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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Message to Hazel Rah



The rabbit chosen for delivering Campion-rah’s message was a young buck named Shadow.  He was in the Fore Mark.  The young buck had been picked by Campion-rah to inform Hazel-rah that he had been made chief rabbit and that he was asking for an alliance between their warrens.  Shadow had also been instructed by Campion-rah to search for any rabbits that may have been taken prisoner by Hazel and his band of outsiders.
It had been three days since Campion-rah had become chief of Efrafa.  The marking had been outlawed by pain of death.  Rabbits from different marks could freely mingle with each other. Owsla no longer were able to bully their way into a doe.  A wide patrol had been sent out to scout for room to expand the warren.  The Council had been killed for refusing to leave the warren.  The marks decided to stick to going above ground at certain times in order not to attract attention from man. 
Shadow journeyed for five days.  He was careful to avoid attracting the attention of elil. At evening silflay he appeared on the bottom of the hill of Watership Down.  Pausing for breath he made the slow climb up the hill to the beech tree Campion-rah had said marked the entrance to Watership Down.  As Shadow crested the hill he was suddenly surrounded by six rabbits.
“Who are you?” A silver rabbit demanded.
“My name is Shadow sir.  I’m here to see Hazel-rah.”
“What business does a hlessil have with Hazel-rah?”
“Please sir I come from Efrafa.  Campion-rah sent me.”
The rabbits looked at each other.  “Acorn go get Hazel-rah and the Efrafan rabbits and bring them above ground,” the silver rabbit said.
“Sure Silver.”  The lean brown buck dashed down a hole and vanished underground.
Shadow sat there staring at the rabbits that surrounded him.  The silver rabbit had said something about Efrafan rabbits.  Was it possible that rabbits had survived the dog’s slaughter on his people? 
Shadow didn’t have to wait long.  The rabbit named Acorn came back above ground followed by a rabbit with tufted fur on his head, a lean cream colored rabbit and five rabbits he recognized as belonging to Efrafa.
“You said that Campion sent you?”  The cream colored rabbit said to Shadow. 
“Sir are you Hazel-rah?”
“Yes.  What did Campion send you here for?”
“Sir Campion-rah wanted to inform you that he has been made chief of Efrafa.  He asked if you would like to make an alliance with our warren and to look for any rabbits from our people that may have been taken prisoner during the Watership Down and Efrafan war.”
“Groundsel do you know this rabbit?”
“What mark are you?”
“Shadow of the Fore Mark sir.  Campion-rah says to bring any Efrafans that are held prisoner here home to Efrafa.”
Groundsel and Hazel looked at each other.  “So Campion has been made chief.  He is certainly the best rabbit for the job.  If you don’t mind Hazel-rah we’d like to go home.”
“Certainly Groundsel.  Shadow inform Campion-rah that before I can agree to make an alliance with him I need to see the changes he has made in Efrafa for myself.”
“Yes sir.”
Groundsel called his rabbits to attention and they began making their journey home.
“Do you think Campion will make any changes to Efrafa Hazel?”  The rabbit with the tuft of fur on his head asked his chief.
“I don’t know Bigwig but that’s why I want to see Efrafa under Campion’s leadership before I make the decision to put our warrens in an alliance.”
 Groundsel and his rabbits fresh from two weeks at Watership Down had begun to see that life could be different than in Efrafa.  The rabbits on Watership Down appeared happy and free unlike the bunch of gloomy souls in their warren.  Groundsel had been one of the few Owsla members who had hated General Woundwort.  They made good time and made it home in three days without a single loss.
They passed the sentries and Shadow went down to Campion-rah’s burrow to inform him of the return of Groundsel and his rabbits along with Hazel-rah’s message.  Campion went up above ground to meet his fellow Efrafans.
“Campion-rah.  It’s good to be home,” Groundsel said to his old friend.
“It’s good to have you home.  Were there any others with you?”
“No sir.  Just the five of us.”
“Why did you stay in Watership Down for so long?  Were you held prisoner?”
“No.  We weren’t sure what home would be like with the General gone and we wanted to examine Hazel and his warren.  They seem more peaceful than we are.”
Campion nodded in agreement.  “I’ve been making changes to Efrafa.  The Council have been killed.”
“Good.”
Campion informed them of the new rules of Efrafa and they agreed with their chief that it would be better to follow the new rules and usher in a new age for Efrafa.  The wide patrol appeared shortly thereafter and Captain Thornberry stopped while the other rabbits went down to their burrows. 
“Did you find anything useful?”
“Sir I believe that it’s possible to make another warren halfway between Efrafa and Watership Down.  We could send half our rabbits there and get Hazel-rah to send half of his rabbits to this new warren as well so the new warren would be half Efrafa and half Watership Down.  That would be easier than risking detection by expanding beyond the boundaries of Efrafa.”
“Is this warren anywhere near man?”
“No sir.”
“I think that might work.  Groundsel how would you like to be chief of this new warren?”
“Well I don’t know Campion.  I’m not sure I’m the leader type.”
“I wasn’t sure about it either Groundsel and I’m sure Hazel wasn’t sure of being the leader either of his own warren when they escaped Sandleford.”
“Let’s sit down with Hazel-rah and discuss it.” 
Campion nodded and they quietly walked around the perimeter of Efrafa lost in their own thoughts.

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