Blossom watched as Malevant closed in…
‘‘What are you doing out of your house and roaming about so late at night?”
Blossom watched as Malevant closed in, turned to face them, and paused.
‘‘And don’t give me any more lies. Your mummies aren’t waiting anywhere nearby.”
Suddenly Malevant lunged, swiping at Blossom with one paw .
The young rabbits squealed and bolted in all directions.
Blossom had only one thought—he must get to the tunnel and into the garden. But he couldn’t move. He watched Malevant crouch, his tail twitching, then he swiped at him again. Blossom felt faint.
He was going to die.
The yard swam and the pain in his side faded. His ears filled with the sound of his pounding heart, and then it slowed to a steady thump, thump, that grew until it was all he heard and felt. His skin tightened and excruciating pain shot through his little body. He cried out, but his voice sounded odd.
Malevant halted, laid his ears flat on his head and snarled. For one heartbeat, Blossom thought he looked frightened. He watched as Malevant backed up a few steps, snarling and hissing.
His eyes, now wary, were slits of malice.
This was Blossom’s chance! He ran as fast as he could, weaving this way and that. He almost ran into the garden wall. By some miracle he found the open tunnel. It was harder getting through this way and he almost got stuck. At last he squeezed through. There was one faint, distant squeal.
Had the others escaped Malevant?
Had they been caught?
What about the owls?
Blossom was too terrified and too exhausted to move far. He hopped painfully into the garden bed and staying under the bushes, he managed to burrow under a heap of dead leaves before another wave of dizziness hit him and he blacked out.
When he came to, everything was quiet. The leaves dripped with dew onto him. He was wet and shivering with cold and shock. How long had he been away? He didn’t have a clue. he peered out of the bushes. the garden was dark and quiet but he could just see the hutch in the shadow of the plum tree across the garden.
He found it much harder getting back in his window. It was so high and he had no help. After a few leaps he gave up, exhausted. What was he going to do? What if Malevant came back?
Aching all over and shivering still with the cold, Blossom hopped slowly over to the garden, shuffled under the broad leaves of some plant, and curled up at the foot of the plum tree.
On the edge of sleep his eyes suddenly snapped open, and he trembled.
And carried on the wind, the faint answering reply…
Hoo… Woo hoo!
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?”
Blossom is Missing!
Blossom is missing! He must have climbed out of his window tonight when my family visited.
I locked up the house and checked that everything was secure for the night, just as I always do.
Checking Blossom is the last thing I do before I go to bed. He’s still very young and I think all parents like to know their little ones are safe and tucked in properly. They look so young and vulnerable when they are asleep.
But tonight, his room was empty. His bed was messed up; it looked like he’d been jumping up and down on it. Then I noticed the curtains were moving so I pulled them back and found the wire at the bottom of his window had been pushed out. It’s a fair drop for a little rabbit.
If he fell out of the window, he might be hurt.
I peeked outside, but I couldn’t see him anywhere.
Then I heard owls in the distance.
I’m so worried. What if he’s hit his head and wandered off and is lost or worse. It’s so cold outside. But I can’t do anything until morning when the family wake up.
Blossom sat up, listening…
A strange rushing sound suddenly set Bandit and Snoop on alert.
Blossom sat up, his ears moving to catch any sound over the night noises.
The air above him moved. Wings flapped close to his ears and he flattened his body to the ground.
“Owl! Owl! Take cover,” yelled Bandit.
The rabbits squealed and lost their heads, scurrying here and there, this way and that.
Blossom was so terrified he didn’t know who to follow, or which way to run. He spotted a white tail. It bobbed up and down then disappeared into some wild rose brambles away by the fence.
“Over here Blossom!” called Bandit.
He dodged sideways, glimpsed a flurry of grey and white, then huge, cruel talons grabbed at him. He dodged again, spun quickly looking for the brambles. He stared into round luminous eyes, and saw the vicious hooked beak, as the owl twisted in the air and lunged at him.
In desperation he threw himself into the narrow gap in the tangled rose canes. Thorns, sharp as needles, caught his ears and fur. Pain stabbed his side. He collapsed into a heap: ribs heaving, his heart pounding so hard he thought he was going to burst.
“I was nearly killed’d,” he gasped.
