Keeping to the fence where the grass was long…
Bandit led the little troop out of the tangled canes, each nose sniffing the air, each ear alert and straining for any sound that might mean danger…
Keeping to the fence where the grass was long, they hurried from fence post to fence post. Finally, they came to the farmyard and they slipped back under the gate. They halted for a moment, listening and watching the sky.
The wind had picked up and the mournful sigh of the wind through the pine trees was now a haunting shriek. It was impossible to hear over it, but Blossom was desperate to get home.
They pushed on, past the pine trees, ran as fast as they could between the sheds, then the barn, until only the farmyard lay between them and the high garden wall.
Bandit pointed to where the tunnel lay hidden behind some old farm junk. “The water drain is just behind there, where the old wire and stone are propped up against the wall. We’ll take you a bit closer, but when I say so, run quickly across the yard, Blossom. You’ll be okay from there.”
“And if your mum catches you, just say you were sleep walking,” said Snoop.
Bandit hopped a few paces then froze as Malevant prowled out of the shadows and into the open, moonlit farmyard.
‘‘What have we here?” he purred.
Bandit jumped backwards into his shivering companions.
‘‘Nervy little things aren’t you?”
Malevant circled them.
The young rabbits huddled closer.
‘‘Where are your mummies, little fur balls?”
‘‘The other side of the yard. They’re waiting for us.”
‘‘Tut, tut! Where are your manners?”
He circled them again, padding slowly and sniffing the air.
‘‘Sorry, Mr Malevant, sir. We… we were showing Bl… I mean… we were visiting the orchard and we almost lost our way.”
‘‘Really? I think you are lying. And you’ve had a bit of owl bother too.” He grinned, revealing long sharp teeth.
‘‘Well fur balls, I don’t blame you for being nervous. But there’s no need to be frightened now I’m here.” Malevant yawned and showed his teeth again.
Blossom was so frightened he shook uncontrollably. He could feel others beside him shaking too.
‘‘Perhaps I’d better take you to your mummies? Wouldn’t want anything to happen to you on such a cold dark night. Not with those nasty, bunny-eating owls about.”
The little rabbits kept shuffling around as Malevant circled them. Blossom was in the middle, trying to hide, but Malevant’s gaze had settled on him.
‘‘Is that little Blossom I see?” He continued, pretending to be shocked. “A black rabbit! Whoever heard of such a thing? Your mummy keeps you well hidden.”
‘‘What are you doing out of your house and roaming about so late at night?”