Once upon a time there was a lonely girl named Sasha who lived with her parents in the foothills. Her only friends were her cat, Dilly, and a black bunny called Twitch, upon whom she lavished affection. Dilly adored Sasha, but since Sasha kept Twitch in a cage in the fenced garden beside her home, Dilly suspected Twitch was her favorite. Twitch saw things differently: if only I could live free outside this cage, I'd be content forever, he thought.
Sometimes when Sasha visited Twitch, she'd scoop him up and sit on the garden swing while she petted him. Dilly would follow, and Sasha caressed him also. She cuddled both while telling stories of quick-witted bunnies. Twitch admired Peter Rabbit, but he worshipped Brer Rabbit. Bold and sassy, no matter what happened he outwitted Brer Fox.
I'm not sure those stories were good for Twitch: he imagined he was Brer Rabbit, trying hard to think like him. What would Brer Rabbit do? he thought one day from Sasha's lap. The answer was so simple that quick as a . . . well, bunny -- he squirmed loose and hopped clear across the garden!
Sasha tried ever so hard to coax Twitch back, but he refused. Day after day Twitch snubbed her, flaunting how well he managed on his own. When thirsty, he found clear water gurgling in the garden pond where the goldfish lived. When hungry, he munched greedily on garden greens that grew beside the fence. "Sasha cries for you," Dilly scolded, but Twitch pretended not to hear.
Life was heaven, but for that fence: a luscious green patch of miner's lettuce grew just beyond. If only I lived there, I'd be content forever, Twitch thought. It's not fair! Why is Dilly free and I'm trapped? What would Brer Rabbit do?
Quick as a rabbit's whisker's wiggle, Twitch started digging. And in no time, he tunneled under the irksome fence to freedom. Somehow the air smelled sweeter in the lettuce under the pine, and Twitch knew he'd be content there forever. Dilly sat above him on a tree limb, watching. "Sasha cries for you," he whispered, but Twitch ignored him.
Dilly rubbed against Sasha's legs to comfort her. Nothing seemed to take away her pain: she missed Twitch. While holding Dilly, she'd speak of him, weeping until Dilly's fur was wet. What could he do? Twitch wouldn't listen: he thought only of himself.
Life continued, with Sasha crying, Dilly scolding, and Twitch growing ever more self-sufficient. Then one day a cunning fox appeared at the edge of the open field. Dilly spotted him, and cowered under the ceanothus. "Hide, Twitch, hide!" he warned. But Twitch continued his romp beneath the pines.
"What are you doing?" asked the fox.
"Who wants to know?" Twitch answered roughly.
"What a clever bunny, to ask. An independent thinker, not like most."
So pleased with the praise, Twitch didn't realize the old fox had sidestepped the question.
"Can you help me?" asked the fox. "A patch of wild blackberries grows beyond the fence past this field. I so want those blackberries, but I can't get through the fence."
"What luck! Take me along and you'll be eating in no time!" suggested Twitch.
"Is that so?" said the sly fox. "How kind of you to offer!"
And with that, Twitch followed into the clearing. Oh no! thought Dilly. What will happen to Sasha if Twitch is killed? Dilly sprang from hiding, bounding into the open field. Just as the fox pounced on Twitch, Dilly leapt upon his back, digging his claws into the flesh beneath his fur. Twitch screamed, the fox yelped, and Dilly cried, "Run, Twitch, run!"
This time Twitch listened, never looking back as he scurried past the lettuce patch, wiggled under the garden fence and sprang through the open doorway of his cage. He sat there shaking, praying that Sasha would come and close the door.
Hearing the commotion, Sasha rushed into the garden to find her beloved bunny. "Oh, Twitch -- you've come home!" She held Twitch tightly, stroking his fur until he relaxed. And from that day on, Twitch never again had a yen to wander. Whether in the cage or in the garden, with Sasha nearby, he was content.
As for Dilly, Sasha heard him whimpering in the field and rescued him, nursing him back to health. How strange, Twitch thought. I despise cats -- especially Dilly. Why would he risk his life to save me?
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