Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Tale of Gonwid.

A very short story, as promised.

*  *  *

Gonwid the bear lived in a small cave which was set high above the river valley where the other animals lived. The other animals didn’t have much to do with Gonwid; some feared him a little, but most just thought him ugly and possessed of strange notions which they didn’t understand, and therefore considered silly.

One day at the end of summer, when the air was turning cooler and the greens were becoming tinged with a little yellow and brown here and there, Gonwid was strolling alone along a woodland path. He saw something move ever so slightly nearby, and walked over to investigate. A caterpillar was sitting on a fallen tree, and every so often it moved ever so slightly.

‘Hi,’ said the caterpillar.

‘Hello,’ returned Gonwid.

‘Do you have any friends?’ continued the caterpillar.

‘No.’

‘Me neither. Would you like to be my friend?’

‘Yes please.’

‘OK.’

And then the caterpillar crawled into a hole in the log and disappeared. Gonwid waited, calling ‘Hello’ at respectful intervals, but the caterpillar only said ‘Mmm…’ now and then, and remained hidden. He did hear the sound of rustling as his new furry friend moved around in its dark little place, but of further sighting there was none, and so he went home.

Gonwid walked along the path often after that, always stopping to call into the hole with a general greeting, or a remark about the weather, or a muse on the deeper meaning of life. Sometimes the caterpillar would poke its head out and answer with some perfunctory remark of its own, but mostly it just rustled.

‘Strange friend,’ he thought. But he persisted in his avowed intent to be a good companion through the winds and rains and snows of winter, always stopping to talk to the caterpillar, always listening for the rustle, always reminding himself that a strange friend is better than no friend at all. And then the rustling stopped.

Spring had arrived. The browns were filling with green again, flowers were appearing along the fringes of the path, and the sun cast shorter shadows at noon. But no sound came from the log. Day after day he called and listened and waited, but in vain. Until, that is, one day when the sun was high and hot and another creature was sitting where the caterpillar had sat.

‘Who are you?’ asked Gonwid.

‘Butterfly,’ said the creature.

‘You’re very beautiful.’

‘I know. I’m a Peacock butterfly. Don’t you see my many iridescent colours and the big eyes I have on my wings?’

‘Yes.’

‘Well there you are, then.’

‘Have you seen a caterpillar around these parts lately?’

‘No. Caterpillar’s gone.’

‘Gone?’

‘Gone.’

‘Gone where?’

‘Just gone.’

And then the butterfly stretched its wings and rose into the air, joining myriad other butterflies racing to feast on the multitude of flowers now filling the neatly tended gardens in the valley. Gonwid turned and looked at the hole in the log. He called one last time, but only the searing sharpness of silence came back to him. And Gonwid never saw the caterpillar again.

9 comments:

Sara said...

Are you Gonwid? You did say you'd be a bear...

JJ Beazley said...

Yes, but I decline to reveal the identity of the erstwhile caterpillar (who is now a butterfly.)

Sara said...

That's quite alright. I'd never push a bear past his limits.

JJ Beazley said...

The trick is knowing his limits, but I expect you're quite good at that.

Anonymous said...

Well, bears and butterflies don't quite go together in any case. And as my mother often said "People will always disappoint you". As will caterpillars. (But it used to make me cry when she said that). I hope you are feeling much better. Spring's just around the corner.
MM

JJ Beazley said...

Oh I don't know, Mrs B, I always was one for choosing odd friends. And there was a caterpillar we used to call a 'woolly bear' when I was a kid. In actual fact, though, the person who gave rise to this little tale has more in common with an albatross, but seabirds don't pupate.

And if it were only the winter that was getting me down. I dislike winter, but I can handle it (usually.) People, on the other hand, are something else again. If only they would stop at merely disappointing me...

Nice to hear from you Maddie's Ma (couldn't resist that, me being an ageing Bob Dylan fan. I did try.)

JJ Beazley said...

In the unlikely event that you're not familiar with it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW4y-9RoMFU

Fourth verse.

Anonymous said...

We had just watched a documentary about bears, and one of their favorite snacks is moths/butterflies. But I mustn't be so literal. And I wasn't familiar with the song, but Mr. B sang along as he's a Dylan fan.

Maddie's Ma

JJ Beazley said...

Ah, but I'm a vegetarian bear. So that explains that.

'She talks to all the servants about man and God and law
And everybody says she's the brains behind Pa(w?)
She's sixty eight, but she says she's fifty four.'

Respect to Mr B. Good taste.