Raggylug, the story of a cottontail rabbit
RAGGYLUG, The Story of a Cottontail Rabbit
RAGGYLUG, or Rag, was the name of a young cottontail rabbit. It was
given him from his torn and ragged ear, a life-mark that he got in his
first adventure. He lived with his mother in Olifant's Swamp, where I
made their acquaintance and gathered, in a hundred different ways, the
little bits of proof and scraps of truth that at length enabled me to
write this history.
Those who do not know the animals well may think I have humanized them,
but those who have lived so near them as to know somewhat of their ways
and their minds will riot think so.
Truly rabbits have no speech as we understand it, but they have a way of
conveying ideas by a system of sounds, signs, scents, whisker-touches,
movements, and example that answers the purpose of speech; and it must
be remembered that though in telling this story I freely translate from
rabbit into English, I repeat nothing that they did not say.
The rank swamp grass bent over and concealed the snug nest where
Raggylug's mother had hidden him. She had partly covered him with some
of the bedding, and, as always, her last warning was to lie low and say
nothing, whatever happens. Though tucked in bed, he was wide awake and
his bright eyes were taking in that part of his little green world that
was straight above. A bluejay and a red-squirrel, two notorious thieves,
were loudly berating each other for stealing, and at one time Rag's
home bush was the centre of their fight; a yellow warbler caught a blue
butterfly but six inches from his nose, and a scarlet and black ladybug,
serenely waving her knobbed feelers, took a long walk up one grass-blade,
down another, and across the nest and over Rag's face — and yet he never
moved nor even winked.
After a while he heard a strange rustling of the leaves in the near
thicket. It was an odd, continuous sound, and though it went this way
and that way and came ever nearer, there was no patter of feet with it.
Rag had lived his whole life in the Swamp (he was three weeks old) and
yet had never heard anything like this. Of course his curiosity was
greatly aroused. His mother had cautioned him to lie low, but that
was understood to be in case of danger, and this strange sound without
footfalls could not be anything to fear.
The low rasping went past close at hand, then to the right, then back,
and seemed going away. Rag felt he knew what he was about; he wasn't
a baby; it was his duty to learn what it was. He slowly raised his
rolypoly body on his short fluffy legs, lifted his little round head
above the covering of his nest and peeped out into the woods. The sound
had ceased as soon as he moved. He saw nothing, so took one step forward
to a clear view, and instantly found himself face to face with an
enormous Black Serpent.
"Mammy," he screamed in mortal terror as the monster darted at him. With
all the strength of his tiny limbs he tried to run. But in a flash the
Snake had him by one ear and whipped around him with his coils to gloat
over the helpless little baby bunny he had secured for dinner.
"Mam-my — Mam-my," gasped poor little Raggylug as the cruel monster began
slowly choking him to death. Very soon the little one's cry would have
ceased, but bounding through the woods straight as an arrow came Mammy.
No longer a shy, helpless little Molly Cottontail, ready to fly from
a shadow: the mother's love was strong in her. The cry of her baby had
filled her with the courage of a hero, and — hop, she went over that