This story happened in in a place not too far away and not so long ago! As usual, magic is involved. After all, what sort of a world would it be without magic?
Once upon a time, an OES named Hartley lived on a farm and protected his master's sheep from wolves, coyotes and thieves. He had two big gray ears and a handsome white face with a big black nose. He loved his job. He was out in the fresh air every day and he enjoyed the company of the sheep, although their conversation was limited and he found them very scatter-brained! Hartley had many friends including the house cat, Marmaduke and a red squirrel named Ringo whom he loved to chase up trees. Ringo would then pelt him with acorns and leaves and little twigs, shrieking with laughter!:lol: However, one day, Hartley's world came crashing down around his ears!
Hartley had gone into his supper and was just finishing his bowl when he overheard the famer say to his wife: "That dog is getting slow. He can't run as fast as usual and I noticed him limping yesterday. He lies around the fire too much in the evening. He should be outside with the others I'm going to get rid of him!"
Hartley didn't stay around to hear more. He ran out the back door and headed to the woods where he lay down. Two big tears ran down his face.
Then he said to himself." I have to think: what should I do?" and he thought and thought. "This is really hard work!" He said to himself. l'll just have a litttle nap. And he did. He slept for twenty minutes, snoring slightly, with his head between his paws. He was wakened by something tickling his nose.
He opened one eye and there was Ringo! "Oy, sheepdog", said Ringo. "What's up? I usually don't see you here at this time of day!" Hartley told him what happened and how terrible he felt. "I don't blame you!" said Ringo. "What will you do?"
"Well" said Hartley, "After sleeping on it, I've decided to go into the world and seek my fortune. After all, I have plenty of experence and a good nature." "True", said Ringo. :"But I think that you should come with me and consult a wise friend of mine who lives in the woods. It won't take long and it might do you some good! " So off they went together: Hartley folloiwng Ringo as he danced about through the trees. Suddnely, there was a peculair sound: Whooooooo!Whooooo! They stopped in their tracks!
What a great story writer you are Lynda! I was filled with all sorts of emotions already at only a few paragraphs...mad at that horrible farmer, pity for poor Hartley, and now...ohhh what's going to happen????????
| A big shadow darkened the sky above them. Hartley held his breath. Then, Ringo started to giggle! ""Ha!" he said, "That's Reginald the IV!""Who?" asked Harttley. "Whooooooo! Whoooo!" said Reginald swooping down and settling on an old tree trunk. He looked balefully at the two companions.
"Oh, Reginald, Sir" said Ringo, "This is my good friend Hartley and he has had a catastrophe!" "Really squirrel, and what do you think that I can do about it?" "Well, Sir, " said Ringo, "He needs to consult with a wise person and you are the wisest person I know." "Oh, in that case..." said Reginald preening his feathers. "Follow me to my consulting office". And he flew off into the woods. "Who is he?" asked Hartley." "Oh," said Ringo, "He's a great horned owl, the fourth in a direct line of wise counselling owls who have lived in this woods." "Do you think he can help me?" asked Hartley. "Let's go find out!" said Ringo, following the path in the general direction that Reginald had flown. " I know where his office is!"
So off they went , deeper and deeper into the woods. It was getting dark and needless to say, Hartley was a little nervous, but he trusted his friend. Ringo for his part was in his element. There was nothing that he liked better than a good adventure. His big, bushy tail flashed in the tree branches and he called out to Hartley to guide him: "Hey, over here, sheep dog. Not that way: you'll get lost!" And after what seemed like a very long time, but was really only a few minutes they found the consulting office: a big hollow tree with a sign that read:
"Advice provided. Furry or feathered clients only. Hooved clients may also apply. Fees will be charged according to ability to pay."
|If he was my puppy, I would have been worried sick by now - also realizing that he was missing!|
|shuffles bottom as I'm sitting on pins and needles.|
|More to follow later today, I' m away tomorrow through Thursday , but will have access to a computer!:bow:|
| And there was Reginald, in his office, lookiing friendly but official. Outside his door stood a large jar with no lid. Just as Ringo and Hartley arrived, a swarm of fireflies appeared, and diving into the jar, remained flitting about inside, creating a lantern and lighting up the sign and the doorstep.
