Plumper Bunny, sister
to Thumper, Bumper, Jumper, Midsummer, and twenty-seven others of her surviving
siblings and half-siblings, regarded the site where her right, front paw had
been located. The stump had completely healed.
She had paid dearly to
protect and to nurture her young, and as an unexpected result, she and they had
found themselves relocated to a place of safety. Even though she would
remain crippled for life, her kittens would survive to hopefully produce
generations of their own.
In balance, after being
transported, some of her dearest bunnies had gone astray. Snowflake, for
instance, had chosen to nest with Hortance, an narcissistic buck, who fed
himself before scouring for forbs for his and Snowflakes wee ones, and
who insisted that Snowflake denude her chest fur not only for their helpless
newborns bedding, but also for his. It was probable that Snowflake
wouldnt live to see grandbabies.
As for Rose Petal, she,
like Snowflakes mate, regarded herself as the center of all things. That
fair doe knew her attitude was strange, articulated her awareness of her
outlandish self-importance, and stated that she had no expectation to change.
She rationalized that sharing a littler with ten other kittens had ill-suited
her and that she meant to distinguish herself from her brothers and sisters by
refusing to settle down until all of the critters of the pasture knew her name.
The only exception she made, in terms of promoting her fame, was the hedgehogs.
Snowflake considered the esteem of those creatures, who dwelled in the
boundary-marking shrubs, to be insincere.
Dandelion, on the other
hand, had been a promising kit that grew up to be a bunny with a mouth that
rivaled those of badgers. Day and night, he complained about the ambient
temperature, about the number of other bunnies also seeking a livelihood, and
about his mothers inability to bring enough chow to their warren. That
the family had found themselves in comfy digs was, in his eyes,
Oak Leaf, in contrast,
was no bother. In fact, it was a miracle that particular young bunny was alive
at all. Shortly after he had first emerged from the family home, an osprey,
which had made a migratory error, had mistaken him for a delectable fish and
had grasped him in its talons. The confused seabird had subsequently dropped
Oak Leaf upon discovering that the rabbit had neither fins nor scales. That
drop, given its significant altitude, had almost killed the young one. His
ability to care for himself remained limited.
remarkable, in a good way, as being different from the other six kits in her
litter. It was she who had attempted to care for Plumper when the family found
themselves conveyed to an unfamiliar domain. While Raspberry aspired to
reproduce as much as did her brothers and sisters, she had made a private oath
not to leave the nest until her mothers well-being improved. Only
Raspberry knew how Plumper had lost her paw.
More precisely, weeks
earlier, after the snow had melted, and Plumpers milk had dried up, but
before herbaceous flowering plants of any significance number had pushed
through the hard ground, Raspberry and her littermates had begun to starve. Of
the bunnies in the neighborhood, only Plumper and her litter had been at risk
as no other pregnant rabbit had yet given birth. Among the does, Plumper,
alone, had humped before the safe time.
Plumper, who had
promised her own mother to continue their family legacy, had had no mating
offers the previous year. She knew that if she got much older there would be no
babies. So, she allowed an old, smelly buck to impregnate her before the proper
season. Consequently, her little ones arrived during a time of no food. First,
she starved. Thereafter, they did.
One night, while the
ground was still frosted and when she had no milk for her kits or forage for
herself, she dragged herself away from their warren and across the field. A
restive hedgehog snickered at her.
Plumper wasted no
energy to shrug at that furze pig, focusing, instead, on crawling beneath the
bushes that marked his domain. On the other side of that green line, great,
thin stones soldiered silently. Wondrously, here and there, near many of those
stones, the snow had been brushed away and clumps of flowers replete with
leaves had been dropped.
Sniffing among those
mounds to determine which greens were edible and which would kill her, Plumper,
at last, filled her belly. She returned to that place nightly so that she
might, once more, make milk for her small bunnies.
Every night, the
sleepless hedgehog laughed at her. Every night, she ignored him.
