Chapter 3: Life with the Human Family
I was chewing a carrot in a small but livable burrow I had all to myself in the big warren mother Femke and her family lived in. It was a calm life with the human family. No patrols, no running after escapees, and no General Woundwort yelling at me for not finding Hazel and his outsiders.
"And no nagging, annoying Vervain thinking he is better than me," I thought, as I watched mother Femke bring little Christie to a place they called a "school", where youngsters learned what they needed to know to make it through life. It struck me as odd that human parents didn't teach their youngsters what they needed to know themselves.
"That's because we don't have enough time for that. We need to work to earn money to buy food and other stuff we need," Femke had once explained to me, when I had asked her why she didn't teach her youngsters herself, like us rabbits did. She showed me a flat, round piece of metal with some weird inscriptions on it, which she explained was "money". They needed it to buy flayrah and other things they needed from...some place. It's one of several things I still don't understand about the human world, it's all so complicated...
Three moons had passed since the hawk attack and I had joined the human family. In that time I started to think of Efrafa less and less. Now you're probably thinking "but Campion, how can you forget your home?" Well, that's quite simple: Femke had made it clear to me from day one that this small burrow, filled with fresh hey, clean water and plenty of flayrah, was my home as well. I had to admit (even though I would NEVER admit it out loud) that she was right. It was great to go to sleep each night with a filled stomach and without having to worry about the fox and the weasel whenever you needed to go outside.
"I still want to go back to Efrafa though, once I have recovered. It's just that humans aren't as bad as Woundwort made them sound," I thought, as Femke came to me to change the white stuff around my waist, which she had once called "bandages". She rubbed some "ointment" on the wounds to help them heal, before putting new bandages around my body.
"How much longer do you think it will take to heal?" I asked as I watched her do her work, while I kept nibbling my carrot.
"I think a week or three, then you will be as good as new," Femke replied as she got her head out of my little burrow, leaving the door open like she always did, so I could get out if I wanted to explore the big warren she lived in.
"How is your eye doing?" Femke asked me, as she picked up a weird thing (to me it looked like a multicoloured pluck of wool on a stick). She started to rub it over high parts of her warren, which looked very odd if you asked me. Humans really kept amazing and confusing me…
"Better, it doesn't hurt as much as it did before, if that's what you want to hear," I said calmly, as I hopped to the entrance of my little burrow and looked at the piece of wood that was placed against it to connect it with the big warren of the humans.
"I am glad to hear you're not in pain anymore. I hate to see animals get hurt," Femke said as she moved to a spot closer to me. I could now clearly see what she was doing: she was indeed rubbing the piece of wool over the highest spots of the warren, causing it to turn grey. I took a cautious step on the plank so I could get a closer look, sniffing the air as I did so; no smell of disease or danger.
"Nor a sign of that little hyper-active youngling of hers. She must still be in that "school" thingy," I thought, as I hopped off the plank, cautiously looking around as I did so. The warren the humans lived in was very big, and it all looked alien to me.
"You like it?" Femke asked as she sat on the ground near me without trying to touch me, knowing I didn't liked to be touched by human hands. "We call our warrens a home or a house." Femke smiled as she placed the piece of wool in front of me so I could sniff it, which immediately made me sneeze since it was full of dust. "And this is what we call a "duster". We use it to clean our homes, especially high places," Femke explained as she went to the door and opened it, after which she shook the duster so all the dust would go outside.
"And for the lower places?" I asked, as I hopped after her to the door and looked outside. There was a lot of greenery outside, a lot of trees as well. And somewhere beyond this human place, was Efrafa. My home...
"This place is my home as well now, I can safely admit that, though I would never admit it in her face," I thought, flinching away when Femke's hand suddenly stroked me over my backside.
"Ack, will you ever stop flinching when I try to touch you?" Femke asked as she looked at me, annoyed. "I won't bite, you know, I don't like rabbit flesh. Too hairy if you ask me," she said, although it wasn't clear to me whether she was joking to lighten the mood or if she was serious.
"How can I trust you? You didn't even tell me how you can speak my language." I snapped at Femke, who looked at me, dumbstruck, before she sat down again near me.