"Hello again sheepdog, what's your name?"asked Reginald . "I'm Hartley" said Hartley. "Well Hartley, what problem is troubling you?" asked Reginald and Hartley told his story, explaining that he's decided to seek his fortune. He wondered if this was a good decision. "Let me give this some thought". said Reginald. "I will consult my crystal ball and see what I can see.". And so he did. Reginald went to the back of his consulting room and returned with a glowing crystal ball that even in dim light reflected the colours of the rainbow. He put it down carefully on his table, and after turning it this way and that, with many hums and haws, Reginald gave his opinion. "The omens are favourable, Hartley. You must be careful. You are going on a journey and you will meet good companions and ..." Reginald stopped for a moment and looked even more solemn than usual. "... there is also a dark cloud hovering about. Take care. But you have the courage and the strength to succeed. Remember, think before you leap!"
"Thank you", said Hartley. "How can I repay you for your good advice?" "Oh", said Reginald, "I will give you a message to take with you". "How do you know I'll meet the person your sending it to?" " Let's just say I have a premonition." said Reginald. "Now, Hartley, you must stay the night and set off in the morning. Ringo, you're welcome to stay, if you like." Then turning back into his consulting room, Reginald waved a wing and as if by magic, the consulting room turned into a perfect over-night room, with two down filled cushions: one dog sized and one squirrel-sized. And set neatly in a corner were two bowls of spring water and a dish of nuts and dried fruit. The two friends said good night, and enjoyed their bed-time snack. They were sound asleep in seconds. The fireflies flew out of the jar and left the woods lit by faint moonlight. Reginald vanished into his own apartment at the top of the tree, keeping watch. But something was moving in the shadows, and two eyes gleamed in the moonlight and disappeared.Then all was quiet.
|tapping fingers on desk....waiting.|
|Need the next part!|
|You are so creative|
|Later: today I have to fly to the Okanagan to visit my horse: (another story!) Next installment pending!|
|booooooooo. more now..........|
| Needless to say, Hartley and Ringo slept soundly all night. In the morning, a messenger pigeon woke them up and told them their breakfasts were ready on the next level. Up they went to find two steaming bowls of porridge: a large oatmeal serving for Hartley and a small nut porridge for Ringo. Then they went downstairs to where Reginald had set up his consulting room for the day. He wished them a safe trip and said: "Henry the pigeon will show you to the path that runs through the wood. It joins a track that follows the stream beside the farmland. It should be quite safe." He then fastened a jewel-like pendant to Hartley's collar and said:"This is the message you must deliver. Guard it well."
After thanking Reginald for all his help and kindness, Hartley and Ringo set out, with Henry flying over head. Several times, Hartley looked over his shoulder, as he felt certain they were being followed. He saw nothing, only a quick movement that he caught out of the corner of his eye!:twitch: In a little while, they reached the edge of the wood. It was a nice sunny day and the little track wound off into the distance, the stream beside it glittering in the light. "Good luck" said Henry. "Don't stray from the path!" And he disappeared back to the hollow tree. He had a full days' work ahead of him, as Reginald had many messges to sent out.
Hartley and Ringo decided to sit under the nearest tree for a few minutes to catch their breaths. As they sat discussing how far they should go before nightfall and how many rest stops they should take and what sort of food they might look for, a dark shadow detached itself from the woods and began to slink across the grass towrad them!
|(:( I'm struggling with a virus right now that is causing me severe joint pain, however, I'll see how much of the story I can tell tonight! Flying home tomorrow with luck! )
Suddenly a dark shadow sprang forward!! Hartley and Ringo didn't notice until the creature was nearly on top of them! Then, Hartley cried:"Marmaduke! What on earth are you doing here?" "Well 'said Marmaduke (as it really was he!) "Just after you left yesterday, the farmer said to his wife that I wasn't doing my job. Mice were lolling in the hay mow, bread and cheese disappeared from the table and I was washed up as a mouser! He was going to drown me in the morning!" "No!" said Hartley. "Yes" said Marmaduke. For once, Ringo was speechless. "I decided that I'd leave while I could and tried to follow you. I had to keep a low profile around that owl as we've had several arguments in the past!" "Come along with us " .said Hartley. "You'd be very welcome. We're going to seek our fortune. You have lots of experience and cunning. Come with us!" "I will!" said Maramduke. And he did.
