Short Stories

 

Adolphus

A medieval short story

 

This story was first told to Ingrid as a bed time story in the Fall 1981. Written Summer 1991. Revised Summer 1992. Typed Into Computer Summer 1993

 

The bright sunlight was beginning to appear thru the trees and their leafs. One could see, in the darkness the beautiful rays of light that weaved their way thru the little leafs, ignoring any disturbance along their path.

A few birds could be heard, couldn't really see them, in the distance, rustling thru the trees. To them not a single thing had ever happened, even though many of their friends could be found and seen a few inches away, fallen and spirits broken by the vestiges of the plague, which now appeared to be leaving, if the signs of a few new shoots and plants were any indication that the worst was now over. Adolphus did not know how he survived this terrible epidemic. For that he felt extremely lucky. He took in a few of the rays of sunlight that were making their way thru the trees and decided to close his eyes. He wanted to dream some more, for he felt quite alone. And for once, he wasn't the only one that felt this way. We were all alone, but we also knew that somehow, in some way, we would make it, I was so sure of it. But I decided that I wasn't going to let Adolphus sleep anymore and that we would have to travel a long distance today, hopefully to find a new land a place that wants to grow, and with people that want to live. And I walked casually to my friend and owner and nudged him a little in the neck. He ignored the first nudge, as usual. So I gave him a second one. and Adolphus turned around, scared, and so fast that I jumped back.

"Oh. It's you."

And he began to sit up. He did it a bit fast, and lost his footing,... and fell. He had his clumsy moments, but he was a good master to have and I enjoyed being with him. And he fed me quite well. I always did my best wherever he wanted me to go, without too much argument, after all I did trust him and he has never really led me astray... He was a bit of a loner, and I knew that one day things would change one day and find himself a companion, and then, oh well, things do change, I would become a bit less of a friend and servant. But I didn't mind. I trusted him, and always will.

"I think we are going west today, maybe there is something better than what we have found so far."

He got up and took the three or four steps towards me and picked up my reins and I knew that I was not going to move. We had just come from the west, and after a whole lot of time, we still had found nothing.

"Would you mind..?"

He tugged a little more, but for once I was a bit superior.

"Why don't you want to move..?"

I thought we should go north, and instead I took a step in that direction. Somehow I knew that in that direction there was more of the juicy green stuff I liked so much.

"Oh, I see. You want to go that way."

And he sat down and looked in that direction. There were a few less trees, but in the distance there was a nice mountain range, not the kind that scares you with its might, but one you know you can climb and visit and stand up on its top and look around. I have done it once when I was young. And I want to do it again, before I am too old to even see those things, and am forced to give children small rides from the left to the right, before my body gives out. For us, it seems that all life is some grass, or hay, a little man that rides our backs, and if lucky, a few lumps of sugar and salt. These days, they give you a lot of salt. Adolphus has told me that it provides energy and helps fight the plague, and that it doesn't allow the rats and other animals to make headway into one's organism, too bitter for them. I wonder why those rat things go for humans more than they do for us,... I am not complaining, mind you. The only time they won't leave us alone, along with other things, too, is when we are all laid out in the platter of the earth, ready for eating. Dead that is. Of course, in these days, we find all kinds of dead animals and things full of little critters, and many of those flying animals, the dark ones, always know when you are ready to go. They practically stand on your head waiting for it to drop, so they can at once get their first piece of dinner to feed their very stale and hungry stomachs.

"You still haven't told me why you want to go that way.!"

So I nudged him on the side of his head, just a little, and made no sounds.

"So you think you'll find something over there,...a girlfriend, hein.?"

I wasn't about to answer that for him. I just took my step, in my usually moody style, and leant downwards to get a bit of the grasses and leaves around us,... they had been few and far in between our stops, and I knew we were going to ride a long way, ... I was ready, ... and looking forward to it. Maybe even run a little and feel the fresh air hit the skin, and my eyes. It feels really good.

"Ok. You win. Funny that you would want to go in that direction. I don't remember seeing it, when we arrived here yesterday. Shall we start, by walking a little...?"

He picked up my reins and pulled me in my chosen direction. His pull was different than my previous owners. It wasn't harsh. It was so gentle and firm that it made it difficult sometimes to tell him no. But if he didn't know what his desire was, at least he wasn't afraid to ask. And I learned to expect his good words and thoughts when he felt at odds with his space. It was certainly an odd relationship, you might say, rare, would best describe it. I had not laid next to a human very often, but if there was one I could lay down next to, it certainly was him. I once laid next to a child and I am not sure I might have killed him. He cried so much that it scared me enough to jump out of the way, and as far as I could, too. But Adolphus knew how to make himself comfortable anywhere. He was, as you say, a true animal, one who lived from what he found, and did the best he could to survive. And I felt that this was a good reason why we were such good friends.

As we walked, we did the usual sightseeing. It seems that our trips were more fun than they were work. Finally we were leaving the devastated lands in the valley where we had been. As we were getting closer to the high mountains, I certainly found the ground much easier to step on,... and the morsels were just so good,...maybe there weren't very many people around here. I never found good food in town,...I had to be given it. Adolphus traded some thing or other for it.

"Do you ever wonder why people stick together so much.?"

I couldn't very well say I did. We animals...

"People have forgotten how to live. They think that they can live together better than they can by themselves. Almost all animals find their own little home in the wilds and live there for a long time. And somehow they do not have diseases around here,... by they do over there,...maybe these diseases are the fault of too many humans, who are not friends to each other any more. ....."

He paused. We walked like we weren't saying anything to each other. He knew I listened and sometimes acknowledged him by nudging him here and there.

"I had a dream last night. It was ugly and upsetting, so much so that I kept changing my dream to a wonderful princess. I think it told me what this was all about. There was this large group of people taking their trash and refuse somewhere, where they piled it all up in one spot. They were so eager to dump it that they were even burying each other. That place became full of pests and fowl odors. And the pests and odors multiplied until one day there were too many, and they begun biting the people that came up to that place. Those people that were bitten went home and gave it to others, who in turn, gave it away to others. You know, here in the wild, the refuses becomes a part of the ground, and fertilizes it.... You should know about it, your own has been used for many fields for a very long time."

I didn't think about that, but I always wondered why many people went around collecting my refuse.

"I think that in small quantities, it helps the ground, they call it fertilize it, these days. In large spots, it does not interact with the ground enough to help it. And I think this plague started with all that. We need to be more careful and helpful with nature, you know?"

And he slapped my hind quarters, just when I was relieving myself. I jumped and took five steps. He stood there and laughed at me. I turned around and found the whole thing not very amusing. Strange people humans are. But I was surprised. Us, horses is that what we are called, isn't it,.. never think of these things. Refuses. Fertilizers. We just live naturally as a part of it all. What's wrong with these humans.?

We were now entering a beautiful plain that had so much grass that I wanted to live here forever. But I think Adolphus was looking for water,... we kept moving. I got to stop,... this is too tantalizing. We kept moving. It must have been a while, though, there still was much grass around us...and I want to stop.

"Surprise, surprise, my friend. Not only do you have food, I have water. And lots of it."

I had kept my head down, looking at that green grass, that smelled so heavenly to my nose that I couldn't help steal a bite here and there as we kept going. But he was right. It was a lovely, smallish, stream just ahead. And we stepped up our pace to it. When we got there, we just looked at it. It was so shiny and blue that your eyes hurt. And my master decided he wasn't going to waste any time. He took off his rags so fast, and jumped in, as if I didn't exist, or maybe he was just a child who wanted to play a little.

And play he did. And he screamed and shouted so much I don't even know what he said. I was a bit thirsty, and did go get me a drink. It tasted good. It tasted new. I even had a second drink. But I was more interested in the green stuff I was stepping on, and it was waiting for me, too.

And I ate. It all must have tasted as good to me as the water did to him. I was exactly where I wanted to be,... gosh how could I figure out a way to keep some of this stuff, and take it with me...hmm... maybe we will stay here, and not go anywhere. Not likely, but we both needed a rest. I lifted my head and saw Adolphus just laying there, with his arms under his head. The world didn't exist.

 

It was getting dark, and a bit cold for my friend and he came close to me. He built up a little stack of twigs and started a little fire. That little fire was so nice to him that he fell asleep. I walked near to him and sat down. I never thought that one could get tired of enjoying himself, but my master was truly worn out and has fallen asleep. And I knew he was dreaming. Like he had never dreamt before and I am sure that I would hear about it in the morning. I closed my eyes and also went to sleep.

When I woke up, my friend was still sleeping. I moved slowly away from him and the little fire that had gone out during the night. I looked back at him before I moved on. I was amazed. Never did man appear more like a child to my surprised eyes. Usually he slept with his face covered, as if hiding from something or other. But this morning he was sleeping with his face out in the open, as if needing to absorb much lost energy from our past together. He was much smaller than me when we came together, and we both had grown. He has become taller and strong. And we have had many good times together. During the bad days of the plague he always made the long runs everyday to make sure that I ate clean grass, the kind that is found only in the mountains, for he knew that those would be cleaned by the winds. And I am sure, that this is the reason why we have survived. Many people were crying and dying, but few picked themselves up and moved on as they had to, to another field that was free of disease and provided better food. They didn't move. And they talked of the disease as if it would move and fly away so they could continue their lives. Adolphus was more intelligent. He knew that man had brought this malice upon themselves, and that the only way to survive would be to depart his home and hope to make a new one in another place. We are that way, except for a few of us. Many have tried to change things for their benefit and failed. And I could very easily see that Adolphus thinks differently. In

the state of things these days I could leave, and he wouldn't flinch. But I won't. He has been good to me, and I shall return that favor until it is no longer necessary. I turned my neck and went to the nearest clearing where I could feel the breeze on my back. Somehow I knew that I was going to be ridden today, and for that I wanted to cool my back a little more. I found a few squirrels running around and decided that where they were was a good spot to play and eat. I moved towards a tall tree that had a few limbs hanging and passed under them so they could scratch my back. It felt very good. And I found another patch of grass that would suit me just fine. There I went and ate. Time was not, until I heard another splash. As I turned and looked back at my friend I saw that he was again playing at being a kid. He was back in the water....

He whistled at me.

