Fear in the Dark
Mon 03rd Aug 2009 at 19:03:16
Box canvas 36x48” (90x120cm)

During the day the digging of the new warren had started. In the evening, Hazel decided to go down to the foot of the hill, looking for some good grass. Bigwig, Speedwell and Dandelion joined him. Before feeding in the grass at the edge of the wheat-field, Hazel looked for a place to bolt in case of danger and a nearby overgrown ditch seemed good enough to provide some shelter.

Twilight had fallen on the cornfield; it was time to go up again before owl time!
At that moment came the sound of a stamp, followed by a second one. They all ran to the ditch and waited. Soon it grew dark and they decided not to take risks: they could have some sleep in the ditch.

Suddenly an unnatural sound filled them with fear. Bigwig said that in a place like this could only be the Black Rabbit of Inle’. A rabbit voice started to call Bigwig by name… As always, Hazel, running all the risks for his rabbits, pushed him beside and went out in the open. Shortly Dandelion was beside him. Astonished, by the hedge along the cornfield, they found Captain Holly of Sandleford Owsla and Bluebell.
Holly had reached exhaustion stage, trailing his legs behind his flattened rump, with a ripped ear across his face. You can spot Bluebell hiding in the hedge, after hearing Hazel coming into the open.

Part 2 On Watership Down
From Chapter 19: Fear in the Dark

By kind permission of Richard Adams

“Zorn! Zorn!” cried the dreadful, squealing voice. “All dead! Oh zorn!”
Dandelion whimpered. Bigwig was scuffling into the ground.
“Be quiet!” said Hazel, “and stop kicking that earth over me! I want to listen.”
At that moment, quite distinctly, the voice cried, “Thlayli! Oh Thlayli!
At this, all four rabbits felt the trance of utter panic. They grew rigid. Then Bigwig, his eyes set in a fixed, glazed stare, began to jerk his way up the ditch towards the opening...
...“You have to go when it calls you.”
Hazel felt so much frightened that he could no longer collect his wits…

Only one idea remained to him – Bigwig must be prevented from going out, for he was helpless. He scrambled past him, pressing him against the side of the ditch.
“Stay where you are,” he said, panting. “Whatever sort of rabbit it is, I’m going to see for myself.” Then, his legs almost giving way beneath him, he pulled himself out into the open…

...“Who is there?” he said.
There was silence, and he was about to speak again when the voice replied, “Zorn! Oh zorn!”
It came from the hedge along the side of the field. Hazel turned towards the sound and in a few moments made out, under a clump of hemlock, the hunched shape of a rabbit…

…a rabbit in the last stages of exhaustion, its back legs trailing behind its flattened rump…
…one ripped and bloody ear that drooped across its face…
...It was Captain Holly of the Sandleford Owsla.

- Aldo Galli -