit land that day. The whole scene was witnessed by Hazel who thought fast. She called her friend Polly to come and meet her at the farm. She arrived and they hatched a plan. Hazel would go to the front door and create a distraction whilst Polly went in the back to rescue Bunnykins!

In the kitchen Farmer’s wife had put on a big pot of water and was preparing some sharp knives.

I am going to give you a nice bath my laddo and you will give me a nice pair of gloves”

Suddenly she heard a loud knock.

Who’s that she” muttered and went to the front door. Soon there was the sound of voices from the doorway, with one quiet voice talking about the benefits of double glazing and a louder one whose language we won’t repeat here.

As soon as Farmer’s Wife left the room Polly quietly opened the door and sneaked inside. Carefully she lifted Bunnykins and sneaked out of the house.

Farmer’s wife came back into the room muttering “double glazing, I’ll give her double glazing!!” She gasped “where’s that blinking Rabbit?”

She opened the door but Polly and Hazel had long gone, taking poor Bunnykins back to his field. They carefully released the groggy bunny and he hopped unsteadily to his burrow.

Bunnykins stayed close to home for a while after that. His neck was sore but he was alive, thanks to his friends.

Farmer’s wife made Farmer Giles boiled Carrots for tea and had to made do with her old gloves!

Why do I never get new gloves? She complained to Farmer Giles who grunted and ate his carrots.