I looked up a little lazy-like, picked up a mouth full and turned towards him. I had never noticed any of my kind that spoke so well with our friends. We were the same family and spoke a common language, one that was simple. I passed that same tree and scratched my back again, and then went to him. He was very happy. He was beaming and had prepared a little meal with some animal from that river. He was cooking it and those scents always called me, though I seem never to have noticed that before. He offered me a little, but up close it didn't appeal to my smell and he ate it instead. But he had a mixture that I sure liked. He called it soup. And he had in it many roots and plants. It was thick, but it was good.

'I know that you were right when you decided on the direction we were to take. Do you know what we are going to find.?' He looked at me expecting an answer.

'Well, you wouldn't be able to tell me. But I will tell you. We are going past the river and across the mountains. And we are going to go until we find a castle in the middle of nowhere. And we will stay there. At least, that's what the dreams were telling me last night.

We'll just have to wait and see. He was almost done eating and begun putting out the fires and make sure that all was returned to normal. He filled his jug with water and collected some flowers that he knew he could eat. He packed his belongings and placed them all in my back. He put the harness back in my face and when he was done he began moving towards the water. I trusted him and followed him, though I wasn't too keen on having to get wet. As we entered the water, it wasn't covering anymore than my legs and I began to feel more comfortable.

'Don't worry. We are just crossing the river. It isn't that deep and the bottom, is not hard and rocky.'

The water barely touched my belly. I have to admit that it felt good and friendly and wasn't the usual dark that we always find. The strangest thing I noticed is that I could see him and I walking slowly and carefully across the water. That picture was more pleasing and comfortable than usual. I felt that we had finally left the past behind and that Adolphus was going to forget all his past troubles and was going to start anew.

We were approaching the other end of the stream. And he hopped on my back. And we begun tracking along the river for a little while. As we were running along the river it was coming closer to the mountain ranges we had seen a few days back. They were colored like I was happy. And they looked very friendly. When the sun was directly above our heads we turned into the mountains and away from the river. My master had finally found ground that would be easier to climb. And we went that way. It wasn't very often that we looked at things from another view and I was looking forward to it. The ground was just hard enough to hold, and soft enough not to hurt and Adolphus patted me on the neck a few times. He urged me on a little faster and I started running. It felt good to feel free and wild for a change. I was beginning to feel old and stale or fat. The air felt like a sweet breeze in my face, and I wondered how it felt in his. While I was busy noticing the wind and enjoying the ground we must have covered a lot of space. When Adolphus asked me to slow down, I wasn't even tired, and felt strong. He stopped me. And left my back very gently. And we walked until he found a rock of good size and sat down on it. And he turned to face the land he had left.

'Over there in the far distance where you see the dark clouds, is the city where we lived for so long. It is a dying city. The rest of nature isn't dead. The sky is beautiful, the trees still stand, the birds still fly, here, not there, and we are free. No more diseases. No more angers. No more ugly fires to remind ourselves of what life is. No more angered peoples to tell us that we were wrong in our ways. You know,...l haven't found a tree, or a single blade of grass telling me that we were wrong. I didn't find one single animal that came close to us and told us that we were not wanted, or needed. I actually felt that many of them, wanted new friends. I didn't think of that long ago. For me all animals were prey. We hunt, kill and eat. Their death becomes our life. And finally our own death will become everyone's life. But we were lucky. We got out before it was too late. And I trusted that between you and I we would find the direction we needed to find. But there's something more to it all. And that's what really has taken usin this journey. I don't know what it is, and only hope that we both can find it together, and that one day I can even have an offspring of yours to ride.'

We looked at the horizon and found it pretty, but I suppose that for a few others it would be sad. I could never understand what they were talkingabout when they said that word 'sad'. We never thought of things in that mode. We played. We lived. And we moved around. And I was sure that there was nothing else to it in life. I wondered what it was he was getting at. His head was down.

'You know, I lost my parents and brothers there. In that ugly cloud of fire. It seems that they will burn the whole city in order to build a new one. It is very sad when we loose our kin. We begin to feel lonely and do not know where to turn to..... I suppose that you wouldn't know about all those things. You probably don't even know or remember your parents.'

I have to be honest with you. I don't remember that far back. We don't actually think that way. We spend our time just worrying about the satisfying needs of the stomach. We don't consider what has happened and don't worry about what probably will. It is better that way. You can help much easier when you know that's what you got to do.

'I think I know what you are considering. We, people, that's what we call ourselves, are convinced that we can't live without giving some worrying thoughts about the past and the future. That's what separates us from our past or your kind. You see, it is because of things like that that we can help animals like you. We figured out a way to make your feet last longer. We gave you 'shoes', and you can travel much further if we keep them clean and in good condition. You couldn't have done that for yourself without what has happened and where you could go with it...... I think that's the reason why us men always think of ourselves as more important than all the beasts and animals. We can devise traps and ways to ensnare Food. You guys aren't that smart.'

 

I didn't care for being called not so smart, but I thought, what the hell, at least I don't have his worries, and feel fine. I am just glad that he can always help me when I don't feel well. But he doesn't know that I can think and do better than he would ever know and that my needs compared to his are simple.

'I will take that back. It's not fair to say that you aren't smart when we have you trapped, and don't give you the chance to prove otherwise. I am just glad to have someone to talk to. You're a good friend........ Shall we continue.?

I was ready. All that talk was getting me dizzy, and I was ready for some exercise ... He mounted again and we turned away from the dark colored sky into the mountains. The terrain was getting rougher as we stepped on. I begun counting the steps in my language, but not with the funny way that they all did. And we hadn't gone very long when we saw that the sun was setting near the area where we had looked at. When we turned around I startled and jumped and my master fell. I was afraid. One of those large, crawling green beasts was in front of me. It stared at my eyes. I stopped and stared back. And I didn't move for a little while. I think my master was hurt. He made no sounds. As I looked at our friend, he acted as if we had entered his domain, and he asked us to leave. I said that we were just passing by. He said that we shouldn't stop. I looked at him and nodded agreeably. He apologized for having surprised us, but said that he thought he would be stepped on, and that's why he jumped. He said that he wouldn't hurt us. And he began crawling in his own direction. He passed near Adolphus and took a curious look and decided to move on. I looked around and saw that my master was finally moving, but very slowly. I pulled the things that covered me off my back and made an attempt to cover him with some of the cloths on my back. And I took a few steps to find some food. I found a few leafs and grasses that were still moist and ate a little. I felt bad inside. I didn't want to hurt my friend or master. The whole night had passed and I was worrying a little. I slowly walked to my master and nudged him. There was a little red liquid around his face, and I smelled. I didn't like it. But he moved.

'Gawd. What happened. 0hh, my head hurts.'

And he saw that he had some cuts behind his head and begun cutting away at some cloths to wrap himself a little.

'I fell off your back. What was it that you saw that scared you.?'

'Probably a snake, luckily it didn't bite us or had us for winter meals.

I was shaking off my neck and it appeared that I was saying yes.

'Ahhh, it was a snake.'

And he packed up his belongings and once again put them, on my back. I thought that we sure could use a river right now. And he grabbed my reins and we started walking on up to the higher places in the mountains. I think he wanted to cross the ridges to the other side today. And so we went.

You know, I once heard a few things about snakes. First it was that it was an evil animal. Second that it wasn't evil at all. And one day I saw a stranger man from another land. He had a snake on a pouch. And when he played his music the snake came out and obeyed him. He said that the snake was an honest animal and never cheated its friends or master. It also knew who were his friends, and if they told the truth. I couldn't believe him. I said he should prove it. He said that it was simple and that I should watch. He placed the basket he had on the ground and put his pouch in the basket. He then picked up an instrument that looked like a flute and played it. And the snake slowly came up the basket and bowed its face. The snake then did a thorough check of all the surroundings as if to look for the best place to escape. And the snake started to stand up and slowly move to the music. While it did that., it watched me and a few other people who gathered around. Somehow, I didn't trust that snake and was ready to use my weapon on her. The snake made it clear that it didn't like that. And as it moved around it was behaving the same way to all the others. The man slowly begun to stop the music and the snake slowed down its dance, and when the music stopped the snake froze. It then made that little hissing sound and jumped at me. But the owner had his hand out and grabbed the snake faster than it could hit me. I stood there scared, as the others also backed out slowly afraid. He loosened his grasp on the snake, patted it slowly, and then gave it some food. The snake then allowed him to put it in the basket and then was placed in the pouch and it was tied. The man said that there would be no more show today, and everybody left. I stayed behind. And the man started talking to me.

'The only reason it doesn't bite me is that it knows that I will not harm it. It also knows that I will feed it when it wants some food. You see, the snake and I are friends. We talk. And the snake has told me when it knows that it is in danger, for it knows when anyone is afraid and will try to batter it to death. And so it defends itself. The snake has a secret, and that secret is the reason why many magicians like to have them as friends. They are excellent judges of the purity of heart and its intent. And they won't hurt anyone whose innocence and lack of fear is clear. History has it that the snake made a mistake a long time ago, and since then they have become detested animals, but some of them have become wiser than others, like us men. And those survive longer than others. I didn't choose the snake in the fields to be my slave. That snake came to me and said it would like to help disprove that all snakes are bad animals, and that they can connect with men. But the snake has a natural instinct that it can't very easily let go. When it is threatened it has to become protective of itself, because its shape and length is not a very good at helping the animal protect itself. And so it attacks when it is being threatened. The old story of the snake with the apple is quite wrong. It wasn't the snake that picked the apple, for snakes don't eat apples. But the snakes were near those people and later became the hind-quarters of twice told tales. But man really feared themselves and decided that the snake would become a symbol of evil. I am not evil and my snake is no more evil than any man who for his food. Did you know, my friend, that if your house has mice you should have snakes for pets.?'

'That old man was quite a character. I had dinner with him.'

We were approaching the top of the hills in our climb. He told a nice story I thought. I nodded in agreement with him, but I don't think he noticed, or probably saw that it was a natural movement of my neck during our trot. He led me to the left and we came upon a nice opening almost at the very top and he said that we would stop and rest for the night. He dismounted and gave me a little of my food. And he ate some of it, and then had some water. He gave me some water. It tasted very good. He drank some more. We then watched the sunset until we fell asleep. It had been quite a day. I watched him lay down while those glowing lights were above us. I knew that we were in the right place and that we were going in the right direction. I sat down and rested. Adolphus had fallen asleep and I decided to rest.

