When I came to myself I found that I was within a kind of wire run which smelt foully, as though hundreds of things had lived in it for years. There was a hutch at the end of the run in which sat an enormous she-rabbit, quite as big as my mother, a fierce-looking brute with long yellow teeth. I was afraid of that rabbit and got as far from it as I could. Presently it hopped out and looked at me.
“What are you doing here?” it asked. “Can’t you talk? Well, it doesn’t matter. If I get hungry I’ll eat you! Do you hear that? I’ll eat you, as I did all the others,” and it showed its big yellow teeth and hopped back into the hutch.
After that Tom and the girl came and gave us plenty of food which the big rabbit ate, for I could touch nothing. For two days they came, and then I think they forgot all about us. I grew very hungry, and at night filled myself with some of the remaining food, such as stale cabbage leaves. By next morning all was gone, and the big rabbit grew hungry also. All that day it hopped about sniffing at me and showing its yellow teeth.
“I shall eat you to-night,” it said.
I ran round and round the pen in terror, till at last I found a place where rats had been working under the wire, almost big enough for me to squeeze through, but not quite.
The sun went down and the big she-rabbit came out.
“Now I am going to eat you,” it said, “as I ate all the others. I am hungry, very hungry,” and it prodded me about with its nose and rolled me over.
At last with a little squeal it drove its big yellow teeth into me behind. Oh! how they hurt! I was near the rat-hole. I rushed at it, scrabbling and wriggling. The big rabbit pounced on me with its fore-feet, trying to hold me, but too late, for I was through, leaving some of my fur behind me. I ran, how I ran! without stopping, till at length I found my mother in the rough pasture by the wood and told her everything.
“Ah!” she said, “that’s what comes of greediness and of trying to be too clever. Now, perhaps, you will learn to stop at home.”
So I did for a long while.
The summer went by without anything particular happening, except that my brother with the lame foot was eaten by the mother fox. That great red beast was always prowling about, and at night surprised us in a field near the wood where we were feeding on some beautiful turnips. The rest of us got away, but my brother being lame, was not quick enough. The fox caught him, and I heard her sharp white teeth crunch into his bones. The sound made me quite sick, and my mother was very sad afterwards. She complained to my father of the cruelty of foxes, but he, who, as I have said, was a philosopher, answered her almost in her own words.
“Foxes must live, and this one has young to feed, and therefore is always hungry. There are three of them in a hole at the top of the wood,” he remarked. “Also our son was lame and would certainly have been caught when the hunting begins.”