It was a typical August day at the Taylor Farm. Missus Taylor was overflowing the farm house with the aroma of fresh raspberry pies and loaves of ovenfresh bread. Farmer Taylor was off in the back field with Rusty and Herc, the two Belgian horses, taking off the second cut of sun-ripened hay and racing some threatening skies coming in from the east.
At the rabbit hole, Ma rabbit and the girls had just left for the garden to collect fresh greens for supper and (as usual for this time of the year), Dusty and Pete were under house arrest...
You would think by now, the two would know better. (After all, this was the fifth summer in a row that they had ended up in this position). The two sat staring at the open back door, and then toward one another. The temptation of adventure pulled at their imaginations.
Dusty, being a smart bunny, knew that any attempt to escape would only bring further time and hard labor to the pair, so he decided to head for the pantry and browse for some tender morsels to ease the pain. Perching himself high atop the back of Mom's rocker to better view the cupboard's hidden secrets, he swayed gently back and forth with his large brown eyes almost leaving their sockets in a desperate search for goodies.
Just then Pete rounded the corner at top speed, his large ears flapping
behind him like the cape of a Superhero and with a giant leap, he gracefully
took to the sky...Well, almost! Mom's freshly washed floor caught him by
surprise and changed his intended flight plan. In a comical, but horrifying
instant, Pete found himself bellyflopping into the seat of the rocker, which
catapulted Dusty in a graceful arc that was only stopped by the far wall
of the kitchen. Luckily, his landing was softened by a large bag of flour
sitting on the far counter, but the impact created a giant white cloud that
engulfed the whole kitchen.
As the cloud settled, Pete lay flat on his belly holding tight to the still lurching chair and Dusty sat blinking through a blanket of white flour.
"Why I oughta!..." Dusty grumbled.
Without any hesitation the chase was on, the two bobbing and weaving between, under and over a group of obstacles. By the time the two tired, they found themselves half way across the backyard and out of breath. Then the humor of their mishap sank in and both fell to the ground in hysterical laughter, which grew even stronger when Dusty exploded into another white cloud of flour on impact. After a minute or so, the two just lie back staring at the beautiful blue summer sky. They had escaped their prison and were both silently pondering their next move. Back to the house before anyone notices or could this be a sign that there were unfinished adventures that had to be explored?...
Excerpts from "THE HAUNTED BARN"
The day was very warm and the grass was damp with the summer humidity, but neither seemed to notice as they made their way across the pasture. It's too bad they hadn't seen the dark clouds coming in from behind as they walked, maybe they would have made it home in time.
SPLAAAAT!!...From out of nowhere a giant drop of water hit the ground right between the two, throwing mud in all directions. Then SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT, the rain began! The two dropped their heads and took off at top speed for the crack in the barn door...
...Pete tried to ignore him, but Dusty's teasing finally got the best
"I'M NO CHICKEN!!" Pete screamed as he whirled around and lunged for Dusty, who was caught totally by surprise.
Dust flew in every direction as the two fought for the top of the pile.
SWOOOOOOSHH!!!! The big barn door flew open and in leapt a giant! His long arms hung wildly at his sides as he took a deep breath, gasped, and pushed the door wide open! From out of nowhere two more giants filled the doorway fighting for the opening! It was Farmer Taylor with Rusty and Herc, the Belgians, who looked twice as big now that they were inside the barn, especially to two wrestling bunnies lying on the floor. Dusty pushed Pete off, jumped to his feet, then grabbed him by the arm and dragged him aside just as Herc's enormous hoof crashed to the ground right where the two had been laying. Then with the power of an earthquake, Herc shook his entire body and the water from his coat almost drowned Dusty and Pete, who were now hugging each other in the corner. Seems their little disagreement had been suddenly forgotten. The pair stayed huddled and watched as the farmer toweled down his prize team, then gave each a fresh portion of hay and a generous pail of oats to share between them. Once his team was looked after, the farmer thanked them both for a good day's work, even though the rain had cut it short.
"Rest up boys. Tomorrow's another day and we'll have to work harder
now to make up for lost time."
