Lop Rabbit, by Elizabeth Steingass

Lop Rabbit and his Ears, an Aesop Retelling

Fox was very old and had called the valley between the bluffs her own for many years. The clovers, the tulip field, the old maple (older than Fox, herself) were hers to roam and watch over. Fox’s domain stretched from the eastern edge of Dark Woods to the base of Tall Hill, atop which sat Farmer’s house and all of Farmer’s livestock.

One spring morning, as tulips began to sprout emerald through the dew-damp soil, Fox smelled something delightful on the breeze. A breakfast smell, wafting down from Farmer’s house. Despite her better judgment, for foxes are known to be clever, Fox slinked up Tall Hill, under a moss-covered fence, and around a bramble patch. She climbed a drain spout on Farmer’s house where she was almost able to peek into Farmer’s kitchen window to discover the something delightful’s source.

Then, Goat found Fox, grabbed her between his front teeth, and gored her side with his horns. Fox yelped and hobbled back down Tall Hill, hungry, bleeding, and angry. She could not believe any animal, even an animal of Farmer, should wear such powerful things upon its head (and so close to Fox’s domain, too). What would the others think if they learned there was another animal more fearsome than she?

So, Fox called a gathering beneath the old maple, as only she was allowed. She commanded any animal with horns upon their heads, such as Beetle and Buck, to leave the valley and never return. They did as they were told, though they were unsure of where they might go, because Fox’s anger struck fear into their hearts.

Especially Lop Rabbit, whose ears were not horns. The other rabbits laughed at his fear. Their ears, which stood straight up upon their heads, were certainly not horns. They were not sent away, so why would Fox think to tell Lop Rabbit (whose ears as you might not be surprised to hear lay upon his cheeks) that he must go?

That night, Lop Rabbit ate several extra helpings of clover and dreamed awful, frightful dreams about Fox and her anger. Early the next morning, as pink rays from the sun washed over the valley and into his warren, Lop Rabbit decided to leave with Beetle and Buck. There was no place for him in the valley anymore, only fear.

“Goodbye, neighbor Owl,” he called to his unlikely friend who sat upon a maple branch. “Fox will surely make out that my ears are horns, no matter what the other rabbits may think or what I may say.”

At the eastern edge of Dark Woods, Lop Rabbit turned from Beetle and Buck to take one last look at the valley, the place he was born and called home. It was a good valley, with plenty of clover to eat and other rabbits to play, and he would surely miss it, but there was nothing else to be done. He could not stop worrying about what Fox might do if she decided his ears were horns, too.

Then, just before he set off for good, Fox said, “Lop Rabbit, where are you going? You cannot tell me you wish to leave the valley, your friends, and your warren behind.”

“No, Fox, I do not wish to leave the valley,” said Lop Rabbit. “But there is no other way.”

“Why, though? Why would you ever want to leave?”

Lop Rabbit remembered Fox’s anger when she sent Beetle and Buck away, thought of the awful, frightful dreams the night before, and his ears lopped even further down upon his cheeks.

“You will decide my ears are horns, no matter what I say.”

Fox laughed and said, “Lop Rabbit, hop back to your warren. You have nothing to fear from me. You have no horns upon your head, your ears do not even stand straight up, and this valley is yours as much as it is mine. The world beyond can be an awful, frightful place, but you will always be safe here.”


Moral: Do not imagine dangers for yourself within your mind. There are enough real dangers in the world without you creating ones that do not exist.