The three friends hadn't gone very far when they saw a large rooster perched on a fence post. He was very handsome, with brightly coloured feathers and a beautiful red comb. For all his good looks, the rooster seemed to be very unhappy. "Hello ,Rooster" said Hartly politely. "Isn't this a lovely day?" "It might be for some." said the rooster. "What do you mean?" asked Marmaduke. "Well, the rooster replied, "My hens haven't been laying too well lately and my master blames me. He's planning to put me in the stew pot tomorrow.Woe is me!" Hartley, Ringo and Marmaduke exchanged glances and then Hartley said: "Come with us, rooster. We're going to seek our fortune. You're a good looking fellow. What's your name?" The rooster cheered up at this, and said, "Please call me Jeremiah. I'd be delighted to join you!" so off they went again:Hartley in the lead with Ringo sitting on his shoulders, followed by Marmaduke and Jeremiah, walking carefully beside each other. As they walked they all began to hum, to keep themselves cheerful. Their humming travelled ahead of them and reached another set of ears.
|Sorry you're under the weather Lynda, go see someone so this doesn't set you back for the holidays. Sure hope you're feeling better.|
|Many thanks, George. I did.I have something to control the pain and the fever isn't as bad today. Stay tuned!|
|Hope you get better soon....honestly.... Just can't wait to read your story!|
|Thanks,all. Feeling better but tired. Ne xt installment later today!8)|
| They came round a bend in the path and there, with his head hanging over a gate, stood a handsome grey horse. He looked very sad and barely raised his head when our friends stopped humming and went over to talk to him. "Hello, horse" said Hartley. "What's the trouble? You look very sad. Can we help you?" " Oh, said the horse," I don't know!Things couldn't be worse! This morning, my master said he would send me to the auction because I couldn't carry him around the farm any more. He says I'm too old and good for nothing!" And too big tears ran down his cheeks! "There, there!" said Hartley and he reached up and licked the horse's velvet nose. Then Marmaduke jumped up on the fence post and began to purr and rub his head on the horses's neck. Jeremiah strutted on top of the gate making useful noises and Ringo chattered helpfully from the branch of a near-by tree: "What nonsense! How silly! What's your name, horse?" "My name is Benjamin, but you can call me Ben." He looked a bit more cheerful.
Our friends introduced themselves and Hartley said: "I think we can help you! We were all in a similar pickle except Ringo. We decided to go into the world and seek our fortune. We have lots of experience among us and we help each other. Come with us!" "Oh I'd like that very much, but as you see, I'm shut in by this gate." "Hmmm", said Hartley, let's see what we can do!" Then he and the others sat down together and discussed the best approach. "You're the strongest and the tallest (on hind legs!) said Marmaduke. " See if you can reach the handle. It looks pretty rusty to me!" So Hartlley stood on his hind legs and pushed on the handle with all his might and it gave way! "Help us push the gate open, Ben " he said. Ben threw himself against the gate and it fell to one side as every one jumped back !
"I'm free! said Ben whinneying happily.
Everyone danced around him, barking, meowing, crowing and chattering. and then they fell over they were laughing so much! "Oh my, said Ben, "I haven't had so much fun in a long time!!" After they had rested, it was decided to have some lunch. They walked a mile or so further and found a shady tree near the stream. Everyone had water to drink. Ben ate grass, Jeremiah, Ringo and Hartley ate berries while Maramduke and Jeremiah polished off several crickets. :"I'd prefer fish,"Marrmaduke said, " but this will do for now."
