Friday, May 18, 2012

The Missing Unicorn

The phrase “The Missing Unicorn” came into my head one night and I immediately wrote it down. The next morning I read the words and started thinking about a story that would go with them. I also thought, having mercilessly cut unicorns from my version of “The Brave Little Tailor,” that it would be nice to write a story about them. What started out as a simple children’s story turned into an educational experience for me as I learned a lot more about this majestic beast than I ever expected to.

For those interested in such things, when I sat down to write this story, I opened a blank Word file and, without even thinking, typed the sentence “Luke loved animals.” I don’t know why the name Luke occurred to me, but I’m just glad it did.

Luke loved animals. His favorite lessons in school were always about animals. He loved them all from aardvarks to zebras and everything in between. He loved big, scary dinosaurs and cute little bunnies. He loved lions and tigers, deer and antelope, foxes and hounds, snakes and spiders and…well, he liked all the animals, let’s just leave it at that.

But one day, Luke noticed something that got him sort of worried. Whenever he looked through his books of animals or went to the zoo or learned about animals in school, there was one kind of animal no one ever mentioned. One animal that he’d never seen so much as a photograph of: A unicorn!

Luke was worried. Why wasn’t the unicorn in any of these books? Why did his teacher never mention unicorns? Why, when he asked the zookeeper which way to the unicorns, did she just look at him all mean and walk away, muttering under her breath about “smart aleck kids?”

When he asked his dad about it, his dad said that it was because there weren’t any unicorns. That they were just made up. But that didn’t make any sense to Luke. With all the amazing animals in the world, why would someone make one up? It just seemed silly. Besides, if you were gonna make up an animal, why make up something as simple as “a horse with a horn?” Nope. It didn’t add up.

Now, in Luke’s whole, entire life (and that’s a whole six years) he had never asked his dad a question he couldn’t answer, because Luke had one of those smart-type dads. So if his dad didn’t know, he reasoned that probably nobody knew about unicorns. So, he decided it was up to him to solve this mystery.

Luke’s Grammy and Pop-Pop lived on a farm and Luke would visit them sometimes. He was particularly looking forward to it this time, because he had some investigating to do. As soon as he arrived, he began interrogating all the animals to find out what they knew about unicorns. None of them told him anything, which didn’t really surprise Luke, since they were animals. It was about this point that he began to feel he hadn’t throught this plan through very well.

“Why were you talking to those pigs earlier?” asked Luke’s Pop-Pop that evening.

“I wanted to find out if they knew anything about unicorns.”

“Unicorns, eh?” Luke told Pop-Pop all about his investigation. Pop-Pop was one of those neat old people who likes to play games and go on adventures, so he said, “I’ve got an idea how we can bust this case wide open!” So he took Luke into his home office and they went onto the internet and searched for “unicorn.”

According to the information Pop-Pop found on the web, unicorns were first written about in Greece before being mentioned throughout Europe and Asia. They appear in Arthurian legend and the Bible. Though the creature changes in appearance depending on the culture, his basic shape is always the same: A horse, or horse-like beast with at least one long, pointy horn on his forehead. Even the British Royal Family uses a unicorn on its family crest. But, fascinating though all this was, it didn’t tell Luke why he couldn’t find any unicorns!

By bedtime, Luke had learned a lot about the mythology of unicorns, but nothing to help him find a real one. He was very dissapointed as Grammy tucked him in. He was beginning to think unicorns really were made up as he closed his eyes and fell asleep…

“Luke? Oh Luke? Are you awake?”

Luke opened his eyes and there, standing next to his bed, was a unicorn! With fur so white it seemed to glow and a long, shiny tail, and eyes that sparkled and a golden horn in the center of his forehead.

“I hear you’ve been looking for me,” said the unicorn.

“I thought you were pretend!” said Luke in an awestruck whisper.

“Oh, no, not at all. The truth, Luke, is that we unicorns prefer to be left alone. So when the Ancient Greeks discovered us and started telling the world about us, we tried to leave and find another secret place to live. But everywhere we went, people had heard of unicorns and were hunting us. We ran through Europe, India, China, all across the world just trying to find someplace where we could be by ourselves.”

“But why do you want to be alone?”

“It’s just our way, Luke. Everyone is different and likes different things. Some animals, like humans, like to mix with lots of different animals. Some, like we unicorns, prefer a quiet, peaceful life of solitary reflection among our own people. Do you understand?”

