Mother and Friend by Erulisse

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Disclaimer:  Tolkien built the sandbox, I only play with the bucket and shovel that he left for me.  No money, profit or non, is made from the publication of this story. 


 

Mother and Friend

 

Maitimo returned to the family’s countryside compound for a holiday from court.  He had been working as a scribe for his Grandfather for many months and finally had received a break from the highly charged political life of a courtier.  Waking up after a restful sleep, he heard only the breezes through the trees and the early morning songs of the birds.  He arose from his bed and, putting on clothing that his Grandmother would have consigned to the trash heap, he joined his brother Tyelkormo on the wide porch.  Taking the cup of steaming tea offered to him by a servant with a nod of thanks, he turned to survey the broad cleared yard and the tall trees edging it.  They whispered to him of dark dells and cool secrets waiting for his exploration and discovery. 

Suddenly, from around the corner of the house, came a young buck, his antlers just starting to form.  The buck ran into the clearing and then stopped short, turning around and looking expectantly behind him as if searching for something or someone.  Within a few seconds, running around the corner at full speed and panting, came Huan, barreling directly towards the deer. 

The buck instead of fleeing from the great hound ran towards him, jumping over the dog nimbly, and then turning to face him again.  Huan, in his turn, took a quick nip at the back hooves as they cleared his head, and then faced the deer again.  Touching noses, the two animals headed off again, chasing each other across the yard.  They went back and forth, alternating who was chasing who:  hound, deer, hound and deer.  This went on for a goodly length of time, while Maitimo stood speechless, watching the unusual pair playing in the greensward.  Eventually the two animals stopped, and walking together they moved towards a shady spot and settled down next to each other to cool down. 

“Turko, what…?” asked Maitimo completely astonished at the antics of the unusual pair. 

“Oh, my brother, I forgot that you have not been here for several months.” His brother laughed.  ”Huan rescued an orphan fawn this past spring, carrying it from a hidden thicket in his jaws.  He refused to drop it or leave it, so we ended up bringing it back here. 

“We fed the baby, alternating between a bitch that was suckling her pups at the time, and bottles of goat milk.  Many of the young children here begged to be allowed to feed him.  Huan refused to leave its side – he made an unusual mother, but as good a one as I’ve ever seen.  Because of his care and the efforts of others, the fawn was saved from death and now has grown as you see him.” 

“And now?” questioned Maitimo. 

“Now they are the best of friends.  They play morning and night.  The buck refuses to leave the compound, so when Huan and I go hunting, it doesn’t come along with us.  But Huan refuses to be parted from his friend for any length of time, so our long hunting trips are temporarily suspended.” 

“This goes on every day?” 

“Every day without fail,” Tyelkormo answered.  “Theirs is an unusual but true friendship.  They sleep together in one of the kennel areas, and they dine together.  Huan has taught the buck to play tag and they both play fetch.  I would never have dreamed that my hound could act like such a mother and companion, but it is pleasant to me to see such a soft side in my hunting companion.” 

* * * * *

While the buck lived, Huan was its constant companion.  When it grew older and less able to play the running games they had played together for so long, he still kept it company, leaving its side only when called by his Master.  When the buck finally died, Huan mourned as much as any mother might at the death of a child. 

In years far distant both in time and place, in a land that had not crossed the dreams of their youth, the thoughts of the seven brothers sometimes turned to the home they had left behind them and those idyllic days.  One remembrance was often spoken of with joy and with laughter; they recalled the love of a dog for a hart and the unusual, but constant, friendship that the two of them had formed. 

 

 


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