Harvesting was done. The storerooms overflowed with carrots, turnips and cabbages. The village was alive with excitement and delicious smells as all the rabbit families prepared for the big day tomorrow — Fall Harvest Festival.
No one was more excited than Robbie Rabbit. Tomorrow all his aunts, uncles and cousins were coming to his house for the Festival!
“Daddy, may I help?” asked Robbie eagerly, hopping from one foot to the other in excitement.
Father Rabbit stopped chopping firewood to say, “Sorry, Son. you’re too little to chop wood!”
Robbie turned away, disappointed. Then he spied his big brother Ralph fixing the fence.
“Ralph, may I help?” asked Robbie.
Ralph looked up from his work. “Sorry, Robbie. You’re too little to hammer nails.”
Seeing Robbie’s sad face, Ralph added, “Maybe Grandfather needs help raking leaves.”
“Grandfather, may I help?”
Grandfather straightened up and peered down at Robbie through his spectacles,
“I’m sorry, Robbie. There’s only one rake, and it’s too big for you.”
Robbie turned and hopped toward the house. Maybe dinner was ready.
The house was sparkling clean. The rugs had been beaten. The floors were swept, scrubbed and polished. The windows shone behind freshly ironed curtains. There wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere.
The kitchen was a beehive of activity. His sister Rosie’s arms were elbow-deep in suds as she scrubbed mountains of dishes and pans. Mother was cooking and baking, using the clean dishes as fast as Rosie could wash and dry them!
“Mother, is dinner ready?”
“Dinner!” Mother looked up in alarm. “Rosie! Granny Matilda’s pie! Oh dear, oh dear! She’ll be wondering where her dinner is!
Granny Matilda was not their real granny. She was a dear old rabbit who lived alone in a clearing in the woods. Everyone called her Granny Matilda, and loved her as if she were. All the rabbit mothers in the village took turns taking dinner to her each day.
“But, Mother!” said Rosie. “Who will take the pie?”
Mother was quiet for a moment. Then she said, “Rosie is washing dishes. Ralph is mending the fence. Father is chopping firewood. Grandfather is raking leaves. Hmmm….”
Again she was quiet. And then…
“Robbie,” said Mother, “you will take the pie.”
“Me?” squeaked Robbie.
“Him?” yelped Rosie.
“Hush!” Mother spoke briskly. “Robbie, it’s getting late, and no one else can do it. Take the carrot pie, please. Hurry! And be careful!”
Robbie took the pie and hurried down the path.
“Careful, Robbie!” shouted Mother as he almost tripped over the tree root in the path.
Robbie was careful as he hurried over the rough ground, following the narrow path through the woods. At the creek, he was especially careful because he knew the stepping stones were wet and slippery. He sped along the woodland path until he came to the little thatched cottage in the clearing.
“Granny Matilda!” he called breathlessly as he climbed up the porch steps.
“Come in, child,” came the wavering voice from within.
Granny Matilda was sitting quietly in her rocking chair in the kitchen as usual, but something was wrong. Tears rolled slowly down her cheeks.
“Granny Matilda! Why are you crying?”
“Oh Robbie,” said Granny, “I’m all right. I’m just sad because my daughter and her children cannot come tomorrow. I’ll be all alone.” She dried her tears with a corner of her apron.
The thought of Granny all alone for Fall Harvest Festival made Robbie want to cry too. He wished he could make her feel better. But he was just a little rabbit. What could he do?
Suddenly he had a wonderful idea.
“Why — bless you, child!” Granny Matilda smiled through her tears.
As Robbie hopped home in the gathering dusk, he wondered if he should have invited Granny Matilda wihout asking Mother first.
At home, everyone was finished work for the day, and ready for a supper of Broccoli Surprise and Cabbage Extravaganza.
And when Robbie told Mother about Granny Matilda, she said, “Robbie, that’s wonderful! I meant to invite her myself, but I got so busy I forgot. And you thought of it all by yourself!”
As everyone at the table smiled proudly at Robbie, they all agreed that any little rabbit who could do what he had done that day, was not such a little rabbit any more.
© 1997, by Willena Flewelling