Rites - Part V

It wasn’t until several hours after noon that the first of the elk began to be served. Lars had emerged from his kitchen, apron streaked with blood and grime, to announce that the meal was ready to begin. Charles had spoken very little himself that day, preferring instead to let others tell him of their pride, of their hope, and of their well-wishings for him and his wife. Somebody had brought a lute, and after a few too many mazers of beer began to strum and sing a few old soldier’s songs, much to the amusement of all.

But once Lars had made his announcement, all eyes were drawn to the tables where James and the other kitchen hands were busy at work setting forks and plates. A cat brought in two baskets of freshly baked bread, setting them down at either end of the first table. Charles could not help but think of Brennar as he saw that, but the feline was an orangish-yellow in colour. Lord Avery directed him to the central seat on the side facing the hearth, while Misha flanked him, making sure he sat there.

The bread baskets were passed around the table, until everyone had taken one loaf. They were warm in his paws, sweet smelling of the ovens. Small crockery ewers filled with a white buttery cream were placed along the table, in which Charles and the rest dipper the ends of the bread before eating, adding a honeyed texture to the flavour.

For several minutes, while many continued to laugh and tell stories, some of them terribly embarrassing to the rat – Misha was especially insistent on that point, dredging up all of Charles’ old foibles – they supped upon the bread, while the centre of the table was cleared off by Lars’ servers. James was amongst them, dressed in a loose grey jerkin that was clearly a few inches too large for him.

“Why don’t you join us, James?” Charles admonished when the donkey stood near carrying back a dirtied platter. “You are my friend too, and my friends should celebrate with me!”

The Donkey’s ears fell back on either side of his head, long tail swinging more animatedly back and forth between his legs. “I like serving you, Charles.”

“But I ask you to sit and sup with us!”

James smiled then, even as a few of the other Longs nearby also called for him to sit and join with them. He shook his head though. “I will ask Lars if I may once everyone is served. Is that fine?”

Charles still held his half-eaten bread in his paw. His claws were picking away at the moist inside, rolling the doughy meal between his fingers. “If the good bruin does not let you sup with us I shall have a word or two with him, you tell him that.”

James chuckled and nodded, and then vanished once more back within the kitchens themselves. Charles turned back to his jolly companions, dipping the bread once more into the ewer to drench it in the buttery treat. Misha quickly resumed his tale for the others nearby about the time that Charles was captured while in his full rat form by a Lutin and placed in its knapsack to be roasted over a fire and eaten. Unsurprisingly, the fox was embellishing the tale yet again, this time letting Charles be tied to a spit for roasting before he managed to escape.

“So from now on,” Misha finished, his smile crooked, “Charles is very careful about which dinner invitations he accepts, because he never knows if he’s being invited to eat, or be eaten!”

This last brought a fresh chorus of laughter about the table. Lord Avery had his arm pressed against his face, his other patting the rat’s back firmly. Even Charles laughed, shaking his head as he did so, trying to force more bread into his muzzle to quiet his chuckling.

It was not a moment later that the rich aroma of freshly cooked meat became overpowering. Charles an everyone else on his side of the table turned in their seats to see several large platters of sliced venison carried through the doorway. Misha’s ear perked, and his tail started wagging, and he began to lick his chops in anticipation, appearing a faithful hound expectantly waiting his meal from his master. Charles still held a sliver of bread left in his paw, but he did not eat it, staring only at the meat still stewing in thick brown juices.

One of the platters was set down in front of Charles himself, by James no less. Smiling, the rat turned on his friend, “Have you asked?”

The donkey nodded and smiled. “I have permission.”

With a a delightful smile, Charles gave the donkey a firm pat on the back, “They you must sit across from me. There scoot aside, make room for my distinguished friend. He’s joining us at this table.”