“You were nearly dinner,” said Bandit brutally.
The little rabbits huddled together, shaking and quaking.
The call sounded very close.
“Woo hoo,” came an answering call. Blossom’s heart pounded even harder.
Then the night was quiet once again, except for the wind and the frogs calling down by the river.
“We’ll have to chance it,” said Bandit sometime later. “We can’t stay here all night, there might be foxes, or Malevant, or worse.” One of the younger rabbits shivered.
“I want to go home,” said Blossom. He’d had enough adventuring. He was cold and he thought only of the danger of the night and the open fields which seemed full of unknown terrors.
“Me too,” sniffed Apollo.
“Come on then,” said Bandit. “Stay close together. Snoop, keep a sharp eye out. You three; if anything happens stay with us.”
Bandit led the little troop out of the tangled canes, each nose sniffing the air, each ear alert and straining for every sound that might mean danger.
Shortly after, they came to a little tunnel dug into the back of the garden…
“This way. Keep the wall to your left,” said Bandit. “Snoop, you bring up the rear.”
Shortly after, they came to a little tunnel dug into the back of the garden; an old, open water drain leading underneath the stone wall into the farmyard. A large rock lay against one side of the wall. Blossom ducked his head and followed Apollo into the tunnel.
A moment later they were in the farmyard where the surrounding buildings towered above Blossom. Black and forbidding they cast long shadows across the bare earth of the open yard. He sniffed all the strange new scents.
But there was no time to look about him because Bandit and the others were already scurrying across the yard, keeping to the shadows where possible. They led Blossom past the machinery shed and then past the barn, where the great, heavy timber doors rattled and squeaked as they moved back and forth on their hinges, caught by the wind.
“Quick, this way,” said Bandit. He led the adventurers past the dairy, along the fence of the cow paddock, then down a short side-lane where huge pines crowded out the sky above.
The wind was much wilder away from the protection of the walled garden and the sheds. It had a voice of its own, and Blossom shivered as it wailed mournfully through the long-needled Sheoaks and pine trees.
Finally, they reached the apricot orchard and climbed through the fence. Blossom had never seen grass so long. He looked behind him, but he couldn’t see the farmyard or the stone wall that enclosed the house and garden. The wind was less noisy in the orchard paddock. The trees were covered in flowers, although not yet in leaf. The darkness was filled with noises. Frogs croaked loudly from down along the river and the creek that bordered Lavender Farm.
Other sounds too: Blossom heard the soft cluck of chickens disturbed from sleep, the low grunt of the pigs, and a rooster calling from a nearby farm. Across the valley, a dog’s bark rang faint through the deep night.
Adventuring seemed far more dangerous than the stories of Archie’s pirates.
However, Blossom’s fears faded once they were through the fence and into the long, sweet grass. His mouth watered: everything smelt so good. The air was fragrant with new, delicious scents, all juicy and green. He’d never seen the long succulent leaves of dandelions, sweet clover, and other meadow flowers that grew amongst the grasses. They glimmered now in the moonlight, looking like stars, white and silver.
He moved further into the open as he endeavoured to taste them all; first this delicacy, then another. When he was full, he stretched out on the damp grass and gazed up at the clouds swirling and shifting in the moonlight.
Freedom and adventure!
It was everything he’d dreamt about.
He was so full and happy, he lost all track of time.
A strange rushing sound suddenly set Bandit and Snoop on alert.
Blossom almost jumped out of his skin…
A quiet knocking noise made him pause. It was coming from outside his window.
Blossom almost jumped out of his skin.
“Psst!” came the sound again, a little louder.
Blossom, are you awake?” Blossom hopped over to his window.
“He’s asleep, stupid.”
“No he isn’t.”
“Yes he is.”
“It doesn’t matter, just wake him up.”
“Who’s there?” squeaked Blossom.
Four furry faces with big bright eyes and long ears appeared at his window.
“It’s Bandit. This is Snoop and Bram and Apollo… we’re your cousins. We live down by the river.”
“You wanna come with us?” asked Snoop.
Blossom stared out into the darkness
“Wh… where… are you going?”
“We’re night adventuring!” declared Bandit.
