At last the Royal Yacht was provisioned and the Kings, King Shadow and King Fritz declared all was at the ready. The bunnies of Isla de Zanahoria had long been anticipating this sea voyage. It would be their first visit to the Island of Bunhamas where their friends, the Romaine bunnies lived. This visit was especially exciting because they would be attending a Halloween Masked Ball at the Romaine Bunny’s Castle.
The Queens and Princess’ had shopped for months for the perfect costumes and though the girls had to do a bit of creative packing to accommodate all of their necessities , all was well and every bun was on board at last.
It was decided to set sail in the evening to enjoy the moonlight and perhaps avoid predicted storms. The sea was shimmering glass and the moon was a beautiful silhouette in silver against the star filled sky.
Princess Beatrice watched as the Valle de Diente de Leon (Dandelion Valley) grew smaller and smaller until it was only a distant dark speck.. She was already feeling a bit home sick as she had never before been away from her beloved island. Discreetly wiping a tear, she quickly went below to help ready the sleeping quarters.
Princess Babsy was already in the galley, checking over the ship’s stores and cutlery.
She and Beatrice had prepared a special snack to be enjoyed later on deck and Babsy wanted to be sure the lovely dessert had not been spoiled in transit.
Queen Luna was in the map room, checking calculations on her star charts. She chuckled to herself as she overhead King Fritz and Queen Velvet in the salon down the corridor. Velvet was attempting last minute adjustments to the King’s ball costume. King Fritz was not known for his patience.
At the ship’s wheel, King Shadow carefully maneuvered the vessel along the north side of the island. As they rounded the jagged cliffs of El-ahrairah., Old King Harry’s tower was visible through the mist. Princes Hans and Speckles saw it at the same moment. There was an eerie glow in the tower window. This was not a good sign.
Perhaps, the Royal bunnies leaving had upset Old King Harry and his castle of ghosts? The Princes decided to ask King Fritz later in the evening. King Fritz was the keeper of island histories and legends. Surely, there was something in the island annals that spoke of this eerie ominous glow. King Shadow kept a weather eye on the horizon and he didn’t like the look of the sky but he kept these concerns to himself..
Queen Luna tucked away her star charts into cubby holes designed especially for that purpose. She dressed in a casual wrap and went to join the others for a special midnight feast..
Queen Velvet finished sewing a swag on King Fritz’s ball costume and carefully folded it in tissue paper and placed it in the huge chest with all the other costumes. She was quite pleased with the effect and could hardly wait to hop down the Grand staircase at the Romaine Castle
Princess'. Babsy and Beatrice were already above deck. They spread a snowy cloth over the table and laid out the midnight feast. There was carrot raisin bread, a jar of Prince Hans’ best clover honey, pineapple upside down cake and a fresh pot of Earl Grey Tea.
The Princes did not forget to ask King Fritz about the eerie glow in Old King Harry’s Tower. There were lights in the tower from time to time but this was hauntingly different. Fritz listened and nodded but said nothing, which was really quite strange since The King delighted in regaling an audience with island lore at every opportunity.
Everybunn enjoyed the feast and the overall mood was jovial except for odd spells of uncomfortable silence that settled over the group like a fog. All were a bit anxious, of course, the ladies more so than the men as their thoughts were on the upcoming ball and the new friends they would make.
The feast adjourned around 2 AM leaving King Fritz and Prince Hans to the 3rd watch. Everybunn was quite weary and all were soon resting comfortably in their cabins.
Kings Fritz was not new to the sea. In fact, he and King Shadow served together in the Royal Navy for many years before retiring to Carrot Island. The Princes were also well schooled in sailing techniques and seabunnship.
The sleepers rested only a quick hour when shouts awoke them. The gentle sea waves that lulled them to sleep were now a boiling, twisting mass of fury. Banshee winds wailed and the ship heaved and rolled suffering wave after wave. The Kings struggled together at the wheel to steady the vessel and ride out the waves. All hope was lost when a huge water spout suddenly appeared. It hissed and sputtered like some monster dragon. intent on devouring everything in it’s path.
The call was made.
“Lower the life boats and see to the ladies!”
The life boat was a sturdy yellow inflatable. It was lowered and lashed to the side of the foundering craft. As soon as all were aboard, Prince Speckles cut the line and the Kings rowed with all their strength to gain quick distance from the dragon’s breath.