It was raining when we woke up and Adolphus had tried to figure out a way to hide from the rain. I can never understand why men can not enjoy the rain like we do. I felt like going for a long run in the wild. It was refreshing. And it made the air smell so lovely. Too bad there were no trees or grasses for me to eat here. Adolphus had placed a large cloth that he used around himself when he slept between two large rocks and had gotten two smaller ones to hold it. The rain ran down its side and he stayed dry. We stayed put until the clouds broke. For the longest time Adolphus didn't say a thing, but he kept looking at me as if I knew something or he knew what I was thinking. Well, let me tell you. Few humans, for that is what you call them, even think about that. And because one man decided he was going to have me for a friend, I have learned a lot of his language and he hasn't learnt mine. He doesn't make the sounds of my voice yet, and I don't really know why. I can make some of his sounds, but can't continue on like he does, but I am happy. Without saying much we communicate well. We try to help each other, for I am stronger than he is, and faster, too.

'Are you done discussing me and my thoughts.?'

It didn't surprise me to hear him say that. I made it look like I was still busy eating away, which I was anyway.

'You don't have to hide it. You were listening to me. That's ok. I have nothing to hide from you. It's all gone anyway. You saw the city as well as I did. What have I got to hide.? Empty pockets ... and long gone miseries ... no, thanks. I am starting to understand animals better than I thought. They don't need yesterday as much as men do. Men use their memories like shackles and imprison themselves and rarely get out. I was thinking that I was releasing all those shackles while I was washing a few days ago in that stream. I also wanted to rid myself of all the memories of the ugliness, death and diseases that came with it. And I felt like a child with a new toy..... wanting to play in his bath water. I hid from the rain out of the old instinct and then I set here and wondered why I was hiding. It is but a light sprinkle and it isn't that cold. And it actually feels good. I think that we should move on, if that's ok with you.'

I was ready to go. I was getting greedy for the fresh and new grasses of the fields ahead. I'm sure there were some. There wasn't much up here to enjoy, and what there was didn't help my appetite. I was but playing with it anyway. And so he gathered our things, mounted, and we continued. The ground was a bit soggy and he was making sure that I was careful where I stepped, which was nice of him, for he has a better way of seeing things than I do.

Suddenly he stopped me. He could see the other side of these hills and turned me to make sure that I also saw them.

'There is where we are going. We'll go down these hills and then cross the meadows and find a spot close to that forest and rest for a day or two until we decide to go into the forest and see where it will take us. Something tells me that we will like it. At least I hope you do as much as I will.'

I was not sure what he was getting at. But I think that his thinking during the night must have told him something. You know, I can't say that we do that as well as you people do. He sure tells some nice stories about all that. Us, so called animals, don't have that ability, or desire, I guess. We actually live more for the next meal than we do our minds, as you call it all.

We were descending, and it was easier. It appears that others have been through here, for I noticed many of the steps which my brothers make. There were also many steps that many of the people like Adolphus made. As I follow these steps, I can't help think that they are not directed in any correct or proper way. Isn't it funny, or may be true, that if man doesn't know what he is doing he doesn't show that he still can be resolute and true? We are only like that when we are sick. Maybe the ones that passed here were also sick. And some of these steps are hurried, as if they were running from here or someone. There , can you see it.? Prints of animals, like those big cats. I sure wouldn't like to meet one now. I already hurt my master once, and don't want to do it again.

Time passed by, and the ground was clearing up into the open fields, and I was ready to run. The rain had stopped and I didn't feel so heavy. Adolphus must have known it for he urged me on full speed. And the rush of air was excellent, and better than running on the dirty streets of town when little things got into your eyes and discouraged you from continuing. Here it felt so beautiful that I tried to run even faster, like I had never done. And Adolphus was so excited that he even appeared very light on my back and his weight didn't bother me. Occasionally he felt too heavy and not a good ride, like when he was wet with the rain. I thank him that he didn't push me hard then, for it wouldn't have been very easy. The field was endless and very soft, not too soft that my feet would feel trapped, but just soft enough to carry me and my friend. After a long run, Adolphus begun to slow me down as I wished. We must have covered a long distance from the mountains, because the forest was nearer to us than the mountains were. When we noticed the first clearing of the clouds it finally was seen that the sun was above the trees of the forest and rose from behind them, or so it seemed. We found later that it actually rose on one side and would set on the exact opposite end of the clearing we could see. I didn't like these grasses that were so high that tickled my belly and decided to continue moving towards the forest which was our direction.

'Let's go a little further on, it looks like the grasses are clearing a little over there, just at the edge of the forest. We'll rest there for the night and see what goodies we can find.'

I liked his positive ways. He was usually forward with his ways and had never been angry with me or punished me even if I was wrong. And there had been many days ago, when I was stubborn and didn't know him, or was not agreeable to his wants. But he didn't force me and had always been nice. I had seen many of my brothers mistreated and didn't want to be one of those. But I was lucky as you say. I had it all and more, for I was free and didn't have to worry about too many things, including a meal or two. If I missed something it would be a mate or friend to spend time with....... that reminds me. I still don't know why he is going in any direction, even one that I chose for him at that. Maybe, it doesn't matter which way we go.

'I was just thinking about the way we have been going. It's been three, or four days, I can't even remember, and all has been well, even that incident with the snake turned out alright. I haven't told you yet, but in my dreams, I kept seeing a forest, and I have to tell you that we have found it. I don't know what we'll find there, or even if it means anything, but we are going to check it out. I have been curious for a long time to find out if dreams meant anything at all. I have considered that they are but bits and pieces of our minds which we have taken more seriously than other bits and pieces. I just find it all too stupid that it scares us into waking up every now and then, as if we don't already have enough to fear what with all the bad sides of life that we have to face nearly everyday. I can remember many of them, and one day I shall write them all down and maybe somebody will like them, or think that I was a good writer. But I need to live now, and have little time to stop and mark down all my feelings. This is the time when we are to enjoy our feelings, before another time takes it all away from us. I wish that people in cities enjoyed the peace that we find in a place like this. And I think that we needed to get away from all the old age and decay that we were meeting next to us., I can't say that he was wrong. He sure made a lot of sense, and I knew he was right, because the food was better. I could always tell that things weren't right when the food either diminished or was old and not tasty. Maybe it is the same for them.

'See that clearing up ahead,? That's where we will stop. It looks like there are a few fruit trees around the edges of the forest and we'll find a place for rest. We'll stay until we can't stand the food anymore and have to move on just to find something else to eat........ listen to me, I am starting to sound just like you, living and moving from one meal to the next as it presents itself on a platter.'

He was laughing at his little joke. I didn't find it was specially funny, but I guess it was true. Hell, what else was there to live for these days anyway. I have heard of those great stallions that fly, that never had to eat to gather strength, and I admit, I wanted to meet them and become one with them. Food on a platter, ...the earth is my platter, and believe it or not it there aren't too many platters that haven't looked that good to me. Us, we eat it fresh and moist all the time, while you have to kill it and take all the good stuff out of it.

I think we were tired. We were beginning to pick on each other and were ready for a rest. A few more steps and then just walking around finding the right spot.

 'Over there, next to that tree.' Great.'

Great is right. Shady too. He finally dismounted me and started figuring out what he was going to do and how. He took all the things off my back and I immediately shook off my skin so hard that I wanted to pull it off. There were some fruits fallen on the ground and I went to smell them and bite into them. Not bad, they were a little too sweet for me, but not bad. It had been a long time since I had eaten anything different and I was more than ready for it. They were a bit furry outside, but had a hard thing on the inside.

'Hey, those are peaches. Eat the ones on the ground only. The others are too hard and bitter.'

He came over to get one.

'Juicy, too.' He said loud.

And since it was getting dark, he gathered up some little twigs and made a fire, and made it last late into the dark night. It wasn't cold, but it was a little breezy for him. For me it was just right. I was going to have a grand rest. Adolphus sat by the fire and asked me over. I went for a while, but before long he had fallen asleep. People look so different when they are asleep. They don't look so worried as they do the rest of the day. He had changed. His sleep was more quiet these days, and his days weren't too bad. I wish we could find a game to play between us. No sense standing around watching a sleeping man. it's my turn to rest.

I loved mornings. There were so many birds around here that I even tried to talk to some of them, but instead scared them. Adolphus was sleeping. He hadn't moved for so long that I went close to him to see if everything was alright. He was fine. I wondered what he would do for food while we were here. I was in the great garden of food, but humans weren't eaters like we are. But he was good at finding something. He was a good hunter, and I was pretty sure that he would venture into the forest to find food for himself. He liked to eat those long eared animals he found. He said that they multiplied so fast that it didn't matter if he ate one. I found that terrible, but I knew that they were different than we were. I turned my attention to finding some greens for my stomach and must have been gone for a long time, because when I name back Adolphus wasn't where I had seen him. He had taken all his funny tools and left behind everything else, so I knew he had gone hunting. He took me with him most of the time, but preferred doing what he does alone, he said it was quieter and easier to find the meals that way. I never thought of myself as not being a quiet one.

'Hey, I found some food. I caught three of them. We'll stay here until I can't stand it anymore. What do you think.? Pretty good, hey.? Ahh, you wouldn't know it. You don't eat these things. Anyway, it will be rabbit for lunch, snack, dinner and dreams.'

And he was already lost skinning one of them. Cruel, men can be. But I couldn't figure out why they did that. Maybe it is because, if they didn't there would be too many animals and men wouldn't live, or they would be hunted and overtaken by other animals that multiplied faster than they did.

'I have often wondered why we eat meat. I have to admit that it is good, but don't care for the killing. But I am hungry without it. I guess we wouldn't know how to live if we couldn't kill. Legend has it that at first we only killed to keep ourselves alive, and then later found out that we could eat it. I figure that it has always been this way, after all there are animals who eat other animals. But the difference between animals and food is that one is in my plate, and the other is waiting his turn, if not by me, someone else. I didn't like it.

'Sorry, I forget that you treat all these as another member of your family, one that didn't grow. I will stop eating animals after these, for I am beginning to feel that they have a right to live, too. All the thanks to you.'

 The sun was almost above us, and Adolphus was preparing all his food. I think he knew we would be inside this forest for a long time and he wanted to be ready for it. The forest looked thick and dark. The trees were big and were entwined very tightly and I figure we will have a hard time going thru it. He doesn't worry about those things. He likes it that way. For him it is more fun to go thru the difficult paths than it is to go by an easy one already made. I prefer the ones that are made, for I don't have to fight and scramble thru them and I don't have to worry where I step. But I couldn't complaint. I had not had a hard time thru many forests, well, I had never been into one this big, and really was not looking forward to it, at least, as much as my friend was. You know, those humans are strange, when they go on their adventures to many places. We never really look at things that way. We are like rivers, who run by the easiest corners they can find.