He gave Rusty a friendly smack on the rump, crossed the barn, slipped out the door and closed it behind him. The horses didn't even notice him leave. They were too busy chomping at their food. Pete looked at Dusty, who was still clinging to his arm, overwhelmed at the events of the last few minutes. As they turned toward...
..."Insurance! Insurance!, I said." screamed Dusty, a little
testy at having to repeat himself.
"You can't begin a Quest of this type without something to protect yourself."
At that moment he spotted an old rusty barn spike. "Perrrrfecto!"
Dusty waved his trusty saber in the air. "A weapon fitting of a king...or
pirate. Yeah, a pirate!" "Heave to matey or you'll be walking
the plank!" Dusty had fashioned an eye patch from an old piece of tar
paper and had a red cloth tied around his waste. He tossed his head back
and laughed in a deepened voice, trying to ape a blood thirsty pirate captain.
Pete rolled onto all fours and started to rise up when Dusty eyed a new target and smacked him on the backside with his sword. "Ye be no rabbit now. Ya be Poop-Deck-Pete, the second meanest pirate to sail the seven seas. Grab your blade ye swab and we're off for adventure!"
Dusty tossed Pete a barn nail, raised his arm in front of him and pointed in the direction of a billowing sail just off the horizon, (which was really just an old seed bag blowing on the breeze coming through the barnboard and the horizon was just an old broken bale). But imagination had taken over...
Excerpts from "THE EASTER HEIST"
"Ya know Pete, if we could find the chicken that lays all the chocolate eggs, we could have all of them to ourselves." Dusty's brain was up to no good, as usual! It was the day before Easter, a prime time for one of his schemes. Most of the time they were real bad ideas, but Pete could never say no, just in case this was "The One."
"If we get down to the chicken coop before the farmer's wife, we can grab all the chocolate eggs and hide them for ourselves." Although neither of the boys had even been near the chicken coop before today, Pete couldn't see any flaws in Dusty's latest plan. The two headed off for the coop pausing on the way to grab an old burlap seed bag to hold their booty.(LATER)
Slowly they crept up the ramp, trying hard not to make a noise and awake the still sleeping chickens . When they reached the top, Pete peeked in to check out the situation.
"THEY'RE MONSTERS!" Pete yelled, seeing a chicken up close
for the first time. Quickly Dusty threw his hand over Pete's mouth to shut
him up, and in his haste, lost his footing and he and Pete rolled back down
the ramp and lay where they had started from only moments before.
Pete lay face down in the dirt, his furry butt sticking up in the air, with Dusty beside him wrestling to free himself from the seed bag that had neatly wrapped around him during his tumble.
Flailing his arms in one last attempt for freedom and swinging his leg in the air, he managed to poke his head out from a hole in the side of the bag. His left ear was folded back and turned inside out. The other was still fighting to free itself from the burlap.
"WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, RUIN THE WHOLE PLAN!?" Dusty blurted out, still trying to free his right ear. "You don't go sticking your head in there and yell at the top of your lungs!"
"Have you ever seen those things up close?" Pete asked, spitting out a mouthful of dirt, "They're as big as a horse and they have flames shooting out of the tops of their heads even while they sleep!"
"I doubt it" Dusty replied, they're not dragons and they're not tough!" "Why do you think they're called chickens?"
"Well they look pretty mean to me, and there is something growing out of the top of their heads!" "I'm going back home. Forget this!" Pete picked himself up, eyed the door of the chicken coop and then gazed off in the direction of home.
"ALL R-i-g-g-g-h-h-h-h-t ! All the more for me!" Dusty sang.
He turned toward the ramp and started up on his own.
Pete watched, but not for long "Hey! Wait a minute, I'm coming!'
"OK. Now this time-Be quiet!" Dusty warned as he slowly stuck his head into the doorway...
"H-o-l-l-y-y-y-K-E-R-R-R-A-P! Dusty yelled as he spied his first chicken and jumped back in awe at the size of these monsters, knocking Pete and sending him into a tumble back down the ramp for a second time.
"Did you see the size of those things?" Dusty blurted out to Pete, who was still tumbling toward the dirt pile at top speed. "I've never seen anything that big and scary in my life!" Dusty went on.
