Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bedtime Stories

I have a couple of comic type blogs in the works in which my oldest spawn plays a starring role, but have been a bit too busy with the kids and house and what not to get them proofed and up for the viewing public. As I logged in today I fully intended to "fix" these posts and get them up. Then I completely lost interest in those topics and decided to instead write about bedtime stories. Bedtime stories are pretty much a set in stone nightly tradition in the Elliott household. We read a book, tell a story, and say prayers and go to sleep. We do not skip our routine unless we are up extremely late, and even then the spawn usually talks me into a very short story. This story, which I made up after yet another request for a cup of water, is about just that, a cup of water. I have expanded it and cleaned it up a bit for the reading public. I hope you enjoy.

A Cup of Water

By K.L. Elliott

Once upon a time there lived a little boy, in a medium sized house, by a great, big sea. It was a wonderfully friendly sea. Its waters yielded fish into his father's nets, and threw shells up on the beach for the little boy to collect. It only asked that the little boy and his family in the medium sized house respect its creatures and help them if need arose. The boy and his family heeded the sea's request and lived in happiness and prosperity. The little boy, who ate fish and breathed the fresh sea air, grew and grew and was soon to be a great big boy, but had not quite gotten there yet. He still had to stand on a stool to wash his face at night and his mommy still checked his hands before supper to make sure they were clean, but he just knew, he had almost grown enough to be a great, big boy.

Being almost a great, big boy, and being a rather bright child, the boy decided to walk along the shore every day, and help any of the sea's creatures who might be in danger and so help his family as well. During these walks the little boy saw many wonderful things. He saw the gulls circling above his father's ship as he sailed home in the evenings. He saw the hermit crabs exchanging shells when they had outgrown their homes, and tidal pools which were like tiny, little worlds all their own. He also saw the selkies leaving their skins (which really look like fur cloaks) on the beach as they changed into their human forms to walk about as men and women. Sometimes the selkies would even stop for a moment and answer questions from the little boy with so much curiosity, and so the boy grew wise to the way of the sea and its sea creatures.

It was on one of his daily rambles that the boy heard the gulls cry, "Doom! Doom!” Hurrying around the curve of cliff the boy saw a man sneaking into the cave one of the selkie ladies used to hide her skin when she walked about on land. The little boy knew the man from his village, and he was a very naughty man. The little boy knew the bad man could be up to nothing good, so he ran as fast as he could back to his medium sized house to tell his mother what he had seen.

"Mother, Mother! I just saw Seamus Wall-Eye sneaking into the cave the selkie ladies use to change their skins! What should we do?"

Startled his mother turned around holding the plate she had been washing, "Sneaking into the selkie cave? I bet I know what he is up to! He is stealing a selkie lady's skin to force her to stay human and be his bride. No woman in the village will have him, so he has resort to stealing and dirty tricks. Well, I'll tell you what, we will play a trick on him, and save the selky lady the trouble of having to deal with that mean old man."

Quickly, the little boy's mother went into her bedroom and took the rich fur coat her father, a sea captain, had brought her from the frozen north on one of his final voyages. She put it in a sack, and gave it to the little boy. "Now you take this sack," she said, " and put it on your little sledge and drag it down the beach to the selkie cave. You walk right on in that cave and act surprised when you see Seamus sitting there with the selkie skin. Ask him what he is doing, and stand in front of your sledge like you don't want him to see what is on it. Now that man is forever after something better than what he has, so you must make him trade you the real selkie skin for the fur coat. While you do that I will wait at the top of the cliff and stop the selkie lady from going down to the cave. You must be a clever little boy, because if we cannot save the selkie lady, the sea may not provide fish for your father's nets." Saying this she kissed her son on the forehead and took off for the trail to the cliff top to stop the selkie lady from walking into Seamus Wall-Eye's trap.

The little boy did as his mother told him and drug his sledge down the beach to the cave. Whistling, he walked in as if he didn't know Seamus was sitting there waiting to trap a selkie lady. "Why hello Mr. Seamus," he said, "what are you doing here?"

