The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble
by James Thurber
Within the memory of the youngest child there was a family of rabbits who lived near a pack of wolves. The wolves announced that they did not like the way the rabbits were living. (The wolves were crazy about the way they themselves were living, because it was the only way to live.) One night several wolves were killed in an earthquake and this was blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that rabbits pound on the ground with their hind legs and cause earthquakes. On another night one of the other wolves was killed by a bolt of lightning and this was also blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that lettuce-eaters cause lightning. The wolves threatened to civilize the rabbits if they didn't behave, and the rabbits decided to run away to a desert island. But the other animals, who lived at a great distance, shamed them saying, "You must stay where you are and be brave. This is no world for escapists. If the wolves attack you, we will come to your aid in all probability." So the rabbits continued to live near the wolves and one day there was a terrible flood which drowned a great many wolves. This was blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that carrot-nibblers with long ears cause floods. The wolves descended on the rabbits, for their own good, and imprisoned them in a dark cave, for their own protection.
When nothing was heard about the rabbits for some weeks, the other animals demanded to know what happened to them. The wolves replied that the rabbits had been eaten and since they had been eaten the affair was a purely internal matter. But the other animals warned that they might possibly unite against the wolves unless some reason was given for the destruction of the rabbits. So the wolves gave them one. "They were trying to escape," said the wolves, "and, as you know this is no world for escapists."
Moral: Run, don't walk, to the nearest desert island.
Rabbits Still Causing Trouble: A Sequel
by Martin Berman-Gorvine
The rabbits who survived the wolf attack fled to their ancestral meadow, where they joined their relatives who had seen trouble coming years in advance. There they built elaborate hutches and made the fields bloom with delicious carrots while fighting off an invasion by a herd of prairie dogs whose tunnels extended over the entire plain and who regarded the rabbits' return as a usurpation. At first the other animals, who were stricken with guilt over their failure to save the rabbits from the wolves, cheered on the rabbits, and a few even went so far as to sell them sticks with which to ward off the prairie dogs.
But then delicious mushrooms were found to be growing all over the prairie dogs' plain, and the other animals, even the carnivores, soon grew addicted to them. "We will not sell you any more mushrooms as long as you support the rabbit invaders," the prairie dogs told the other animals, who soon discovered that the bloodthirsty rabbits had perpetrated a terrible injustice on the far more numerous prairie dogs, especially the one family that appeared to have lived in the rabbits' ancestral meadow and had fled when their fellow prairie dogs first attacked the rabbits. Ever since then, this family had made its home under a rock, since the other prairie dogs refused to let them into their tunnels. "You must fight to take your meadow back from the rabbits," the other prairie dogs told them, but their hearing was damaged from living out in the cold and damp, and they thought they had been told, "You have the right to shred all the other animals' habitats." When they proceeded to do so, the other animals, who had been enjoying mushroom-generated visions, blamed the rabbits for driving the poor prairie dogs crazy. "And who knows," they said to each other, "maybe the first group of rabbits were never really eaten by wolves at all! Their own cannibal relatives probably killed them!" And so they combined to drive the rabbits from their homes. Unfortunately, in the confusion the prairie dog town was completely destroyed, and all the remaining mushrooms were trampled.
Moral: The original moral cannot be improved upon.