'Dinner is ready.'

I looked at his satisfied look and went towards him. That call was too familiar to ignore.

'I knew you would come when I said the magic word. Have some leafs and roots I fixed for you. I couldn't forget you. And I have to make sure that you are healthy for our trip.' 'I wondered how far we have gone. It doesn't seem much, but it sure feels like a lot.'

And he enjoyed his food these days.

'Are you worried about the forest.? I am not. It gets a bit dark in the middle, but we will do just fine. It is thick, but not so thick that we can't go thru it. Maybe we'll find surprises in it, like a or castle. Maybe we'll even find a monster or two to scare us out of our wits ..nay, don't worry. We haven't come this far to harm anyone, and I don't think that the same will happen to us,...... wanna hear a story.? ...... good.... I'll tell you one. There is, I am told, in the middle of a dark forest, a castle that is full of riches. And those riches belong to a man who has been there for many years, many more than our lives put together. He has gathered them from all the travellers who went by and died along the way, because they didn't know how to survive. And they carried with them many things, from house wares to house belongings, to gold, and precious things for loved ones. It is believed that he speaks many languages. He lives all by himself with his friends, and story has it that they are elves and fairies. An' that he has the ability to do anything he wants. He doesn't come out of his place, for he knows that no one can really be trusted with his kind, an that if he does, others will rob him and take advantage of his old age. When he serves his meals, all his animal friends come for the feasts and they stay with him until he has told them a story for the evening. And one day, the feast was ready and all the animals came and sat at the table ready to eat. And they were about to start when they noticed that one of the places was empty, and that the old man wasn't there this time. The animals waited a little more. And when they heard nothing, or had any signs that the man was coming, they thought that he had died. And then decided to go ahead and eat without him. They all ate until they could no more, and for some reason, the food never ran out. There was always more that magically appeared in the table for all to eat. And they had quite a feast without the old man. And when they had tired of eating they sat some more and waited. Nothing happened. The old man still didn't come. And they begun to feel restless an' lonely. They were used to their stories after their meals. But this night, it wasn't to be. And the animals all tried to tell a story to enchant their imaginations. But it didn't happen. They still felt lonely. When they were tired, they prepared to leave and even had a fight as to what they should do with all the food on the table. They decided to take it with them for their friends who didn't come to the feast. And they filled their paws and wings until they looked so ridiculous that they could barely walk with it. But they did. And they all left. After that day, there were no more feasts, and all the animals came as usual expecting to have another one. And they decided that the man was dead, and never came again. One day, a little mouse appeared and he was hungry and cold. And the old man appeared and fed him. And then told him a story. And the old man said that the friendly little mouse was welcome to stay in the castle, but should never tell anyone about it. And the mouse kept his word. And to this day they are enjoying themselves, and even the mouse tells stories to the old man... think the story is about the way we are not respectful of others and how we all too often overdo everything around us.,..... that's what happened to our city. We ruined the water. It ruined our crops. The crops then ruined us. And when we didn't have the ability to keep it all in order, we made room for the bad and worst part of us. And that part clothed itself in a dark cloak and came to take us away. And all that was left was to burn it all down and see if we could start it all over again. There was nothing else to do with it. It can't even tell its own story, because everyone looks at it as disaster and doesn't want to reprise what they did wrong. I don't want to fall prey to my errors because I was greedy. That's why I decided to leave and try to begin somewhere else, where I knew that I couldn't be corrupted by what I did. And I remembered a few of the good books of many men who tried to tell us what we should have done a long time ago. But nobody cares about them. I am not into the ways of the cities. I like the simplicity of the trees and life out here. And I never forgot the stories that I was told when I was a child, for I knew they were important and not just stories. That we are here proves that.'

The wonderful sun was starting to fade at my side. I missed it as much as I did my friend's stories. They really moved me. I went nearer to him and wanted to say something nice to him. He looked at me with his deep and full eyes and I knew that he understood what I meant. He was happy that I was a good listener and even paid attention to what he said. I think that he was already worrying about making himself comfortable for the night.

'We'll set off tomorrow into the forest and see what it has for us. Let's get some good rest. I don't think I will be riding you for awhile.'

 

With that he patted me where I loved it the most. Behind my ears and down my neck. He scratched me lightly and when he saw that I wanted more he picked up my brush and spent some time brushing me. It was great. My skin liked it so much that I didn't want him to stop. And he didn't. I was in heaven.

'There you go.'

I nodded and watched him lay himself down and cover himself.

 

I was up much earlier than Adolphus was. By the time he woke up, I was on my second course morning meal of whatever I could find, which wasn't enough it seemed. It sure tasted good. For some reason, I have come to notice that things just taste better near trees and rivers than they do anywhere else. And while I chose my words and worried about sweet nothing thoughts I saw that my friend finally groaned out loud and stretched much like one of those little furry animals .... I hadn't seen one of them for a long time and missed them, they made some nice sounds. And were usually friendly.

Adolphus put his clothes on and then came towards me. I went to meet him. It looked like we were ready for an adventure into a different place. I can never find a song to sing and cry with when I am not ready to let go of such nice food, that I have been enjoying these days. If you know any you can start.

I sneezed accidentally.

'What.? You don't sing.?...... ( Pause) I guess not.

We begun walking, and soon we entered the first line of trees, for it certainly seemed as if they had been put that way here. I even wondered if a man had started this thing. The order of these trees was not the same as usual. I looked at both directions several times to confirm my theory. Adolphus noticed what I did and immediately copied me.

'What are you looking at.?'

And he looked on. He took a few steps and looked some more.

'Let me study this some more.....I know you are smart, but if I can't figure it out, I must be stupid.'

He still couldn't see it. We kept walking further in and it was getting darker, for the sun couldn't pass thru the trees very well. I have a feeling that if we looked back we wouldn't find where we had been. Just as well. This way we had to keep going instead of thinking we were lost which is not a good thought.

'I think I got it. You noticed that these trees, at least those first ones, were lined up straight. And you probably thought that someone must have done that, not nature, and that it could be a signal of something or a road to somewhere..... I agree..... which is a good question. I'll think on that.'

I have to agree that I have never figured out how he did that. Nobody had ever done it with me, and no friend of mine had ever told me about that. But he could always figure out what I saw.

'I got it. They say that a line is the .... whatever .... between two points. Now I know that the points are not always important and that the line is but a connection which leads, or protects another place or point. And we never find it in that line, it is always to the side and away. Since we came from the other side of the line, the point must be in the direction we are moving, towards the middle of the forest. How do you like that.?'

This time I looked at him and decided to nod. His philosophy was beyond me, and all I could do was shake my ears, and try not to look stupid.

 'Not bad. '

Now I was confused. What did he say.? I couldn't understand when people changed their conversation so fast and left us behind. I mean, we are animals, one thought at a time is enough. He was lost in thought, and I gave up trying to find it. We were still walking slowly, and continued to go above branches and under limbs, and I cleverly stole a few leafs as we went on.

'The point. Somewhere ahead. We must keep on.'

And we went so much and so long that I couldn't make any sense of what was going on in his mind. In fact, I couldn't even find anything at all, though he must have come onto something, for he was making it look like he was following some tracks.

I decided that since I couldn't find anything, that I was going to invent one. So I am imagining tracks thru the forest and am going to step in every one of those marks until we reach somewhere.

I was getting tired and stopped thinking altogether. I left it all to him. He was better at it. He had dropped my reins a little further back and I just casually followed him. He made sure that the clearings were big enough for me. For some reason, this forest was quiet, and as I looked around, I couldn't find any birds or small animals which are so much a part of these places. It wasn't like one of those dark places where even the movement of a tree would scare you out of your wits. It had a serenity that lived forever and stood out through out all those trees. It actually reminded me of those flying things that people can't see, but we can. They don't scare us, and more often than not come over to share some of the food. I think that they don't want to scare people, but since people are not used to anything that doesn't move without their eyes seeing it, they become afraid. For us it's really simple. We can't turn to see both sides at the same time too well, so we have learned to see it with our ears, and other parts of the body. I can't remember the last time that something scared me from behind, though I certainly have jumped at things in front of me.

He was talking to himself, and I tried to get closer to him to find out what he was saying. I couldn't grasp it, and tried many times, but the excitement must be keeping him busy, for he is moving fast, and is definitely looking for something. At this rate he will tire himself out..... and of course, it wasn't too long before he stopped. He was beginning to have problems seeing in front of him, so he finally changed his mind to find a spot where we could rest. The sun must have fallen already, though I imagined that there still was some light available somewhere. He had found a clearing that was large enough and he cleaned it up a little and prepared to make a little fire. To be honest with you, I was glad to see him try to make a little fire, for I was beginning to feel a little chilly, and I can imagine how he felt.

I found some steps, and made some little noises. Adolphus looked at me and then continued his task. I decided to follow them, anyway, ... and when I couldn't find them anymore, I looked ahead, and noticed that up ahead of us, there was a little cabin with a light. And I kept thinking that we would find it, but it looks like we won't today.

I went back, easily, my marks were still solid on the ground, and see what was up. I think he had decided to stop and rest for the night. He was preparing some food.

'I am hungry, how about you.?,

He pulled out one of the large pouches on my back and tied it around my mouth for me to entertain myself. I sure enjoyed these breaks.

'I could see that little cabin just as clear as anything. When it looked like it was just over there, it moved a little further away. I couldn't figure that out. I thought a few times that I could even smell some food being prepared. Maybe I was just dreaming of what was going on, that is, what I hoped would happen. It's been quite a while since I have had the pleasure of indulging myself. It's easier for you, isn't it.?'

I didn't have any doubts that what he felt was true. He had been so honest with me for so long that somehow I knew he wasn't crazy and would see what he thought he saw. His words rang true, yes, that's the expression I once heard him say.

I was getting tired of the stuff that was tickling my nose and made a movement about that. Adolphus saw it, got up, and then removed it. He then patted my nose and mouth very nicely.

'I am going to wrap myself up and just watch the fire for a few moments and then I am going to sleep. You just get comfortable where ever you want.'