From his window, Blossom could just see through the garden gate to where a pool of moonlight lit the farmyard. Beyond the yard, in between the farm sheds, one of the orchards loomed, black tree boles in rows like soldiers on parade, the grass rows between, silvered stripes until they all merged into the darkness of the paddocks beyond: the paddocks which he knew led down to the river, where his cousins had come from.
It was very dark.
“Don’t worry,” Bandit assured him. “We aren’t going far.”
“No,” added Snoop. “Apollo and Bram are scaredy cats, so—”
“Are not,” huffed Bram.
“I am,” said Apollo.
“—so, we’re just going to the apricot orchard behind the sheds,” said Snoop.
“Mother’s awake…at the door…”
“Yeah! Talking, with my mum and aunts. We followed them. They’ll be ages, which means you can sneak out,” said Bandit, who appeared to be the little group’s leader.
“There’s a loose nail near the corner of your window. Push against the wire when we say. We’ll do the rest.”
Blossom heard scratching and scraping.
“Push,” came Bandit’s voice, and Blossom pushed at the wire as hard as he could.
It gave a little…
he pushed some more…
then a little more… then…
The wire suddenly gave way and he almost toppled out.
His nose twitched nervously, and his little whiskers all stood on end. He climbed out of the window a bit more. There was nowhere to hold onto and the ground was a long way down.
“You climb out backwards,” said one of his helpful cousins.
But Blossom couldn’t get his tummy back over the window sill. He scrabbled with his little back legs and then lost his balance completely and tumbled out, plop, onto soft fur.
“Oof,” huffed Snoop.
“Ouch,” said Apollo.
“Come on,” said Bandit, “we’re wasting time. Stay behind us, Blossom, and keep quiet, everyone. And be careful of Aunt Agatha’s daffodils. ”
Blossom quivered with excitement. He was on a real adventure!
One by one, they hopped across the lawn and disappeared beneath the leafy overhanging shrubs beside the stone wall on the far side of the garden gate. It smelled earthy and damp beneath the canopy.
“This way. Keep the wall to your left,” said Bandit. Snoop, you bring up the rear. ”
Blossom’s First Adventure
“When will our yard be ready?” Blossom asked.
He’d been very excited when Mr Meurs had measured their hutch and written things in his notebook. Finally, he’d brought timber and his tools and began sawing and hammering.
Mr Meurs had also shown Agatha plans to convert their little enclosure that was under their hutch into a new ground floor, meant that when the renovation was finished, their house would be twice the size it was now.
But then the weather turned cold again and it had rained. Their new house and yard hadn’t been touched for days.
“Mr Meurs is a busy farmer,” Agatha replied for about the tenth time that day. “He can’t drop everything just to finish our house.”
Blossom pushed his nose against the wire and sighed.
That evening, Blossom’s frustration boiled over. He squealed and hopped about their small enclosure until Agatha sent him to bed in disgrace. Blossom was still a very little bunny. He longed to have his own room, with lots of space, where he could pretend he was an adventurer, or a pirate.
He knew all about pirates. Archie owned a pirate cloak and hat, as well as an eye patch, a cutlass, and a squashy toy parrot which terrified Blossom when it squawked.
Archie had a pirate book too, with lots of pictures in it. Sometimes he and Ella dragged sheets and chairs into the back garden to make a pirate ship and play Pirates of the Spanish Main. They’d sit on the makeshift poop deck and read the exciting adventures to Blossom.
He lay awake listening to Agatha humming quietly in the living room. He tossed and turned until his bed was a tangled mess. When he heard a sharp knock knock at their front door, he sneaked out of bed and peeked into the living room. His mother was whispering to someone at their front door.
“Come inside and warm yourselves. Yes, it’s exciting news: I couldn’t wait to post it. I’ll just put the kettle on.”
“I can’t say that I’d like living in a house with walls, no matter how comfortable,” came a voice he recognised as his aunt Regina’s.
Some of their wild-rabbit relatives were visiting.
“It suits Agatha,” a second voice piped, in a loud admonishing tone.
“Lower your voice, Fern. You’ll wake Blossom.”
“It does suit me,” Blossom heard his mother say with a sigh. “I’m not like you Regina, I’ve never liked the idea of living in the wild, not after… you know… I prefer the pretty garden and the family who are good to us. We are happy and safe.”