“I think so.”

“Anyway, after all these centuries, we finally found a place where we can live safely and peacefully, without being disturbed by humans or an other animal.”


“I’m afraid I can’t tell you. It’s been a secret all these years, and I can’t tell anyone for fear of it getting out.” Luke begged and pleaded with the unicorn to tell and even made the biggest promise in the world, saying he’d never tell anyone, man, woman, child or animal ever as long as he lived. “Very well, then,” said the unicorn and he leaned in and whispered into Luke’s ear.

“Ohhh!” said Luke. Now it all made sense to him.

“But you must never try to find us, Luke. You must respect our wishes and leave us alone. You promise?”

“Cross my heart. Thank you for coming to see me, Mr. Unicorn. I feel better now that I know you guys are okay.”

“Thank you, Luke. For caring so much about us. Now you had better get back to sleep, and I had better get home. Good night, my friend.” And Luke closed his eyes and fell back to sleep.

Luke kept his promise, and never mentioned unicorns again as long as he lived. And even though he now knew exactly where to find them, he never tried to go there and see for himself. He was the only human being in a hundred years to see a real-live unicorn, and that was enough for him. And even when he grew to be very, very old, he remembered his promise to the unicorns. Which is why they are safe to this day in their secret hiding place in—ah! Sorry. No telling!


Next Week: "The Water-Lily"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Big Ole' Tree

Firstly, my apologies. What with one thing and another, I haven't had a chance to illustrate this week's story.

Anyway, this story marks the first time that I have written a story specifically in response to a request. My mother decided one day that I simply had to write a story about the big ole’ fir tree in the backyard. So...I did. And I'm running it today to celebrate Mother's Day. I might as well, she remains my most loyal reader.

For those unfamiliar with the titular tree, you should know that it is entirely true that a wide variety of animals do indeed make their home in it, as it is also a fact that the geese that frequent the yard are jerks. The rest I made up.

It was that time of day again. A frightened hush fell over the various creatures who were out foraging on the lawn. Two squirrels, a rabbit and a whole flock of birds all pricked up their ears (metaphorically, in some cases) for the sound of the encroachers.

“Here they come!” cried the rabbit.

Yes, the geese had come to the backyard. Big, tough, and none too bright, they were the bullies of the area. Waddling and squawking all over the place with no regard for any of their fellow animals. Even the ducks had all but vanished from the neighborhood when the geese moved in, having decided almost unanimously to feed elsewhere and simply avoid dealing with the geese.

And this was a real shame, because the owners of the yard were very fond of ducks. One of the humans had even gotten into the habit of putting out seed and crack corn for his various feathered friends. This is why his home was known as the “Duck House.” That is, until the geese started coming and bullying all the ducks so they could get the corn for themselves. Now the ducks had fled, the animals who remained lived in panic, and the geese held indomitable dominion over all.

Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the animals fled for home when the geese appeared. It might, however, surprise you to learn that they did not all flee for different places. For, you see, one of the most striking features of this particular yard was the enormous fir tree which stood right in the middle of the lawn. Some people might consider it overgrown, ugly or otherwise in desperate need of a tree surgeon. The people who lived in the Duck House, however, thought it was beautiful the way it was and let it be. Which is just as well for the animals I mentioned earlier, because they all lived there.

The matriarch of this unconventional extended family was a lady turtle called Beatrice, who seldom ventured beyond the safety of the trees branches. The rabbit was called Josh and he was excitable even by bunny standards. The squirrels were brother and sister, but there the similarities between them ended. Also in the tree were a family of mice, a raccoon who visited occasionally and countless birds. The point is there was a whole mess o’ critters living in this big ole’ fir tree.

“Those darn gooses!” muttered Josh. “Why’d they have to come here and ruin everything?”

“Patience, Josh,” said Beatrice in her usual slow, deliberate way…cuz, ya know…she’s a turtle.

“Yeah,” said Rose the Squirrel, “we all know why you hate the gooses!”

“Shut up!” said Josh, who would’ve been blushing if he weren’t covered in fur.

“Leave him alone, sis,” said Jack the Squirrel. “He can’t help it if he’s in lo-ove.”

“I am not!”

“Quiet!” said Beatrice, who did not want to spend the rest of the afternoon listening to this childish bickering. “Let’s just sit quietly and wait for the gooses to move on.”

