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“The rabbits are out again!” My little brother burst into the kitchen where we girls were discussing William Wilberforce.
My four sisters and I looked at each other and sighed.
“This is the fourth time this week!” Betty huffed as we all slid down from the counters where we had been perched.
“I guess we’ll be fixing rabbit cages again this afternoon,” Bobbie frowned, holding the door open for the rest of us.
Five minutes later, all but two of the rabbits were caught and back in their cages. Billie and Bailey went after Naughty Peter Rabbit while Bobbie and Betty began fixing the cages. That left me to catch Bandit.
I shrugged and started off. Bandit always made a beeline for a certain hollow in the woods behind our house. She would sit there for a while and if no one came for her right away, she would begin to explore the woods. Once she started doing that, it would take forever to catch her. I needed to reach her before she decided to start exploring.
I dodged the trailing vines that hung in front of the ‘doorway’ to one of the side paths into the woods. It was the quickest path to Bandit’s Hollow. I tried to walk quietly so I wouldn’t startle her. Just a hundred feet further now....
A girl rose from behind a tree not ten feet in front of me and I stopped in surprise. She was taller than I, with black hair and emerald green eyes. She wore a mid 1860’s riding habit of dark blue. I just looked at her for a moment.
“What are you doing in these trees?” she asked. Her voice was cool, controlled.
“They belong to my family, “I replied just as coolly. “Might I inquire what you are doing in them?”
“They belong to your family? How can that be? I am on the estate of my father-in-law and these are his trees.”
I began to have an idea of who this girl was.
“Are you certain, my lady?”
She drew herself up, “What do you mean?”
“Is it possible you have walked further than you intended?”
She raised her eyebrows at me. Now I was certain who she was. She looked around and I heard her murmur, “That would explain....”
“It is possible,” she admitted after a moment. “I beg your pardon for trespassing.”
I smiled warmly, “It is of no account. But since you are here, I am Melody Muffin.” I swept into my best curtsy.
“Lady Cordelia West,” she curtsied in return; a far more graceful and accomplished curtsy than mine had been!
“Are you just out for a walk, my lady?”
She glanced around and lowered her voice conspiratorially, “No, I’m escaping my governess. I did not feel like doing my lessons this morning.”
“I’m chasing a loose rabbit. Which reminds me... I would love to stay and talk with you longer but I must go or she will wander further off.”
She gave another quick glance around, “Would you like help catching her?”
My eyes danced, “Yes, please!” This girl is so much fun! I really need to return to writing her story.
I led the way and Cordelia gathered her habit skirt up in her left hand so it would not drag on the ground. We crept up on Bandit’s hiding place.
“There she is,” I whispered and motioned. “I’ll go around this way. If you go that way, we’ll trap her between us.”
Half a minute later I had the runaway rabbit firmly in my arms. Lady Cordelia walked back with me to the tree where she had been sitting.
“It was a most pleasant escapade, Miss Muffin. But I must return now to my home. Dinner will be served soon and it would not do for me to still be missing.”
“Journey safely, Lady Cordelia. And may we meet again sometime.”
“I would enjoy that,” she replied.
I smiled happily as I returned Bandit to her cage. That was the most fun I’d ever had catching a rabbit!
Miss Melody Muffin