Finbar and Ralls, the latter of which had spent the early part of the afternoon at the baby shower, though would say nothing of it, both scooted aside, leaving a small bit of space for the donkey morph. Down the line, the other Keepers and Glenners also moved a bit, giving even more room. After a few seconds of shifting about, a nice space was left for James to take.

The donkey appeared quite embarrassed by this, eyes wide with astonishment. “That’s quite an honour, Charles. Nobody has ever given me an honour like this.”

“Well, it’s high time somebody did, by all the saints!” Charles stood up then and gestured to the spot. “Sit, please! Would some one bring a plate for my friend. He is joining us at my table!” The tabby scurried back into the kitchen to retrieve them, and still with a chagrined colour to his face and ears, James walked about the table and sat down across from the rat.

Charles and those nearest him did not touch any of the meat until James had his plate before him. Once he did though, and the rat had selected his first slice of thick red meat, none of the others were shy about selecting their own morsels. Angus himself, sitting as he was next to Lord Avery, selected five slices, and referred to it as a beggar’s serving.

Ripping a bite of the venison free with his teeth, Charles let his face melt as he tasted the finely hewn elk. It was rich within his muzzle, hot and soft, yet tough against his teeth, making him chew it for long seconds, squeezing every last drop of juice from its sinews. After swallowing, he smiled to the donkey across from him who was teasing at the meat uncertainly. “What a fine job you have done, James. This is exquisite! Can you not eat it?”

The donkey shook his head. “I can still eat meat,” he said, smiling then, slicing free a small bite. “I just did not cook it, that’s all.”

“What modesty!” Misha proclaimed then, having already wolfed down half of the first slice. They were only a claw’s width in thickness, but Charles could not stretch his fingers from one end to the other. “Next you’ll tell me you have no skill with a sword!”

James had been about to put the first bite within his muzzle, but paused. “I have a good teacher,” he finally said, nodding his head to the badger. He then shoved the bite into his mouth, hewing slowly, so as not to have to speak again.

Angus had already finished one of his steaks, and was starting in on his second. He quickly washed down the meat with a drop of red wine, and then let out a barking laugh, paw slapping the table, thick claws threatening to tear great caverns within the wood. “Hah! He may be shy with his tongue, but put a sword in his hand and he’s my great grandfather Cruinh reborn. He’s a coiled viper, and he’s not afraid to strike.”

James shoved another piece of meat in his mouth, trying to hide the blush that was creeping out upon his face. Charles smiled then and lifted his goblet high, recently filled with fine red wine. Charles hoped he would not drink too much of it. He had little desire to taste that foul concoction again the next day. “Well, there is more thanks to be given still. This is a might fine catch that you and Berchem have made. You are indeed a mighty hunter, Angus! I’m sure your great grandfather... Cruinh, “ he had to say the tricky name slowly to get it right, the sound of it unfamiliar to his native southern tongue, “would be mighty proud of you.”

Misha and the others about him also raised their goblets in salute. Angus smiled widely then, holding his goblet high, the wine spilling over the end, splashing into the fur of his paw. “You do me great honour, Charles, friends. Cruinh has been my ancestral guide for the whole of my life.”

“I’m sure were he alive today,” Lord Avery said, obviously knowing more of the tale of Angus’s ancestor than did the Longs, “then he would be a badger just as you are.”

This only made Angus beam even more brightly. He laughed heartily, and pounded the squirrel on the back so hard that Avery nearly toppled over onto his plate. “That he would be! That he would! Indeed be!” Angus then settled back into his seat, his smile so wide it threatened to sunder the top of his head from the rest of his body.

A short distance down the table was Jono the storyteller, eagerly spinning a yarn for those nearest him of his own travels. Charles had heard it before, but it always was a bit different each time. As he heard the rise and fall of the panther’s voice, he could not help but smile, recalling his own days of storytelling, even though his words were written down for the learned to enjoy. He absently sliced a bit more of his steak free, gripping the tender meat between two claws, dangling before his muzzle. “Perhaps you can tell us a story of your great grandfather, Angus. I would like to hear more about him.”

