togbean's place

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Vale, chapter 2


It's been almost a month and I thought it was about time to post the next chapter.
Questions, concerns,advice? Please post a comment - all are welcome! Pop back and check out chapter one here.

Settle down, settle down. Let Grandpa take his cap off and shake the rain out of his old feathers. Alright my little Chickadees get comfy. I’m about to tell you the story you’ve been buggin me for all winter. The story of Great Stone and how it cracked.

It was a wonderful and early spring that year. The crocuses had popped up beside the old well, the only bright color to be seen in the entire Vale. Whatever winter berries might have been left were gobbled up by hungry folk as soon as the snow melted enough to reveal them.

On the days we weren’t pelted by rain, your Gram and I would spend our days hunting for suitable twigs and sticks to build our first nest together. We traveled the length of the Vale and even skirted the edges of the Deep looking for sticky pine, oak and new maple. Of course Gram insisted on building the bedrooms completely out of apple branches so we’d always wake to that sweet smell.

That was also the first spring that Dahla the great black bear failed to have cubs. Old Grang, the only other bear Dahla let near the Vale for years, had moved through very late the last summer. They fought more that year than any time before, leaving great claw marks in the pine stand and giving all the Folk pause as their roars echoed around the hills. By the time spring arrived he was long gone. It’s a good thing too because she was mighty tetchy about not being a mother again.

She always was a proud beast, very tender and firm with her cubs and considerate and kind to the other folks of the Vale, but with no cubs to guard and raise the other folk had begun to question her decisions. You see, Dahla had been head of the council since coming here for her first winter sleep some 15 years before. Being the largest and most powerful animal, we would go to her with disputes and concerns.

With no responsibility keeping her in the Vale the folk had begun to look for a new councilor. Dahla was none too happy with being excluded but it was her own rule, set down years ago, that only mothers could run the council. A single female could leave at anytime and we could be stuck in a crisis with no leader.

Word came to us from the frogs first. Of course no one was listening to their incessant peeping about a big cat. Everyone knew that the farmer’s cat Smudgie had a taste for young spring frogs. It was when the salamanders started to draw the big cat’s prints in the mud for us that we began to worry.

The Bobcat couldn’t have chosen a worse year to move to the shores of the Deep.

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