He left me and went to sit down. I went smelling around. And I kept an eye on him to see what was going to happen. He looked sad. It wasn't very often that he felt sad and made it clear, but he sure was polite about it when it happened. I imagine that he is lonely. I think he would like to have someone with him, though I don't think he wants a mate.... it would be too hard to carry mate and little ones along a trip like this. And I think that we only make these once in our lives, before it is too late to go out and see what it is that we can find out there. I was enjoying it all for now, but wouldn't mind having a mate also. I was actually stepping in places where I had never been and was enjoying it very much, and was looking forward to more, a lot more. He had what they call tears around his face, and I think that he didn't want me to see them. Isn't it funny, we don't have those like you do. We turn and live on, looking for our next meal. I have been told that the males do not do that, but that our mates do, more often than we do. He had never been like that since I had known him. And I wondered what he was thinking and decided to approach him. I got close to his face and nudged him to cheer him up and maybe get something for a response. He didn't lift his face, but patted me warmly.

'I was just thinking how lucky I am not to have a wife, or any children that could have died in that plague. I have gone all these years, too busy to devote time to those things. I even knew a priest once that said I would make a wonderful husband, but it would be a long time be fore that happened. I wonder if he knew this was coming. He was long gone before the whole thing started. But I do miss my parents, ...and friends .... where are they now.?... ............... ( Long pause ).....

I guess it doesn't matter.'

He made sure the fire was safe and then went to sleep. He felt better than he was feeling a few moments ago. I was getting tired and left his side to go find my own spot. It must have been very dark, for I could barely see where I was going.

When I woke up there was a little wind. I think it was telling us which way to go, and I always loved riding with the wind behind me. There were times when the wind almost helped me lose my feet, but I didn't care. It felt good that way. I didn't like running against the wind because it got things in my eyes and dirt in my face, and as you know I am not as good at cleaning my face as you people are. I walked slowly around and could see that it was really early, and that today we were going to find something. And I knew which way. There were a few birds flying, but they were quiet and made sure that they didn't get in our way. I think they were curious as to why we were here. I suppose that it wasn't very often that they had visitors here and probably were worried about their nests. Since we meant no harm, I sent out the message that they could continue on with whatever they were doing and they must have heard me. But I think their curiosity was getting the best of them. There was one bird, a little bigger than the others that was looking very closely at Adolphus, and he must have found some food, for he was slowly getting closer to his mark. He finally decided to walk around Adolphus. When Adolphus made a little move in his sleep, the bird didn't even move. It stood there and said, go ahead. The gall, I thought. But I knew he was only looking for some extra food, for his family, and I decided that he was not being unfriendly, but just curious. But, somehow, this bird wasn't thru with whatever he was doing. He walked to Adolphus' backside and found the remains of last night's meals. He got very close to it, smelled it, or at least got a good look at it, and then decided something or other. He then walked some more, and approached Adolphus' behind. I was really worried. What was going on, here.? But the bird ignored me and continued his search. When he was done making his complete round circle he ruffled his feathers and then looked at Adolphus one more time. He moved closer to him, and then looked at his face. And he stood there looking for the longest moment I can remember. Finally the bird was tired of it all, or bored, and decided to leave. And he flexed his wings and went off...... if ever I had seen a sign that there was more to birds than we, or you, know, this was it. I couldn't believe it. And I moved towards Adolphus with the intent of telling him, somehow, what had happened. No sooner had I got close to him, he opened his eyes, opened up a little and stretched, and I almost stepped on him. I didn't move for fear of scaring him, and when he stretched a second time he hit me on my paw.

'Oh, sorry. How are you doing, my friend.?..... It's nice to wake up to a great dream, with your best friend right there ..... right here .... I can even tell you about it. All I can remember is that there was this bird, and he was seeing if I was the person chosen for the thing he had in mind. And he opened up all of me, I sort of opened up like this, and all kinds of colors came out and it had these funny lines that came out. The bird went in there with his beak and begun to pull each one of those colors to take a good look at them. When he was done looking at those colors, he went to look at the place where all of them connected, one here above my head, and the other around my legs. He said that he was pleased, when he was done, and then said that I would see him again. And then he left. Next thing I know, you are right here, and, ... and,... it must be morning...... I can just tell, it's going to be a fine day.'

I don't know what he based his idea on, but we'll see. I certainly felt that way about today. He layed there a little longer, and then finally got up. People are so slow getting up sometimes. I onve heard somebody say that things like that are not dreams, that they are signals that we have to follow.

And that the one who follows the most signals is the most blessed person of them all. Well,..l guess will find out sooner or later what all this is about.'

Though we had found a reasonably clear space to sit for the night, we knew that the rest of the way wasn't going to be too easy. But what the heck. It took a little while, but we finally got all things ready, and when I was packed with all there was, we started out. Since I remembered the way better than he did, I took the first step. I think he was glad, because he just stood there looking at me, wondering how I could remember which way to go, for I think that he had forgotten. It's a good thing that we don't forget things too easily, or we could have been lost. But it was nice that he trusted me as much as I trusted him. He was smarter in his way, but I was a bit more clever on how to use it. There...... I have been trying to prove to him and everyone else that we are not as stupid as we look.

We were moving at a pretty good pace, for being in such a place, where roads and directions were not clear. And on we went. The sun went up and then down. And we were still going. It was becoming clear that it was getting to be nightfall again. And so far we were disappointed that nothing had happened to us worth discussing. We had paused for a brief meal and didn't stay at all. But our food was getting low, and I have to admit that I was getting tired of the same flavor all the time, not to mention that it was also drying up too much, and was getting old. I was getting edgy. And so was he. I think that's the reason why he continued to move as far as he could. And then, when it was almost too dark for us to move on, he saw that lamp up ahead. You know, it was exactly the same size as yesterday, when I saw it. And in the same kind of place. Great. It's about time we find something. He looked at me, and we must have agreed to move towards it. We were tired, yes, we were, but it didn't matter, for we finally had found something worth checking out. And we moved faster towards it. And I fell and got tangled up in some plants with long arms. And as I was accustomed to, I panicked, and everything fell off my back. I didn't feel too hurt, and I got up slowly, because that's what Adolphus taught me a long time ago, in case there was some real bad hurt. I thought that I was just a bit scratched, and was ready to move on. Adolphus took his time, and checked thoroughly all my legs and joints to make sure that it was all ok. When he was happy, and I felt better from the jolt, he told me to stay still until he had found most of our things. He must have found all of them, for I didn't feel the weight was any lighter this time. When he was done, he came up to me and said to walk slowly, and to step high to avoid getting tangled up again. Good idea. We should have thought of that before ........ we could still see the light, except that this time it was bigger, and definitely closer to where we were. If I hurt, or had any wounds, I certainly couldn't feel them too much. I guess that I just wanted to get out of this mess of trees and tall plants as fast as I could. I could see his way. I think that he was ready to stop, but wanted to see if he could stop at that place first. Our thinking must have carried us for many moments, it seemed like days, and before we knew it we were at the edge of a large break in the forest. There was a little cabin and it had a light on. There must be a fire inside it, because the smoke was heavy and even bothered my eyes. It was late. And I noticed the night sun above us. It was pretty, but we couldn't see it all tonight. I couldn't believe that we had actually gone thru that thing in actual darkness. Funny it all appeared, and I will have to study that some more. But we were here. And it was true, when he said he had seen a light in the middle of the forest, just as I had.

'What do you think.?....... I wonder if we will scare someone..... no, I don't think so... I'm sure they are expecting us..... well, let's go, slowly.'

And we approached the cabin. It was as tall as two of me, and as big as three of me. I sure hoped I didn't have to stay inside there and scare everybody when I slept.

'I don't see anybody....... Anybody there.?......... let's take a look through the window....................... nobody here................ hey, there is a table set for two........ with one chair only................. well, time to knock............. And he knocked a couple of times softly. Nobody answered. He knocked harder. Nobody answered. And then he tried the door. Before he got his hand on it, it opened up. He walked in slowly. He called again to see if someone was there. And got no answer. The place wasn't that big, and I am sure that he had already seen all the corners. I looked around in the meantime to see if I could spot anything. There was nothing at all. And he came out.

'You won't believe this. There is only one table, set with food for a man and a horse and a corner full of straw. Guess where you are going to sleep. There's even a little fireplace ..... and it's warm. Let's see if we can fit you thru the door.'

There are certain things in life that just don't make any sense. That door was made for me, not for men. I mean, I didn't even have to lower my neck to get in and get a good look first. I went in and fit myself in the corner by the hay and awaited more instructions. He came in and closed the door. I will tell you, if there ever was warmth that felt good, this was it and no other would ever come close to it. Adolphus took all the things off my back and then sat next to me and looked at the table. I think we agreed. It was for us. He went to that side and I stayed here and we ate. Everything that you could think off was on that table. There were those water animals, there were things that looked like a big bird..no,, they were chickens I think, and there was fruit. And drink. Not just water for a change. It wasn't even sweet, and it tasted good. Adolphus made sure I tried it from his hand. Wait until I tell my friends that I drank other things than water as it is called. They won't believe me, and think that I am telling stories again. Some of us, are really lucky. And we ate so much that we were tired of food. Adolphus finally noticed in the middle of his meal that something wasn't right. He finally remembered that I had fallen and came over to me and pushed me to the side by the hay and forced me to lay down. I don't know why, but I really didn't like to lay down like he wanted, but I knew he wanted to see my legs. There was no problem I thought, but he wasn't acting that way. He brought over some of the liquid on the table and begun putting some on my wound. I finally saw it. I had a large gash in my hind leg. It didn't hurt. But it wasn't a pretty sight. He washed it very carefully and then tore apart one of his cloths and wrapped it up very hard. He covered most of my leg. And then he told me to stay down and off of it. I did. I leaned my head against the wall and finally gave in. My leg actually hurt now, but I didn't want to admit it. I decided to rest it. Adolphus came to my head and patted me still. He then got up and cleaned up the mess we made and organized the place with all our things and us. He looked at me, and I knew that he was thinking of the story he had told me. I wondered what he was going to do, but he lowered his head, and added some more wood to the fire and then went to lay down. I must have fallen asleep, because I couldn't remember anything else that night.

When we woke up, it was so bright outside that I was even worried. Maybe it was that we hadn't seen the sun for a few days and were really looking forward to actually find it and enjoy it.

'Lazy bones, get up. Slowly.'

And I did. And it hurt. I couldn't even put my leg down or bend it too much.