"Fair enough. Well, when I was younger, I was kinda reckless. I was living on the streets, fighting to live," Femke started to tell, and as she started to speak, I closed in a little, not wanting to miss a word she said.
"That was until one reckless night with a quite handsome young man. I became pregnant of Christie." At this she looked at the door, as her mate (whom she called her "husband") Daniel came in with little Christie.
"For help with the birth I went to this place in the woods. It's called the "woodvillage" where they give humans who have done bad things a second chance," Femke explained with a small smile on her face, "re-learning to live in harmony with Mother Nature." Femke's eyes beamed as she said this last thing.
"This is where they traced Christie's birth father." Femke smiled as she looked lovingly at Daniel who looked back at her the same way. "It was love at first sight. Anyway, in the woodvillage I learned to speak the languages of animals, which we use to communicate and ask them for help if needed." Femke finished her story, which sounded a little unbelievable if you ask me, since if that was true...
"If that's true, there should be more people like you, right?" I asked firmly, at which Femke nodded. "Then how come I have never seen them on my patrols? I have lived in these woods my entire life," I said firmly. thinking she was lying now. Woodvillages...biggest joke I have ever heard. If they existed, why didn't we ever see them? Why didn't they ever help runners to escape?
"Are you sure you have never seen them before?" Femke asked mysteriously, as she got something from her pocket. It was a piece of cloth with a strange symbol carved on it; it looked vaguely familiar and had her scent on it.
"They are what we humans call "letters", Campion. The B and the D crossing each other, which is the logo of the woodvillages," Femke explained as she folded the thing up again. "If you ever came across this, you were on the territory of the woodvillages," Femke said as she put the thing in a safe place.
"I have seen it twice, carved in a tree near Efrafa. Does that mean Efrafa is build on the woodvillages' territory?" I asked.
"Yes. We can share our lands with you guys. I heard Efrafa isn't very GOOD in sharing, though," Femke said with a sheepish smile on her face, at which I smiled back a little sheepishly as well, since it was the truth: we didn't like sharing. At all.
"Yes. We can share our lands with you guys. I heard Efrafa isn't very GOOD in sharing, though." I smiled a little at Campion, who gave a sheepish smile in return, which confirmed that the rumors about Efrafa were true: they only liked war as a way to solve their problems.
"Yeah, it is true, we like war the most, even right now we are looking for an alien warren and its rabbits to destroy it," Campion said as matter as factly as possible.
"And then? I mean...if you guys find it, then what?" I asked, getting the shivers from the normal way he said this, like it was an everyday thing for him.
"Then we destroy it, capture most of the rabbits and enslave them, and most likely kill Hazel and his friends who tricked us on several occasions," Campion said casually as he stretched once again, then hopped a little closer to me, smiling as he allowed me to pet him over his head a little.
"War should never be the answer. That is one thing I have learned in all these years living in the woodvillage. We always negotiate first before going to war. We only use war as a last resort, if there is nothing else we can do. Otherwise a war can rage until it destroys the world. LITERALLY," I said, remembering the one time the woodvillages had gotten involved in a war. That had been in a part of the world that otherwise would have destroyed all the woodvillages and their inhabitants; we had no other choice but to get involved to save our people.
"We...wow...we never thought about talking first, fighting later. We always jumped right into war with our General," Campion said as he looked down with a pondering look on his face, certainly thinking about this.
"Well, I don't know anything about Efrafa, but war always takes innocent lives. If that Woundwort is as wise as you always claim he is, he should always put the needs of his people first, above himself," I told Campion wisely, which made him look up at me with wide eyes.
"He is, but Efrafa is starving, there are food shortages from which the lowest-ranked rabbits suffer! He made us great again!" Champion stated, clearly offended by my remark for some odd reason.
"Calm down, no need to get your tail in a knot," I joked, chuckling at my own remark. "I was just wondering: how can he think of war, and war alone, if his people are starving? He should think of getting food for them first," I said calmly, stretching a little as well, thinking about all those little rabbits who were most likely starving in Efrafa right now. Poor creatures...
