**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Rabbit
by [?]

Old Lecacheur appeared at the door of his house between five and a quarter past five in the morning, his usual hour, to watch his men going to work.

He was only half awake, his face was red, and with his right eye open and the left nearly closed, he was buttoning his braces over his fat stomach with some difficulty, at the same time looking into every corner of the farmyard with a searching glance. The sun darted its oblique rays through the beech trees by the side of the ditch and athwart the apple trees outside, and was making the cocks crow on the dunghill, and the pigeons coo on the roof. The smell of the cow stable came through the open door, and blended in the fresh morning air with the pungent odor of the stable, where the horses were neighing, with their heads turned toward the light.

As soon as his trousers were properly fastened, Lecacheur came out, and went, first of all, toward the hen house to count the morning’s eggs, for he had been afraid of thefts for some time; but the servant girl ran up to him with lifted arms and cried:

“Master! master! they have stolen a rabbit during the night.”

“A rabbit?”

“Yes, master, the big gray rabbit, from the hutch on the left”; whereupon the farmer completely opened his left eye, and said, simply:

“I must see about that.”

And off he went to inspect it. The hutch had been broken open and the rabbit was gone. Then he became thoughtful, closed his right eye again, and scratched his nose, and after a little consideration, he said to the frightened girl, who was standing stupidly before her master:

“Go and fetch the gendarmes; say I expect them as soon as possible.”

Lecacheur was mayor of the village, Pavigny-le-Gras, and ruled it like a master, on account of his money and position, and as soon as the servant had disappeared in the direction of the village, which was only about five hundred yards off, he went into the house to have his morning coffee and to discuss the matter with his wife, whom he found on her knees in front of the fire, trying to make it burn quickly, and as soon as he got to the door, he said:

“Somebody has stolen the gray rabbit.”

She turned round so suddenly that she found herself sitting on the floor, and looking at her husband with distressed eyes, she said:

“What is it, Cacheux? Somebody has stolen a rabbit?”

“The big gray one.”

She sighed.

“What a shame! Who can have done it?”

She was a little, thin, active, neat woman, who knew all about farming. Lecacheur had his own ideas about the matter.

“It must be that fellow, Polyte.”

His wife got up suddenly and said in a furious voice:

“He did it! he did it! You need not look for any one else. He did it! You have said it, Cacheux!”

All her peasant’s fury, all her avarice, all her rage of a saving woman against the man of whom she had always been suspicious, and against the girl whom she had always suspected, showed themselves in the contraction of her mouth, and the wrinkles in the cheeks and forehead of her thin, exasperated face.

“And what have you done?” she asked.

“I have sent for the gendarmes.”

This Polyte was a laborer, who had been employed on the farm for a few days, and who had been dismissed by Lecacheur for an insolent answer. He was an old soldier, and was supposed to have retained his habits of marauding and debauchery front his campaigns in Africa. He did anything for a livelihood, but whether he were a mason, a navvy, a reaper, whether he broke stones or lopped trees, he was always lazy, and so he remained nowhere for long, and had, at times, to change his neighborhood to obtain work.