Copyright 2015 by Donal Buchanan
A TALE OF TWO PROUD PINE TREES
long time ago in a country to the north there grew in a great forest
two mighty pines side by side. These two trees were tall and proud.
They were taller by far than any of the other forest trees. They
would often talk to each other after this fashion:
but you are beautiful! Don't you think I am too? I think my pine
needles are especially sharp today!” one would say.
they are!” the other would reply. “And your bark is not
worse than your blight, ha, ha! What a lovely color it is! Don't you
think I, too, have a fine grain to my wood?”
And so it
went, day in and day out, till the forest creatures were sick of it.
One day one
of the pines looked down and saw, growing between its mighty roots, a
small fern. In great anger it cried: “Fern, how dare you! You
are crowding the mightiest being in the forest! Grow somewhere else!”
The fern said
“That I shall not do. In my own way I'm a match for you.”
pine spread its branches above the little fern and said “Then I
will keep the sun from you and you will wither and die!”
will,” replied the fern, but I don't need as much sun as you
there came upon the forest a terrible storm. The wind howled. Thunder
crashed and lightning flashed. The fern, being low, had no need to
fear the lightning; and being supple, it bent with the wind. The pine
in whose roots the fern dwelt, however, had no such luck. As it stood
straight and tall, the lightning struck time and again; finally the
wind blew upon it so strongly that the mighty tree cracked and fell.
morning, after the storm, only the fern marked where the pine had
stood. The fern turned to the second of the proud pines and said,
“Was I not his match?”
tree replied, “ Yes, against wind and lightning. I, however
lived through the storm and now, at last, am king of the forest.
There is none, now, as beautiful and strong as I am.” It did
not mourn the loss of its friend for even an instant, but thought
only of itself.
moment the pine tree felt a tickle near its roots. It looked down and
saw, crawling up its trunk, a strand of ivy. In anger it cried: “Ivy,
get away from me! You are crowding the mightiest being in the forest!
Grow someplace else!”
The ivy said
“I shall not. I like it where I am. In my own way, I'm your
shook itself as hard as it could, but the ivy still clung tightly.
Finally the pine said “I shall keep the sun from you. See how
you like that!” With these words, the pine crowded its branches
close together so no light could reach the base of its trunk. “As
you will,” said the ivy, “but you will lose in the end.”
“We shall see!” said the pine tree—and the ivy
echoed, Yes. We shall see.”
and grew into months, then into years. The ivy grew with them,
circling up and around the trunk of the pine from bottom to top. In
time the mighty tree was so choked with ivy that not one bit of
sunlight did it feel. Eventually, all that remained was a tall stump,
completely covered with ivy.
goeth before destruction” quoted the ivy.
a haughty spirit before a fall!” finished the fern.
. . .
. . . Carter Johnson struck his knees against the bony flanks of his
six-legged toath and brandished his three-foot rapier. His mount
swept him over the red sand of Soombar, that ancient planet, towards
his sworn enemy, the Keddaj of Droj, and the love of his life, the
beautiful Dorias Thej. As he rode, he considered the impossible
obstacles he had yet to surmount. Surely, no man could conquer such
odds! If only his head would clear so that he could think. The damned
would not stop . . . [Delete!]
. . . Dick South hugged the dark wall and wished he had his rod, but
the automatic was somewhere at the bottom of the lake where it had
dropped when Belenni's boys had nabbed him. He had escaped them, but
he was still trapped on Belenni's country estate in the middle of a
thousand acres patrolled by hundreds of hostile hoods. He couldn't
seem to think clearly. He knew he needed every ounce of cunning he
could muster if he was to save Cora and get them both out of
Belenni's trap, but the tap-tap-tap just wouldn't go away . .
. . . Rick Radford shook his head dazedly as he picked himself up
from the floor of the time-skimmer. Where were his friends? Where was
his girl? He raised his eyes to the instrument console and gasped in
horror. The skimmer was racing through time! The years whizzed by as
he watched. Everyone he cared for was already centuries in the
past—and in terrible danger from the encroaching hordes of
Razzak, the King of Atlantis. If he could just figure out when . . .
but his thoughts were all a jumble, the tap-tap-tap . . .
. . . Red Riley crouched behind his fallen cayuse and watched the
approaching savages. If only his faithful squaw, Little Weaver were
here, she would have been able to stall the redskins somehow—but
she was in the hands of the infamous Black Boyd and the way things
looked, Riley reckoned as how he wasn't going to be able to do a darn
thing about it. He hauled out his trusty hawg-leg and tried to steady
his shaky aim as he stared at doom across the shaking sights. But the
tap-tap-tap-tap in his head . . . [Delete!] . . .