As a result of her
graveyard buffet, her children not only survived the harsh weeks that bridged
the seasons, but thrived. All was well until Rose Petal and Raspberry shadowed
Plumper to the cemetery.
Raspberry stayed on the
hedgehogs side of the border. Rose Petal, who was not the smartest of the
litter, did not. Rose Petal had realized that more than luck had changed her
fortune from starvation to abundance. She meant to discover the flipside of
That same night,
preadolescent two-leggers had come to the cemetery to permanently
borrow some of the jewelry buried with the dead. The long, bitter winter
had caused deprivation in their community, too.
So frozen was the
ground, though, that those youths were unable to avail themselves of any
ill-gotten treasure. After knocking over headstones and barking out foul
language, they lit cigarettes, whose butts they casually tossed among the
departed. Last, they passed around a single jar of moonshine.
Then they saw Rose
Petal. Rabbits foot, and better luck, they
squawked before running to actualize their wishes. Plumper, who saw and
understood their intentions, dropped the mouthful of leaves she was eating and
ran to her baby. She pushed the smaller rabbit away.
Rose Petal had no
problem hopping as quickly as she could back to where Raspberry was waiting.
She ran past her sister and kept on going until she got home. Only Dandelion
learned why she was shaking. In turn, he scolded her for endangering herself.
Neither he nor Rose Petal, however, grasped what actually had occurred.
While Rose Petal was
fashioning tall tales and Dandelion was encouraging her to do so, the boys
began to made quick work out of Plumper. The moment they slid a knife into her
leg, she knew she would die.
performing that single amputation, however, the young humans were forced to
stop. One of their moms, rifle in hand, had come looking for them, having
discovered the missing moonshine. She grabbed her own child by his ear and
coughed out enough expletives to essentially leash the other
Plumper hemorrhaged. As
her blood warmed the grave beneath her, she hallucinated. She imagined that Big
Fur, protector of all small mammals, came to heal her leg. In her distorted
perception, she felt him stroke her faced and nudge her closer to
him. She imagined that he made odd, cooing sounds to her.
In actuality, the
mother of the preteens had returned to tourniquet the rabbit. She hummed as she
worked and tried to keep the little creature warm by holding it against her. In
her mind, the damaged bunny was too scrawny for the cookpots. Whats more,
she had determined that her sons reeducation would begin with caring for
the animal he had nearly killed.
The mom had arrived at
the cemetery early enough to witness the viciousness with which her child had
taken the rabbits foot. The animal had to live if he was not to grow up
to be a violent man, one who was like her own father.
Whereas the woman
doubted the small beast would survive- it would be unable to hop normally and
hawks, snakes and wolverines populated the pasture- she meant to try to keep it
alive as an object lesson. Her son would have to take responsibility for it and
for any of its surviving young. The mom intended to break the intergenerational
cycle of brutality.
During daylight, the
woman searched for and discovered the warren containing Plumpers kits.
She made her child bottle-feed them. She also insisted that the cost of the
expensive, veterinarian-sourced formulae, which they were fed, get deducted
from his allowance. Additionally, she charged her boy for her missing
Remarkably, the adult
rabbit survived the mutilation for nearly a year. She spent her days in a pen
near the womans kitchen garden. The womans son, first resentfully
and, eventually, lovingly, cared for her. Her young survived, too.
As they grew, except
for a small doe whose fur gleamed pinkish at sunset, one by one, those young
rabbits hopped out of the yard and into the pasture. They rarely returned to
visit their mother.
One morning, when the
woman came into her garden to flick beetles off of her roses and to gather
greens and herbs for a salad, she noticed that the maimed rabbit no longer
breathed. She asked her son to dig a deep hole for it in the family graveyard
and asked him to release its remaining daughter into the field. He cried at
In a better place,
Plumper reunited with Big Fur. Together, they challenged weasels to wrestling
matches and otherwise slowly rid Paradise of other enemies of rabbits. They
successfully appealed, too, to the guardian of the two-leggers, to rain
blessings down upon on a certain female farmer and upon her son.