“Yes, tell us a story,” Misha said, before shoving more meat within his muzzle, having already helped himself to several more slices from the heaping platter.

“We’d all like to hear about your ancestor, Cruinh,” Ralls said, smiling broadly.

Angus shifted about in his seat then, glancing once down to his plate, one paw scratching at the white diamond of fur on his forehead. “Well, let me think a moment. I’m not much for telling stories. Not like Jono, or yourself, Charles. But I’ll do my best.”

“All we ask,” Finbar said quietly, his own musteline features creased in a subtle grin. The ferret had spent most of his time thus far draped around Danielle, but with the marten off at the baby shower, he appeared strangely incomplete.

Angus leaned back a bit then, his claws lacing together around his broad chest. “Welladay, you’ve put me on the spit now. You’ll roast me like this fine elk ere I’m done.” He tapped his thumbs at his chest, tongue curling up over his jowl in contemplation. His eyes strained upwards, as if they were trying to turn about in his head to help look through his mind for a story.

Finally, he let out a barking laugh and slapped the table one more time, making his plate and goblet jump. “I was wrong, I do have a story about old Cruinh that’ll save me hide. ‘Twas the time he found out he was to be a father! His wife, my great grandmother, was named Aegwih, a great tower of a woman she was. They met in a tavern in Bremen, in the days when the Giantdowns were wild but free.

“Cruinh had come in with his bearskin cloak, the great head of the beast a cowl for his head, and had bet that not a single man in the town could wrestle his hand to the table. And not a single man could either, but Aegwih, a serving wench in those days, mocked him and the rest by saying, ‘No man may beat him, but this woman certainly shall!’. Cruinh, now challenged by a woman, could not have refused to wrestle her. And after only a few second’s struggle, Aegwih forced his hand to the table. From that moment on, he loved her as he had no other woman, and he had indeed taken to bed many other women before her, and on that very night told her he wished to marry her.”

Charles laughed a bit at that, smiling, picturing the northern giant that Cruinh must have been, the face of Habakkuk’s timbersman friend Lindsey came to mind, losing an arm-wrestling contest to a woman. Misha and the rest were laughing too. Charles put that last bit of venison into his muzzle, chewing slowly as he listened.

“Now Cruinh and his men kept Bremen safe from the giants and the Lutins that roamed those regions. It is said that Cruinh was so large a man himself that he often could disguise himself as a member of that ancient race, sneak amongst them, before slaughtering them all with his mighty sword Uadhael, which means ‘Black-nail’ in the old tongue. He would take their ears and wear them as trophies about his neck.”

“Good man!” Misha exclaimed, smiling wickedly at that. Charles had seen the fox’s own collection of ears, though he only wore them into battle.

“He had so many ears, that he once strung them about the outside of their home!” Angus declared brightly, nodding to the fox. Charles wondered if Angus had a collection himself, but he’d never seen it. “So it was one winter when Aegwih announced that she was to bear his child. Cruinh was so delighted, that he vowed that by the time the child was born he would double their collection as his present to her. For months he soured the hills and forests, killing whatever foul creatures he could find. And before the child was born, he had done what he’d set out to do.

“But Aegwih did not appreciate his gift. So Cruinh resolved to single-handedly hunt and slay a Galumph, something unheard of in those days. For several days he tracked one of the many-legged beasts, following the monster to its lair, studying both the land and the creature, seeing what it had done to its own prey, how it fed, and the like. Finally, he learned that it took the same way down to the river bed each morning. It passed beneath a small rocky hill, and so Cruinh rolled a boulder atop that hill. It took him a day and a half to place the boulder at the edge, but he did it nevertheless. And that next morning, when the Galumph crawled past, Cruinh pushed the boulder over the edge, crushing the create below!