Blossom twitched his little ears and hopped back to his bed. He was tired of being safe.
Another quiet knocking made him pause. It was coming from outside his window.
Blossom is the main character. He lives with his mother Agatha Bunny in their little house at the bottom of the garden at Lavender Farm.
But Blossom is different to most rabbits – his father is a were-rabbit. Agatha is terrified that Blossom will become a were-rabbit too.
Follow Blossom’s adventures.
Chapter 2: Windblown Petals—How a Were-Rabbit got his Name
Windblown Petals—How a Were-Rabbit got his Name
Archie and Ella also lived at Lavender Farm with their father and mother, Mr and Mrs Meurs.
Mrs Meurs was the manager of the local bank. Mr Meurs cared for all the fruit trees in his orchards as well as helping on the neighbouring farms when he was needed. In their spare time, Mr and Mrs Meurs grew vegetables in their large kitchen garden.
There was always something to do on the farm and when they weren’t going to school Archie and Ella helped with the house chores and the garden and the animals. Lavender Farm had lots of animals too: chickens and ducks who supplied the family with eggs, a very noisy family of pigs, some goats, cattle and sheep and finally Chloe and Craig the farm dogs who helped Mr Meurs each day with his work and who slept on the rug at his feet every evening after tea.
When Archie and Ella brought Agatha her breakfast later that spring morning, they were delighted to find the tiny baby bunny. Ella closed the hutch door carefully while Archie ran up to the farmhouse. When he reached the back door, he found Mr Meurs in the vestibule pulling on his work boots.
“Dad, come and see. Agatha has a baby bunny!”
“What was that?”
“Agatha’s got a new baby. We saw it. Come and see, Dad.”
Mr Meurs straightened up and took his battered and stained hat off one of the coat pegs. “That’s strange,” he said, and he followed Archie down to the bottom of the back garden.
When he peeked in to Agatha’s room and saw the tiny rabbit he pushed his hat back and scratched his head.
“Well,” he said, “this is a turn-up.”
“Isn’t it cute?” asked Ella.
“How can it be cute; it’s got no fur!” said Archie.
“We’ll call it Blossom,” said Ella, ignoring Archie’s remark.
“What sort of name is that for a rabbit?” asked Archie.
Ella rolled her eyes and pointed to the white petals covering the roof of the hutch and the grass below. “See how the wind has scattered the plum blossoms? It’s like a carpet, or snow! It’s Nature’s sign – a clue to what the bunny’s name should be.”
“No it isn’t,” she countered. “Dad always says Nature knows best.”
Mr Meurs laughed. “Well, there’s no denying that.”
It’s the perfect name,” said Ella.
And so the tiny rabbit became Blossom, and the name stuck even after Ella and Archie discovered he was a boy rabbit. By then, Blossom was a few weeks old and had opened his eyes; they were dark and large and he had the softest black fur, with a little white patch on one front paw, a white streak down his chest and white fur on his tail.
Ella and Archie visited the hutch each morning and afternoon to bring clean straw as well as food and water for Agatha.
One Saturday afternoon a few weeks later, Mr Meurs pulled his ute into the farmyard.
He’d finally completed the long and tiring task of pruning the trees in his orchard and he’d just finished checking the ewes with their lambs. It was early spring and the days were still short, with the cold setting in quickly as the sun dipped towards the west. Mr Meurs was thinking of his nice warm kitchen and an even warmer drink, when he walked from the yard into the garden just as Archie and Ella were changing Agatha’s straw bedding.
“Goodness,” he said, stopping and bending down to peer into the hutch. “Look how much Blossom has grown. He’ll soon be too big for Agatha’s little house. I’ll have to build a pen for him to play in during the day.”
“Oh, yes Dad! Please do it today,” pleaded Ella.
“Yes, please Dad,” added Archie, “we’ll help you, won’t we, Ella?”
Ella nodded enthusiastically. “Of course we’ll help you, Dad.”
Mr Meurs laughed. “Well, I guess there’s no point putting it off then,” he said. “Now, we will need some timber and wire netting, a saw, a hammer and nails.”
“I’ll search in the shed,” said Archie.
