The smell was too fragrant to resist any longer. I reached over and slid the dove off the crude spit I had constructed. As I surveyed my other culinary options, the muskrat caught my eye. In truth, there is nothing to be desired in its taste, but the fact that my companion was able to slay so large and antagonistic a beast prompted me to dish up seconds. This I placed on the piece of birch bark that served as my plate.
At first I had been opposed to using the bark for a plate, but Benjamin told me he was certain that Hannibal always used it for a platter when on campaign. I wasn’t so sure there were birch trees in the Alps, but I gave up arguing anyway. To my right, I espied roasted nettle stems which smelled delectable. I added them to my meal.
Having consumed such repast with great satisfaction, I leaned against a nearby tree and began to admire my faithful band of hunters. Willard had shot two squirrels and a feild mouse with his pellet gun. Jack had set a new record for big game by slaying the previously mentioned muskrat. His feat had been rendered more impressive in that it had been accomplished with only a hand-fashioned spear. Lastly, Mathew had succeeded in killing a rabbit with a deadfall which was a rare occurrence, being difficult to accomplish.
I was about to reflect on my own personal prowess in killing a dove with a slingshot (it’s much harder to do than you would think) when my brother, Mark, started up a story in which I had been one of the main actors. I instantly lent my ear, for he was a master storyteller in our youthful eyes, as well as a lighthearted and humorous fellow. Thus was the staggering epic that he told:
“About a year ago Jonathan, (that’s me, the writer of this tale), and I were taking our evening tramp through the enchanted grounds, which is occasionally referred to as our corn field, searching for the castle of Giant Thornfall. We were gazing at some suspicious beetles which, due to certain suspicious patterns on their backs, we judged to be great lords and damsels so sorrowfully transformed by the enchantress Vivian in the days of King Arthur. It was then that I espied an enormous shadow creeping ominously over the perilous ground we were navigating.
Slowly, warily, I looked up. There it was, all hideous and mean. I shouted to Jonathon to beware the dragon, but for some reason he only grunted and kept on walking. I worried that the enchantments of that land were beginning to take their effect on him, but my attention was distracted by the glare of the dragon. For what seemed like hours, I remained in that unrelenting grasp. Those eyes, wicked eyes, fixed me to the spot like shackles of iron. I could not free myself.”
Unfortunately I, Jonathan, must stop my brother’s tale for a moment to relate to you two important points that my brother got wrong. First, the beetles were not bewitched lords and damsels, but rather Knights of the Round Table who had been distorted into such ugly creatures while on the search for the Grail. I may also add that the enchanting was probably not done by Lady Vivian, but rather by her former mistress, Queen Morgan le Fe. I feel confident in asserting such facts, knowing that my own taxonomical skills stretch even beyond this level, and that my brother, despite his claims, maintains little scientific master outside of the field of botany.
The second error in his account (however unintended) was his mistake in labeling the beast he saw as a dragon. In all fact, it was no such thing, but rather an evil flying unicorn.
Note 1: Most flying unicorns are good and upright creatures.
Note 2: The writer of this story holds no malice against flying unicorns. This certain species of flying unicorn however, holds the long-standing identity as an evil flying unicorn due to its well-documented malicious nature for which the taxonomist cannot be blamed. End of note.
During my brother’s recitation however, I did not interrupt as here, but listened, as we shall do now.
“Eventually, I realized that the dragon was trying to infest my brain with evil through the unbroken passage of its gaze. In the depthless maliciousness of his soul, he found it petty to slay me, and would rather make of me such as itself. Upon my realization of this fact, I snatched in desperate hope a nearby corn stock and hurled it violently at the beast. To my utter astonishment, the dragon instantly disappeared.
Being momentarily rid of my foe, I turned my head in all directions looking for Jonathan, but behold, I saw him not! Anguish overwhelmed me as the ocean waves. He was gone! I reasoned within myself that the dragon had snatched him up in his swift winged flight. The damsel beetles tried to comfort me and the lord beetles spoke words of encouragement, but I would not hear them. In my sorrow, I sunk down to the ground and my head moved into the next row of corn. Finally, having drifted beyond even sorrow, I looked up. There, some ten feet away stood Jonathan, holding a rose to his nostrils so that the enchanted air might not enter his brain. While watching the dragon, I had accidently stepped one row over. The whole time my companion in arms was never more than fifteen feet away from me.”
When my brother finished his oratory, a cheer of delight filled the air. Never was such a tale told around our campfire.
As we walked home I recalled the merry tales and songs that had passed around our campfire, and of the great feast we had enjoyed. At last, I turned and waved good-bye to the old woods that had been the paradise of my childhood. Then, slowly, I turned around and strode up the dirt path that led to home.