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Fred Rabbit And The Day The Wind Stopped
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H W Shelton
That day started like any other day.
The sun rose in the East and sent waves of sunlight drifting down through the forest, bouncing off the rocks on the cliffs and made the leaves on the trees shine like new.
The creek that wound down through the woods bubbled and gurgled as it made its way from the head waters high in the mountains and meandered along the bed that crisscrossed its way through the woodland and grass that was home to the forest creatures.
There were wildflowers that bobbed and wiggled in the light breeze that tickled your ears and made you twitch your nose, if you were a rabbit.
And Fred was all rabbit.
Sitting down and munching on some wild cabbage that grew by the stream, Fred looked up and saw an old hedgehog slowly making his way down the crooked pathway toward him; he had a very worried look on his face.
"What's going on Hedge, (that's what all the folks around here called him).
You look all wrinkled up this morning".
Old Hedge stopped and nodded in Fred's direction.
"I don't know Fred," was the reply," something I just can't place my paws on this morning, something just don't feel right."
"Maybe you shouldn't have eaten those weeds you had for breakfast so fast." Fred joked.
"Maybe not," old Hedge said, "but I don't think that's the problem. It's just a feeling I've got."
The old Hedgehog looked up at the trees and then all round the spot where he and Fred were standing.
"Something's going to happen, I just feel it in my bones," Hedge said.
The two of them were startled by Fox, who came sneaking out from under a bush.
"Morning you two," was his greeting as he made his way to them.
"Fox!" came the reply from Fred. "One of these days you're going to end up getting hurt sneaking up on folks that-away."
"I can't seem to help it brother, I just move that way," Fox said as he sat down and curled his tail around him. "What's going on?"
"We were just talking about the feeling old Hedge has about something not feeling right this morning." Fred said.
"You know, I've got that ache down in my toes this morning too," Fox replied, "I just can't seem to dig it up."
Fred looked from old Hedge back to Fox and then shook his head.
"You two might want to wander on down to the water and soak your head and your toes and see if that don't help some." Fred laughed.
"Maybe so, but we'll see," old Hedge said as he got up and started moving on down the path, "we'll see."
"Guess I'll be on my way as well, you take care of yourself Fred," Fox called back over his shoulder as he ran for the bushes.
Fred waved back at Fox, then looking around started on through the woods toward his meeting with Raccoon that he had set up the day before.
He stopped, his nose started twitching and his long ears stood up at attention.
What was that?
Those two had him on edge, he laughed, then moved on.
At the water's edge, next to a clearing, he found the Raccoon waiting for him.
"You're a little late my friend," the Raccoon spoke without turning around.
"I was held up by Fox and old Hedge for a time." said Fred.
"What was on their troubled minds this fine morning if I may ask?" Raccoon quizzed.
"Well," Fred began, "something about a feeling in their bones and toes that didn't feel right. I tell you Raccoon, they were on it this morning for sure."
"Don't be too fast dismissing old Hedge's feelings," Raccoon said as he bent down to wash off a piece of fish that he was eating. "He's right a lot more than folks give him credit for."
"Do you feel that?" Fred asked.
"What?" Raccoon answered.
"Funny," Fred said, "I don't feel anything."
"You're started to sound like your two friends now," Raccoon said, looking around.
"No!" Fred said, "I don't feel the wind blowing anymore, I don't feel a breeze or anything.
Raccoon stood up on his hind feet and sniffed the air turning his head back and forth.
"Could be a storm coming," he said,"it is still."
"The sky is still blue Raccoon," said Fred. "No storm."
"Then what?" Raccoon asked.
"Maybe this is what old Hedge was talking about." Fred answered.
Raccoon sat down looking a might worried, "I don't feel any wind either; I don't feel anything moving at all."
Fred, hopping from side to side, looked at Raccoon and answered, "The trees aren't blowing, the weeds, grass and flowers have stopped moving all together".
Raccoon nodded and said, "We always have a breeze blowing here in the valley."
"Raccoon," Fred said, very matter of fact... "The wind has stopped!"
"The wind can't stop!" Raccoon was saying to the animals that had gathered around the large tree where the meeting had been called.
"If the wind stops blowing and it's still and hot, what will happen to our home here in the forest, what will we do if there's no breeze to cool the hot summer sun?"
"What if there's no wind blowing anywhere?" asked Fred, "What if the wind just stops blowing everywhere?"
"We've got to find out why it's stopped, change whatever it is and get it moving again". The owl said.
"Sounds like an easy thing to do, but how do we do it?" the Deer asked.
"I'll ask old Hedge, he'll know." Fred spoke up.
