A cute bunny hopped out onto the cobbled path. It twitched its nose and blinked up at the princess. Bewildered by this new addition to her menagerie, she was rather taken aback. This bunny was not like the one in the cage by the fountain. It didn't smile or wink its red eyes... It was entirely wild in its actions and movements. Almost like it hadn't been properly trained at all!
Not sensing any sort of threat from the blinking rabbit, the princess bent down to look at it. It seemed frightened and lonely on the cobbled path, and she suppressed an impulse to scoop it up into her arms. The rabbit twitched and observed her.
"Oh, little bunny," she thought aloud, "why are you here all by yourself? Should I get a trainer to put you where you belong?"
The rabbit, flustered and twitching madly, replied.
"No!" it exclaimed, its red eyes wild with panic.
It must be said, then, that for all the wonders that the princess had seen in her remarkable kingdom, talking animals were not included. Startled, the princess lost her balance and fell backwards onto the seat of her fluffy pink dress.
"Did you just talk?" she asked the bunny, feeling rather silly for speaking to an animal.
"I did, princess! That I did. And please, I implore your highness not to call for the trainer. Will you listen to a tale, princes, a short one?"
The princess who loved all sorts of tales, long and short, agreed to listen.
"Long ago, before your castle was built, the animals roamed through the land. We lived in proper houses and cottages and we all spoke English like you do. Then, when the Emperor moved to this country from Wherever He Came, he tore down our homes, burned our books and built his castle on our land!
"He took the birds and the cats and the lions and the tigers as well as the rabbits and the squirrels into cages and had a trainer enchant their minds. There are very few of us left, living outside of the castle. Many of us have forgotten how to speak and we are all homeless now."
The princess found herself weeping at the rabbit's sad tale. Although she could not understand homelessness and squalid ignorance, she felt the pain in the rabbit's eyes.
"Oh but princess! There is hope for us yet. If you follow me through the hole behind this rosebush, I can show you what the world is like outside of these walls... or you could forget I ever came to you and simply call the trainer to enchant me like the rest of my brothers and sisters. Because I was warned not to return without you, princess. If I do, I will be surely put to death. What will it be, then? Will you come, or will you allow the entire Animal Kingdom to suffer as we have for nearly one hundred years?"