Pete hit the ground flat on his back, knocking the wind out of himself
and a cloud of dust billowed around him. Dusty was still ranting and raving
from the doorway as Pete pulled himself into a sitting position.
"That's it" he said. "I've had all that I can take of you! When I get up, I'm going to grab hold of your ears and tie them in a big bow right under your stupid looking chin! I'm gonna' knock out those two big front teeth of yours, I'm gonna...gonna...gaa..gaa..."
Dusty stared at Pete. Pete had froze in his tracks, his mouth hung open and his ears dropped down and lay flat on his head, his eyes had glassed over and were staring off into space miles above Dusty's head. Just then Dusty saw something move out of the corner of his right eye and shifting his glance from Pete, he found himself looking down at a large set of golden talons. Slowly moving his eyes to the left he saw a matching set. Fear crawled up his backbone and tickled the back of his neck, making him shiver. Dusty slowly raised his eyes up and tipped his head back as if hoping it was just his imagination playing tricks on him. Slowly, ever slowly, he raised his gaze. There, towering over him, was a gigantic monolith that rose to the top of the sky and at it's crest were two large spheres of gold flashing in the morning sun. It had a razor sharp offshoot sticking out from between two flashing orbs and what looked like fire swirling around the crest. As he stood, shocked by this enormous figure, he could feel a large dark shadow slowly growing up around him, blocking out the Sun and adding a cold chill to the morning air.
Suddenly there was a terribly loud wailing like he had never heard before
and the sky around him shook with the mightiest thunder he had ever felt!
Just then the tip of a large wing smacked him back to reality and he realized that this must be 'Augustus -The King of the Coop.' He had heard stories of "Gus" and how, one day, he had taken on two foxes single handed and ran them off the farm. He even heard how once he did battle with Slash, the Red-Tail Hawk that lives in Chestnut Valley and how he saved a mother hen from the hawk's dinner plate. Surely anything so big and loud would make short work of a bunny.
Once more, Augustus wailed out "COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOO" If there
was any doubt in Dusty's mind who this giant was, it had now vanished.
"WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST!!!" Dusty screamed. Panic was in control! "RUN PETE RUN!" Dusty was so charged up, he started running while he was three inches off the ground.
That's when it happened. - Something that would make history in the barnyard,
something that would make Dusty the hero of every bunny for acres, something
that would make all the girl bunnies swoon...
"Dusty took on old Gus and won! He knocked him down to his size and let him have it, all to save his buddy Pete!"...
That's the way the story goes today and Dusty would never tell you any different. What really happened? Well the truth is: Old Gus was so full of himself, he hadn't seen the two standing by his feet. As a matter of fact, he hadn't noticed the burlap sack he was standing on. Yep, you guessed it!
Dusty was in such a panic, he had forgotten to let go of the bag when he started running and took off so fast, he pulled Gus's feet right out from under him. Gus went down like a ton of bricks, feathers flying, dust shooting in every direction! The chaos was so loud everyone on the farm heard and everyone had to have a look. By the time most of them got there, Gus was rolling around on his back in a cloud of dust kicking and screaming and Dusty was emerging from the ruckus with Pete holding on to the burlap bag for dear life! Pete doesn't enjoy the fact that Dusty came out a hero or that the story grows every time Dusty tells it, but it's better than being grounded for the summer, like last year, or the year before, or the year before...
Excerpts from "THE LEGEND OF OLD RUBEN"
..."I got mine!", bragged Pete. He was holding up the wood sliver he had been using to scrape the plaster off the wall.
Dusty stopped in his tracks, then rushed across the floor to something leaning against the wall. It was a small piece of a horse's lead line and the old leather had certainly seen better days. The two old buckle stays were worn well past their service and had probably been cut off by the farmer and discarded. To Dusty this was the greatest treasure of all time and his excitement brought tears to his eyes!
"PETE!, I found it! I found it! It's perfect!"
Pete looked puzzled, "Congratulations." he said sarcastically.
Dusty paid no attention, slipping his arm through the one loop and then the other as he spun around to face Pete in what was now the greatest leather vest in the world! "Let's go!" said Dusty, tugging on his new vest. "And try not to fall through any more floors." Pete stuck his tongue out at Dusty, then fell in behind him as he moved toward the sound.