“The Galumph has no ears, and so as his prize, Crunih carried the creature back to their home upon his back. For four days he walked through the snow, the decaying corpse his greatest trophy ever. When he presented it to Aegiwh, she scolded him and said, ‘Take that filthy thing from my home, and take your ears too! If you wish to bring me a present, bring me a single fruit and I will be all the merrier!’

“Chastened, Cruinh carried the dead Galumph back to the river bed and dumped it there. His ears he buried in a chest in the forest, where he often went to admire them after their son was born. And when the child was born, Cruinh named him Galurigh, for his present was refused. Galurigh was my grandfather, and it was he who brought my family to the Glen.”

Angus winked then, leaning back in his seat. “But as for Cruinh, for their next child he brought Aegwih a Galumph’s weight in Southern fruits. Again she chastised him saying, ‘You foolish man! We will ne’er be able to eat them all.’ And after that, he never brought her another gift for any other child she bore him.”

The badger shoved the next slice of venison into his muzzle full and complete, chewing heavily as he smiled to the rest of them. It took them a moment to realize the tale was over. Misha laughed long and hard then, while the rest smiled and joined in, though not nearly as boisterously as the fox.

“My good, Angus,” Misha said at last. “That was a tale as fine as any bard has ever told! Your great grandfather Cruinh was a fine man, one with whom I would have been proud to share a drink.”

“I thank you, Misha,” Angus said around his food. “You do honour both him and me!”

“Let us then give a toast in his memory,” Charles said, holding his goblet aloft. “For a fine tale of a man’s first child, in honour of my first child to be!”

“To Cruinh and to Charles!” Ralls said then, lifting his goblet high.

Charles felt his ears flush red at that, but he smiled, and held his cup up to meet the Long’s. Misha, Lord Avery, Finbar, Angus, an James did likewise, repeating the toast. Red wine spilled across their paws, and the platter of meat as they pressed them together, but not a one of them cared. When he lifted the goblet to his muzzle, he finished the rest of it in one draught. Suddenly, one of the Glenner’s was at his shoulder carrying a carafe filled with the same wine, refilling his goblet.

He shuddered as he watched the red liquid fill his cup, swirling and sparkling clearly. It looked as if he were going to have to quaff that noxious concoction in the morning anyway. Well, if that were the case, he’d make sure he really deserved it! Smiling broadly, he drank some more, even as the pages refilled his friend’s goblets. Ravenously, he finished the last of his slice, and reached out to take another.

Baerle had waited so patiently, while Kimberly opened the rest of the gifts that had been brought by her friends. But there was no one else left who had yet to give their gift. Still sitting in her paws were the parchments showing her what Misha intended to build in the next few months, a mobile to hang over the crib with pieces that would spin as it turned on its central axis. She could not understand the mechanical drawings, but the finished product was going to look very nice she thought.

Folding them up gently, she handed them back to Caroline, who took them and slipped them in a thin leather pouch for safe keeping. Kimberly then set her paws on her knees and leaned forward brightly, smiling to the opossum who had her arms wrapped around her knapsack. She then looked back to the otter. “That will be lovely, Caroline. Tell Misha I said thank you!”

Caroline’s smile could not have grown larger. “I will, Kimberly. I will!”

She rocked a bit in her seat, and then turned her head fully upon her good friend Baerle, and said, “Thank you so much for waiting Baerle. I wanted to save your gift for last.”

At this, the opossum’s face brightened, her whiskers lifting perceptibly. She pulled the knapsack in her arms up to her chest, and crossed the room, long tail swaying gently behind her, though she was careful not to knock anything over with it. “I don’t have much, but I know you’ll be able to use these,” Baerle said, setting the knapsack down, and pulling the drawstring loose. She then lifted out several black leather pouches.

Kimberly held out her paws, blinking, “Milk bladders!” she exclaimed with delight as she recognized the nozzles on the ends. “Oh you are right, I could use these!” She took them in her paws, and stroked the smooth leather. They did not appear to hold much, but it would be more than enough for her child.

Baerle grimaced slightly then. “I have used these before, but I have cleaned them regularly.”