(The word “geese” does not exist in the animal language; neither do words like “mice” or “sleeth,” which is the plural of “sloth,” which wouldn’t have come up in this case anyway since there are no sleeth in the vicinity of this story.)

And that was life for the residents of the big ole’ fir tree. But backtracking ever-so-slightly, what did Jack mean by Josh being in love? Well, a while back Josh made friends with a girl he met in the backyard of the Duck House. They hit it off right away and got very close. Despite his insistence that it was just platonic, however, the other animals loved to tease Josh about his “girlfriend.” However, recently, Daphne (which was Josh’s friend’s name) hadn’t been coming to the Duck House very often. Neither had any of her species, thanks to the geese.

That’s right, Daphne was a duck.

But every now and then, Daphne did return to the Duck House to hang out with her good friend, Josh. She usually came alone, and at night where they would sit and chat under the light of the moon. Considering these intimate rendezvouses (??) it’s not surprising that Josh’s friends teased him.

“I hate that this is the only way we can see each other,” said Josh to Daphne one night.

“I know,” said Daphne. “But until those gooses stop coming around and bothering everyone, what can we do?”

Something had been building up inside Josh for quite some time.

“It’s just not fair.”

“What did you say, Josh?”

“I said it’s just not fair! Why should you and your flock have to move on just because those horrible gooses decided they were in charge?”

“Josh, calm down.”

“No! I don’t think we should put up with it anymore. Daphne, come with me. I’m taking you to the Big Ole Tree.”

The animals were, of course, asleep at this point, and they were very cross when Josh woke them, though they were sort of excited that he brought Daphne for the first time.

“Why have you woken us at this late hour, Josh the Bunny Rabbit?” said Beatrice.

“Because, I don’t know about all of you, but I am sick and tired.”

“Yeah, we’re all tired!” said a starling with a yawn. “So why’d you wake us up?”

“I mean I am sick and tired of living like this. Being afraid of the gooses. Not being able to call our own home our own. We have as much right to this yard as they do. Maybe more, since we were here first. Just because they’re bigger than us they think they can do whatever they like.”

“They’re kind of right, Josh,” said Rose. “I mean what can we do about it?”

“We can fight back!” said Josh. “All of us. Tomorrow when they show up to feed, we take ‘em all on!”

“Ridiculous,” said Jack. “We can’t fight all those gooses by ourselves.”

“We won’t be by ourselves. Don’t forget, we’re not the only animals around here.”

“You don’t mean…”

“I do! I say it’s time we went to see…the pets!

This was quite a radical suggestion. True, there were a few other animals in the area, but they were domesticated animals. Dogs and cats who belonged to the neighbors of the humans who lived in the Duck House (if you need a minute to reread that last sentence, feel free, I’ll wait). And traditionally, pets did not get along with wild animals.

“Maybe,” Josh continued, responding to one of his housemates who had expressed basically the same thing I just said in the above paragraph. “But I bet they’re none too fond of the gooses either. Now’s the time for an alliance. Daphne,” he said, turning around and facing his friend, “you should stay here with my friends. I’m going to go talk to the pets. I’ll be back!” With that, he turned and hopped away, to talk to the neighborhood pets.

Daphne was terrified, not only because she didn’t know whether Josh would come back alive, but also because she was now in the Big Ole Tree surrounded by animals she barely knew, which is always uncomfortable.

“Er…hi,” she said.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Daphne,” said Beatrice. “Josh has been keeping you sort of to himself, you know.”

“Well, it’s silly, but my flock seems to think he’s my boyfriend and they’re not too pleased about that. That’s why we have to meet in secret.”

“So…” said Jack, timidly, “he’s not your boyfriend?”

“What? No! Of course not! I’m a duck and he’s a rabbit! That doesn’t even make sense!”

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

“No, Josh and I are just good friends. But I certainly didn’t want him to do all this just to help me.”

“You have to understand,” said Beatrice, “that Josh is not like other rabbits. You know that people cave where the nice man who feeds the birds lives?”


“Josh was born in that house. One of the people had two pet rabbits and they had a litter. Of course, a people cave in no place for bunnies, so most of them died. But Josh survived and when his parents were released into this yard, he went with them. By then, of course, his parents were too used to living in a people cave to survive, and they died soon after. But Josh is a survivor. He’s a fighter. He never gives up.”

“Not only that,” added a cardinal, “but since he spent time with the people, he knows of their kindness and love for us all. And they put that food out for ducks, not gooses!”

“And us birds, too!” said a blackbird.