'It wasn't a pretty sight. I reckon we'll have to stay here for awhile and rest your leg.' It's not your mode, but you got to stay off that leg "or a day or two.';

Aside from the unpleasantries of a long journey, everything had been ok so far. Last night was one of those where sleep wasn't sleep. When we both got up, it is as if we had slept for so long that we couldn't even remember what had passed before. The kind of sleep where you never wake up and while you are doing it, you wonder where you are, and what you are doing. The same was really happening to us now, so I didn't pay too much attention to it all. I hurt, but during the night I didn't.......... And it was going to look like a boring day, with no adventures in the works. I wanted to go outside.

'You want to go outside, don't you.?. It's all I can remember before I could do anything. If I didn't disappear, everything sure did. I must have passed out, or Adolphus gave me something to drink to put me to sleep. He had done that once before. I can't tell you how many suns were passed. But when I woke up, I found that my leg didn't hurt so much, and that Adolphus wasn't with me. He must have gone out to get food, or just to look around. It wasn't fair. I liked looking around as much as he did, probably more. I decided to make an effort at getting up, and it wasn't hard. The leg hurt a little, but I could walk slowly, if I didn't push it too hard. Getting up was the hardest part, because I had to push with both legs, because one isn't enough to lift me. I tried a couple of times and then figured out that instead of getting up the same way as usual, I should try turning over and get up sideways with less weight on the hurt leg. I finally succeeded. I walked a little. Not too bad. That Adolphus sure knew how to fix the hurts I had. In fact, he must have been pretty good at it, because he fixed his head pretty fast also a few suns ago. He never talked about it..... I walked over to the window and it was lovely outside. I could see no one. So I went back to the corner to eat a little of the food that my friend had given me. This time it tasted better, probably because I hadn't had very much for awhile. There was some water in one of those gray things and I drank it. It tasted like the earth I knew so well, instead of just plain water. I heard a bird call outside and went back to the window to look. That same bird was looking at me, that had looked at Adolphus the other day. And I mean, it was looking at me. I wondered what he saw and what it was thinking. You know, this bird was different. It was not like other birds. It wasn't interested in what the other birds did. It must be doing something else. His look tired me and I decided to go back and get some more rest. I got to my corner, lowered my front and let my back fall. And I disappeared again.

When I woke up, Adolphus was sitting by the fire. I didn't move much. He was thinking, and I couldn't find him. So I made a little noise and he finally noticed me. He came over and checked my leg. He took the wrapping off and moved my paw a little. He was happy with the progress. It didn't hurt too much this time. He told me that I would be good enough to walk tomorrow if the ground wasn't too bad. That was good news. I was beginning to feel fat and lazy, and was tired of standing still. And I wanted to go outside.

'We'll leave tomorrow. You know how many days we have been here.? .... Four. I found a weed that would keep you asleep for awhile and gave it to you, so you wouldn't move much for a few days. In the meantime, I went to look around this place and found a well behind the house, and also found a road that leads somewhere, which we'll find out soon enough. The water must come from very deep in the ground for it takes quite a bit of time to get it, but it is good water. Other than that, I have slept and rested, as much as you have. And met a little friend, as I was walking around. It's a bird. And he tells me which direction to go by going that way first, and then watches me until I am done. He's really nice.'

I was glad to find out that this was going to be our last time here. I wanted so badly to get out and move my legs. And the bird, I was also familiar with it. Adolphus covered me and then covered himself and went to sleep. I fell asleep just after he did.

I heard some birds outside. Great, it was time to move. I got up slowly, and to my surprise found out that I was capable of pushing off my hind leg a little enough not to have to go through the hard getting up procedure I did the other day. Adolphus heard my commotion and also got up. He opened the door first to let some air in. It smelled good and I made a straight line for the door. He didn't even stop me. He knew that I wanted to get out there and look around. He stayed behind and cleaned the place and arranged it. I went around the house and saw the well. Once again, I noticed that the trees next to the road were lined perfectly. I continued around the place and came back to the front. When I got to the door, Adolphus had cleaned up everything and re-arranged the table as if there were going to be company for dinner. And he made sure that a little fire was going, as we had found it. He then, came out with all our things, and tied a few of them to his back, and a few of them to mine. He put the reins on my face, since it would be easier to pull me along with it, and guide me where I should step. Great, I could try doing what he did while I was walking. Dreaming, he called it. And we sat out along the path that we had found and wanted us to go along it. We had gone but a few steps, when he turned around and looked back at the little cabin. He must have said thank you. I said the same thing, though it wasn't our habit to do such things. I always knew that things were just there to be had, and never worried about anything else. But people were different than we are. But I must have been learning from Adolphus what this was all about. I was even surprised at the number of things that I had learned to do just like he did.

The old cabin was gone and we were in the midst of thickness again, but at least a path was visible and could be walked on very easily. It had been a pretty quiet morning. We didn't think, and I can't even say that I was dreaming like I wanted to. I felt empty. Like a long time ago, when I wasn't.

'These times remind me of many conversations that I had with a priest, that was a friend of mine. We grew up together. He said that men were most vulnerable when they were too quiet, because we didn't know what to do with silence. He said that most scriptures were written with the hope of helping men cope with that quiet. I remember him saying that if one stays with that silence long enough, he learns that the silence is not silent at all, but actually speaks, but we are not used to thinking about that. I wasn't sure about what all this talk meant until these past two days. The quietness and solitude has helped me learn to talk to you. It has also taught me to talk to myself. And I found out the other night about a lot more than I ever thought was possible. I sat down by the fire while you slept. I thought you were dead for awhile, but then decided that it had been the potion that I gave you that had gone to work very fast. I found out about it a long time ago, but had never used it, or tried it. There is a root, that you can squeeze and take the juices out of. Then you mix the juices with a little water and salt. And you make sure that whoever takes it drinks quite a bit of it. I was too scared to tell you. And I hoped that it didn't hurt you, either, because horses are not exactly people. But I took my chances. Supposedly, it is good for healing wounds, and I washed your leg with it well before I gave it to you the second night ...... anyway....i have always wondered what all the scriptures really mean to us all, and found out that they don't really mean the usual talk that we hear. It's just that so many of our ancestors were so worried about our peace of mind, that they got a bit carried away, and tried too hard to get across what they meant and saw. And when people don't understand, they panic .... and I figured then that it would be better that I try to put you to sleep for a few days, and hope that you wouldn't hurt yourself worse, which is the case with most of you. I know you well, and was sure that you would try to get up and run if you had the chance. I became your doctor. And you leg is quite a bit better, today, enough to walk for a while, but we have to stop before it gets swollen.'

I actually felt pretty good, all things considered, and wouldn't actually try continuing on, and even hoped that our journey would slow down a little. I wondered how far we had gone.

The sun had gone past our heads and was on the far side of us, and looked like it was about to go down. We were walking very comfortably, and I saw that Adolphus was looking around, and I knew that he was looking for a corner for us to rest for the night. But I didn't want to stop now. And the dark came soon.

We hadn't found a good spot yet, and were still walking, when Adolphus stopped me suddenly.

'Look.'

There was in the immediate distance an old castle. It must have been there forever, for the trees and leaves went right up to it. It was made of rocks, that were fit tightly together. We moved closer to it and wondered if it was where we would spend the night. We got up to it, and lucky for us the night sun was shining on the side that we were, and we could see where we stood.

'Let's see if we can find an entrance and inquire within.'

We walked a little along the wall. Right above us, and very high up, there was a window. We continued to walk along the side of the castle and finally came across the end of this side and turned to follow it. It was darker in this side, but we saw a doorway just ahead. We walked up to it. It was a very large one. Adolphus knocked on it. And the door slowly opened up. And we entered it. And as soon as we did, the door shut. It was so dark here that I couldn't find Adolphus, but he had enough sense and stepped back to get my reins. We turned to our right, and walked very slowly to see where it took us. We had gone a few steps and finally found something. It was a little gleam of light. We went to it. This dark place was a very long hallway, and it was dirty and dusty, and plants had grown from the ground and walls. As we approached the area that was lit, we saw that we had to turn to our left. This hallway must go around the castle I thought and it was long. As soon as we turned to our left we saw a stick with flames and Adolphus went to get it. And we walked on. There were a few of those small little animals crawling around, but I had learned to trust my master, and if he wasn't afraid of them, I wasn't going to be, either. We could see where we were going at least. For the longest time we walked, and I am sure that we felt a little worried about this whole thing. We heard something. It was the wail of a maid in the distance. Adolphus looked at me very curiously and wasn't sure of what to say. We continued on, and the sound went away. I was really wondering what Adolphus was thinking, but for some reason, for the past few days, I hadn't been able to reach him very well. Maybe I do better if I am outside, where I feel at home. We stopped. On the ground there were a few bones. I think it was a man, and it must have been there for a long time, and I mean, many night suns. Adolphus was curious and got a little closer to it. I wasn't interested and pulled back a little.

'It's ok. Don't worry. Must have been a warrior from a long time ago. The mice must have enjoyed the meal...... He must have been killed by a sword....... see this break here.... it goes through him to the wall. Well, let's see what else is in store for US...... What the .... ?

As soon as we turned ahead we saw a little light in the distance, and unlike most lights this one was very different. It glowed and moved. We looked at each other. He made a face at me and we kept walking. Some voice told me not to worry. It wasn't Adolphus. He looked at me again. He must have heard it too. We kept walking and were now really wondering what was actually going on. We were thinking as one again.

The little light was almost the same color as the grasses I like, and had a little spot in the middle that also flickered when it wanted to. It came closer to us and had a little sound. It was similar to those little flying things that sit on me all the time. I think they call it buzzing or something. It wasn't loud, but was certainly interesting. The spot was dancing a little, or at least it was moving a little strange. I was so surprised with it that I couldn't even think, but it sure had us both curious. The spot flew away like one of those night birds. And we followed it. It came to another turn in these hallways and waited for us. When we got there we saw that there was a very long set of steps, no, stairs they call it, for us to climb. They weren't too small, and I thought it would be ok. We stopped and Adolphus looked at me. And we started up the first step and I froze. I wondered if my back leg was going to hurt when I stepped differently. Adolphus pushed me and assured that it would be ok. I put my leg down on the first step and slowly tried it..... not too bad..... I wanted to go slow.....

'C'mon, you'll be alright. I'll go slow with you.'