“I think they’re wonderful,” she stated delightedly, and while still holding them in one paw, stood up and wrapped her arms firmly about her friend. Baerle returned the gesture warmly, and the two hugged tightly for several seconds. “Thank you so much, Baerle! You are a true friend, a true sister!”

Baerle’s ears blushed ever so slightly, but her smile was pure. “I’m so glad to see you so happy, Kimberly. You deserve it,” this last was said with such conviction, that for a moment Kimberly was stunned breathlessly.

“Why... thank you, Baerle!” Kimberly said again, and then embraced her once more. When they separated, she noticed the rest of the faces about the room smiling at the two, as if she had never seen any of them there before. She blushed and almost fell back within her seat, still clutching the milk bladders in one paw.

Baerle reached down and picker her knapsack up once more, stepping back out of the way to give the rodent some room. With all of the gifts now given, many of the women began to talk quietly amongst their neighbours, while Kimberly continued to just touch the bladders, as well as stare at all of her new possessions. She would be long at sorting them, but Charles and the rest would be there to help her through it.

Glancing towards Lady Avery, she saw that the squirrel was poking her head out the doorway. It was not yet night, but darkness was cloaking the Glen like a comforting jacket. When Angela pulled her head back in, she smiled to Kimberly, “We should begin preparing for this evening. Burris will be here ere long, but we should not wait any longer.”

Nodding, Kimberly set the leather bladders on top of one of the cribs and stood up. Lady Avery was giving out orders to a few of the other women present, to keep the fire nice and hot, to start one in the bedroom, and to otherwise get everything out of the way. Kimberly walked into the kitchen, where the basket of herbs waited. She had collected every single one of them. None had touched any of the herbs but her, for that was how it had to be, or so Lady Avery had claimed.

Lifting the grey basket lid, she smiled and stared down at the heavy collection of greenery. Most of them they had not even picked themselves, as the season was too early for them to grow. But they could be bought from merchants, and there was one in Lake Barnhardt that carried many of them. On those days, they had spent most of their time walking to Barnhardt’s land through the forest, not an easy hike by any means, but one that they could each manage.

Behind her, she heard Lady Avery’s voice as she came into the kitchen, “I’ll prepare the stove so we can boil some water.”

“No, let me,” Kimberly said, turning on her paws. “I’m used to working in kitchens.”

“By Akkala you will not,” the squirrel said primly. “I have two sons and I do know my own way around a kitchen. Go bid farewell to some of your guests, they are beginning to worry over their children.” There was an understanding warmth to her voice, despite her lording about as if she were Kimberly’s mother-in-law

Kimberly smiled then and flipped the lid back into place. “All right, but I do so want to do as much as I can. This is my child.”

Angela turned then, her grey-furred muzzle stretched into a warm smile. “Naturally. Now hurry.”

With the hems of her skirt held tightly in her paws, Kimberly sashayed back into the main room, smiling at all of her friends as they milled about talking animatedly and excitedly with one another. She could hear several people speculating about names for the child. Neither she nor Charles had spent a single moment wondering bout that yet. But, there would be time enough for that later, once they knew what their child would be.

As Lady Avery had predicted though, as she came by to thank them all for coming and bringing their lovely gifts, several of them begged her permission to go and locate their children, or to find their husbands, or to simply be able to rest after a long exciting day. Smiling, Kimberly granted each and every request, watching as most of the Glen women one by one filed out the doorway, as did quite a few of the Longs.

Baerle stayed of course, as did Caroline. Georgette, who had been fidgeting nervously through the entire proceedings, hesitated a moment when Kimberly reached her. She could not help but wonder what this man-turned-woman had thought of the baby shower, but did not ask. Eventually, the embarrassed Long Scout begged her permission to leave so that she might see what the men were up to. Kimberly smiled and granted it, and asked her to make sure Charles was not getting himself too drunk. Georgette laughed and assured the rat she would.