The Tale of The Halloween Masked Ball
The bunnies managed their escape just in time. They all looked on with horror and despair as their new yacht was swallowed up by the dragon. The exhausted travelers napped fitfully within the confines of the tiny raft as they shifted positions to stretch aching limbs but all was quiet and still for the moment as Princess Beatrice opened her eyes.
The sea was calm and a bright ribbon of sunlight slipped across the bow. Sea gulls arced gracefully through the sky filling the morning with their raucous cries. Looking at this serene seascape, it was hard to imagine the tragedy of the past night. It seemed like some ghastly nightmare but this was no dream, for here they all were, drifting and lost upon the open sea.
Suddenly Beatrice gasped. Floating near her was the wooden chest that contained all their lovely ball costumes. Beatrice was overjoyed to think that at least some of their belongings were intact. As she reached out to touch the chest, it disappeared, then reappeared and disappeared and reappeared again. Beatrice was confused until at last she smiled. A group of friendly dolphins had discovered the chest and were playing a game with it. She hoped the playful mammals would push the chest near again so that it might be lashed to the raft, but it was not to be. Beatrice watched the chest and the dolphins until they were tiny dark spots on the horizon. She told no bunn as about the chest or the dolphins as there would be enough to deal with very soon. There was no water to drink and only a half loaf of sodden raisin bread to divide among eight mouths, but at least everyone had survived the night
The ribbon of welcoming sunlight quickly became an insistent flame that baked and burnt the survivors. The sea salt itched in their matted fur and by midday, all were thirsty, hungry and totally miserable. The Kings and Princes did their best to see to the comfort of the ladies but little comfort was to be had.
Prince Speckles reminded everybunn to take heart and not loose hope. He was sure the May Day message he was able to send would most certainly result in rescue.
And Speckles was right; a ship had heard their distress call and was steaming toward their location at that very moment.
It was a fishing trawler called the Happy Jack. The crew of rugged, simple fishermen welcomed the weary bunnies aboard and saw to their every need with respect and extreme kindness. Soon everybunn was refreshed, happy and very relieved to be out of the Atlantic and on their way toward Portsmouth.
Queen Luna discovered the chartroom and was able to point out a few things to the sailing master. She was also able to get a fix on the Island of Bunhamas. It was some distance from Portsmouth. The bunnies would need to make travel arrangements as soon as they landed if they were to reach their destination in time for the ball.
We Meet a New Friend
Bunny usually hailed from Bunhamas Island but today she was on holiday visiting relatives. Most of the family lived in New Market but she and the cousins decided to take a short trip to Portsmouth. The fall colors were beautiful and everybunn was in good spirits but very hungry by the time they reached the city. Bunny and her cousins were enjoying some lunch at a first class salad bar overlooking the harbor when they got the news that shipwrecked bunnies from a small island in the Atlantic were disembarking from a fishing trawler.
The Happy Jack docked and the bunnies thanked the crew and promised to write to them about their adventures as soon as they returned home to Carrot Island.
Bunny and the cousins introduced themselves and invited the travelers to join them for lunch. How amazed everybunn was when they realized that Bunny was from Bunhamas Island. Bunny told them that Queen Babe and all the bunnies there had been very worried about them since they were expected three days ago.
The Kings secured lodgings for the night at a quaint bed and breakfast called Rosies. Bunny and the cousins offered to show them the sites after they had freshened up a bit.
King Shadow, Fritz and the Princes were especially interested in touring The Whaleback Light House and submarine museum. The ladies, however, wished for a more quiet setting and chose to visit Prescott Park’s extensive flower gardens. The boy cousins and their guests all piled into a jeep and Bunny hired a limo for the girl’s trip to the gardens. Of course, they needed more room than the fellows as they planned some shopping later.
A marvelous time was enjoyed by all but much too quickly, it was evening and plans had to be finalized for the journey tomorrow. Bunny had many friends in the city and it happened there was going to be a hot air balloon race at the fairgrounds in the morning. Bunny had secured them passage with one of her friends. What a buntastic way to travel!
Everybunn was excited and were reluctant to end the evening, but finally agreed to retire early to rest. The Queens’ and Princesses’ shopping trip was successful as far as necessary items were concerned but the sad news was that every costume shop in the city had sold everything. The only costume they could find amidst the empty shelves was that of a braying donkey. It had a hideous foolish look upon the face and was
totally unsuitable for any bunn of royal birth.
