“Why, yes, I am, I am, I am,” said the spaniel to the flop eared rabbit,”Your death I am, your death and your salvation, high above the stars,and deep inside my guts, the different fates of soul and blood. So come here, little rabbit, do not fight. Rather let me take you gently, one swift crack of the spine and you won’t feel a thing, but if you run, oh, little rabbit, if you run, don’t let the satin silk of my ears fool you. I can run and chase and when I catch you this velvet soft mouth of mine will return to an older use, ripping your stomach open, your throat, the whole, soft down of your underside, torn and dripping blood, and your heart will hammer, pouring yet more blood onto the ground, and your lungs will heave, and it will hurt, little rabbit, hurt worse than any trap or snare or nightmare, so, come here, little rabbit, and let me kill you gently, let me take care of your final moments, let me feed myself and set you free.”

The rabbit gazed back at the spaniel with wide dark eyes, and said nothing.

“So you agree,” said the spaniel, creeping closer on half-bent legs, muzzle to the ground, snuffling for the scent of terror and finding nothing.

“But, we are pets, are we not?” said the rabbit. “Too well bred, too well fed, for this red in tooth and claw conversation. I find it rather vulgar.”

The spaniel stopped.

The spaniel flopped to the ground, felled by the rabbit’s quiet, calm voice, and the question itself, which troubled the spaniel.

“I am, why, yes, I am a pet, a well bred, well fed example of man’s best friend, bred for beauty, for this golden fur, these silken curls, this wide, appealing, brow. Bred for gentleness also – soft mouth, soft heart. I can carry an egg without cracking it, take a child’s hand in my mouth and only make her laugh, but little rabbit, you forget.”

“I forget,” said the rabbit, with incredulous emphasis on the pronoun.

“You forget,” said the spaniel, bouncing to four paws, earnest and open hearted. “You forget that under the plush of your fur and the length of your ears, your ancestors were prey, and you forget that, under the curls and the softness of my ears, right down in the marrow of my bones, I am a wolf.”

“Oh”, said the rabbit, and, although he didn’t move, when the spaniel snuffled a second breath the air was rich with fear. The spaniel’s heart jumped in his chest, and – pounce, grab, rip, shake – rich blood flowed through his soft, well-bred mouth.

“High above the stars,and deep inside my guts, little rabbit, and I thank you for reminding me that I am a well-groomed wolf.”

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