P apa J oe's T.S.S presents:
( Papa Joe's Travelling Storytelling Show)
Papa Joe ~ Stuff & Things
In the Walnut Forest or What Makes Life Worth Living
© 1992 by Papa Joe note
dedicated to Wendy and the study of MS
Once upon a time, in the great green Walnut Forest there lived a queen. The queen had a daughter with yellow hair and a smile that could light up the darkest night. The princess' name was Gwendelyn, but she liked to be called Wendy. They lived in a castle surrounded by trees which Wendy loved more than life. For amongst the trees there were many animals and in the castle there were none.
One day the princess went into the forest to gather walnuts. It wasn't one of the things she was often allowed to do. As she walked through the forest trails, she came upon a dog. He was trapped beneath a fallen branch.
The dog called to Wendy. "Please fair lady, free me from this branch."
Wendy immediately put down her basket and worked to free the dog. After much pulling and lifting the dog stood before her. He licked her hands and said, "Thank you princess, thank you. I would have died beneath that limb. I shall never forget that you saved my life. In your hour of need I will return your kindness."
The princess picked up her basket of nuts and said, "Think nothing of it Master Tracker. I am glad to be of service to you."
The dog would not listen to such talk. "If you ever need me just whistle three times. I will be at your side as fast as the wind can carry me." The dog trotted off into the trees.
Wendy continued to gather nuts in the forest. Then she began to hear sobbing just off the trail. She followed the sound until she came to a hollow log. The sobbing seem to come from the log. Wendy asked, "Who is crying in there?"
The sobbing stopped. She heard a high thin voice from the log. "Oh sweet voice! I am a cat. I squeezed into this lump of wood looking for a meal and now I can't get out."
The princess put down her basket and worked to free the cat. After much chipping and pulling Wendy had widened the hole enough for the cat to squeeze out.
"My thanks to you, young princess. You have saved my life. In your hour of need I will return your kindness."
Wendy picked up her basket of nuts and said, "Think nothing of it Master Chewy. I am glad to be of service to you."
The cat would not listen to such talk. "If you ever have need of me click your tongue three times and I will be at your side as fast as the wind will carry me." Then the cat walked silently into the shadows and was gone.
Wendy continued to gather walnuts until her basket was full. As she turned back toward the castle, she found a wild cow with it's head stuck between two branches of a tree.
The cow called out to Wendy. "Please fair lady, free me from these branches.
Wendy immediately put down her basket and worked to free the cow. After much pulling and pushing the cow stood before her. The cow mooed with relief and said, "Thank you little princess, thank you. I would have died between those limbs. I shall never forget that you saved my life. In your hour of need I will return your kindness."
The princess picked up her basket of nuts and said, "Think nothing of it Mistress Milker. I am glad to be of service to you."
The cow would not listen to such talk. "If you ever need me just call to me three times. I will be at your side as fast as the wind can carry me." The cow wandered off into the forest and was gone.
At dinner that night, Wendy tried to tell her mother about her adventures in the Walnut Forest. The queen said, "This is what comes of letting a grown woman wander about without a care in the world. Imagine a princess soiling her hands on animals."
"It is time for you to be married. I have given the matter much thought and I have chosen a husband for you. You shall marry Baron Boring. He is very rich and owns much land. He shall make you a fine match. In fact, this very day I sent a letter to the Barron, informing him of my opinion."
Wendy was very upset. "Mother, you can't be serious. Baron Boring is the dullest, most tedious man in this kingdom. Why, if I married him, I would die of grief within a week."
The queen's eyes grew cold and mean. "Girl, you will listen to me and obey my commands. I am the Queen. You will marry Baron Boring. I will not tolerate another word of refusal."
Wendy went to her room and cried herself to sleep. Never again was she allowed to walk in the Walnut Forest. The next few months were spent preparing for the wedding she did not want and could not avoid.
Finally the day came when Baron Boring's guards came to escort Wendy to Castle Boring far from the trees of the Walnut Forest. Wendy cried as her mother's servants dressed her in layers of silk and velvet. She cried as Baron Boring's guards lifted her into Baron Boring's carriage. She cried as they began the trek through the Walnut Forest.
There seemed nothing Wendy could do to stop the wedding. As the trees began to thin near the edge of the forest, Wendy was dreaming of her happier days. She thought of the times she had spent gathering walnuts. She remembered the words of the dog she had freed, "Whistle three times."
