Monday, October 10, 2011

A Quarrel Over Breakfast

One fair autumn morning, when the sun filled all the wood with golden light and the last of the clinging leaves rattled in cool breezes, a chipmunk ventured out to find his breakfast. A sniff of the air and a couple flitting glances around convinced him that it was safe to move further out. With tail upright and head down, he inspected the ground for promising morsels.

“Fine morning, Chip,” said a rough voice from behind a tree. Out stepped Jack, the ragged old jackal.

Chip’s little heart fluttered. “Uh, hi Jack,” he said, trying to sound casual, “the morning is quite fine.” He knew Jack well, and knew not to trust his attempts at friendliness. He was notorious for playing with his prey, and never spoke to one of the little ones unless he fancied them for food.

Jack sauntered strategically between the chipmunk and his homey hole. As he began creeping towards Chip, a sultry voice whispered, “SSSilly Jackal, you crooked canine. SSSally you forth, the ‘munk is mine!”

It was slithering Cecilia, and the fur on both Jack and Chip’s backs quivered. She approached in an insidious arc and with sinister glee she showed the two mammals her particularly long and elegant fangs.

There was a pause as Jack considered seizing Chip in a flash and darting away. Cecilia leered at him as if she dared him to try.

Chip himself was as if frozen between the two pairs of hungry eyes. Jack had almost made up his mind to pounce when a sudden rustle rushed down deftly upon the chipmunk and like a swift wind was away.

Jack and Cecilia gaped, stunned, and heard a mocking voice trailing off through the woods: “Farewell, friends! Your hesitation has hurt you. The morning is wearing away and some of us are hungry!”

“Curse that falcon!” Jack said with real malice, “May his wings wither!”

“Felix is a fine fellow,” Cecilia said with a grin, “but he certainly knows how to spoil a fine breakfast.”

Jack and Cecilia stared blankly off into the woods, almost as if they hoped their eyes had the power to recall the thief. When it became clear that both bird and breakfast had flown far away, they both turned slowly back to glare at each other. There was a sort of unspoken blaming that took place between them then, while both tried to regain their swagger.

The silence was broken by a low growl. Jack put a paw to his belly and slowly moped away, mumbling something about needing to find something to eat.

Cecilia turned away as well, slithering over dry leaves. “SSSilly Jackal”, she said to herself, knowing as she did that chipmunks are a bit tart for her taste anyway.

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