“My Chief Rabbit has told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I
shall stay here.”
“His Chief Rabbit?” said Vervain, staring.
It had never occurred to Woundwort or any of his officers that Thlayli was not
the Chief Rabbit of his warren. Yet what he said carried immediate conviction. He
was speaking the truth. And if he was not the Chief Rabbit, then somewhere close
by there must be another, stronger rabbit who was. A stronger rabbit than
Thlayli. Where was he? What was he doing at this moment?
Woundwort became aware that Thistle was no longer behind him.
from Watership Down by Richard Adams
When a man obeys the command of courage (the command which courage apprehends), he stands fast. It is of the essence of courage to endure whatever opposition comes, to attack evil if possible, but when unavoidable, to endure it. come what may, for the sake of the good.
Those men and women of courage loom like immoveable giants when they stand firm. Their steadfast fortitude is something terrible in aspect, heroic in grandeur. And so when Bigwig (Thlayli) in Watership Down, indomitable and formidable in battle, refuses to back down because of the orders of his Chief Rabbit, his enemies instantly wonder what manner of rabbit could be chief of such an adversary. They cannot imagine that his obedience is to one who is slighter than he.
But when a man stands in battle, when he obeys real courage, he indeed obeys his Chief, he obeys one mightier and firmer than him–not one who is steadfast, but one who is the very rock upon which all firmness rests.
Somewhere close to him, perhaps close to us all, there must be another, stronger rabbit. Where is he? What is he doing at this moment?