And we made it up those stairs. My leg felt ok, and I begun to feel more assured that it was alright to move it, even if the steps had a movement that I wasn't used to. When we got to the top, the little light turned down another hallway and we followed. We could see a bright opening just ahead. When we got to that corner and turned to the right we couldn't believe it. It was a real castle. It had things hanging from the wall, a gigantic fireplace, and many other things, like weapons hanging in the wall, and a lot of firesticks in place, all lit. There was to the side, a large seat for a man. And a very large thing, where I once saw that people use in those beautiful buildings that Adolphus likes to talk about. You could sit many people around it, and they could have quite a feast. And would you believe it. There was food in it. The little light kept our attention by showing us everything. And when it got to the table it stopped and touched all the things that hid the food. And then it flew away.

'I trust that means we are supposed to eat here.'

Great I thought. He had food and I had nothing.

'Well, let's see what we can give you for dinner. How about a few vegetables, and... oh my,...'

I had a hard time understanding people when they had strange moods and I wasn't sure what Adolphus was doing. But he looked like he was having fun at my expense. I don't get it.

'Don't you ever laugh.? .... Just having fun...'

And he gave me the food, by sitting it down on the ground in a corner, the one closest to the me. Well, thanks anyway. And I ate quietly and forgot Adolphus for a long moment when I heard some other sounds. I looked up, and saw that the little light had returned and was bigger than before. lt was bright but it wasn't the kind of brightness that hurt your eyes. You could look at it for a long moment before it would hurt your eyes. And Adolphus was starting to have fun with it. He sat back in his large chair and watched attentively. He was ready to speak at any time. And the light just stood by, looking like it was about to eat some of the food also.

And it did. I swear that there was another human over there accross the way from Adolphus. It was eating. I have to admit that all this was getting to me and that the uncertainty of all these things was getting me nervous. I couldn't even enjoy my meal. I just watched Adolphus and his friend for a long moment to see if anything happened. The light was definitely eating and enjoying the food. But, it didn't make sense. How could it eat so much and it didn't show. I mean, he ate more than his size ... and he looked like he hadn't eaten for many suns. Adolphus finally noticed that. And he was now eating very slowly and keeping track of what he saw. He was amused. And was about to laugh. Mysteriously the glass in front of him filled up with a liquid the color of blood. Adolphus picked up the glass, looked at it, smelled it, and put his finger on it, and then tasted his finger. He made a funny face and then put the glass to his lips.

'Go ahead, drink.' Said a voice, and now I was so lumpy that I moved around and was scared. But something told me to quiet down and just eat. Wait a minute. That thing talked our language, and now I was really scared and couldn't even think, but I couldn't keep my eyes off it.

'Drink it, it will do you well,...... go ahead..... what is there to doubt ... ? if I wanted to poison and kill you, I would have had my legion of rats take care of you during your travels.'

'How do you know I was travelling?'

'Easy to see. Bags, and bags, a little nutrition and a good horse.'

'Just getting away from the plague.'

'Ahh, yes, the men's disease finally gets him.'

'Why.?'

'Because he forgot to care. Mind you, I didn't start it all. He did it all by himself. I just watched...... there isn't much one can do when someone decides to do something, even when you advise him otherwise.'

'Who are you,....?'

'To you just a little ball of light. Soon, you'll see.'

'See what ... ?'

'It will just take a little longer for your imagination to grow clearer, and then you'll see me. I can be just like you are.'

And I swear to you that it was true. No sooner had he said that I begun to see another Adolphus. Just like one of those things that humans can't see, but I am sure that this time he could.

'Are you a magician? '

'No. Sometimes I wish I were. I might be able to accomplish a little more than I can.'

'Why are you looking like me.?'

'Forthe fun of it. But I'll change and you'll be able to see me in the formthat I am most often seen around these parts.'

'And that is.?'

'An old fart.'

And sure enough, this form became an old man, with very strong features and beard. He had a nice face, and looked like he would play a game on us at any time. I moved a little closer to Adolphus and was ready to tell him that I was going crazy.

'An old fart. I enjoy the names that people have given me. They change all the time, for no one can agree on what they find in me. And that's good, I don't want to be found out and copied, or destroyed ... Do you want to hear a story.?'

'Sure.'

I met a man a long time ago who wanted a little more than what life has to offer. He was lonely, and with weak parents. He thought he was going to marry and have a few children and live well when he got older. But he didn't expect to have such a good time, actually a hard time..... pass the cheese, will you,.? .... finding a good lady to have. He became saddened and disappointed and prepared for a great journey. A pilgrimage, they call it once in awhile. He didn't know what he would find in that pilgrimage, but he knew that something was out there, somewhere, waiting for him, and that someday he would find it...... probably at the end of his journey. And one day, something terrible happened, and he had enough sense to leave where he was before it could swallow him up. And he was lucky, to have come across lands soon enough to avoid being overtaken by the old rats. And as he continued in his journey, he often remembered a lot of things about his past, until one day, he finds a castle, where an old man lives.'

'That's my story.'

'Sure it is. Why should I tell you a story that has no meaning and doesn't apply to you.?'

'I don't know.'

'Good. We are not meant to know those things. It's better that way.'

'So........ Ok..... what am I doing here.?'

'You are getting complicated now.'

'Why.?'

'Because what I could tell you, might not help you.'

'And why shouldn't it.?'

'Because men don't like stories that become all too true. Prophecies, you know..?.'

'Right.'

'Men are afraid to find out that somebody else might just know a little more than they themselves know.'

'Why.?'

'It makes them feel stupid.'

'I don't feel stupid.'

'Well, true. But you were prepared for the stupidity...... (laughs out loud) actually, you were prepared to avoid the stupidity. Yeah, that's more like it. I like that.'

'I don't understand what you are getting at.'

' You will in due time.'

'This is getting to be a little too much to take.'

'If those who created and helped you said that we were all to be animals instead of gifted beings, they wouldn't appreciate it all, then.'

'What am I supposed to say.?'

'Thank you.'

'Why.?'

'We will leave that open for now. You will say thank you many times over, before too long.'

'Why do you talk of the future like that.?'

'Easy. Because you can't see it.'

'And you are going to tell me that you can.'

'If I told you, you wouldn't believe it anyway. And besides, chances are that you would mess it up by trying too hard..... You see, people haven't learned the gift of patience, or waiting for the right time to do the right thing.'

'What difference does it make, if it is meant to happen.?'

'It does make a difference. A flower doesn't bloom before its time. If you broke in on your situation before it is time, you would ruin it by accident. The animals are smarter, than men sometimes, that is, they prepare for their hunt and take their shots when the time is right. Us, humans, take our shots immediately, without judging whether it is the right time or not. In your case, it would make a difference., because you would be expecting something, and your concentration would be on that desired thing, and you would miss the opportunities because you wouldn't know when they came up............. on the other hand, chances are that you could also miss the opportunities, even if you didn't know. But the chances are improved if you don't know the how and have to work to get there, or have to wait.'

'I am curious as to what all this has to do with me.'

'You'll see, you shall see, ... and you'll know when the time comes.'

'That's reassuring.'

'Yes, it is, isn't it?'

'What next.?'

'Rest, my friend, and take care of all the wounds. And listen. In the meantime, get ready to go to sleep, for I must save all these sticks for another visitor. I'll have them all off in a few moments. I left you a few blankets in that corner, close to the fireplace. Dream well., and sleep better, and we'll have breakfast in the morning.?'

It was very early and I could hear birds around the area. When I opened my eyes there was food in the table ready to be eaten. I got up. Hey, my leg didn't hurt at all, and I even tried it to find out if it really didn't. It was alright, and I hoped that Adolphus would let me go outside. After all for the past few suns I had not enjoyed the pleasure of feeling free and enjoying the grounds. Adolphus was still asleep and I walked back the way we came in, and eventually found the way out to the great pasture of the world. I felt myself again. I went about my business and thought that I would miss any excitement upstairs. It was so quiet around here that I probably would hear it anyway, and I went to the area near that room. I hoped that the big window we had seen was a part of that room. Sure enough, when I got there, Adolphus had opened it up and was enjoying the sun. He saw me and waved to signal his acceptance. As soon as he did that he turned around and went back inside. I followed him back to the other room where we were yesterday. The old man was there waiting for us.

'Well, did you have a good sleep, my friend.?'

'Yes, it was very nice. The fireplace kept things very comfortable.'

'Good. Shall we continue last night's talk.?'

'Sure. '

'I thought about some of the things I said last night, and am ready to answer questions if you have any.'

'Not really. They made me think, though.......... I have always been too simple to worry about larger things. I try to take care of the things around me, and let the rest work itself out. I water the plant, and leave the growing to itself, as you would say.'

'Not bad. I was looking for other questions.'

'Well, I do have a few. The snake, the bird, and the directions that we have found. But I didn't think that they were too important..... and there is one more, a voice that cried, which I couldn't explain.'

'We're getting warmer here. Those questions I can answer. Which one do you want first.?'

'The voice crying, I suppose.'

'That one I can't answer for you. That one you will know soon enough. I don't hear that one.'

'I suppose there is someone that needs help somewhere...... or maybe it is my fading memory of where I came from. I don't miss it, but I suppose that someone could.'

'Perhaps.'

'How about the bird.?

'Easy. A friend of mine. We live in the same place, you might say. He is not what you call a bird, but is really a spirit of sorts. He's a good guy, but nosy sometimes, but he does his job well.'

'His job.?'

'Sure, we all have work to do, don' t we.?'

'Yes, but what is his job.?'

'To prune feathers. ( laughs)...... actually to prune things from people that sometimes stop them,....like angers, dislikes, you know, the trivial oddities that we think makes our way.'

'How does he do that.?'

'It varies. He likes to do it when people are asleep. I don't work that way. He sits and waits for the right moment and then comes up to you and does it.'

'Sounds like a dream I had a few days ago.'

'Mind you, that was no dream. It was real.'

'You're not helping me decide what is real or not.'

'What's the difference, anyway.? How the hell do you expect to learn if you make that distinction.?'

'I never thought about it.'

'Have you ever had childhood dreams, the kind that you grow up to wish to do.?'

'A few, but I never thought they were important. Playing in a sandbox, type of stories.'

'Ahhhh, but you are wrong. Never take yourself for granted. That's one of the main rules of the game.'

'What is so important about playing in the sand.?'

'Easy. It's not the playing in the sand, that matters. It is the way you did it, and created a world with it. Somehow things always manage to make themselves done, just like they did in the sandbox, didn't they..?'

'Yes, I can't remember exactly, but it seems to have happened that way.'

