“Well,” I said, “I suppose that you died of exhaustion after your coursing experience, and came on here.”
“Died of exhaustion, Mahatma, not a bit of it! In three days I was as well as ever, only much more cunning than I had been before. In the night I fed in the fields upon whatever I could get, but in the daytime I always lay up in woods. This I did because I found out the shooting was over, and I knew that greyhounds, which run by sight, would never come into woods.”
The weeks went by and the days began to lengthen. Pretty yellow flowers that I had not seen before appeared in the woods, and I ate plenty of them; they have a nice flavour. Then I met another hare and loved her, because she reminded me of my sister. We used to play about together and were very happy. “I wonder what she will do now that I am gone.”
“Console herself with somebody else,” I suggested sarcastically.
“No, she won’t do that, Mahatma, because the hounds ‘chopped’ her just outside the Round Plantation. I mean they caught and ate her. You think that I am contradicting myself, but I am not. I mean I wonder what she will do without me in whatever world she has reached, for I don’t see her here.” Well, I went to the little Round Plantation because I found that Giles seldom came there and I thought it would be safer, but as it proved I made a great mistake. One day there appeared the Red-faced Man and Tom and the girl, Ella, and a lot of other people mounted on horses, some of them dressed in green coats with ridiculous-looking caps on their heads.
Also with them were I don’t know how many spotted dogs whose tails curled over their backs, not like greyhounds whose tails curl between their legs. Outside of the Plantation those dogs caught and ate my future wife, as I have said. It was her own fault, for I had warned her not to go there, but she was a very self-willed character. As it was she never even gave them a run, for they were all round her in a minute. Then they made a kind of cartwheel; their heads were in the centre of this cartwheel and their tails pointed out. In its exact middle was my future wife.
When the wheel broke up there was nothing of her left except her scut, which lay upon the ground.
I had seen so many of such things that I was not so much shocked as you might suppose. After all a fine hare like myself could always get another wife, and as I have told you she was very self-willed.
So I lay still, thinking that those men and dogs would go away.
But what do you think Mahatma? Just as they were going the boy Tom called out—
“I say, Dad, I think we might as well knock through the Round Plantation. Giles tells me that the old speckle-backed buck lies up here.”
“Does he?” said Grampus. “Well, if so, that’s the hare I want to see, for I know he’d give us a good run. Here, Jerry” (Jerry was the huntsman), “just put the hounds into that place.”