pinkness swelled over the horizon, and the greyish grass slowly
emerged to any eyes awake to see the blades rustling in the morning
winds. Over the undulating hills, slightly west of the meadow,
was the forest, and a few blue jays welcomed the dawn with their
whistles, seeking sustenance for their young ones. A hawk flew
high overhead, scanning for something struggling in the grass; a
glint of silver caught its eye. It flew on.
by the bright rays of the source of all life was an angular, wooden
structure that was well known to the rabbits in the warren, for
it was from there that the Two-Legged Creatures came. It had always
been there, they thought, a comforting constant, like the wood or
the sky, or the warren itself.
sniffed tentatively at the wind, trying to scent where the nicest-tasting
clovers would be. It had been a long winter, and, while there was
food enough in the warren, it would be nice to be outside and forage
me out!” Cotton said behind him, pushing him slightly out of the
hole. Cotton was a big rabbit, with soft brown fur, pink, alert
eyes, and ears that stood up almost at right angles from one another―“So
I can hear in four directions at once,” he often joked. He and
Maple were the same age, only months old, and closer than rabbits
from the same litter.
your horses,” Maple muttered―of course, he did not say that
exactly, as these rabbits did not know what horses were.
“We’re not the only ones out here.” Maple knew that Cotton’s size
made him less cautious.
moved out―and stopped cold.
me see!” yelped Cotton, pushing the unresisting Maple out of his
way. Both of his ears stiffened when he emerged onto the brown
expanse of the down.
on the edge of the wood, a creature was struggling, a black-grey
rabbit many times their age. It made no sound―perhaps because
it knew that noise would attract foxes and hawks, perhaps because
of the silver wire round its throat.
Cotton whispered, “what do we do?”
did not answer. Something ancient inside him told him to run underground,
to disappear into the hole and hide, to save himself from the unknown
danger. His muscles tensed.
sprinted across the down toward the grey-black rabbit, under the
bright, open sky now dotted with dark birds of prey. An instant
later, Cotton raced after him.
reached the struggling rabbit, its eyes wide with fear, bloodshot
with pain, waving its paws frantically trying to rid itself of the
silver wire. Maple immediately began digging. If we could dig
under the wire, maybe the rabbit could right itself and escape.
shadow covered them.
a lightning flash, two daggers made of bone stabbed the black-grey
rabbit. The fox lifted the rabbit, broke its neck, and then dropped
the body, looking around for its other prey.
they were already gone.
went to the head of his den, a fattish rabbit named Snoweyes. “Sir,
down, my son,” said Snoweyes gently. Once he had been a fierce rabbit,
strong enough to win his leadership position. But that was many
does and many children ago. “The warren is vibrant, happy―has
been since time immemorial. What could worry you?”
described the silver wire and the black-grey rabbit. Snoweyes said
nothing, but turned away. “But, sir, what are we going to do?”
Snoweyes turned back again.
would you like some clover?”
Maple went, he told the tale of the silver wire. But no one would
it funny,” Maple told his friend, “that no one expresses surprise
when we tell them about the silver wire? It almost seems as if
everyone knows before we’ve opened our mouths; but then they pretend
as if we haven’t said anything at all.”
we should forget it,” suggested Cotton, “it happened such a long
time ago.” It had been seventeen days since they had seen the death-throes
of the black-grey rabbit. Maple was his friend, but he could be
a bit single-minded at times.
said Maple. “What if another rabbit gets caught? We’ve got to
do something about it!”
can we do?” Cotton said, chewing on some yellow petals. A light
dawned in Maple’s head.
went out to the edge of the down, near the forest where shadows
moved. It took them awhile, and every so often they had to dart
back to the hole as a hawk flew overhead, but eventually they found
two wooden stakes with an almost invisible line between them, a
flash of silver in the sun.
dig,” Maple said. Together the two rabbits dug their paws into
the earth, one at each stake. At first the stakes did not budge,
but then, slowly, Cotton’s begin to tilt. It was almost out when
Cotton issued a blood-curdling scream.
turned. He had not scented it in time. The Creature-with-Two-Legs
was almost upon him. He scrambled out of the way of one of its upper
paws, but then was lifted off the ground in some type of―some
type of― He did not have the word for net.
paw came and touched his fur. Maple shuddered―then bit.
Blood came out. They can be hurt! thought Maple in surprise.
If they could be hurt, then they could be― Maple’s
captor dropped its net. Maple hit the earth with a thud and had
the wind knocked out of him; but only for a moment. Once he gained
his balance, he bolted.
the silver wire.
Cotton! Help me!” he gurgled before the wire tugged too tightly
across his throat. As his sight faded, he saw Cotton near the hole,
staring at him. But that was not his last sight.
last sight was the hole itself, down which Cotton had just disappeared,
leaving him alone with the Creature; and its silver wire.
farmer folded up the newspaper and placed it on the kitchen table.
Every few weeks he distributed sliced carrots to the rabbits as
a way of ensuring they would not come onto his property and steal
even more of his vegetables. He enjoyed seeing them come out for
wife emerged from the kitchen, an apron around her supple waist,
carrying a platter that smelled of freshly-cooked rarebit.
farmer had never enjoyed a tastier meal.
Dr. Jonathan David Farley, is the 2004 Harvard Foundation Distinguished
Scientist of the Year.He is currently Teaching and Research
Fellow teaching mathematics at the Institute für Algebra Johannes
Kepler Universität Linz, Linz Österreich Click here
to contact Dr. Farley.
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