'Didn't that teach you anything.?'

'I learned to do things better, and sometimes I felt like I had already done it before.'

'Hey, we're getting somewhere here. Not bad. What else.?'

'I don't know. They were too vague for me to look at.'

'You want to hear the rest.?'

'Sure.'

'It's simple. We all have the capacity to see many things. But they don't always present themselves in the order that we wish, or expect, which is to say, what we arrange things to be, ... that's why man often fails and destroys himself instead. The question is how does one find a way to resolve what they see is either true or false. Since we can't answer that one conclusively, we go about our ways by convincing ourselves that this or that is right and that everything else, is wrong. Actually nothing could be further from the truth itself. Because you convinced yourself that something was right is hardly proof that it is true, ... or that it ever will. But we still live that way, and condemn those who don't think or live in the same way we do. The main reason why we can't figure out what is right or true is because we don't look at it correctly, in fact, we can't even agree what it is we are looking at. But suppose that one has dreams and has a feeling all the time that he has been there before, like you did in your sandbox, then he is probably a better judge of what is right or wrong, because he has seen it one way, and had a chance to double check it and verify it the second time around. And then comes the rest. What happens then, is whatever the individual will do for his own benefit. He has to develop that, or he will always feel to be an empty man, living the simple life of an animal, with his animal needs...... co-existence, I call it. But if one hasn't given in to his immediate needs, and instead decides to find out what it is all about, then he surely will be rewarded someday, somehow. And he will know himself better than most. And it has come to pass that you came here, after all these days, ready for the rest. In reality, I can't give you the rest, but I can help you place the past in perspective, which is the next step into the future.'

'Future.?'

'Sure, why not.?'

'I haven't really thought about future. I have been too busy worrying about today, to consider tomorrow....... there is too much in my head, and I have been so busy with it that I never gave time to anyone else.'

'That will change, after your pilgrimage...... one can't help it. After one of them, all people turn their attention to others. It's natural.'

'You make it look like I'll lead a city, or teach something or other.'

'That's putting it mildly.'

'What about the crying I hear.?'

'I don't think I recall hearing anything. We should ask your horse. You'll just have to trust me like I have trusted you. It won't be long.'

'You make it sound like there's a maid in despair somewhere waiting for her knight to appear.'

'You could say that......well, I've said enough for one day. I haven't had an exercise like this for so long, that I lost count of years. But do me a favor, do show up once in awhile to say hi .... goodbye .... Goodbye.....'

Something really strange happened. I heard the sound of 'goodbye' and immediately it was followed by the sound of a bird, and then the next thing I know I am standing next to Adolphus. Of all the things in the world, I could not figure this one out. I feel full, and now I am wondering if I actually left this room. Adolphus was really flying now. I mean he was so busy thinking that he was walking very fast in circles, and stopping every chance he had at that window. He finally stopped and looked at me.

'What do you think of all this.?'

I wanted to tell him that it gave me the creeps, but didn't have the courage to say that, for I wasn't really sure that all this had to do with creepy things. He walked by me and remembered my leg. He looked at it and I showed off that I could move it well.

'We're going to stay today, and we'll leave in the morning first thing. ..... it's been an interesting day, if only I could put it into words, but I am not one for speeches or talk. I listen, instead.'

And that day disappeared so fast.

I was up early, and tried to be quiet so as to make sure that my friend would rest. Unlike us, humans had a lot more problems than we did, and I felt that his head was so heavy that he had to sleep a lot just to make it lighter, so we would be able to leave. Actually I am not sure that I wanted to leave this place, for I had enjoyed it so far, des[ite the creeps. It had not been any trouble and it had been entertaining if you consider a little thing of light running around, a lot of fun. That wasn't my idea of fun, but it was cute.

Adolphus finally woke up. And as soon as he lifted himself up, I couldn't even begin to see him. He was really bright, and I hoped that it was the window behind him, or I would lose a good friend. He walked around very slowly pondering his next move. He found a large thing with water and must have decided that it was there to wash. Funny, I hadn't noticed that thing there before, maybe it was too dark for me to see it. When he was done, he begun packing up all the things we had left, and it looked like there were even more things this time. By the time he was done putting it all on my back, I felt like I was carrying two people. We organized the place in the same way we had found it and then turned our backs to it. No sooner had we done that, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, that old man. He winked at me and was gyrating like there was no tomorrow.

We went back down the hallway and turned for the door. We finally had gotten out of this place and stepped onto my favorite ground, where I could enjoy the smell of the flowers and plants and eat a little every now and then. As we left, I felt a little sense of sadness, as you humans say. The past two places we had stayed had been very nice.

It was a beautiful morning, and there was a little light rain, not the usual kind of rain, but the kind that is found only in the mornings. And it smelled wonderful. Adolphus was his usual quiet self, in fact, I think he was quieter today than at any other time we had been together. For the first time, I think that he wondered what he was going to do, and how long he would be here, or where this would take him. Off course, to me it didn't matter, but to people, I just don't know why that is so important. Maybe that's what makes them feel like people and not another person of our group of animals. I was sure that I wasn't going to hear from him for awhile. I didn't like that too much, for I had learned from him about thinking, and feeling, and even what you call words for me to describe all this. He taught me to talk. And if he didn't talk, I couldn't learn, and felt like a little one looking for milk. But it wasn't the same type of quietness. It was different from all the other times. Sometimes he thought, other times he wondered, but this time, if I could tell you, I would.

It wasn't too long before I figured that we were lost. And we travelled so far, that I thought we would die here in the middle of all this. I lost count of the suns that we saw. it had been a most boring few days since we left the castle, and I was getting tired of all this. Adolphus was still quiet. I finally figured that he must have been listening for a sound or two. There were animals around us, but they were too small and they were always afraid of us, and didn't want to talk. And I felt lonely.

And we heard that sound again. Crying. This time we could tell that it was one of the mate types, and that she couldn't be too far away from here. We followed that sound as best as we could. But nothing happened. We heard it one more time before the night sun approach the top of the trees and we bunched up for some sleep. We couldn't see anything anyway, and I was ready for a rest again. We heard that sound again, and as soon as Adolphus looked at me the sound disappeared, ...and we stopped right there and decided to make camp for the night. As soon as we had a small fire we went to sleep. For the life of me, I couldn't understand a lot of things that were going on. I had finally fallen to the disease that I see most in the faces of humans. I think it is called curiosity. I discovered that I had learned to think, and that I had learned to compare what had happened before with what happens now, and I have to admit that it was getting very unsettling to say the least. I never knew what to expect anymore, including my meals, for it seems that I was now left to my own devices, for it was clear that Adolphus was too busy with himself to remember that I had come along this journey as well. But it's ok. I know that it is only for a while that he is like this, and that he would come back to his senses again. Maybe I should get his attention by falling down,....no, that's really stupid. I was getting tired of thinking, and was beginning to wish I had never started on this, and had remained my usual pastoral self. Life would have been easier.

This night was terrible. We had gone so far, and when we stopped we didn't even enjoy any sights. And I wanted to know why. And I got mad. And decided that I didn't want to sleep, and went for a walk to look for fresh and different food. I couldn't do much, but I could see enough to find the trees and walk around in a circle and still see Adolphus, so I wouldn't get lost, and he wouldn't get worried. And I walked until I didn't want to anymore.

When I decided to return to my master, I had a problem. I couldn't find him. Great. That's all I needed. Now I was in trouble. I made an effort to keep myself in areas that were reasonably open so that the night sun would give me some direction. When I heard a little noise at my side, I turned to see what it was, but lo and behold there was nothing to be seen except that when I turned around I hit my head against something very hard. When I stepped back to look it was a small building made out of that hard material like castles.

But this was a small place, and I thought that I would look around some more. It was closed. And it must have been a house at one time or other. This was very odd. And I heard that one wail cry again, and she was definitely around somewhere close to here. I wondered how I was going to find Adolphus and tell him what I had found. Since it was dark and I had lost sight of him, I decided that I would pace around the rest of the night and then see what I could do in the morning. As I walked around, a smell took me by surprise. There was plenty food for me to enjoy, somewhere around here. And I followed my nose to my banquet of delights. It sat but three steps away from me and I wasted no time. If I ever ate a meal tasted so good to me, just like that day by the river, this was another one of those days. I could even choose which one I wanted.

I heard that sound again. There must be someone inside there. Since I was not a man, I decided to stay here until morning and hope that Adolphus comes around to get me. The only thing that bothered me was the stuff on my back. It just wasn't comfortable to eat stuff near my feet when there were bags and packs in my back. So what .... and I ate and forgot the rest.

Morning came and I soon heard Adolphus, his voice calling me. I decided to give him my own call, and create a little noise. I had barely started when he appeared. I ventured to say that he had been worried, thinking that he wouldn't find me and that he had upset me. Well, not really, but I was disappointed that we hadn't talked for awhile. I turned towards the place I had found and he came closer to it. We heard the cry again, and this time I knew we had come upon something. He looked at me and started to look around the place for an entrance and finally found one. It had been carefully closed. He got many big sticks and started beating against the entrance until it finally gave way. And he opened it after it did. And when he did, he looked at me in utter disbelief. Inside was one of the mate types for men. She had long hair and was very skinny, and needed food. He came to me. opened up some of the bags and pulled out some food and water and took it to her. He brought her out and sat her down, and then fed her some more. He fed her slowly. She was too afraid to say something, and she was shy. I thought, how great it was that we now have a companion for our journeys. She was really nice, and she rode me for many days.

For a few days we went on, and then decided we were going back to the cabin we had found with the meals. Myreia, told us that she had been imprisioned by a witch that wasn't happy with her daughter, and that they had hoped she would die, before anyone found her. She later said 'a funny little round thing that flew' kept telling her to sing, and wail in her songs and to have faith. And I dare say that her beauty was growing with each day she gained strength. For a long time, she had eaten nothing but the roots she learned to grow in her cell. She gained some color in her cheeks, and became a very beautifull princess.

And later I know that they had two little humans, that got to ride me for a while.

There isn't much more to tell of this story, except that we all went back to the old cabin and that they lived there together for a long time, and still are today, looking very good together and with two little ones and another to come soon. I am getting old, and my age has slowed me down, but our conversations regarding that long journey have continued many times, as we try to understand how unusual and happy life has been for us. I was amazed as to how people could change every time they saw Adolphus and the mate he had found. It was very different from the many days we had shared in the city many long suns ago...

   

      

 

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