“And they never shoo us away when we squirrels want a bite either,” said Rose. The animals were getting more and more riled up. The more they talked about Josh’s courage and the people’s kindness and the geese’s…er…bulliness? Anyway, the more they talked the more excited they got, so that by the time Josh returned, they were ready.

It was that time of day again. The geese arrived as they had on countless mornings before. But today, something was different. Normally the yard was full of other animals who ran away when they saw the geese coming. Today, the yard was almost entirely empty…except for one little girl duck, standing between the geese and the food.

“What’s this?” said the lead goose. “I thought we scared you puny ducks away for good.”

“I thought so, too,” said Daphne, as bravely as she could. “But last night I learned something. I have power over you. I am stronger than you. Because I may not be big and tough and rude, but I have something birds like you will never have.”

Through their derisive laughter, the geese asked, “And what’s that?”

“Friends!” said Daphne and she quacked loudly. It was the signal. From within the Big Ole Tree, Beatrice shouted commands. A flock of birds, all species and sizes, burst from the tree like fireworks and began swooping down on the geese. The confused geese tried batting the little birds away with their wings, but they were outnumbered. That’s when Josh burst forth and starting pawing and scratching at the geese. As Jack and Rose climbed the back porch to get into position, Daphne quacked again, twice this time, to signal the reserve troops.

The two dogs from down the road knew the people from the Duck House as the ones who always waved to them as they drove past in their car. The cat from next door remembered the people from the Duck House leaving her milk and stroking her fur on more than one occasion. Even the raccoons and possums who ate out of the family’s trash and usually only came out at night had stayed up early in order to be part of the assault.

They pawed and scratched and bit as Jack and Rose took hold of one of the large bird feeders hanging from the porch. “You want seed?” said Jack. “Here ya go!” And they dropped the feeder on the heads of the terrified geese who had finally had enough and flew away never to be seen again.

When the people returned to their house later that day, they were shocked to see the state of the yard. Feathers everywhere, bird feeder toppled over and not a goose in sight. But, to their great delight, they saw that the ducks had returned! Once again, the Duck House was surrounded by the happy quacks of Daphne and her brethren. And not only the ducks, but the rabbits and birds and even old Beatrice were now free to do as they pleased without being afraid of gooses pushing them around.

And Josh and Daphne remained good friends for the rest of their lives. And even though she still lived with her flock, Daphne was always welcomed by the other animals who made her an honorary citizen of the Big Ole’ Tree By the Duck House.


"The Missing Unicorn"

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Faeries, The Ogres and the Three Curses

As tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I thought it would be appropriate to share a traditional Mexican fairy tale. This one is known to the people of Mexico as “Domingo Siete,” or “Sunday Seven.” I have tried to remain as reliable as possible to the original while imbuing it with my own style. I have named the two central characters after two renowned Mexican filmmakers. Feliz Cinco de Mayo, Amigos!

Also, don't forget my still readily available sci-fi/fantasy/comic/romance/adventure novel which can be downloaded here at a very reasonable price.

Once, and only once, upon a time, there lived two hunchbacks named Alonso and Guillermo. Despite sharing a deformity, you couldn’t find two more different people if you tried. For while Guillermo cursed the world for his misshapen body and outcast status, Alonso remained cheerful and optimistic in the face of adversity. Hunchbacked as they were, they could not live among other people without being ridiculed, tormented and abused, so they lived in the forest and earned their Daily Bread (which is a special variety of bread available only in certain parts of the world) as woodcutters…

Or, rather, Alonso earned his bread as a woodcutter. Guillermo, however, was lazy, selfish and not really all that nice a guy, so he would often make excuses as to why he couldn’t work. Alonso, being kind and good natured, would consent and do all the work for the pair of them. He wasn’t what you might call enthusiastic about this arrangement, but kind people are always kind, so he spent most of the day chopping away for the sake of his lazy associate.

By the time he was done with the day’s work, it was very late. Too late to head for home. So he set up camp in the forest for the night. But as he was drifitng off to sleep, he heard a strange sound. It sounded like singing. But no human voice could be that lovely. He decided to investigate. Treading carefully, so as not to give himself away, he followed the sound of the singing to a small, secluded glade. Alonso’s suspicion about the voices not being human was quite right. Here he saw a band of faeries dancing and frolicking and singing:

Lunes y martes y miƩrcoles tres...
Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday three…

Alonso recognized the old song at once, but the faeries were only singing the first line over and over again. It was as if they simply didn’t know the rest of the song. Alonso was so moved by their beautiful voices, he wanted to help, so the next time they sang “Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday three…” Alonso came out of hiding and sang, “Thursday and Friday and Saturday six!”

