Dec 22, 2016
This episode we have two stories. Carlos and his Wife make a difficult journey. Meanwhile, the Lonely Skunk lives a troubled life in the forest.
Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.
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We begin this week with Carlos and His Wife.
Andrew & James (alternating)
Carlos went to town and bought a new cart. He wanted to take his bride to visit his grandmother, so he hitched the new cart to a horse which he had borrowed especially from his brother and lifted his beautiful new bride into the back. Climbing onto the driver's seat, he whipped the horse and they raced off.
Along the mountain path, there lived a troll. He exacted a toll on every cart that passed his house. Approaching the bend in his cart, Carlos slowed and prepared to face the troll. "Who goes there?" said the troll traditionally. "It is one simple man and his wife. We wish to visit our grandmother. Please let us pass, o troll!" The troll scratched his hairy head and responded with the riddle as is traditional.
"You are a stalk and I am a long tongue. Which animal is your wife?"
Carlos fell into a fitful silence as he attempted to unravel the riddle. A small time later, his wife spoke quietly to him. "Could it be a…"
James: There will now follow a short pause while we figure out what our riddle means. The troll is a long tongue, right… and the man is a stalk of some description.
Andrew: Okay, a stalk of… yeah. A stalk of corn or a stalk of grass…
James: The long tongue reaches out and tries to get the stalk. That's what the troll does. That's a metaphor for those two… which means the wife can be anything, which means the wife can choose to be… what eats frogs? Frogs have long tongues, right?
Andrew & James (alternating)
"Could it be a bird of prey?" Carlos's face lit up, "Yes, this is exactly what it should be." He turned to the troll and realised that the troll had vanished.
Continuing their journey along the road, Carlos enjoyed the feeling of the victor. The next bend brought them face to face with an ogre. "Stop," he growled and demanded a sacrifice. "Something you cannot do without," he said. Carlos looked down at the cart and his horse and thought about which of these he could give freely. "Why not just give him the air in your lungs?" Carlos once more applauded his wife and breathed deeply over the ogre. The ogre disappeared and they continued on their road.
As the village where his grandmother lived came into sight, another monster stepped onto the path. It was a dragon, breathing fire and grumbling like a railway engine. "I am hungry," said the dragon. "I demand food or your life." Once more, Carlos was perplexed. How could he feed a dragon without sacrificing his horse?" His wife had another idea. "Could we feed him the straw from the wagon?" "Do dragons eat straw?" asked Carlos. "Well, let's find out," said his wife. So they pushed some straw in the direction of the dragon and waited. The dragon sniffed the bale suspiciously and took a small nibble from the corner. It tasted odd, like a smoky kind of grass. The dragon took another bite. Smoke definitely made things more palatable. He wolfed it down and belched. "You have passed my test," said the dragon and as he let them past, he crept into his cave.
Driving into the village, Carlos and his wife were delighted to have made it safely. His grandmother lived at a crossroads just off the main square. Knocking on her door, Carlos was excited to present his wife, and feast with his family. The door swung open. Within, there was a dark gloom and a light in the fireplace. Sitting in a chair next to the fire was Carlos's grandmother. "Come closer my child," she said, crooking her finger and beckoning him. He knelt beside her chair and recounted the arduous journey they had undertaken to visit her. "Ah," she said. "This journey has been a lesson to you. When there are obstacles to be overcome, you must work with your wife together and so you shall triumph. You will seek many challenges and your wife will fix them for you. Don't take the support for granted." "Yes," said Carlos. "Not on any account." "Ohhhh," said his grandmother. "You have no idea."
On the way home, they took a different route, were attacked by a bear and Carlos's wife killed it with her slingshot. The end.
Andrew: This is the story of the lonely skunk.
James: Once upon a time, there lived all sorts of creatures in the forest. There were shrews and mice that scuffled and scurried through the undergrowth. There were rabbits and hares that bounded along the pathways and tracks through the trees, and badgers snuffling through their sets and sniffing out their prey.
Andrew: There were many animals that lived in the forest each with their own different personalities, but one animal more than any other was regarded as an outcast and was looked down upon by both people and beasts.
James: The skunk did not lead a happy life.
Andrew: Everywhere he went he only wanted to make friends and yet his pungent aroma drove all away from him.
James: Over time, he'd learned that he would not be welcomed at the little gatherings in the glades of the forest, that he would not be greeted cheerily if he passed another animal on a track or path, and that he would not be at all welcome indeed if he turned up at the home of another animal, and so over the years, he had learned to keep very much to himself.
Andrew: As a consequence, the skunk was lonely. He felt the loneliness deep inside his black and white fur. He was surrounded by evidence of the lives of other animals all the time, and yet somehow, it was as if he existed in a bubble which excluded them from him so completely that it could never be crossed.
James: Until one day, he met a frog.
Andrew: It was a bright and misty autumn day and the skunk was wandering along, lost in his own thoughts as usual, meditatively wondering about the changing of the seasons, and he did not see the frog until he very nearly stepped on it.
James: "I beg your pardon," said the skunk, preparing to scurry away as he expected that the frog would immediately make some comment or rather about the stench that always followed him about the forest.
Andrew: But the frog made no such comment. In fact, he made no reply at all and only looked blankly at the skunk who repeated himself what thinking that the other had not heard him.
James: "I beg your pardon," said the skunk again and this time, the frog looked at him and said very quietly, "The apology is mine."
Andrew: The skunk was taken aback by the gentle politeness of the frog's demeanour and inquired of him further the meaning of his words.
James: "I merely meant," said the frog, "that I was sitting here so quiet and so indistinguishable from the leaves around me that it would be altogether too easy to step upon me and I must apologise for that. I could have chosen a rock to sit on or indeed a branch, somewhere that would have left me less vulnerable to those going about their regular business."