Then they set off again: Hartley led the way with Ringo on his shoulders, while Jeremiah and Marmaduke rode on Ben's back. They were very careful not to scratch him and he began to feel like himself again: his eyes were bright and his step was light. The five friends continued on their way humming as before, but now with Ben's deep voice added to theirs. Before long they came to another wood. It would be dark in a few hours and they agreed to keep an eye out for shelter. But before they found it...
| they heard a very weird noise echoing down the path. They stopped in their tracks and then Ben started whinneying in reply: "Hey, donkey" he said, "Hold on; we're coming!" "What was that?" asked Hartley. "It isn't a what it's a who!" said Ben. "That donkey was calling for help!. I recognized his dialect." And sure enough, around the next bend was a small gray donkey with large furry ears. standing in a pen. "He haw! He haw!" he shouted as loud as he could, so loud that he didn't hear our friends approach until they were right in front of him. "Good heavens, donkey! What's the matter?" asked Hartley. "
The donkey paused for breath and said"I'm really glad to see you. I've been out here shouting for help for several hours! I'm in danger!" "Tell us!Tell us! " chattered Ringo. "Well, said the donkey, my name is Barnabas. I've worked hard for my master for years but I'm getting old. My joints are stiff and I can't move around as easily. I'm going to be sent to the glue factory tomorrow. Woe is me!" and poor Barnabas started to cry.
"Well" said Hartley, " It's a good thing we found you. We're all in the same boat so to speak. I decided to seek my fortune when my master wanted to get rid of me. And here I am with these good friends". He introduced everyone to Barnabas and they hugged and petted him until he regained his composure.
Then Ben said: "Stand back everyone! And he turned around and gave a great kick and the top two boards of the pen splintered and fell down! Barnabas easily stepped over the bottom board and he was free.
"Now,"said Hartley, "We need to keep moving as it will be dark soon and we need shelter."
So off they went, Hartley with Ringo on his back, Barnabas with Jeremiah and Ben with Maramduke, Ringo riding backwards and explaining what had happened. "Oh" said Barnabas, "I haven't been so happy in a long time!"
| Our friends kept a steady pace. As it got darker, Marmaduke suggested that he move up next to Hartley as he was sure he could see better in the dark! He hopped down from Ben's back and ran up to Hartley. Luckily for everyone, the path into the woods followed the stream and a pale moon lit their way. There were scary shadows and sometimes scary sounds, but the travellers were very brave and continued to to hum their song. After some time, Harltley remarked that his tummy was growling and he hoped that they would find shelter and supper. Ringo said that his superior senses told him that they didn't have far to go! Sure enough, around the next bend, they came upon a clearing beside the stream. There was a small house and outbuildings and firefly lanterns illuminated the path right up to the front door. They approached the door and had a quick discussion about the best strategy. It was decided that since everyone agreed that Hartley was their leader, he would knock on the door with Marmaduke and Ringo beside him. Ben and Barnabas with Jeremiah on his back stood behind them. They were an impressive delegation!
They knocked three times. (This is a magical number, as everyone knows!) The door opened and they were greeted by a short man with white hair and beard, dressed in white with shiny black boots."Oh, here you are! I was expecting you." said the man. "How did you know we were coming to visit?" asked Hartley. "Oh, I received a message earlier today. " said the man. And as he spoke, a somewhat travel stained pigeon flew up and perched on his shoulder. "Why", said Ringo, "That's Henry, Reginald's messenger!" "Yes" said the man. "Reginald and I are old friends." There was stunned silence! "Well, you'd better come in! Your hooved friends can wait right here. We won't be long!. By the way, you can call me Nicholas." And he turned with a big smile to lead the way into his house.
|A new installment is coming, once I have regained my composure. Please see Disaster !!! for explanation. sigh|
| Composure regained: distracted by trying to house clean and shovel snow (now melting!) While Nicholas was discussing sleeping arrangements with the travellers, Ben and Barney were very poilitely eating grass, trimming the long grass by the steps into the house and around the trees. Then supper was served, under an awning outdoors so that Ben and Barney could join the party. Sturdy dishes were set out on rush carpets.
"What a feast!" said Hartley. Everybody cheered! the menu was extensive: a bowl of white fish and rice for Hartley, a small trout for Maramaduke who wasted no time. As he ate, he made a funny little noise that sounded much like "Yummm,yummmm!". Jeremiah busied himself with a bowl of grain and found he was very hungry. Ringo had a large dish of nuts and he bounced around eating one and running up a tree, turning cartwheels and dashing down to eat another. Ben and Barney had flakes of good hay with a side dish of beet pulp.
