hedge, that looked a promising place for them, and it was so sweet of
him to make me eat the only one!
Oh, it was you that ate it, then? Bruno didn’t seem to like to tell me
No; I saw that, said Sylvie. He’s always afraid of being praised.
But he made me eat it, really! I would much rather he –oh, what’s that?
And she clung to my hand, half-frightened, as we came in sight of a
hare, lying on its side with legs stretched out just in the entrance to
It’s a hare, my child. Perhaps it’s asleep.
No, it isn’t asleep, Sylvie said, timidly going nearer to look at it:
it’s eyes are open. Is it–is it–her voice dropped to an awestruck
whisper, is it dead, do you think?”
“Yes, it’s quite dead,” I said, after stooping to examine it.
“Poor thing! I think it’s been hunted to death. I know the harriers
were out yesterday. But they haven’t touched it. Perhaps they caught
sight of another, and left it to die of fright and exhaustion.”
“Hunted to death?” Sylvie repeated to herself, very slowly and sadly.
“I thought hunting was a thing they played at like a game. Bruno and I
hunt snails: but we never hurt them when we catch them!”
“Sweet angel!” I thought. “How am I to get the idea of Sport into your
innocent mind?” And as we stood, hand-in-hand, looking down at the dead
hare, I tried to put the thing into such words as she could understand.
“You know what fierce wild-beasts lions and tigers are?” Sylvie nodded.
“Well, in some countries men have to kill them, to save their own lives,
“Yes,” said Sylvie: “if one tried to kill me, Bruno would kill it if he
“Well, and so the men–the hunters–get to enjoy it, you know:
the running, and the fighting, and the shouting, and the danger.”
“Yes,” said Sylvie. “Bruno likes danger.”
“Well, but, in this country, there aren’t any lions and tigers, loose:
so they hunt other creatures, you see.” I hoped, but in vain, that this
would satisfy her, and that she would ask no more questions.
“They hunt foxes,” Sylvie said, thoughtfully. “And I think they kill
them, too. Foxes are very fierce. I daresay men don’t love them.
Are hares fierce?”
“No,” I said. “A hare is a sweet, gentle, timid animal–almost as
gentle as a lamb.”
“But, if men love hares, why–why–” her voice quivered, and her sweet
eyes were brimming over with tears.
“I’m afraid they don’t love them, dear child.”
“All children love them,” Sylvie said. “All ladies love them.”
“I’m afraid even ladies go to hunt them, sometimes.”
Sylvie shuddered. ‘”Oh, no, not ladies!’ she earnestly pleaded.
“Not Lady Muriel!”
“No, she never does, I’m sure–but this is too sad a sight for you, dear.
Let’s try and find some–”
But Sylvie was not satisfied yet. In a hushed, solemn tone, with bowed
head and clasped hands, she put her final question.
“Does GOD love hares?”
“Yes!” I said. “I’m sure He does! He loves every living thing.
Even sinful men. How much more the animals, that cannot sin!”
“I don’t know what ‘sin’ means,” said Sylvie. And I didn’t try to
“Come, my child,” I said, trying to lead her away. “Wish good-bye to
the poor hare, and come and look for blackberries.”
“Good-bye, poor hare!” Sylvie obediently repeated, looking over her
shoulder at it as we turned away. And then, all in a moment, her
self-command gave way. Pulling her hand out of mine, she ran back to
where the dead hare was lying, and flung herself down at its side in
such an agony of grief as I could hardly have believed possible in so
young a child.
“Oh, my darling, my darling!” she moaned, over and over again.
“And God meant your life to be so beautiful!”
Sometimes, but always keeping her face hidden on the ground, she would
reach out one little hand, to stroke the poor dead thing, and then once
more bury her face in her hands, and sob as if her heart would break.