Lucy Carter was told by her mum not to go into the yard of their neighbour.
But Lucy being an adventurous girl would often find her way to the fence between her place and that of the neighbour. The neighbour was known only as Mr Johnson.
When Lucy asked her mother why she wasn’t allowed in Mr Johnson’s yard, she was told because Mr Johnson was not quite right.
It was the way her mum said it that frightened Lucy and so, she went no further than the fence and stared through the palings into Mr Johnson’s yard which was overgrown with weeds and wild fruit trees.
One day she saw a rabbit in the next yard, and it appeared to have a broken foot as it limped along. It was clear to Lucy that the rabbit needed help.
Looking around to see if her mother was watching Lucy crawled through the small hole in the bottom of the fence. She stood in Mr Johnson’s yard and looked for the rabbit.
It was a few feet away and looked startled when it saw the small girl behind him.
The rabbit scurried away, and Lucy anxious about its well-being ran after it. The rabbit disappeared behind a large orange tree, and Lucy followed.
Behind the tree, Lucy pulled up quickly. There was no rabbit, in fact, there were several rabbits sitting at a table drinking tea.
Looking up the rabbit closest said, “Glad you could make it, the tea is almost cold you know.”
Lucy was taken aback and stood still unable to move.
“No point standing there looking so gormless,” said another rabbit, “grab a cup and join us, we haven’t got all day.”
Next thing Lucy knew she was sitting at the table a steaming cup of tea in front of her.
“She’ll have to do,” announced a small rabbit to her left.
“Shame she’s so scrawny,” said another rabbit, “I don’t think she’ll have it in her.”
“What is it I have to do?” asked Lucy.
“We need you to front the black wizard,” replied a rabbit in a very hesitant voice.
“He’s evil,” said another.
“Diabolical,” cried another.
“Deadly,” whispered another.
“But why me?” asked Lucy incredulously.
“You’re the chosen one,” said a rabbit slurping his tea.
“But what do I have to do?” asked Lucy once again.
“The Black Wizard wants a rabbit every year for his stew potion, and we are not prepared to sacrifice another to his silly cause,” came an answer to her left.
“Can’t you just say no?” asked Lucy.
There was consternation around the table at her suggestion. Rabbits sipped tea, cleared their throats and looked at one another for an answer.
“Rabbits can’t say no,” came a reply, “we are compliant. We see danger heading for us, and all we can do is let it happen. There’s a lot of truth in the saying, “A rabbit in the headlights.”
“Maybe you rabbits need to show some backbone, step into the unknown and see what happens,” announced an assertive Lucy.
Just then a loud explosion was heard, a cloud of smoke appeared and before them stood the Black Wizard. Every rabbit cowered before him, Lucy could see there would be no entry into the unknown that day.
So, she stepped forward announcing her presence and her intention.
The Black Wizard bowed towards her, raised his wand and turned her into a lily pad.