They were joined at the feast by Nicholas and his friends, an assortment of furry, winged and hooved members of his household. After suppper, Nicholas lit a fire in a special pit to keep flies away and to make sure that eveyone could sit together comfortably for a while to exchange stories. Hartley explained why he and his friends had taken to the road. He asked Nicholas if he or his friends knew wht lay ahead of them on the road. "Well, said Nicholas, "You must travel into the Great Wood. If you stay on the path, you'll be fine. I've travelled there many times myself." "Are you the Nicholas? " asked Ringo who couldn't contain himself much longer. "Yes, I am, if you mean the man with the reindeer!" As he said that, a shy reindeer approached the group and joined them, looking curiously at the newcomers. "Many people think that I fly around the world at Christmas delivering presents. I do travel: it's more of a ceremonial trip as the real work is done by thousands of my helpers everywhere."
" How did you come to live here?" asked Maramduke who had been washing his face and paws and polishing his whiskers." "I'm semi-retired", said Nicholas. "I like living here. I have lots of friends and I keep in touch with everything that goes on in the wide world. I have many friends like Reginald who come to visit with news. There is much work to be done still and I find this a good place for my headquarters. It's central and really, I always found the North Pole isolated and too cold."
Soon it was bedtime, and Ben and Barney were shown to a comfortable shelter with a floor of straw and plentty of fresh water. Harley, Marmaduke and Ringo shared a ground floor room that opened out onto a small garden. They each had a comfortable bed and were alseep in no time. Jeremiah settled down in the garden. Everyone was sound asleep. The fire burned itself out, and after one final tour of his garden, Nicholas went indoors to bed. The moon shone bright on the stream and the little clearing while in the woods, flashes of light could be seen through the trees. A pair of yellow eyes blinked and then disappeared. All was quiet !
| Just catching up on reading and am really enjoying the tale!
You've certainly got the gift of a good story teller and now I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment. I'm also sorry to hear of your mishap with the Christmas tree - (regarding your other post). Think I should stop by with a bottle of Grand Marnier, strong coffee and whipped cream some night.
|Oh : that sounds great! Holy smoke!|
I am so into this story. I love your writing.
| Jeremiah woke everyone in the morning after sunrise,crowing as loud as he could. Then he strutted around the gardens looking for tasty tidbits left from the party the evening before. This was the life! Everyone came to breakfast under the awning, and the food tasted very good. "Be sure to eat your fill." said Nicholas. "You have a long walk ahead of you. I'm sending you with a guide." Everyone looked at Heny, the messenger pigeon, who was rested and bright-eyed after several days of R and R. "Not Henry." said Nicholas. "He has another assignment. Your guide, Duncan is sitting on top of that tree." and he pointed to a large black raven who immediately took a bow and flew about importantly, cackling to himself. "Duncan knows the woods well. He likes company and you'll find him a good travelling companion. Just remember, he's a practical joker but he'll be very serious about his job."
So after thanking Nicholas and his friends for their kindness and hospitality, the travellers set out. The morning was bright, there were no clouds to be seen and above them, Duncan flew about pointing out interesting aspects of the Great Woods. "Have you lived here long?" asked Hartley politely. " Oh yes, said Duncan. "Years and years. I know almost everyone in the woods. For instance, last night, you didn't see one of our night visitors: I did though! " "Who was it " asked Ringo." "It was Nathaniel the coyote. He's an old friend of mine. He wanted to find out about all of you. You're quite a sensation around here, you know!"
"Really!" said Maramduke, leaning forward on Ben's back. "Why is that? We're very ordinary." " On the contrary!" said Duncan. "You're extraordinary! A very brave band of travellers. We haven't seen your like before!" Gosh!" said Hartley, "We're just helping each other to escape a dastardly fate and find another life together!" "Exactly!" And with that Duncan flew ahead of them and circled around them, cackling and laughing as he went.
|What as great story. Thanks so much. I am waiting patiently with the rest of the oes world to hear what is nex.|
| It was time for lunch, but they had eaten such a good breakfast that a cool drink of water and a rest under a large tree keep them going. Ben and Barnabas ate grass of course. They explained that as grass eaters, they had small tummies that had to be filled regularly. So the afternoon wore on, and the shadows started to get longer as the sun sank lower over the trees. "We need to start thinking about supper and a bed for the night!" said Hartley. His friends agreed so they called to Duncan and asked him his opinion about how much longer they should travel that day. " Oh! not much farther!" said Duncan. He clearly knew where they were going he but had decided to surprise them. After a while, it began to get darker in the woods, althhough there was still light through the trees to the west.