“Ah, now hang on! We can’t do it all today,” said Mr Meurs. “We’ll have to make a plan first, so we can work out just what we’ll need.”
He thought for a moment.
“Hmm, yes! That’s the best way to start.” He pulled out a notebook and small pencil from his shirt pocket and began to sketch out a rough plan. Then he showed it to Ella and Archie.
“Now we have enough time before the afternoon chores to peg out the new run ready for tomorrow.”
Archie and Ella ran to one of the sheds to fetch a mallet or large hammer and some short timber stakes. Mr Meurs stepped out the measurements he’d drawn up and directed the children to hammer the markers into the grass. When they had finished, they all stood back to admire their work.
“It’s going to look fantastic, Dad,” said Archie.
The gate swung open and Mrs Meurs walked into the garden wearing short gumboots and carrying a basket of eggs.
“You’ve all been busy. I could hear the hammering over in the apricot orchard. The whole farm is agog with curiosity.”
“We’re making a new yard for Agatha and Blossom,” said Archie.
“I can see that,” she said.
“Do you like your new yard, Agatha?” asked Ella.
Agatha liked their new yard very much. She enjoyed pottering about her small pen beneath the hutch. The sides were surrounded by pots of fragrant herbs and brightly coloured flowers. Until now, Blossom had been too small to be outside much, but he was quickly growing into a very bouncy little rabbit with nothing to do but annoy his mother, which made Agatha pull her ears in frustration.
She also feared the night predators that prowled through the garden and the orchards and the paddocks beyond. Hidden away in their little rooms inside the hutch they were safe, but Agatha knew of several curious and adventurous little rabbits amongst her wild relatives, who had disappeared or met with a very bad end.
There were many dangers for unwary rabbits: hunters with guns and bright lights, foxes, and roaming cats and dogs, and finally Malevant, who would quickly make a meal of any rabbit he caught unawares.
After Mr and Mrs Meurs and the children had gone up to the farmhouse, she let Blossom hop out of their little house and they peered through the wire. “You are a very lucky little rabbit, Blossom,” said Agatha. “Just look at the pen Mr Meurs is making for us. You will have lots of room to hop about in.”
Blossom was very excited about their new yard. He’d not been out of their house much and his days seemed dull and boring. All the sounds and smells coming into their house on the breeze were strange and enticing and he longed to explore the world beyond his hutch.
He twitched his little black ears and nose and looked around with big round eyes. He wasn’t sure what all the pegs and string were for, but everything was new and so it didn’t matter. His first look at the large garden and the world beyond the garden gate held enough interest for him.
Henry the farm’s rooster flew up onto the garden wall and considered the pegs and string.
“Very nice m’dear,” he remarked to Agatha.
“Oh, thank you, Colonel. I’m sure it will be wonderful.”
“Cluck, cluck!” Angelique and Claudine peered in through the gate from the farmyard.
“Goodness me! Your new yard will be at least three times the size of your old one, Agatha.”
“You won’t know yourself, you lu-lucky girl.”
“Yes, we are very lucky – as I’ve just been telling Blossom. The family takes great care of us.”
Malevant, the cat who lived in the back hayshed of the neighbouring farm kept hearing about Blossom from the other animals but on his visits to Agatha’s hutch he still hadn’t been able to catch any sight of the little bunny.
He was lazing on an old shed roof, basking in the late afternoon sunshine and cleaning his paws, when he overheard some sparrows twittering the news that Mr Meurs was enlarging Agatha Bunny’s pen.
Malevant pricked his ears and smiled to himself—a very nasty smile.
Chapter 1: A Night of Storms and Moonlight Stirrings
A Night of Storms and Moonlight Stirrings
Some time ago (but not too long ago) on a wild and stormy night, a little rabbit was born on Lavender Farm.
The night was so wet and wild that lightning flashed, thunder crashed and rolled across the sky, the wind howled and shivered over the land, and the boughs of the trees swayed and tossed until they creaked.
After the storm passed, the full moon, which was beginning to set, peaked out from behind the dark, swiftly moving clouds to cast strange long shadows across the farmyard and into Agatha Bunny’s hutch which stood at the bottom of the stone-walled garden. Briefly, the pale moonlight touched the podgy, furless little body. The baby rabbit trembled. After scratching up the straw bedding, Agatha nestled close to keep her newborn baby warm.