The faeries were initially shocked that a mortal had found their hiding place, but when they realized he had told them the rest of the lyrics to their song they were delighted. I mean, you know how frustrating that can be when you have a song in your head but you don’t know all the words. At the moment, for example, I have “You Can Do Magic” by America in my head and all I know is the bit that goes “You know darn well/When you cast your spell/You can get your way/When you hypnotize/With your…”

But, I digress.

The faeries invited Alonso to join the party and they sang and danced together into the night. And the curious thing was that, even though he had worked hard all day and hadn’t yet slept, he didn’t feel tired. He felt wide awake and full of joy, thanks to the faeries’ magic.

And that wasn’t all! The faeries grew so fond of Alonso that they wanted to pay him a kindness. They all flew around him and bathed him in their magical light and when they were done, the hump was gone from Alonso’s back! He was whole and healthy and strong! He was about to say how grateful he was to his new friends when a terrible rumbling was heard getting closer and closer. “It’s the ogres!” the faeries cried. “Quick, get up in the trees or they’ll see you!” Alonso didn’t need to be told twice and he scurried up the nearest tree (much easier to do now that his deformity was gone) and hid in its branches. Once he was settled, he looked down but the faeries had all vanished, as had all evidence of their party, and three huge, ugly ogres settled down in the clearing to rest and talk about the mischief they had caused.

“Well, amigos,” said the first ogre. “As we are all here, I can now call this annual meeting of the Evil Ogres Society to order.” And so the meeting began and, as with all formal society meetings like this, the first twenty minutes or so were pretty uneventful. Just the minutes from last year’s meeting, points of order, old business, procedural things like that which are the cornerstone of a well-run society, but which are murder for storytellers. Finally, just as Alonso was about to nod off from boredom, they got to the good stuff. “Now the chair will hear reports on the evil deeds performed in the previous year. The chair recognizes Brother Diego.”

The ogre, evidently called Diego, stood and addressed the others. “This has been a good year for me,” he began. “I found a small, unspoiled village full of good, hard-working, honest, pious, happy people. So, naturally, I had to do something about that.” The other ogres laughed, but Alonso listened with rapt attention. “I’ll spare you the details, but the upshot is…they are all blind! Every man, woman and child in the village is blind as a bat! Thank you.” The other ogres clapped and Diego sat. The chair then reconized the next ogre, name of Garcia.

“I too found a village of no-account do-gooders, as did Brother Diego, and I too felt the need to make them suffer for their innocence. Every single citizen of that village is now deaf and can’t even hear the thunder!” This report was also met with warm and appreciative applause. Alonso couldn’t help but admire how formal and polite these horrible monsters were...but only briefly before getting back to the business of loathing them for their evil deeds.

“As for me,” said the Chair-Ogre, “I had some fun with the village I found as well: I struck them all mute! No one can talk or laugh or cry or shout. They are silent!” Alonso was disgusted by the glee with which these monsters talked about punishing innocent people. He was all set to leap from the tree and attack them all, which would likely have gotten him killed almost instantly, when he heard something that made him stop at once.

“The thing that makes it all so funny,” said Diego, “is how easy it would be to cure them, if we wanted to!”

“Oh, yes,” agreed Garcia. “It would be the work of but a moment to release these pitiful people from these curses…but we won’t!”

“Gentlemen, please,” said the Chair-Ogre, trying to restore order. “For the sake of posterity, let us all say how we can cure our victims. In my case, all they would have to do is go to the fields and pick flowers from the cenizo plant. A tea brewed from this flower will cure muteness.”

“My village,” began Garcia, “is in the shadow of the Hill of the Bells which is covered in giant stones, but one of them is actually a bell in disguise. Strike that stone with a heavy hammer and the sound will echo throughout the village, curing everyone’s deafness.”

“If my victims wanted to cure their blindness,” said Diego, “they would have to wait until the first week of April and collect all the dew from the grass in the morning. Rub that dew into their eyes, and they’d all be able to see at once!”