Andrew: The skunk was speechless to be addressed. This was the longest sentence that another animal had directed at him for some years and he was puzzled as to why it was that the frog was not repulsed by him in the way that so many other creatures were.
James: So he asked, "Do you not have a problem with my standing here and talking to you?"
Andrew: "Why should I have such a problem with a passing conversation with a fellow animal?" said the frog.
James: "I merely meant," said the skunk, "that so many people find me an unappealing conversationalist for whatever reason." He was beginning to doubt that the frog could smell him at all.
Andrew: "But you seem such a polite and friendly gentleman, how could anybody object to passing the time of day with such a cultured individual?"
James: At this, the skunk broke into a broad smile. "Well, that is very kind of you to say, sir."
Andrew: "And now, I must, please, beg your pardon for I have pressed long enough already on your time and I myself certainly have many things which I must be doing," said the frog. "Good day to you and I hope to speak to you again on another occasion," saying which he hopped off.
James: Cheered, the skunk went about his way and that night, rather than as was his usual custom to bed down early and thus attempt to sleep through the depression of the night, he instead stayed up and thought about his conversation with the frog and recounted to himself the other events of the day so that he would remember them freshly for such a conversation.
Andrew: The next day as the skunk woke in the bright morning light, he hoped, once again, that he would meet his new friend, the frog, while traversing the forest.
James: Making his happy way through the ponds and tracks of the forest, he did not, at first, meet the frog, but did run into a number of other animals. First, a rabbit crossed his path.
Andrew: As usual, the rabbit took one look at him, made a sneering remark about the smell, and hopped off contemptuously into the undergrowth.
James: Next, at a watering hole deep within the heart of the forest, he came across a snake.
Andrew: The snake hissed at him, protested, and chased him off from the water saying that it wasn't for the likes of him.
James: Finally, near an old lighting-struck bole deep within the forest, he met a weasel.
Andrew: The weasel too was contemptuous and pelted the poor skunk with bits of twigs and acorns, chasing him off and jeering him as he retreated hurt as much in spirit as in body.
James: Plodding back towards his home, the skunk was not in a happy place.
Andrew: The contrast of the previous days elation could not have been more bitter to him. After years of resigning himself to lonely isolation, he had finally had a sense of what it would be like to be befriended by another animal only to have it snatched away from him.
James: He slept that night through the dark hours, shivering, and very much alone.
Andrew: At last, he found himself in the arms of sleep and strange dreams crossed to the screen of his mind.
James: First, there was the rabbit that he had encountered that morning, but now, instead of running away from him, the rabbit welcomed him with open paws.
Andrew: Next, there was the snake waiting by the watering hole who this time allowed him to drink his fill of water and pass the time of day pleasantly.
James: Finally, there was the weasel, who instead of pelting him with nuts and acorns, instead offered to share his bounty.
Andrew: And finally after these there charming encounters, he met his new friend, the frog, on the way home and they talked of many things.
James: The skunk woke once more happy and optimistic about the day ahead.
Andrew: He set out along the forest part of the spring in his step determined to find the frog and to seek his counsel on the curious dream that he had had.
James: He tried first along the central paths and roads keeping out of others' way but looking carefully for the frog and when he did not find him there, he tried the watering holes one by one and finally, he started working through the outskirts of the forest, the perimeter where it bled off into grasslands. And there, he found the frog.
Andrew: The frog was sitting on a log at the edge of the forest contentedly ribbiting, breathing in and out, and looking down across the slope of the field to the river at the bottom.
James: "What ho, frog?" said the skunk.
Andrew: The frog looked round, "Ah, it is my friend, the skunk," he said. "And how are you on this wonderful autumnal day?"
James: The skunk explained that although the previous day had been very upsetting, he had had a curious dream with positivity and delightful conversation and was wondering if the frog had any idea what it might mean.
Andrew: "Ah," said the frog, "dreams are a mysterious thing. Sometimes they tell us the truth. Sometimes they tell us the opposite. On this occasion, I wonder."
James: "But what should I do? I cannot see myself having such wonderful interactions with other creatures in the forest and yet, that is the thing I desire most," said the skunk.
Andrew: "Ah," said the frog, "It is a difficult question, is it not? I myself wish that I could stay here and pass conversation with you every day, but alas, I must make my way down to the river and then back home for my animal holiday is going to an end."
James: "What do you mean?" asked the skunk who was not really aware of there being animal or creatures beyond the forest at all.
Andrew: "Well, I mean," said the frog, "that I must return home. I must go back to the river and then turn right along it and there I will find the other frogs, the newts, the water rats who are my friends and acquaintances.
James: The skunk was quite taken aback. The idea of creatures living in a riverbank rather than in the welcoming forest was utterly alien to him and yet, also intriguing.
Andrew: "Do you think," said the skunk, "do you think that I might come with you to this riverbank? Do you think that some of your friends and acquaintances might be more welcoming to me than the animals of the forest?"
James: "Well," said the frog, "I cannot see why not. My frog and toad friends are most gentle and gracious creatures and the voles that live in the riverbank just next to me are some of the friendliest creatures I have ever had the pleasure to get acquainted with."
Andrew: "Shall we make our way there now?" said the skunk, hoping that he was not being too presumptuous.
James: "I think perhaps we should," said the frog and hopped onto the skunk's back. "If I'm not being too presumptuous as to ask for a ride."
Andrew: Off they set, skunk and frog together, strolling down towards the river, passing the time in pleasant conversation.
I'm Andrew and I'm here with James. These stories were recorded without advanced planning and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for More Totally Made Up Tales.