But when she was finished, the rom felt almost empty, as there were only Baerle, Caroline, and Walter and Annette Levins. The hedgehog was humming a merry little tune to herself as she stacked the gifts within the cribs against one wall, carefully folding and straightening the clothes, milk bladders, and anything that could be folded or straightened. Walter was stirring up the red embers burning in the hearth with a poker, while Baerle and Caroline went into her bedroom to start a fire there.

Kimberly returned to her kitchen to find Lady Avery humming a similar tune to herself as she poured water from the cistern in one corner into their small brass kettle. There was the steady sound of water dropping, as the ice outside melted, some of it funnelled into the narrow tube that fed into their cistern. Normally they had to go down to the lake to fetch their water, but during the melt, there was never a shortage.

“Ah, Kimberly, be a dear and bring the herbs.”

She took the basket in her paws and walked up behind the squirrel. “What do you want me to do with them?” she asked.

Lady Avery produced a knife and set it on the lacquered counter. “Chop them up as small as you can get them. Do keep the different herbs in separate piles though. We do not want to mix them, yet.”

Kimberly nodded, and set the basket on the counter, lifting the lid once more. She reached in and took out the first batch, and found herself humming an old sailor’s song she’d heard in her youth as she chopped.

At some point, somebody had started singing. In a room full of men, many of whom who had far more wine than they should, this was always a highlight for any evening. One thing would lead to another, and soon the whole table was joined in riotous song, voiced raised in pleasant harmony at times, more often by discordant clashes that would have made a dog howl in agony.

Jurmas the Innkeeper was leading them in a Pyralian Sailor’s song, so they all hand their arms about their neighbours shoulders, and swayed back and forth as if they were standing on a sailing ship out on the rolling seas. How the deer had come to know a Pyralian sailor’s song he would not say, but it was a pleasant and upbeat tune, easy for drunken men to belt out.

“Hey-a-ho, oh the sea she’ll know
That men have trod upon her so
Ready men, for we are to go
Sailing up to Ellcaran-o!

Sailing up to Ellcaran-o!
Yes, men, we sail to Ellcaran-o!”

Jurmas smiled warmly, and gave a bow, for once not dangerously, as he had long since shed his antlers. Charles found himself still wobbling back and forth, he could almost feel the cave floor beneath him rocking as if her were being tossed about on the deck of a sailboat. It had been a long time since he had ridden on board a ship, for which he was very glad. He could never have been a sailor, despite al he learned about keeping his balance as a Sondeckis.

“Wonderful,” Misha shouted in delight to the cervine Innkeeper. He too was still swaying, but he gripped the table with one paw to steady himself. At the end of the table, Charles could see that poor Allart had leaned too far to one side and toppled over onto the ground. Misha raised his goblet into the air, “Another song!”

Nobody stood immediately with their own favourite hymn, and for good reason. At that moment, in through the door walked several females, mostly Long Scouts. Finbar stood up from his seat as Danielle sashayed up to him, sliding her paws along his backside, threading them together just over his tail. He did the same, and the two held each other oblivious to everyone else for several long moments. Jotham and Georgette also entered, the former helping Allart to his seat again, and taking a place next to him, while the latter strode over to the centre of the table.

She smiled as she watched the rat sway back and forth still. “I see I’m too late,” she said, her voice secretly delighted.

“Too late for what?” Charles did his best not to slur, gripping the table with one paw to steady himself. “Are they finished yet?” he asked, his voice more excited and urgent.

Georgette shook her head then. “The baby shower is over, but your wife and Lady Avery are just getting started. They said it will be some while yet. So stay and enjoy. Do you mind if I join you?”

Misha patted the table firmly with one paw, “By all means, sit! Sit! Lars, a tankard for my fellow Long! Hurry man, we’ve more singing to do! My good bruin you should join us! Do you know any songs?”

Lars, who was sipping a bit at his own red wine while watching over his brewery and those within it, shook his head sadly. “You have already sung all the ones I know.”