A Fine Day for Flying
Halloween morning dawned brisk and clear. It was a perfect day for a hot air balloon trip. Queen Luna assisted the balloon master in plotting their course. The trip to Bunhamas was very near the city of Saratoga Springs in New York. As the crow files, Queen Luna estimated the distance to be two hundred and fifty miles. There were nocrows to be seen but there was a scary witch balloon preparing to launch. Princess Babsy hoped the Witch would not trail them the entire way to Bunhamas. She didn’t mind crows but witches she would only tolerate on Halloween.
It was a thrilling balloon ride as they floated high above the hills, valleys and rivers and breathed in the scenery passing beneath them. The Romaine Castle came into view at last and the Balloon Master attempted a landing at the front gate. A slight breeze suddenly kicked up and carried the balloon into the Castle Garden where it landed unceremoniously behind a perfectly manicured hedge.
The bunnies were greeted by some very strange birds. They learned later that these were peacocks. The peacocks were perturbed at the bunnies’ presence and voiced their disapproval with loud squawks and flutterings. King Fritz could not resist jumping on the hedge to gain a better view of these magnificent creatures.
The uproar soon attracted the attention of the castle guard and Sir Zipper was first on the scene. She promptly escorted the visitors to the castle and saw them to their quarters.
The Royal Families were delighted with the richly furnished rooms and the fresh cut flowers and scrumptious fruit salad they found waiting for them/
The ladies were still sad and lamented much during the balloon journey over the loss of their beautiful ball costumes. Princess Beatrice related the story of the floating chest and the dolphins and that only proved to make the loss more painful. The Kings and Princes did not have a clue as they discussed dolphins in detail and marveled at their odd behaviors. This did little to comfort the ladies.
Prince Speckles was always a very positive minded bunn and he tried in to cheer them up.
“Just imagine! Your lovely gowns are probably being worn by mermaids this very moment.”
His remark did lighten the mood somewhat but the thing with Prince Speckles was that he never knew when to quit. He and Prince Hans were laughing so hard after his quip about a Blue Whale swimming around the Atlantic dressed as the “Queen of the Nile that it caused both Princes to be pummeled with satin pillows until they ran for the safety of their own quarters.
Soon after this, there was a knock and they were greeted by a royal messenger. The Carrot Bunnies were requested to have audience with Queen Babe. They were all surprised by the summons and speculated what might be the matter. No bunn expected to see the Queen until the festivities later in the evening.
Queen Babe greeted them warmly and they felt immediately welcome and at ease. The ladies were quite puzzled by the Queen’s attendants however, they all seemed to have a bad case of the giggles. And was that a castle guard grinning behind his shield?
The ladies were sure that they heard a slight snicker from Queen Babe herself. Princesses’ Babsy and Beatrice stared at each other in amazement.
Suddenly serious, Queen Babe said she was so very sorry to learn of the loss of their yacht and belongings.
“And your ball costumes were lost as well, I understand?
Pray, do describe your costumes and we will at least have the pleasure of what might have been.” Queen Babe said as she called for more tea.
The attendant pouring tea was overcome with a fit of laughter. So much so, she almost dropped the tea pot in the Queen's lap.
This was strange-very strange to carry on so frivolously at the misfortune of others. The Kings were beginning to feel irritated and insulted but they were careful to keep their emotions in check.
Queen babe then described each costume in detail much to the shock and awe of the perplexed bunnies.
At last, the Queen could no longer contain the ruse. She snapped her paws and bearers carried in a huge satin draped object and placed it in the center of the room.
Queen Babe joyously removed the drape and before them, perfectly intact and unspoiled, sat their own chest. It was the same chest Beatrice had watched the dolphins spirit away.
The ladies happily retired to their rooms to dress in their finery for the Halloween Masked Ball.
The Kings and Princes were not as delighted with their costumes. King Fritz, though, secretly loved the idea of being a swash-buckling rapscallion for the evening. But poor Prince Hans was not amused by his tall hat and bow tie no matter how many times the Princesses’ told him how cute he looked.
King Shadow would have perferred a Pharoh costume to compliment his Queen Luna. Still, the idea of being Robin Hood did have certain appeal.
Prince Speckles was disappointed he had no guitar. He knew many lovely Spanish songs.