Malevant the cat lived in the hayshed just beyond the boundary of Lavender Farm, on Mr Fitzgerald’s dairy farm. Malevant sometimes visited Agatha’s hutch where he enjoyed teasing her by walking up and down on her roof or lounging on one of the branches of the old plum tree that sheltered her hutch, mewling in a high, bloodcurdling voice.
But the night had been so windy, with the clouds bringing such cold driving rain, that he’d stayed at home. Now that the storm had blown itself out, he was hungry.
And being hungry always put him in a bad mood.
It was still dark when he slipped out from one of his many bolt holes in amongst the stacked hay bales and crossed the swollen creek using the overhanging branches of the huge old Red Gum trees that dotted the creek’s edge. Running swiftly through the apple orchard and into the farmyard, he searched outside the chicken pen and caught an unwary mouse.
A muffled squeak followed by a crack and wet, sloppy noises, caught his attention. He prowled swiftly over to the back of the duck enclosure where he frightened Roland Rat who was lapping at the contents of a stolen egg.
Baring his teeth at Roland, he snatched the egg, using his claws to tip it closer to him and devoured the remains of the delicious yellow yoke and the sticky clear fluid. Licking his whiskers, he threw a contemptuous look at Roland who was sitting a few feet away, sullenly watching Malevant with his beady black eyes.
“What’s news, Roly?”
Roland sniffed and and looked at Malevant with dislike.
“How would I know? Been a storm, haven’t ther’. Roof leakin, parlour flooded, lights flashin and the sky bangin fit to bust me eardrums! Can’t even get me supper an’ wen I does, some bully varmint goes an’ steals it, don’t theys!”
Malevant hissed and cuffed him around his ears. “Watch it, Roly!”
Roly squealed and shuffled backwards. “Alright, alright. No need to get violent. As it happens I did slip into the garden and sniff around a certain house jus’ afores. Scrabbling and scarbbling in her straw she was. ’Reckon she might have little ones with her by now. Couldn’t get a proper scent. I thoughts to say hallo—all polite like. Wouldn’t give me the time o’day.” Roly sniffed and threw his tormentor a shrewd look. “Might be worth a visit.”
Malevant flicked an ear and thought for a moment. “Hmm! You might be right, Roly. No harm in paying a social call, asking after the new mother’s health, and so on.” He sniggered at his own joke and walked away, his tail swinging with a leisurely swagger.
Roly watched with his black, glittering eyes until Malevant had disappeared into the shadows.
“Social call! Ha ha, Mr Funny, I don’t think so,” he muttered. “Swiping a bloke’s meal and me what looks out for his whiskers an’ tail. But we don’t tell everythin, does we? Not likely. He goes stickin’ his snout in some places, he’ll be a skinned cat.”
Meanwhile, Malevant had reached the farmhouse garden. He jumped silently onto the high stone wall and looked down on Agatha’s hutch. The moon had set and although the storm had passed leaving a cold clear sky, raindrops dripped from the leaves of the trees. It was still a few hours till sunrise. He flexed his muscles, gathered himself for a moment judging the distance to the top of Agatha’s hutch and leaped neatly down onto the roof, landing with a thump. He heard a rustle and soft intake of breath. He sniggered and proceeded to stalk up and down, pausing every now and again to peer in or scratch at the wire.
“What a lovely evening, Agatha. I hope you’re well?” he sniffed the air. “I did hear a whisper—my dear—I wanted to be the first to congratulate you. You must show me your charming babies next time I call.”
No sound came from inside the hutch. Knowing from long experience that Agatha kept silent and hidden whenever he was around, Malevant gave up on his nasty little game, jumped up into the plum tree and over the garden wall again, heading out to the orchards and the paddocks beyond in search of more prey.
But unknown to Malevant, or Agatha, or in fact anyone else on Lavender Farm, a dark figure sat in the shadows on the long low hill behind the farm, silent and motionless, watching throughout the quiet hours till the night’s dark waned and the sun cast its first golden beams over the grass.
Mrs Meurs lives with her husband Mr Meurs and their two children Archie and Ella on Lavender Farm. She manages the local bank in Meadowbrook.