Husk of Hare
Husk of Hare
Priscilla’s death was neither unexpected nor mourned at great length. Her slight body was pitched on a pyre still warm from the charred bodies of the six little girls who’d contracted the disease more expediently. Priss had been a pale pink-eyed lass. If her mother and father had expected great things of her—marriage, children, perhaps a crumpet decorating business—they hadn’t let on. She’d made it eight years, three months and some change. Nothing spectacular. But she’d nibbled at love and rejection. She’d been the longest of Tom Tischler’s romances: an entire week, until pale Priscilla became paler Priscilla and then of course dead Priscilla. “And!” her mother had commented brightly, “there’ll be more to eat now she’s gone.” Famine was not the prettiest of times.
Down the dirt lane, at the foot of Tom Tischler’s straw bed two spectacularly long, white ears pierced the down horizon. Like a sunrise of hare’s ears. Like two gleaming white swords come to fight the—
“More like asparagus really,” Tom said, licking his lips and rather ignoring the implausibility of a white hare in his room, not to the mention asparagus. Yet in his eight years, he’d learnt to plough the hardest ground, crack the hardest nut. Still, Tom’s eyes grew larger as the hare’s pale pink eyes and twitching nose rose above his red-and-white-striped socks.
“Scheißkerl,” said the hare.
“Oh, not another one,” said Tom.
The plague was claiming so many of Tom’s jilted loves—at eight he was quite the ladies’ man—that he hardly had room for all the cages.
“Mother will not be pleased,” Tom said, grabbing Priscilla by the ears and flinging her into a cage with another white hare. “You’ll have to share with Anne tonight.”
“Thomas Tatter Tischler!” Tom’s mother had heard the commotion and was standing in front of Tom’s row of cages.
“Guilty as charged, Mum.”
“Your father will not be pleased.” Tom’s father was still down the pub, painting the town with loose, red women who’d not yet succumbed to the plague. (The tree usually stands quite close to the apples it bears.)
“I tried to lose ‘em,” Tom said. “I took Anne and Sylvie, Ursula, KiKi, Antje and Mu into the forest beyond the seven hedges, but they followed me back. And now Priss.” Tom pinched his leg to make himself cry. “Oh, Mum! What shall we do?”
Husk of White Hare Stew
- Seven White Hares, plump of hip
- Three long, firm leeks (onion of the field in time of famine)
- Edelweiss (to taste)
- Copious tears of seven fair maidens spurned
- Radish juice (alternatively parsnip juice for a sweet tooth)
To slaughter a white hare, stare at creature until it blinks. Skin hare and soak skin in malt vinegar for two days or until frothy. Cut into strips. Pitch skinned husk of hare (seven) upon pyre. Turn every ten minutes. Roast until crispy. Let cool. Pull meat from bone. Set aside. In a large pot stolen from the pub, where everyone is already dead anyway, brown diced leeks ever so lightly. Add radish juice and fair-maiden tears . . . slowly. Once reduction has stopped its whining, add hare. Edelweiss to taste.
Directly before serving, fry strips of hare skin in fat until crispy. Garnish stew with several strips or serve as appetizer.
Serves three for six months depending on season, appetite and looting.
-refers from the word plague in Nicky Yurcaba’s poem Watching the Falling Sky