Wendy threw open the shutters on the carriage and whistled as loud and as long as she could. Three times she whistled, then the wind began to blow. Just as they came to the edge of the forest the dog was beside the carriage. "What may I do for you fair lady?"
Wendy was frantic. "Oh, Master Tracker, don't let these men take me from the Walnut Forest."
Like the wind the dog was snapping at the heels of the horses of Baron Boring's guards. The horses ran away carrying Baron Boring's guards with them. In a minute, all that was left at the edge of the forest was Wendy, the carriage, and the dog.
Wendy leaped from the carriage and wrapped her arms around the dog. "Oh thank you, thank you. You've freed me now."
The dog smiled and said, "I've only returned the kindness you have shown me." With that the dog trotted back into the forest and was gone.
It was spring in the forest. The birds were singing. The flowers were blooming. A gentle breeze was carrying clean fresh spring scents. Wendy was happy to be free, just wandering through the walnut trees.
Wendy wondered what she should do while wandering through the Walnut Forest. She couldn't go back to her mother's castle. She had no other place to go. She wondered and wandered until the sun began to set and the day turned to night.
It was dark in the forest. Night noises filled the air. The cold wind carried only fear. Wendy grew frightened. She had never been in the forest after dark. She was ready to cry when she thought she saw a light far ahead. She didn't think. She didn't wait. She ran as quickly as she could. As she ran it grew brighter. It really was a light. A fire light! A campfire! She ran to the campfire without a thought of anything, except the light.
Sitting around the campfire were bandits. They called themselves the Abominable Bandits. They made their living in the Walnut Forest, attacking and robbing travelers.
When Wendy came running to their fire they began to laugh. "Look at the little bird that has flown to us. Are you afraid of the dark little girl? Oh, we'll keep you safe. No monsters will get you here."
Wendy looked around the fire. The Abominable Bandits were all smiling. "Oh, what a pretty little bird she is. I hope she can cook. But if she can't, it won't matter, for she looks good enough to eat."
The bandits came towards her. Wendy was more frightened than she had ever been before. Then Wendy remembered how she had escaped Baron Boring's own guards. She remembered the words of the cat she had freed, "Click your tongue three times".
Wendy clicked her tongue as loud as she could. Three times she clicked her tongue, then the wind began to blow. Just as the Abominable Bandits reach out to grab her the cat was there.
Wendy was frantic. "Oh, Master Chewy, don't let these men hurt me."
The cat could see what needed to be done. Like the wind he was scratching and biting at the Abominable Bandits. He flew at their faces and raked at their hands. The bandits ran off into night. In a minute, all that was left at the fire was Wendy and the cat.
Wendy dropped to the ground and hugged the cat. "Oh thank you, thank you. You've saved me now."
The cat smiled and said, "I've only returned the kindness you have shown me." The cat walked into the shadows and was gone.
Wendy climbed a walnut tree. She found a nice nook between the branches and fell asleep. The next morning, Wendy left the tree and headed for another part of the forest. She wanted to be as far from the Abominable Bandits as she could get.
Wendy hadn't had any breakfast. She hadn't had any supper the night before. She wasn't used to going without her meals. She was hungry.
By lunch time Wendy was so hungry she was ready to cry. But Wendy had seen difficult times before. She remembered how she had escaped from Baron Boring's own guards. She remembered how she had escaped from the Abominable Bandits. She remembered the words of the cow she had freed, "Call me three times".
Wendy called as loud as she could. Three times she called, then the wind began to blow. The cow was at her side. "Fair lady, what need do you have of me?"
Wendy was hungry, but she remembered how the dog and cat had left as soon as they had done what she had asked. She wanted more than something to eat. "Oh, Mistress Milker, I need two things. First, I need something to eat. Then I need an answer."
The cow looked at the princess with it's huge brown eyes. The cow seemed to look right down into Wendy's soul. "Fair lady, you may drink my milk. I will show you where to find food here in the forest. But I am afraid that I have no answer for your question."
Wendy drank the cow's milk. She ate the food the cow showed her in the forest. Then she sat down and told the cow her troubles. She told how she couldn't go home. She said that she didn't know what to do. Wendy told the cow that she didn't even know why she should keep on living if everyone she met tried to make her do things she didn't want to do.
The cow finally answered her. "If you want to know what makes life worth living, you must find out for yourself. I do know that on the other side of the forest there is a young man sitting in a tower with Misery at his side. He is wondering about the same thing, although for different reasons. If you could find him, perhaps you could find your answer."
With that the cow wandered off into the forest and was gone.
Papa Joe ~ Stuff & Things
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