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The Left-Handed Rabbit

On my way from the dormitory to the classroom I inadvertently startled a left-handed rabbit. I did not mean to alarm the little creature but came upon him so suddenly that I had no time to assure him of my good intentions. He switched on his white tail light and bounded across the lawn before I could say Jack Rabbitson.

As I watched him disappear among the distant shrubbery I realized that this had been no ordinary rabbit. In appearance he conformed to rabbit specifications , having tall ears, round eyes, and busy nose, but in his gait - his modus hoperandi - there was something different about him.

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I stood still, closed my eyes, and dialed instant replay. Again I saw him scamper to safety. There was a difference, a hare-line distinction, between the rhythm of his locomotion and that of the commonplace rabbit. He did not hippity-hop.

Most startled rabbits give tremendous kicks with their strong hind legs, land on their shorter forelegs, and leap again in the direction of their travel. Because they do not land on both forepaws simultaneously, they are obliged to favor or accent the first one to hit the ground, follow it with a lighter touch of the other foot for the sake of balance, and then repeat the unaccented beat with the first one for the sake of direction. This gives rise to the onomatopoeic word: hippity. During the hippity, of course, the rabbit is gathering his hindlegs for the next hop.

If we assume that most rabbits, like most people, are right-handed, then they make their ''hips'' and their ''tys'' with their right hands. Not so, my rabbit. Before I opened my eyes I dialed stop-action, and sure enough - his left foreleg hit the ground first on his way down from the hop.

His modus could not be accurately described as hippity. I reworked the syllables audibly and realized that pithippy-hop was the only correct combination. I repeated the phrase several times, but before opening my eyes, the computer between my ears retrieved the following data: In every latitude and season Horses are known to go clippity clop, Walruses choose to go flippity flop, Rabbits most always go hippity hop; For this there is a reason. A horse can tell his gees from haws, A walrus too heeds equine laws, But rabbits can confuse their paws. This may seem rather funny. Some rabbits love to munch On loco weed for lunch And take a rabbit punch. Watch closely every hare; You may discern a rare, Sinistrodextral bunny. Several students had gathered about me during my darkened soliloquy. ''Can I help you?'' asked one with considerable solicitude. ''No, thanks,'' I replied. ''I've just seen a left-handed rabbit.''

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