“Well," said the Chair-Ogre, "I don’t think there’s any fear of our curses being undone any time soon! I mean even if these people were to somehow find out how to cure their various afflictions, it would take some kind of superman, or perhaps a man who has worked hard all his life, become strong and accustomed to hard work and who has, possibly, recently undergone some kind of physical change making it easier for him to move his body." The laughter of the ogres rang through the trees like dramatic irony. "So, if there’s no more business, I hereby adjourn the meeting. We will meet back here in one year.” The ogres disbanded and wandered off into the woods.

Alonso climbed down his tree. The faeries paid me a great kindness by removing my hump, he said to himself. I should try and help others the way they helped me. Starting with curing these poor, unfortunate villagers. So resolved, Alonso set forth on his adventure.

He didn’t know where any of the villages were, but it turns out it’s not that hard to find a village entirely peopled by the blind, deaf or mute and before long he was standing at the outskirts of the Mute Village. Though unable to speak, the people heard quite well and understood Alonso when he explained how they could be cured. The villagers wasted no time, but rushed out into the fields and picked every cenizo flower they could find. The tea was brewed and served to everyone in the town, and they could all speak once again! They were so grateful to Alonso that they gave him a burro laden with silver.

Next he went to the Village of the Deaf where he used some of his silver to buy a heavy sledgehammer with which he climbed the Hill of the Bells. He found the place the ogre had spoken of and began pounding every stone he could find. After striking one hundred and thirty-six stones and just before collapsing in utter exhaustion, he swung his hammer one last time and when it collided with the one hundred and thirty-seventh stone, the sound of a great bronze bell echoed across the village and all were cured of their deafness. Alonso was rewarded with a second burro, this one loaded with gold.

By now, it was the first week of April, and Alonso carefully gathered up each and every single drop of dew from each and every single blade of grass. Then he dipped his fingers in it, ran up to the first person he saw, and rubbed her eyes gently with the dew.

“Hey! Just what do you think you’re—” But the senorita was not angry anymore, since her blindness was cured…by a very handsome stranger. Alonso explained the situation to her, and the two of them spent the rest of the day curing each and every villager so that by sundown, there wasn’t a blind eye in the village. They even cured an old beggar who had actually been blind since birth and was, therefore, not affected by the ogre’s curse, but who was, nevertheless, grateful.

Unlike the first two villages, this one was not rich and they didn’t have any silver or gold to give him. As it happened, they did have something far more precious to offer him as a reward and when Alonso left for home, it was with a burro loaded with silver, a burro loaded with gold, and the beautiful girl he had cured first who had fallen in love with our hero which is, let's face it, always a nice thing to happen in a fairy tale.

It was, indeed, a joyous homecoming for Alonso and his new love. When he had last set foot in his home village a year ago, he was a misshapen woodcutter without two coins to rub together (which was actually a pretty common practice back, no it wasn't, I'm just being silly). Now he was strong, handsome, rich and engaged. Not to mention famous for his heroic deeds. He was welcomed with open arms by everyone…except Guillermo, who was jealous of Alonso’s good fortune.

“Why should he get all this, but I have to remain a hunchback?” Guillermo thought. “I know! I’ll go into the woods and find those faeries. That should do it!”

So that night, Guillermo crept into the woods just as Alonso had done the previous year. And, sure enough, he did hear voices which he followed to that same clearing. Unfortunately, these were the voices of the ogres, who were meeting slightly earlier this year because they had a serious problem to discuss:

“It seems all of our curses have been cured,” said the Chair-Ogre. “And I thought we were the only ones who knew how to do that.”

“It wasn’t us,” said the other two. “Apparently, some woodcutter came and cured everyone. He must’ve been spying on us last year.”

It was at this moment that the faeries came out to play, not knowing the ogres were already here. Fearlessly, they began to sing:

                    Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday three…
                    Thursday and Friday and Saturday six…

Seeing his opportunity to share his friend’s good fortune, Guillermo leapt out of his hiding place and cried out:

“And Sunday seven!”

Which was a mistake because, not only was that not the next line of the song, but now the ogres thought he was the traitor who had eavesdropped on them the year before. That was the last anybody ever heard of Guillermo and even I don’t know exactly what happened to him, though there were rumors in a neighboring village of a horrible monster that lived in the forest with not one, but two ugly humps on his back.

And that’s the story of the two hunchbacks who lived in the woods and how the one who was kind, friendly and hard-working had great adventures and great reward, and how the one who was mean, cold and lazy suffered …which makes for a pretty good moral to any story, if you ask me.


Next Week: "The Big Ole' Tree"