Sunday, October 22, 2006

#153 - Magic Story - First in a Series

(Author's Note: Magic Stories had their beginning in the Woody household when Jelly was a toddler. Daddy would tuck her into bed and offer to tell her a "magic story." Magic Stories were stories that seemingly appeared out of thin air. Of course, when Jelly was a toddler, Daddy could whip out any old story at the drop of a hat and have it be the first time she'd ever heard it. Later she would begin requesting her favorite ones. "Daddy, tell me the one about the princess in the woods!" When Doodle came along, the tradition continued.

Occasionally Daddy makes up a story that impresses even Daddy. Daddy made up one such story just the other night at Grandma's house. I'd like to commit some of these to paper (so to speak) so I can remind myself to do something with them. Hopefully soon I'll recreate the Magic Story called "The Messiest Room in the World." Jelly loves that story.

The Elephant and the Spider

In a faraway jungle lived a very grand elephant. At least, that's what the elephant thought of himself. It was true that, as a younger bull in the herd, he was a grand animal indeed. He also, as a younger bull, had much still to learn about the world around him.

One thing the young elephant could not stand was spiders. He thought of them as disgusting, even dangerous creatures. "One bite," he had once been told, "could make you very, very sick." He thus spent tremendous amounts of energy avoiding them. It rather surprised him that the other elephants in his herd seemed so tolerant. They completely ignored the fact that several spiders seemed to gather near the elephants' sleeping places. He shuddered to think that they allowed the spiders to get so close!

Not this elephant, he thought to himself. He studiously swept the trees near his sleeping place every day with fronds that fell from the trees nearby. He prided himself on being not only a grand elephant, but a tidy one, too.

So imagine his dismay to discover one morning that a spider had taken up residence in one of his trees. She had spun her web just high enough to escape his gaze, and now sat just out of reach of his tree frond broom. The thought of this spider tormented the young bull for several days, and he began to lose sleep. Finally he could stand it no longer, and decided to confront his problem head on.

"Excuse me, Lady Spider," said the elephant, for even with enemies the elephants are exceedingly polite. "I don't wish to appear rude, but I find your living in my tree to be intolerable."

"But why is that, Friend Elephant?" asked the spider, who was herself quite polite.

"You know what they say," began the elephant delicately. "One bite could make you very, very sick."

"Indeed I could," responded the amused spider. "However, I have never so much as hinted that I would be interested in biting such a large animal as yourself. Do you really think I lie in wait for you?"

"Perhaps not," admitted the young bull. "At the same time, I feel it only prudent to ask you to remove yourself from my sleeping area. Why not join the spiders over by the other elephants? There seem to be plenty of them."

"Too true, there are," rejoined the spider. "Can you not see that this is why I chose this spot? It is wonderfully uncrowded."

The elephant was not to be deterred. "My dear lady," he began. "I really must insist. I must ask you to vacate my tree at once!"

The spider smiled widely, although she was too small for the elephant to see clearly. "I will leave, my large friend, but you will soon regret this decision."

True to her word, by the following morning the spider had vanished.

The elephant was tremendously happy because of his good fortune, and he began to brag about it to the other, older elephants in the herd. He couldn't understand why they seemed not to share his joy in having banished his feared enemy from his home.

The very next day, the elephant began to be bothered. It is very true that very small things can bother very large animals, and elephants are no exception. Late in the morning, when the sun began to move high in the sky, a buzzing noise reached the young elephant's ears. Before he could quite register the source of the noise, he felt a sharp stinging sensation high on his back. "Ouch!" he said to no one in particular. "That hurt!" This was followed shortly by another, and yet another sting on his back.

The young elephant swished his mighty trunk over his back to make this new problem go away. He had no time for courtesies; he had a problem, and that problem needed to be addressed right now!

He soon decided that the source of both the stings on his back and the buzzing noise in his ears must be the obnoxious black flies that his mother had spoken of when he was a baby. Her remedy at the time had been to have him roll in the mud. This he did, and the flies did not bother him for a time. But he also noticed that once the mud dried and began to flake off, the flies returned. He also noticed that none of the other elephants in his herd seemed to be having much trouble with them.

On the second day of his trial by flies, an older elephant of the herd trundled over to watch him. With an amused expression, he glanced about the young elephant's sleeping place. "Hmmm," he said almost to himself, "nice, clean place you have here."

"Unh! Thanks, old-timer... ouch! I can't seem to... ooch! get rid of these silly flies!" the younger elephant said in an exasperated tone.

The older elephant merely chuckled and indicated his own sleeping place. "Look over there, young bull, and tell me what you see."

The young elephant squinted through watery eyes and said, "Ugh. Spiders. You seem to have several. Can't you get rid of them?"

The older elephant was smiling broadly now. "Why on earth would I want to?" he asked. "Can you see what's caught in their webs from here?"

In spite of his troubles, the young elephant squinted harder at the older elephant's sleeping place. Yes, there did seem to be something in those webs, but... "I see many small black specks, it seems. What are they?"

"Those, my young spiderless friend, are flies. The same flies that would love to chew on my back are the spiders' favorite meals. Rather than feast on me, the spiders feast instead on the flies, and I only have to flick away the occasional fly who hasn't yet been caught. Indeed, the more spiders one has in his sleeping place, the fewer flies one has to endure." And with that, the old bull lumbered off back to his sleeping place, free from small black flying pests.

The younger elephant thought hard about what the old elephant had said. Fearing he might be too late, he wondered how on earth he could find the spider he had driven away, and apologize to her.

However, the very next day the young elephant was awakened by a familiar sounding voice. "So, Friend Elephant," said the voice. "Am I still unwelcome in your home?"

"Oh, no, Friend Spider!" cried the young bull. "I am so glad you have returned. Would you be so kind as to make your home here? Would you make it, perhaps, even larger than the web you had before?"

The spider only smiled and began to spin. She built a beautiful web in a very short time, so that by afternoon she was already catching nice, fat flies to eat for her supper. The elephant immediately began to notice that there were fewer stings on his back. By the next morning, the flies had all but disappeared from his sleeping place. When he looked up into the tree, the young elephant was overjoyed to see many dark specks on the spider's web, and a very content looking spider sitting in the middle.

"I am so sorry that I misjudged you, Dear Spider," said the elephant that afternoon. "Can you ever forgive me for being so foolish?"

"Of course I forgive you!" she declared.

The spider and the elephant were fast friends thereafter. In the next season when the spider had babies, several of them took up residence in the young elephant's trees nearby. For the rest of that year until the monsoons came, the young elephant's sleeping place was the envy of the herd. No one begrudged him his good fortune, however. They all knew how hard the young bull had worked to learn his lesson. And the young elephant never again spoke ill of spiders. Not even the ones that bite.

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