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Part 3, "Efrafa," begins with an epigraph is about the South Sea Company, which was a company organized for business in, well, the South Sea. But they didn't have a very solid plan and the company went bankrupt. Happy times ahead.
The rabbits who are going to trick Efrafa set out on another rabbit-style journey, even though they don't really have a solid, totally complete plan.
But part of the plan involves Bigwig in some way, and he's nervous about it.
So, while they're resting, Dandelion tells a story to get everyone's mind off the dangerous job they're attempting.
The only problem: Bigwig demands the rabbit equivalent of a horror story about the Black Rabbit of Inlé. (He's like the Grim Reaper for bunnies; and also we hate him because it's very annoying to keep typing that accent over the "e" in "Inlé.")
The Story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inlé
This chapter begins with a Robert Browning quote (yep, another) about how "the strong man" must face fearful things. Maybe the line works better if we substitute "strong rabbit" for "strong man."
This chapter is the fourth El-ahrairah myth. And it's about this one time when El-ahrairah had to make a deal with the Bunny Grim
Reaper. He's called "the Black Rabbit of Inlé," which basically means something like "The Black Rabbit of Darkness." Redundant much?
In this story, King Darzin declares war on the rabbits. His army surrounds El-ahrairah's warren so the rabbits can't get out and run out of food.
So when El-ahrairah has no other options, he goes to make a deal with the Black Rabbit.
El-ahrairah's plan is to sacrifice his life in order to save his rabbits. To a rabbit, that's a pretty solid plan. But the Black Rabbit doesn't make deals.
El-ahrairah tries a few things—making bets on rabbit games or stealing a rabbit disease—but nothing works, and El-ahrairah loses a few body parts in the process.
But finally, the Black Rabbit gives in and saves El-ahrairah's warren.
Unfortunately, by the time El-ahrairah goes home, it's far in the future and almost all their old friends are dead. (But since these are rabbits, that means it's maybe three-to-six years in the future.)
At the end Frith gives El-ahrairah replacement body parts to make him whole, including ears with starlight in them. (Remember that for later.)
After the story, Pipkin runs up to warn about a nearby fox.
Across the Iron Road
This chapter starts with another quote in French from one of Napoleon's generals. The quote basically says (more or less) that rivalry and ignorance saved the British army from defeat. So this chapter will probably include some accidental success.
Bigwig decides to lead the fox on a little chase just for fun. (Seriously: the fox wasn't going to find them, so it's not like Bigwig's helping anyone.)
And then the fox clearly gets some rabbit (off-screen), but not Bigwig.
Bigwig explains to Hazel that he's just wound up about Efrafa and needed to let off some steam. And he explains that he ran into another group of rabbits and the fox got one of them—that was the squealing they heard.
Then, just when the rabbits are about to rest, Kehaar comes to say there's a patrol nearby and Hazel's rabbits need to move further away from Efrafa to find a hiding place.