The Brigadier General of the Bunny Brigade stood up from the center seat of the top table. Silence quickly flowed out from the lean, tall figure, and hundreds of long, erect ears turned his way.
“I should like to propose a toast,” he called out. The deep, rich voice carried across the large room easily from one used to making himself heard across a battlefield.
In response to his words, almost a full half of the fore-pooves in the room sprang into the air, waving a heat dried square of bread overhead.
Several voices called out almost in unison, “Honey, jam, or butter, Sir?”
“Honey, of course!” boomed the commanding voice.
Another voice called out, “Um, Sir… we are out of honey. The shipment from the honey dragons had not arrived before the banquet started!”
“Then we will soldier on and endure the deprivation. Jam it will be!” replied the general.
A square of toast slid onto his plate from one direction and a pot of wildberry jam converged on the location from the other. Without another word, the General sat down, surprising everyone.
“Did you not have something to say to the troops sir?” the company sergeant asked, while everyone else stood and stared.
“Yes, but that can wait. Would not want everyone’s toast to go cold now, would we?” the General asked rhetorically. He waved everyone to their seats for a little preprandial snack before he tried the speachifying, again.
The unit members all took their seats to much their toast and jam. There was no use trying to get one over the General, he always took everything in stride. Besides, it was very good toast. They had a wide range of jam flavors and toasted bread, or bread like things to suit every taste.
The crunch of toast from a hundred munching mouths filled the banquet hall for a good few minutes. When the last snack plate was clean, all the faces turned with expectation to the head table, waiting for the General to give his speech another go.
When he had the attention of the whole room, the General stood back up. “Now that we have had a quite satisfying round of toasts,” he started, leaving a little pause for a round of laughter. “I shall do my speech! Tonight we are here to welcome a new member to the Bunny Brigade. I want all of you to welcome a wonderful hippopatamoosen, Haas!” A big, taupe hippopatamoose wearing a white bunny suit patterned with multi-colored bunny heads stood up and bowed extravagantly, one poof over his heart, to general cheers.
The general lifted his voice slightly to bring his people back into order. “Also, I would like to inform you that we have had more than enough of Corporal Sandy, and have decided that no such person shall be tolerated any longer within our ranks.”
Gasps and even some muted cries of protests broke out across the big room, and the sand colored dog in the proud pink ears started to his feet in shock too profound to allow for dismay to break through.
After only a slight pause to let the words spread properly through the room, the general talked over the building protest, bringing order once again to the room. “In furtherance of this decision, Sergeant Sandy, please take your place on the stage.”
Sandy walked stiffly towards the stage as the General rattled off a number of other names to join him on the stage. It is only as Sandy took the stairs to the stage as one might expect someone climbing to the top of a scaffold that Sandy realised what the General had said. “Sergeant Sandy,” the puppy repeated to himself, and his step grew suddenly much lighter, even jaunty.
The general was still sending people to the stage when the frog next to Sandy muttered, “Oh my, but that was a dirty trick, was it not.”
“It certainly was. The general always knows,” Sandy replied softly, without moving his lips.
“What was he after knowing?” the frog asked.
“The thing with the toast…I started it,” Sandy admitted.
The frog almost choked on his startled laugh as a loud voice cut through the room, “Attention to orders!”