"This could be it, Pete. The reason we're here: The Monster Rabbit!"
Slowly they crept deeper into the darkened barn.
Dusty stuck his head through the boards and there, on the wall he could see the silhouette of the monster! It was at least ten feet tall with monstrously long ears, it's huge head could certainly swallow a family of bunnies all at once, it's teeth were almost the size of Dusty's head and it had a gigantic nose. "AAAAHHH!" screamed Dusty as the monster swung it's enormous head toward him. But the monster just gazed at him, grinding his teeth while chewing on some fresh hay...
LATER: The two sleepy bunnies sat enraptured until late into the evening while Otis talked of his adventures...
Excerpts from "THE FLYING MACHINE"
The sky was almost cloudless as the boys laid back under the shade of the old elm. The light summer breeze rustled the leaves ever so gently and brought a hypnotic tranquility to the late summer morning. A large gull played in the warm air currents above the boys, rolling back and forth as if in complete control of his domain.
"That's what we're gonna' do, Pete. We're going to fly! Masters
of the sky, that's what we'll be -The First Bunnies in the Stratosphere!"
Dusty's mind was in full gear today, a time for smart bunnies to take a
little vacation and let things blow over. Of course Pete wasn't too high
on the smarts list, at least when it came to Dusty and his great ideas.
Pete rolled on his side to face Dusty and lifting himself up on his elbow he asked "Do you know anything about flying? Ever studied lift, thrust, aerodynamics?" Do you have any understanding of wind currents, updrafts, downdrafts, wind shears? Ever heard of gravity? Did you sprout wings last night? I know I didn't!"
"I have no idea about any of that stuff, but I know who does and
he'll be glad to help us. Come on!"
The boys took off running toward the barn, arms straight out from their sides, swaying back and forth like the birds and giggling all the way.
"Look at the size of this place! Pete said, in awe of his first
closeup look at the silo. "It must be the tallest thing in the world!
He tipped his head back to look at the top of the structure but, leaning
back too far, he lost his balance and fell flat on his back. It didn't seem
to faze him though. He just lay there staring up, "Wow!" was all
he could say.
The two slid through the crack in the door and stood inside the empty silo.
"There's nothing in here!" Pete said in astonishment.
"There's nothing in here!" a voice came back.
Pete swirled around quickly and then swirled around again!
"WHO'S THERE?!" he demanded!
"WHO'S THERE?!" the voice demanded back!
Dusty broke into laughter. "It's an echo!" "An echo!" the voice repeated.
"If you talk loud, your voice bounces off the walls and comes back to you, just like throwing a ball against the wall." Dusty explained in a low voice. "HELLO!,HELLO!,HELLO!" he yelled!
"HELLO!,HELLO!,HELLO!" Echoed his voice. "See?"
Pete just grinned at this new discovery.
"I AM PETE, THE GREAT! MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE!"
But before his voice could return there was a loud "SCREECH"
and a large black object dropped from the darkness. Then there was a loud
boom over their heads as two huge leathery wings opened and pulled the falling
object from it's high speed dive.
"HAWK!" screamed Pete, throwing his arms above his head and dropping into a small ball.
The creature swooped in again and Pete could feel his fur raise from his body as the wings sped by.
"WHO'S DOWN THERE? I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" came a new voice.
"That's no echo!?" Pete said, peeking out from under his arms.
"Sorry, It's me, Dusty, and I brought a friend!" Dusty yelled.
"Dusty? DUSTY! Is that you? Is that you?" the voice answered back.
"Yeah, and I bought my friend Pete. We have some questions to ask you."
"Be Right down, Right down!" the voice called back. With a loud swoosh, the dark object dropped again from the top of the silo and just before it hit the ground, it grabbed hold of the wall and hung upside down eye to eye with the boys!
"Hey Dusty, Hey Dusty! How ya doin'? How ya doin'?"
Pete couldn't believe his eyes. This thing looked sort of like a mouse
except its ears were a lot larger and he could barely make out the creature's
eyes, and as it smiled, he could see its large teeth. On top of all this,
he was hanging upside down!