Misha waved his paw insistently, “Well join us anyway!’

Charles nodded and waved his own paws about, “There are many seats left. You too are a friend, and I want you to celebrate with me! Please sit!”

The bear let out a delighted laugh, a rumbling sound that shook his whole chest, and then nodded. “As you wish! First let me get that tankard!” He disappeared once into the kitchen, appearing a moment later with the libation, setting it before Georgette, before he too sat down across from her.

“Another song!” Misha called out, holding his own tankard aloft, the froth swirling about inside.

With a delicious grin, Ralls gestured to the fox with his mazer. “You haven’t sung one yet.”

There was a delighted laughter around the table, a the fox blinked in embarrassment. Charles patted his friend on the back, nearly upending himself, if Lord Avery had not caught his elbow. “Come ole friend! Surely you must know a song or three!” the rat said, hiccuping once, his smile as simple as he felt.

“A scouting song?” Finbar suggested, as he and Danielle sat down together in the same spot he’d occupied only a moment before. The marten was practically sitting in the ferret’s lap, as she teased his whiskers with a gentle brush of her claws.

Misha nodded firmly then. “A scouting song... Ha! I know a good one.” He mused for a moment, running one paw across his muzzle. “Ha! It is from my homeland.” Slowly, the fox rose to his feet, mazer in his right paw, the other pressed down on the rat’s shoulder for support. He took a deep breath, and then belted out the chorus in bright but hushed tones, as if he were out in the wilderness scouting that very moment.

“Watch and watch and watch we do,
And travel far and near.
Eyes and ears note every clue,
There’s nothing that we fear!”

He smiled then, and waved to the rest around the table. Charles smiled, finding the rhythm easy, the tune almost a whispering voce on the wind. With the rest, they sang the chorus once more, each trying to keep their voice as light as possible, the mood of ageless forests and fields about them.

“Watch and watch and watch we do,
And travel far and near.
Eyes and ears note every clue,
There’s nothing that we fear!

Farmers get up with the sun,
A noble at its peak.
But ere the dawn, the day’s begun
If a scout ‘tis you seek!
Before the bird and worm, we scouts do rise
Each morning’s sun a feast for both our eyes.

Watch and watch and watch we do,
And travel far and near.
Eyes and ears note every clue,
There’s nothing that we fear!

Others have their homes in glass,
In stone or wood or clay.
Scouts will live upon the grass,
In trees or hills all day!
The leaves our roofs, the creeks our ah-venues.
We’ll fight to death to save this home we choose!

Watch and watch and watch we do,
And travel far and near.
Eyes and ears note every clue,
There’s nothing that we fear!

Hunt we will a beast so great
Through mountains high and low.
When we’re done we will have ate
The finest meal we know!
A meal so fine a king could not partake,
Alone we scouts so few are ‘lowed to make!

Watch and watch and watch we do,
And travel far and near.
Eyes and ears note every clue,
There’s nothing that we fear!

No bandit can slip past us,
No brigand shall we miss
The first sound they shall hear of us,
Is our arrow’s sweet hiss!
Then the axe will swing, sword and halberd too.
When you cross a scout, ‘tis a day you will rue!

Watch and watch and watch we do,
And travel far and near.
Eyes and ears note every clue,
There’s nothing that we fear!

Oh there’s nothing, simply nothing,
That a scout dost fear!”

When he had finished, Misha tipped his tankard to his muzzle and finished every last drop of his beer. He then held both his arms wide, smiling to everyone, who gave shouts of delight at the song’s conclusion. Charles reached up to steady his friend who swayed slightly, but the fox had no trouble standing. After another cheer, Misha sat back down, and gave the table a firm smack with his paw. “That was good! Ah, another song! And more beer my good bruin! More beer and song!”

Charles cheered as well, “More beer and song!” For now he was happy. There would be plenty of time to worry over his wife later.

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