"You know…in summer time the woodvillages have plenty of food," I suddenly said as an idea formed in my mind. If that Woundwort was willing to accept food from human hands, those poor rabbits would be all right for the summer. "We could share out supplies with you guys." I smiled as I looked at Campion. "That is...IF Woundwort is willing to accept food from human hands." I didn't know, since Campion had been afraid of me until just now. I assumed the other rabbits in Efrafa would be afraid too...
"Well, I could discuss this with Woundwort after I get back. Until then I guess you could try it, and see what happens," Campion said with a small smile on his face. I could clearly see from the look on his face that he was surprised humans would want to share their food supplies with rabbits.
"I will ask the woodvillagers to drop enough carrots and other flayrah for everyone there." I smiled as I petted Campion over his head, chuckling as he almost flew back into his small "burrow" as he always called it, when Christie ran in and jumped on my lap.
"Mommy, mommy! Rabby was out! Rabby was out!" she called happily as she kissed my cheek, then looked around, quickly realizing Campion wasn't in our part of the house anymore. "Where did he go?" she questioned, pouting sadly as she looked around for a sign of the rabbit, which made me giggle a little at her innocence. She had no idea how much she must have scared Campion by bolting in like that...
As soon as little Christie came running in and saw me I bolted into my little burrow as fast as El-ahrah.
"I think you scared the fur off of him. He fled into his own home as soon as you stormed in," Femke joked, something I was quite used to now, so it didn't offend me as much as it did before. "Aaaawn, I just wanted to pway..." Christie pouted "Well nice going! Scaring me to death first!" I called from around the corner, which made Femke look up at me, smiling "And here I thought you were a brave captain of owsla," she teased, smiling. "Two words lady: natural instinct," I called back in a teasing way as I came down my wooden plank again, feeling a lot more comfortable around these humans, now that I knew why Femke and Daniel were able to understand me.
"Natural instinct my butt, you sure were scared, I never saw a rabbit fly away THAT fast,' Femke joked as Christie now sat down by my side and patted me over my head carefully. "I can run even faster when I am in danger." I smirked as I gave Christie a little kick to signify she had to stop patting me so hard; it hurt. "By the way, I never knew rabbits could fly!" Daniel smiled as he walked into the room as well, carrying something he had previously called a "glass" in his hand; it contained some fluid.
"Oh shut up Dan!" Femke called with a smile on her face, and before I knew what was going on Daniel had one of the green things Femke had once called a "pillow" in his face. "PILLOW FIGHT!" Christie called as she patted me softly with a green thing as well; I reacted by kicking it towards the table, which made the glass topple over, causing the fluid to fall on the ground.
"Strike!" I smirked as I looked at Femke who literally slapped her hand against her face in a frustrated way. "Good reflex, but next time, aim for the man BEHIND the glass okay?" Femke smiled as she went to fetch something to clean up the mess I had made. While she did so I went up to the fluid and licked it a little; it was very sweet and tasted strangely like grapes and apples. "You like it? We call it "juice"." Daniel smiled as she stroke me over my head gently before he picked me up and put me on his lap.
"Don't step in it, Christie, or mommy is going to be very angry with us." Daniel smiled. Christie nodded and went to sit with her father, stroking me very softly over my head on his advice, as we watched Femke clean up the mess. After that we played in the big human warren a little more, before I went back into my own burrow to get some sleep.
"Thanks for today." I smiled on the plank. "Know that, whatever might happen, I have a family in Efrafa, but also a human family, from now on." I smiled as I told Femke this, before I hopped into my burrow and went to sleep, feeling I really had a second home now, here in the human world.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: And with that I end the chapter for now! I worked pretty hard on it, I hope you all liked it! Sorry it took me a while, but I lacked inspiration. Now I am back, and I sure hope to write more chapters soon.
I thought it would be nice if Femke talked some sense into Campion, since in the series Hazel managed to get through to him. I don't know how he will eventually join sides with the Watership Down rabbits yet, send me your thoughts about that please!
Thank you all for the reviews.
Lithuiwen2016: the rabbits said hi back!
White Hunter: I hope you're satisfied with the friendship building up here!
GodShynin300, Lane: thanks for your reviews!
I hope to continue seeing all your nice reviews in the future!