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Archive for June, 2011

The Deer welcomed a new Doe to their family and invited their good friend Fox to be the godfather. Fox was honored but wanted to share that honor with his good friend Sparrow, and likewise Sparrow wanted to share the honor with his good friend Dog. This all sounded fine to Deer but few knew that Dog was prone to drunkenness and had been tied up by his Master. Sparrow was certain that having Dog share godfather duties would help reform him and made quick work at the rope that kept his friend tied up. Together they attended Doe’s baptism and celebrated with a feast, at which Dog got stinking drunk.

Fortunately, Dog was a happy drunk and easily persuaded to leave the festivities before things got out of hand. Sparrow and Fox escorted their wobbly friend down the road to his home, which was fortunate because soon there came a Wagoner intent to run Dog down.

“Out of the way, Dog, or I’ll have you as wheel grease!”

“Don’t do it, Wagoner,” cried Sparrow, “or I’ll see to it that it cost you your life!”

But what did a Wagoner fear from a Sparrow’s threats? With a cry and a whip of the reigns the Wagoner drove his horses and cart right over Dog, shattering his legs. While Fox carefully dragged his friend the rest of the way home Sparrow flew around the head of the Wagoner.

“I warned you, Wagoner, and now this shall cost you your life!”

Sparrow flitted around the Wagoner’s head causing only mild irritation. Finally Sparrow landed on the head of one of the Wagoner’s horses and faced him.

“I warned you, Wagoner, and now this shall cost you your life!”

Vexed, the Wagoner reached for his ax and quickly dispatched it toward Sparrow. But Sparrow was quick to jump out of the way leaving the ax to cleave the skull of the horse, killing it instantly. The Wagoner stopped to retrieve his ax, cut free the dead horse, and proceed with his other two horses. Sparrow watched and waited from a nearby tree until the Wagoner was underway again then flew back and perched himself on the second horse’s head, and the third, as each time he repeated his taunt to the Wagoner and each time the Wagoner dispatched his ax.

“I warned you, Wagoner, and now this shall cost you your life!”

With no horses left the Wagoner abandoned his cart and walked the rest of the way home with the Sparrow following close by. Once home he sat down by the oven to warm his bones and chill his temper. Sparrow watched from the window until the Wagoner was calmed then began again with his promise.

“I warned you, Wagoner, and now this shall cost you your life!”

Instantly enraged the Wagoner grabbed his ax and hurled it at the window, shattering the glass and allowing the cold night air along with Sparrow into the room. The Wagoner grabbed a mallet and began chasing Sparrow around the room. Wherever Sparrow landed the Wagoner would bring down his mallet with a crushing blow that would destroy all it touched but always missed Sparrow. The mantel, the oven, tables and chairs, all of it destroyed in the Wagoner’s fury. Finally he tossed aside the mallet and caught Sparrow with his bare hands.

“Now I’ve got you!”

“I warned you, Wagoner, and now this shall cost you your life!”

And without a moment’s hesitation the Wagoner swallowed the bird whole. But Sparrow pecked and clawed his way around the Wagoner’s stomach, scratching and climbing his way back up the Wagoner’s throat until he was able to perch on the Wagoner’s tongue and safely avoid his teeth.

“I warned you, Wagoner, and now this shall cost you your life!”

Desperate, the Wagoner grabbed his hunting gun and handed it to his wife, who had watched the entire proceedings with horror. Taking aim she fired the gun but only managed in taking off her husband’s head allowing Sparrow to fly away into the night.

.

That’s it? What of the rest of it?

What do you mean?

What happened to Dog?

I think that we’ve had enough story for the evening.

No! Tell me!

Very well, but I warn you, it isn’t pretty.

.

While Sparrow was tormenting the Wagoner, Fox managed to bring Dog back home but not without a great deal of painful moaning on Dog’s part. When Dog’s Master came out to investigate Fox ran off and hid as he knew humans thought little of him.

“What happened here?” growled Master.

“I was run down by a Wagoner in the road.”

“You’re a drunk and a liar and it serves you right for running away like that. If you’re still alive come morning we’ll see whether your wounds are worth tending to.”

Fox could not believe the Master’s cruelty and in his anger came running from his hiding place yelping wildly in his friend’s defense. When the Master saw the Fox coming for his throat he reached for his gun and fired. Without taking aim his shot went wild and struck Dog dead, silencing his pain and yelps instantly. Blind with rage Fox brought down Dog’s Master and tore away at him as he would a chicken in a coop. Afraid that he would be hunted for his crimes Fox ran back to the Deer for counsel. With his muzzle and fur red and glistening with blood Fox explained all that had happened and Buck Deer listened with great seriousness.

“We must hide you, for we cannot risk anything happening to our Doe’s new godfather.”

Buck led Fox deep into the woods and stopped at a small train in the undergrowth.

“Follow this trail all the way to the other side of these woods.  There you will find a stream where you can clean yourself and a cave in which to hide. Come back in three days and we shall see how things stand.  But hurry, we can’t be certain the humans won’t send hunting dogs looking for you.”

Grateful, Fox followed the trail cut in the undergrowth as fast as he could. Buck stood and only jumped a little when he heard the fatal snap of a huntsman’s trap catch and kill Fox. When he returned to his family he found that Sparrow had arrived to tell his version of the story. Once again Buck listened with great seriousness as Sparrow hopped around on the ground in great excitement. At one point Sparrow hopped just behind one of Buck’s hooves and with a quick snap of his leg he sent Sparrow sailing into a nearby tree. Buck nudged gently at Sparrow to make sure he was dead, then turned to his wife.

“We must do better in choosing godparents for our children in the future,” Buck said.

.

Now, off to bed with you.

.

“The Fairy Tale About the Faithful Sparrow” (1812) by Jacob Grimm is story #258 in The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm translated by Jack Zipes. It always amuses me how many of these stories start so innocently – a birth and baptism in this case – and then quickly become violent revenge stories. The “child’s” voice asking for the rest of the story is, obviously, me wanting answers to some pressing questions. I tried to fill in the missing details in keeping with general tone of the tale. I imagine that Sam Peckinpah would have like this one in particular.

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