Frightened squeals rent the night. Rabbits – young-uns too going by the high pitched, panicked cries.
I’d just finished a late supper, minding my own business and cleaning my whiskers when I heard the ruckus.
Such a dark, blustery night. The wind was up; the clouds racing across the night sky and blocking out the moonlight. The moon has been rising later and later and although it’s not quite full, hunting has been pretty good the past week. And with spring well under way, there are more opportunities for a fresh meal.
The squeals came from across the creek. It must have been a real commotion because I was upwind—that is the wind was blowing the sound away from me—and the trees were swaying back and forth too, their leaves rustling madly.
I made my way to Lavender Farm making sure to keep to the shadows. Luckily the farm backs down to the creek, not far from my hayshed. The prickling on the back of my neck and down my back warned me I was heading into danger.
There was a fair breeze gusting, but I heard an owl hoot close by, answered by another owl a bit further away. It was hard to gauge the distance.
Those pesky birds can give an unwary animal a nasty fright and their talons are deadly…
I crept along the fence-line for a bit, then I stopped and sniffed the air.
Rabbits—and the scent was fresh.
A shadow crossing the sky.
An owl flying low; hunting!
My ears strained to catch any sounds but there was nothing.
I hid in the long grass by a fence post. The wind started picking up and soon the night was so blustery I couldn’t hear anything over it.
It was a bad place to be. I needed to check the area but keeping low meant limited vision in all that long grass.
Suddenly the wind dropped and I heard voices coming from the apricot orchard. I could hardly feel any tremors through the ground—but I could tell there was more than one set of paws—and they were coming closer. They were young rabbits, whispering and giggling, trying to sound brave, but they were obviously nervous. I hid behind the fence post and watched them pass.
That’s when I saw little Blossom; all black fluff with a bit of white on him. It couldn’t be any other rabbit.
Thinking I deserved a bit of fun after coming all that way, I waited for a few moments until they were almost at the orchard gate where the tall pines grow. They were heading for the farmyard, so I padded quietly after them, slipped around the back of the sheds, out the other side, and waited in the dark.
“Well, well, what have we here?”
I almost lost it when they jumped out of their skins.
“Nervy little things aren’t you?” I circled the scared animals. I wasn’t at all hungry, in fact I was stuffed full, but I wanted some fun in payment for being called out on a false alarm.
“Dear me, where are your mummies, little fur balls?”
“The other side of the yard. They’re waiting for us.”
“Tut, tut!” I said, trying to sound disappointed. “Where are your manners?”
I circled the huddle of young uns again. I could smell their fear. How delightful.
“Sorry, Mr Malevant, sir. We almost lost our way.”
“You’ve had a bit of owl bother too.” I grinned, making sure I revealed all of my sharp teeth.
“Well, I don’t blame you for being nervous. But there’s no need to be frightened now I’m here.” I showed my teeth again and watched them tremble. “Perhaps I better take you to your mummies. I would hate anything to happen to you on this cold dark night.”
Young Blossom was in the middle, all quaking fluff and popping eyes. I just wanted to get a closer look at him.
But they took off, squealing and carrying on and the owls probably still around. I tried to stop them, but then I realised I was frightening them.
Little Blossom wouldn’t listen to me, so I backed off.
Honestly, rabbits have no brains!
I didn’t hurt the black fur ball or any of the others. I’d had my joke and I was getting cold.
Nothing else happened; I was just sick of the squealing so I left them to it and came back home to my cosy hayshed.
Perhaps the rumours are true and that no-good gypsy Blackrond is his father.