. . . Odd Rollo stood on the mountain peak of his island retreat and
watched the approaching fleets of normal man. His companions, like
him as far above normal man as man felt himself to be above the apes,
stood quietly behind him. They knew their powers were great, but
against the whole normal world even such awesome strength could not
prevail. Odd Rollo wondered how he could have gotten into such a
predicament. His marvelous mind concentrated and noticed at once the
constance sound that had been on the edge of all their minds. He
comprehended at once the nature of the inimical monster who had
molded their destiny. Immediately, he and his companions combined
their minds in a death-dealing mental discharge at the source of the
Tap-Tap-Tap . . .
City detective Joe Muncey stared down at the dead man.
The corpse was seated at a small table, his hands resting on the keys
of his Mac computer, his head against the monitor. Crumpled pages of
typescript littered the floor around him. Joe picked up a couple,
straightened them out, and read them. He turned to the landlady who
was standing nervously behind him. “Looks like a heart attack.
Say, did you know this guy was a writer?”
“Naw,” she said, “He was a plumber.
He just thought he was a writer. I've seen his stuff. He never
had a single original thought in his life, poor soul!”
“Yeah,” said the detective, “Listen
to this: Tap-Tap-Tap . . .”
CATS AND DOGS
I'm not sure
what year it was—it was probably about 1935 or 1936. Nor am I
sure of the names of the animals we had—except Prince, the
Great Dane. So I will call the cat Calico—because she was a
Calico cat—and the little brown dog, Browny.
I was sitting
comfortably at the dining room table in our house in a village on the
outskirts of Nagoya, Japan, working on my homework. My mother was in
the kitchen teaching Shosan, our amah/maid, how to cook.
We had always
had animals around the house. Cats and dogs and even chickens, —the
latter for meat and eggs. Prince got lots of leashed to my bicycle.
He pulled hard, trotting along while I enjoyed taking my feet off the
pedals. Occasionally we'd have a small disagreement when I decided to
steer one way and him the other. He was great fun, very large and
On this day we
also had a second dog, a small brown terrier owned by Aunt Betty. She
wasn't really my aunt yet—that happened about a year or so
later when she married my father's younger brother, Donald. At that
time any adult not Mother or Dad was known to me as uncle or aunt.
Aunt Betty lived not far from us and often parked her pup with us
when going out of town. The two dogs and the cat—at this time
we only had one—got along pretty well.
It was a cold
day out so the stove in the dining room was going strong. Shosan had
lit the logs shortly after arising from her futon in a room off the
kitchen. I enjoyed the warmth and was making good progress with
homework. All my schooling was homework. My mother and dad were the
teachers—with lots of help from a set of The Book of
Knowledge). My older sister went to a boarding school in Kobe.
So there I
was, busy, when the cat, Calico, came in, carefully looked the place
over, and decided (correctly) that the best place to lie down and
sleep warmly was behind the stove. She settled in and I quietly
noticed her presence.
A little bit
later, Aunt Betty's dog, Browny, came in, sat down, and looked the
situation over. He then went over and proceeded to sit upon the cat.
Calico, of course, promptly got up and left the room while Browny
settled in where she had been. No words were exchanged, all this
happened in silence.
I noted all
this as well as what happened next.
apparently found Prince and complained to him.
thereafter, Prince showed up in the doorway, sat there for a bit
looking at Browny, then he went over and proceeded to sit on him.
Being about 6 times larger than Browny, there was no contest. Browny
got up and left.
The three were
really the best of friends. Despite occasions like the above, they
enjoyed playing together whether indoors or out.
later, Browny was killed by a passing auto. By this time he and
Calico had become even closer friends and played happily together.
passed away, Calico missed him greatly and kept looking for him. One
day I was out in the front yard on the side over by our garage and
near our only next door neighbor since we were a corner house. I
noticedPP several dogs come onto our property. Their leader was much
larger than Calico, and he was brown. The dogs came up the front
steps towards our front door where Calico was sunning herself. She
got up and watched them approach, especially the large brown leader.
She marched down the front steps straight at him and sniffed him nose
to nose—which startled him no end because cats weren't supposed
to act that way.
immediately discovered that this was NOT her Browny. She then took a
heavy swing with claws out at the nose of the brown leader. He, and
his small hoard of followers, howling, turned and ran. She never
showed any fear of dogs from then on, no matter how big—and
especially if they were brown.
returned to her sunny spot in front of our door.
From all of
the above I became convinced that animals could talk to one another.
That was my
conclusion as a child—and it makes a good story.
As a man I
have to acknowledge that, while it is still possible that Calico went
and asked for help from Prince in some way, another explanation is
animals were perfectly aware that the vicinity of the stove was warm
and they all used it.
Both dogs had
the same problem to solve. They could have growled, and attacked, but
they did not. They sat down and studied the problem and came to
exactly the same solution, solving it in such a way that no hurt was
caused to any of them and their friendship could survive.
What I learned
by watching my dear friends was even greater than my earlier
conclusion. Cats and dogs can see a problem, think things over and
arrive at ways to solve it without disturbing a friendship. They can
also love one another and mourn a friend.
I am convinced
they are very good folks to know and hang around with.
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