Slowly backing away Pete blurted, "Who the heck are you?"
"Wrongway Mackay's the name. Wrongway Mackay!" the creature announced.
"He's a Cave bat!" said Dusty, "except he finds caves
too damp so he lives here in the silo."
"You got it buddy, you got it!" said Wrongway.
"How come he keeps repeating himself?" asked Pete.
"Sonar! Sonar!", Wrongway blurted. "Because I usually fly at night, I use my voice to to guide me along. I listen to the way the sounds bounce back to know what objects are ahead of me, much the same way you see what's ahead of you."
"The reason we came to visit" said Dusty, "is we want
to learn to fly!"
"Fly!? Fly!? You haven't got any wings, any wings! You can't fly, can't fly...unless..." Wrongway stopped and scratched his head.
"A flying machine, flying machine! That's the answer, the answer! I've heard of such things, just never seen one, seen one." Wrongway sank deep in thought for a couple of minutes .
"If we get the stuff, can you help us build it?" the boys asked.
"No problem, no problem... Glad to help, to help!" Wrongway gave the two the "thumbs up!", which from their point of view was "thumbs down".
"Guess that's why they call him Wrongway." thought Pete, and off he went following Dusty in search of their flying machine parts
"All right boys. Let's build us a flying machine, a flying machine!"...
Dusty looked up, Wrongway was yelling something down to the boys, but
because of the distance neither boy could make out his words.
"I can't hear a thing he's saying, Pete. Wait here and I'll see what's up." Dusty said, climbing out of the flying machine. No sooner had Dusty stepped out when Wrongway's words hit him loud and clear... "TOO MUCH WEIGHT!, TOO MUCH WEIGHT! At that exact second the twine catapult snapped tight and the flying machine and it's single passenger took off like a shot.
As Pete's screams were spookily disappearing in the distance...
When Dusty managed to reach Pete, he could see just what must have happened. On entering the barn the flying machine had crashed into a large mound of hay. At that point, it had performed a couple of somersaults and had come to rest hanging upside down between two bales. Dusty couldn't help laughing as he approached, partly from relief and partly from the comical sight in front of him. There was Pete hanging upside down, tangled in the guide wires of crumpled wings and there, hanging from the basket handle nose to nose with Pete, was Wrongway trying his best to calm the excited rabbit...
Excerpts from "THE GREAT CARROT HEIST"
It was mid July and things were rather quiet on the Taylor Farm. Oh, Dusty had a lot of good schemes lately, but since Pete's aviation days, he was a little more hesitant than usual. The boys spent most of their time laying in the sun or playing a little catch. Mom had just returned home from the back porch of the farm house, where she had been gathering some of Mrs. Taylor's fresh garden herbs for the night's supper.
Dusty and Pete barely noticed her walk past them and enter the house, but they couldn't help noticing the loud scream that followed.
Both boys jumped to their feet and ran into the house. Mom had dropped all her spices and was sitting with a lost expression on her face.
"What's goin' on?" exclaimed Dusty, as he reached his mother's side.
"My carrots, my fresh picked carrots, they're gone. I had just finished washing them before I headed over to the farm house and they were sitting right there beside the sink." Even though Dusty was a Rabbit, vegetables were not his food of choice. He'd much rather raid the cookie jar than eat a carrot.
"Pete and I were all alone the whole time you were gone.",said Dusty. "Hmmmm....
"A mystery Watson! Gadzooks, just what we've been waiting for! Dusty
spun around fast and vanished out of the room. When he returned, he was
wearing the funniest hat Pete had ever seen and was waving an old magnifying
"The game's afoot Watson!" he cried as he disappeared out the kitchen door.
"You two stay out of trouble!" Mom shouted to the boys as Pete took up the chase. By now Dusty was hot on the trail of the carrot crook, with Pete right behind. "Where you goin'?" yelled Pete, "and where did you get that crazy hat?" "It's my Grampa's! He said it was a gift from the great detective Sherlock Holmes, for helping him solve his toughest case: The Hares of the Basket Fields or something like that." Dusty suddenly stopped dead to look at something in the grass...