"Okay," Raccoon agreed," but do it soon and let's get this problem solved."
"I'll go now." Fred said and started hopping off down the path with his breakfast in his paws, back toward the home of old Hedge.
But things weren't like they seemed.
The wind had indeed stopped blowing and the animals were right to agree that it was a problem.
However, the reason wasn't as simple as asking old Hedge.
Living under a mountain top located deep in the forest, and inside a cave where the sun never shines and the wind never blows, there was the problem.
The old river Rat had grown very tired of the sun shining and the breeze blowing, he was set on putting a stop to it all.
He couldn't even take his old beat-up boat out on the water looking for food without that silly wind coming up and most of the time blowing his boat over, he was tired of being a wet Rat!
He had come up with a plan to rid his life of that pesky old blowing wind.
It was so simple.
He would just kidnap that old man and hold him until he promised to blow no more. And that's what he'd done.
He was quite pleased with himself and even managed to sleep in this morning, without that wind howling around his cave.
He didn't know that he was in for a surprise from the other forest animals and what he had done wasn't appreciated in the least.
They just had to figure out who to blame for what had happened, but old Hedge was working on that little problem even now.
"Somebody is to blame for this!" old Hedge was saying to Fred, "and I've got an idea who it is."
"Well, if you know, let's go take care of the problem, we must have a breeze blowing through this valley again and soon!" exclaimed Fred.
"Don't get overheated now Fred," smiled old Hedge, "we'll take care of it, just let me get a few things and we'll be on our way."
"Where?" asked Fred.
"You'll see. Somebody that has done nothing but complain about the wind blowing for as long as he's been around here."
"The Rat!" stammered Fred, "I never did trust that sneaky old rat."
"Come on then," said old Hedge, "let's go talk to the old boy."
"Right behind you." Fred answered.
They both started off toward the creek bed and the mountain side where the caves were located.
As they came near the creek bed they could hear someone singing very loud.
Upon closer inspection, they discovered it was the Rat himself, having a good old time out on his boat fishing.
Seeing the two he hollered out; "what do you want?"
"Bring that thing over here and we'll discuss it," old Hedge said.
"Okay, Okay," Rat answered,"you don't have to get pushy."
Once the boat was pulled up on the bank the Rat got out and standing up tall said, "I'm all ears. Let's talk."
Fred, looking at the Rat, almost laughed out loud, he was all ears and tail!
After hearing what Fred and Hedge had to say, the Rat, smiling said; "I can't help you boys, but I must say, it's kind of nice today without that silly old wind blowing in your face, don't you agree?"
Just then a loud noise came from the inside of one of the caves, almost like a big gust of wind blowing through a tunnel.
The Rat, looking surprised, said; "I can't imagine what that was!"
"Me either, but let's check it out shall we?" old Hedge asked, starting toward the cave entrance where the noise had come from.
They hadn't gone too far when rounding a rock, there, sitting in a corner of a jail cell, was Old Man Wind himself and not looking any too happy either.
"That Rat tied me up this morning, brought me here and threw me in this cell and was going to keep me until I promised not to blow anymore, I can't do that" exclaimed Old Man Wind.
"We don't want you to do that either my friend," Fred said as he opened the door and helped Wind out. "We want you to never stopped blowing and we're sorry you had to go through this."
"That Rat will also be sorry just as soon as we get outside," Wind said as he blew passed Fred and Hedge and went out the cave entrance.
Hedge grinned and rolled his eyes; "I think that the Rat is going on a little trip."
"Serves him right," Fred answered, "let's go watch."
Both made their way out of the cave, just in time to see Old Man Wind facing down the Rat and getting ready to blow up a storm.
"Boy, he looks mad!" Fred said.
"I do believe you're right little buddy." Hedge answered.
The rat was trying to make his case and backing away from a really mad puff of wind that was getting ready to fly things around a little bit.
"This Rat is due a long vacation, somewhere else," Wind spoke as he huffed and started filling up with air, "I don't think he'll ever come back to this valley anymore."
The Rat started to say something but the Wind let go with a mighty blow that caught the Rat and lifted him up, up and far over the trees.
The last picture that Fred and Hedge saw of the Rat was of him flying through the air with his mouth open.
Fred and Hedge both started laughing and couldn't seem to quit as they watched the rat leave the valley on a gust of wind never to return.
"I must say," Hedge said, "it couldn't have happened to a more deserving Rat".
"Great job Wind," Fred said as he jumped up and down.
"It was, wasn't it," the Wind said, "if I do say so myself."
And with that, the three started back to their own lives in the forest.
The wind began to blow again, the mystery was solved and there never was another day that the wind stopped blowing.
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