PART ONE ~ “Tender Was the Mesclun” ~
Clarice sauntered past the male rabbits with a dismissive glance. They were strangers to the garden, and in a lean season she might have objected to the intrusion. But not today. There were more than enough cabbages for everyone, row after row of tender, bittersweet rosettes. There was endive, too, and wine-dark Swiss chard.
Branches rustled in the hedgerow. Clarice felt a vaguely unsettling sense of something amiss. Had there been a veiled threat in the way the grey jackrabbit had looked at her? The thought vanished before it was fully formed, as Clarice caught a new scent in the air: carrots! The earth was bursting with them, no more than a row or two away.
She stood up, every sense on alert, and inhaled the mingled perfumes of musky compost and sweet root vegetables. She could picture them: long, thick, short, fat, their ruddy skins dusted with rich loam. One by one, she would seduce them to the surface. Scratching, clawing, she would pluck them from the ground. She woud pluck them all!
Clarice abandoned caution then, and a half-eaten cabbage. She cleared the adjacent row in a graceful bound, and hopped purposefully toward the east, guided by her sensitive, pink-velvet nose and compelled by her lust for crisp-sweet taproots.
The big jack was on her before she knew he was there.
"Cut it out," she cried, and twisted in his grasp. But the selfish creep had already finished.
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