The Mouse and Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young man seeks an answer, and a mouse helps him find it.

Submitted: October 03, 2016

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Submitted: October 03, 2016

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"Bluefeather, I need your counsel," said the boy of 15 years.

In a few minutes an old man dressed in buckskin from shoulders to feet came out of his Teepee and sat on the ground in front of a spent fire pit.

"Come, sit with me Gray-cloud," Bluefeather said while looking at the smoldering ashes that lay before him. "What is your question?"

Gray-cloud took a thin stick from the ground and sat at arm's length from Bluefeather, he also faced the fire pit.

He pocked at the ashes for a moment or two and then said, "I am to be a man soon, in accordance with our traditions, but I do not know what that means.

I am the fastest runner in our village and my friends call me fish-boy because I can swim and dive better than all the others. My arrows always find their mark and this is true with spear and knife as well. No one catches more fish at the river than I do, with hook or net. Yet, I do not know what being a man means."

Bluefeather thought for a very long time and then replied, do you know of the bolder that is called Chalinda, (Place of knowledge)?"

"Yes, I have hunted near there many times," Gray-cloud replied.

"Good, take the stick that is in your hand and carry it to Chalinda. Choose a hole that is under the base of the bolder and place the stick in the hole that you have chosen. After you have done what I requested, return to me," Bluefeather instructed.

The next day, the sun was about to set when Gray-cloud returned.

"I have done as you have asked, but I do not see how this will answer my question," Gray-cloud stated rather bluntly.

"You will see in time," said Bluefeather. "Now listen carefully, this is important, return to Chalinda in the morning and see if the stick is still in the hole that you have chosen. If the stick is in the hole, then I will give you the answer that you seek. But if it is not in the hole, then I will not give you the answer and you will have to follow my instructions all over again"

Gray-cloud looked confused and a little upset that his answer was being delayed, but he knew enough to listen to this Elder.

When Gray-cloud returned to Chalinda he found that the stick was not in the hole. And after careful examination of the hole, and the surrounding dirt, Gray-cloud came to the conclusion that something had pushed the stick out of the hole. It might have been a snake, more likely a mouse, but it could not have been a Skunk, a Badger, or a Opossum, the hole wasn't big enough for them to enter.

"I will wedge the stick in the hole," Gray-cloud said out load, "like my bow I will bend it and wedge it on both sides of the hole; then no little creature can move it."

Again it was almost sundown when Gray-cloud returned to the village and reported to Bluefeather what he had discovered and what he had done about it. Bluefeather did not look pleased and told Gray-cloud to return to Chalinda again at sun up.

When Gray-cloud returned to Chalinda he found that the stick was, again, out of the hole. And after careful re-examination of the hole, Gray-cloud decided that something had dug around the ends of the stick and then pushed the stick out.

Gray-cloud was not amused by this outcome and set his mind to an even more determined state.

"I will gather small rocks and use the stick to push them deep into the hole, jamming them together. Then I will place the stick in there, wedged, and I will place even more rocks in the hole after the stick. That should keep the creature from getting the stick out of the hole," Gray-cloud thought aloud.

It was sundown when Gray-cloud returned to the village and reported to Bluefeather what he had discovered and what he had done about it. Bluefeather smiled and told Gray-cloud to return to Chalinda the next morning to see if he was successful.

When Gray-cloud returned to Chalinda he found that the stick and rocks were out of the hole, as well as more dirt.

Gray-cloud grew very angry and began to stomp the ground in frustration, but that only made him weary.

After awhile Gray-cloud sat down to think and then he had a new idea. He looked all around and found a rock as big as a man's head. It was a very heavy rock and he could hardly lift it, so he rolled it along the ground until he had it where he wanted it, near the front of the hole.

For an hour Gray-cloud dug near the entrance to the hole until he had dug a pocket that the rock would fit into. Once the rock was in place, it would block the hole so nothing would be able to go into or out of that hole. Gray-cloud pushed the stick into the hole and rolled the rock into place; the hole was sealed.

It was well after sundown when Gray-cloud returned to the village and Bluefeather was waiting near the Campfire.

"The rocks and stick were out of the hole, again, but I have devised a new plan. I have dug near the entrance to the hole until I had a pocket that a larger rock would fit into. Again, I placed the stick into the hole and rolled a larger rock into place. That hole is sealed for good now and that stick will be in there until it rots away. Now, please, answer my question.

Bluefeather laughed and said, "You are halfway there, remember, the mark of a man is not in his physical abilities to overcome obstacles, after all, the little Mice in that hole were able to overcome all the obstacles that you have presented to them; and they are not men. At sun-up you will return to Chalinda and you will see what mice do with rocks that they cannot move.

When Gray-cloud returned to Chalinda he found a new hole next to the rock that he had placed there, and the stick lay on the ground, just outside the new hole. 

Gray-cloud thought, "No matter what I do, those mice will overcome it because that is their home and they are protecting it's passages. If it were an empty hole then..."

 

Gray-cloud did not return to the village for three days and two nights, and when he did return he had news for Bluefeather.

"I found another hole under Chalinda that was not occupied by any creature and I placed the stick in that hole. It has been in there for three days and has not moved.

As you told me, the mark of a man is not in his physical abilities to overcome obstacles, that is the way of mice and men.

It seems that you have shown me the answer to my own question, it is maturity. Had I explored my every option before I proceed with my task, then reason would have told me to choose an empty hole in the first place.

 

D. Thurmond / JEF  ---  10-03-2016


© Copyright 2017 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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