Marmaduke hopped off Ben's back and came up beside Hartley and Ringo, just in case. There were skittering sounds in the woods around them and various bird calls, but Duncan didn't seemed worried. In fact, he became noisier. He seemed excited about something. Marmaduke said: "Everything I've heard about ravens is true! They're clowns!" Jeremiah remarked that Duncan made more noise than he did while Ben and Barnabas started to giggle. "He likes his job!" said Ringo hopping about on Hartley's shoulder. "Steady on!" said Hartley. "We're not out of the woods yet, so to speak!"
It got darker and darker and their path coninued beside the stream deeper into the woods. Duncan began to fly down and perch on stumps ahead of them on the path. Then he said "I have a brilliant idea! " He whistled and called and sudddenly, a swarm of fireflies appeared and hovered over the heads of the travellers, lighting their steps and their faces! "We're nearly there!" he announced and sure enough, through the trees at a distance, Hartley and Marmaduke saw a light , very faint at first and then stronger as they walked.
They came out into a large clearing at the centre of which was a cottage surrounded by outbuildings. Everything was very tidy and flowers grew everywhere: in beds, pots and barrels while vines climbed over archways made of large twigs and branches. There were neat pathways made of wood chips that ran between the house and buildings. There were several enclosures that looked like paddocks behind the house and a large pool that reflected the light from lanterns hung on posts that supported the front porch. Our friends stopped in amazement while Duncan flew noisely around the house, announcing their arrival.
Slowly, the front door opened and a small woman came out with Henry perched on her shoulder, followed by a large black cat and and a grey and white dog! Hartley couldn't help staring! It was definitely a sheep dog and definitely female! "Welcome!" said the woman. "I'm the Wise Woman of the Great Woods and I have been expecting you!" At that point, the Wise Woman reached into a case on the porch and pulled out violin. "I'm a violinist and I've planned a woodland orchestra but I need musicians! Are you interested in joining me and my friends?" "Yes, absolutely!" said Hartley, "but you must be mistaken. We aren't musicians. We are friends who are seeking our fortune in the wide world. It's true we have some skills, but music..." "Oh! Let's not be hasty!" said the Wise Woman, "Let me hear your voices:then we'll decide." She tuned her violin and began to play.
Hartley cleared his throat and sat, carefully arranging his paws and began to howl in time to the music. Maramduke stood with his tail waving and sang his courting song. Jeremiah preened himself and shook his beautiful comb and started crowing. Ringo chattered in time to the violin while Ben whinneyed and Barnabas brayed. The violin sang above them and with them and the result was not noise but real music! They were amazed!
"Just as I thought!" said the Wise Woman. "A bit rough but with practice, we could do wonders. Now let me introduce you to my friends: Henry you already know! This is Cecelia my dear cat and this is Josephine, my faithful sheepdog. I have other friends whom you will meet tomorrow. Now, come with me. Let us make you welcome. You are very dear already although we've just met. Dinner is served under the awning behind the house. Nicholas suggested that arrangement as it worked very well when you visited him. Oh and by the way, you may stay with me as long as you like. I've been waiting for you!"
So they went in to dinner. And everything happened as the Wise Woman said it would. They practiced every day and they became famous in the Great Woods as musicians. If you walk in the Great Woods, listen carefully: you might hear a violin playing with a wonderful chorus of happy voices. They are there to this day.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!
|What a wonderful story. Thanks Lynda. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.|
|yes a great story merry x-mas.|
|Thank you Lynda! What a wonderful story!!|
|Didn't find exactly what you're looking for? Search again here:
Identifying Ticks info