Startled, Seamus Wall-eye, sat up straight and glared at the little boy, "Well, uh, I'm uh, I'm uh...I'm a-waiting on somebody. What's are you doing here?"

"Oh, nothing," said the boy, as he eased in front of his sledge with the bag on it, "I had just never seen you down here is all. Are you going to be long? Do you know when your friend will get here?' Seamus eyed the little boy and tried to circle around him to get a better look at the sledge.

"Well, I don't know how long it's a-gonna be before my friend gets here. If I knew when she would get here, I wouldn't be a-waiting, now would I?" Seamus tried to get around the boy again to look at what was on the sledge, but the little boy just moved with him, staying between Seamus and the bag. The little boy knew that he had to make Seamus think that whatever was on that sledge was so important he would try as hard as he could to keep it from a grown-up.

“Say uh, what have you got in that bag,” asked Seamus, standing on his toes and peering around that little boy.

“Oh nothing, just an old fur coat,” the little boy said.

“A fur coat,” Seamus looked surprised, “what are you doing carrying around a fur coat?”

“Nothing,” said the little boy as he eased toward the mouth of the cave, “gee Mr. Seamus, I have to get going. My mom is going to be mad me if I am late for dinner.”

Seamus quickly stepped around the little boy and got between him and the exit.

“Now there’s no need to be hasty there, son. I’ve never seen a fur coat before. Maybe you can take it out of the bag and show it to me.”

“Oh no sir, I couldn’t possibly waste your time like that,” replied the little boy, trying his best to look nervous. “You don’t want to see and old lady’s fur coat. Why it wouldn’t even fit you. It is much too small for a big man like yourself.”

“A lady’s fur coat you say,” said Seamus arching his brow and stepping a little bit closer, “I definitely want to see this lady’s fur coat.” Seamus continued moving closer to the little boy, and suddenly sidestepped and grabbed the bag off the sledge.

“Hey! Give that back! That’s not yours! Someone is going to want that coat! Give it to me!” Cried the little boy, as he pretended to reach for the bag.

Seamus easily pushed the little boy back and dumped the contents of the bag on the floor of the cave. Sure enough, inside was a lady’s fur coat. It was a deep, dark brown, and as soft as a cloud. Seamus, having never seen a fur coat before, was suspicious. He looked from the coat to the selkie skin, which looked like a fur coat, and back.

“Whose coat did you say this was boy?” Seamus asked the little boy.

“Umm my mother’s?” the little boy replied in a hopeful tone.

“Now boy,” said Seamus, “I’ve never heard that you were a liar, and it would surely hurt my feelings if I were the first person you lied to. Now you tell me who this coat belongs to, or so help I am going to thrash you till your legs fall off.”

The little boy looked at Seamus as if he was frightened. He was so close to tricking Seamus and getting the selkie’s skin back. He heaved a great sigh and said, “Honest Mr. Seamus, I was just bringing my mother’s coat to the cave.”

“Just bringing the coat to the cave you say…” Seamus trailed off with a thoughtful look. “Son, I don’t believe you were just bringing a coat to a cave, I think you were bringing it to the lady who comes to this cave at dusk. I think you have a selkie skin, and this here coat,” Seamus kicked at the real selkie skin on the floor, “doesn’t belong to nobody. Well, you can’t trick Seamus Wall-Eye. No sirree.”

Seamus rubbed his hands together with glee. “Well, I’ll tell you what we can do. You can leave this coat with me, and I’ll wait on the lady for you. When she gets here I promise to give it to her. We can put this other fur coat in your bag, and you can take it on home, and tell you folks that the seal lady hasn’t come back for it. Tomorrow, if you come back here, we can trade. This way you can get on home to dinner.”

Seamus had absolutely no intention of giving that coat to the seal lady, and the little boy knew it. What Seamus didn’t know, was that he was about to spend lots of lonely evenings sitting in a cave with a plain old fur coat, while the selkie lady was going to get her skin back and be able to return to the sea without even seeing evil Seamus Wall-Eye. The little boy hung his head, and peered up at Seamus from under his lashes, “I don’t know Mr. Seamus, I am supposed to take care of this coat.”

Seamus crossed his fingers behind his back and told the little boy, “I surely do promise to give this coat back to its owner when she comes for it.”

“I guess it would be ok for me to leave it with you then, since you promised and all,” said the little boy reluctantly. It was very, very hard for him not to giggle at tricking mean old Seamus so very thoroughly. “If you will just put that other coat in my bag, I’ll be going now Mr. Seamus.” With that the boy hastily grabbed the bag, containing the real selkie coat, and quickly drew his sledge out the cave and toward the beach, leaving Seamus standing in the cave gleefully petting the plain fur coat.

The little boy drug the sledge around a bend in the cliff and quickly pulled it up the trail to the top of the cliff where his mother, and the selkie lady, or seal lady waited for him.

Breathlessly, he handed the bag to the selkie lady, “Here you are ma’am, here’s you coat so you can be a seal again. I left Seamus sitting in that cave with Mama’s fur coat. He thinks it is really your skin, so he will be waiting there a while.”

“Good job son,” said the little boy’s mother as the selkie lady examined her coat for damage. “I’ll tell you what else we are going to do to Mr. Seamus Wall-Eye. When we get home, we are going to report my good fur coat as having gone missing. We will also report of seeing a light in that cave, and tell the constables that we think thieves are hiding out in there. When they catch Seamus in there with my coat there will be nothing he can say to get out of trouble. They will take him to jail, and it is no less than he deserves for trying to steal a selkie’s skin and ruin the prosperity of our family and that of the village as well.”

The selkie lady held up her coat, “I can’t thank you enough for saving this for me. If I were stuck on land I would soon pine away for the sea and die. For saving my life I will give you a gift.” The selkie lady pulled a simple carved wooden cup from the pouch hanging from her belt.

“Thank you,” said the little boy looking at the cup and thinking that they had plenty of cups at home.

“It’s a very nice cup…” his mother said.

The selkie lady gave a bark of laughter, “it is a magical cup,” she explained, “This cup will always give you water, cool and sweet. All you must do is hold it to your lips and drink, and the water will always appear within it, until you are no longer thirsty. It will even work for animals or other people, if you choose to share. You will never thirst as long as you have this cup of water.”

“Oh,” said the boy with greater respect, “it is a very useful gift. Thank you lady.”

“Yes, thank you,” said the boy’s mother, “It is a relief to know that whether he is in the middle of the ocean, or a desert, or just down the path, that my son will not know thirst. This is a gift fit for a king.”

The selkie lady smiled as she started down the path. “A king would not need this cup, because everything is brought to him. Your son however, will need to seek his way in the world. This cup will attend to one of his needs, as he attended to my need for my skin. It is an equal gift in my mind. However, if either of you should ever attempt to sell this cup, it will no longer work. You may give it to someone whose need is greater than your own, and you will be rewarded thrice over. That is how the magic of the cup works. Farewell good people. You shall not see me on your beach again. I must find a new beach where no one knows me, so my skin will be safe while I walk on land.” With that, the selkie lady dashed to the edge of the water pulling her fur coat around her as she went. In the space of an eye blink where a pretty lady with large brown eyes had stood there was now a seal diving into the water and swimming away.

“Well,” said the boy’s mother as they started on the path to their cottage, “today has been adventurous day.”

“Yes it has,” said the little boy thinking of his supper.

The boy’s mother stopped on the path and drew her son to her. “Thank you for being so brave, I am so very proud of you.” She knelt down so they were eye to eye. “I want you to keep this cup with you at all times. You never know when you will need a drink of water, and one day your life may depend upon it. Hook it to your belt and carry it with you always.”

The little boy did as his mother asked and hooked the cup to his belt. From then on he would hook his cup to his belt every morning and leave it there until he got ready for bed at night. It was a handy thing to have when he got thirsty playing, or needed to rinse after brushing his teeth. As he got older it even saved his life a time or two, but that is another story.

The End


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