Best Friends: The Man’s Hat

“I’ve never met a badger before. What’s your name?” "Badger," said Badger. "A fine name for a badger, my name is Eagle, like all eagles."

One day there was a man. The Man’s name was Osvaldo. He was a Tartessian deserter now living on the streets of Ronella, but today he was camping in the forest. Since the forest animals didn’t know his name or his rather simple backstory, they just called him The Man. We will do the same.

Badger got up at first light and saw The Man’s campsite. The Man was still sleeping, and Badger didn’t want to wake him. Badger just wanted some of the dried meat he could smell in The Man’s satchel. He would gladly share with The Man, as long as Badger could eat his fill first.

But The Man woke up and threw a rock at Badger. It didn’t hit him but Badger stopped anyway. The Man stomped over to Badger and kicked at him. Badger hissed because he wanted the dried meat and didn’t want to leave without it.

The Man picked up the satchel and backed away from Badger.

“Wait,” said Badger. “I want to eat the meat that I smell!” but it came out as angry hissing. He walked up to The Man again but The Man waved a shiny stick at him.

“Go away! Stop badgering me!” said The Man, which would have been a very rude thing to say to any Badger. However Badger wasn’t upset because he didn’t understand.

The Man picked up his belongings, paused only to put on a hat, and left. And the worst part about that was The Man did not give Badger any food first.

Badger wandered back into the forest to look for other food.

It wasn’t long before Badger saw Frisky Fox Pup. Frisky Fox Pup was running around with too much energy as usual. Also as usual, Owl was trying to calm Frisky Fox Pup down so he could sleep.

“Hi Badger!” said Frisky Fox Pup.

“Hello Badger,” said Owl. “Could you please tell Frisky Fox Pup that he’s a frisky fox pup and nothing else?”

“But I’m an owl!!” said Frisky Fox Pup. He stood on his hind legs and scowled. “Do this! Do that! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!!” He then dropped back to all fours. Then he darted in a bit of a zig-zag but ended up in exactly the same spot, looking excitedly at Owl and then at Badger.

“I do not sound like that!” said Owl.

“I think you make a very good owl,” said Badger. “But Owl makes a better one.” Badgers are very diplomatic which is why everybody likes them.

“Whatever animal you are next, please make it a quiet one.” said Owl. “At least until tomorrow. I must sleep.”

“I promise Owl,” said Frisky Fox Pup. He then did something like a sideways backflip without jumping but ended up in exactly the same spot. “Are monkeys loud? Because I’m a monkey now.”

“Monkeys are very quiet,” said Owl.

“Eek eek eek,” said Frisky Fox Pup.

“Quieter,” said Owl. “Much quieter.”

“Eek eek eek,” whispered Frisky Fox Pup.

“That’s fine,” said Owl. “I can sleep through that.”

“Before you go to sleep,” said Badger. “Did you see The Man camping nearby?”

“Yes,” said Owl. “He threw a rock at me. I was telling him to be safe by hooting loudly, and suddenly a big stone came hurtling through the trees. How ungrateful!”

“I thought he was mean too,” said Badger. “He threw a rock at me when I offered to share his meat with me.”

“I saw him too,” said Frisky Fox Pup. “But then I ran away.” Then he ran away.

“We should teach him a lesson,” said Badger.

“He threw a rock at Eagle as well,” said Owl. “You should talk to Eagle.”

“How?” asked Badger.

“Normally you’d have to spend several days climbing a very high mountain,” said Owl. “But he’s behind you so you’re in luck.”

Badger turned and saw a large majestic bird perched on a tall rock.

“You were talking about The Man?” asked Eagle.

“Yes indeed,” said Badger. “I think he is very rude.”

“I’ve never met a badger before. What’s your name?”

“Badger,” said Badger.

“A fine name for a badger,” said Eagle. My name is Eagle, like all eagles.”

“Yes yes you all have very uncomplicated names,” snapped Owl. “Please get on with it. I would like to get some sleep!”

Eagle nodded and started walking, motioning with her wing for Badger to follow. Badger was able to easily keep up with Eagle, since Eagle couldn’t walk very well. She sort of waddled along, clearly not built for walking.

“The Man threw a rock at me once,” she said. “I tried to teach him a lesson by stealing his hat, but every time I try he just throws another rock at me.”

“You should throw something at him,” said Badger. “Perhaps an apple.”

“First I want to steal his hat,” said Eagle. “I really hate his hat and I want it.”

“Leave that to me,” said Badger.

Just then, Frisky Fox Pup burst from the bushes to their left, ran between them, and disappeared through the bushes to their right. It didn’t change anything but it was a fun moment and worth repeating.

Early next morning, Eagle found Badger snurfling which is something badgers did to get worms to eat. He wasn’t having much luck.

“I found The Man,” said Eagle. “It’s far. I’ll carry you.”

Badger hadn’t ever been off the ground, and he did not care for it. But after a few minutes in the air with the sky all around him and seeing the tops of the trees glistening with dew, he still did not care for it but he didn’t not care for it slightly less than before. (This is an odd thought but it’s how badgers think.)

Eagle dropped Badger off (gently) near the campsite. Badger waddled in and saw The Man asleep. The shiny stick was there but it was much shorter than Badger remembered. The satchel was leaning against a rock, but The Man was using his hat as a pillow. Badger wasn’t sure what to do. He saw the shadow of Eagle flying overhead but Badger didn’t want to wake The Man by calling out.

Maybe if he had some meat, he could think of something.

Badger scuttled over to the satchel. The meat was inside, and he was able to get a big piece and wolf (or rather, badger) most of it down before The Man saw him.

The Man yelled something, but had no rock to throw so he just yelled some more. Badger explained that there was plenty more meat in the bag, but The Man didn’t seem to care. Instead he threw the only thing he had nearby. His hat.

The hat landed in front of Badger and he quickly grabbed it in his mouth. He wasn’t able to call for Eagle now but he hoped Eagle would see what was happening.

Badger felt hands pick him up so he twisted and lashed out with his claws. The Man screamed and dropped him before jumping back out of range. They looked at each other for a short time. Badger was pleading for calm but it just sounded like hissing to The Man.

The Man said something to himself, then walked a few steps away and picked up a tree branch. This was a very heavy branch, and The Man started swinging it at Badger. Badger explained to The Man that this was dangerous but it just came out as more hissing.

On one of the swings, Badger attempted to grab hold of the branch but it knocked him sideways and he ended up on his back. Suddenly The Man was very happy. He raised the tree branch above his head and stood over Badger. Badger was trying to roll back over and was suddenly very scared.

Just then, Frisky Fox Pup burst into the clearing and roared “I’M A BEAR” because he was a bear now. He clearly wasn’t a bear, but he also was because that’s how pretending works.

The Man became distracted by this. It seems that when a fox thinks it’s a bear, it can be very distracting. Especially if that fox jumps on The Man’s leg and starts mauling his thigh. The Man dropped the branch and fell over backwards. He was screaming something. Probably about his leg. Humans were often screaming about their legs.

Badger saw Eagle’s shadow right before Eagle picked him up again.

“I have his hat!” said Badger, for this was true.

“I’m glad I got you before he could hurt you,” said Eagle. “I couldn’t see properly because of the trees. I’m not used to the forest the way you are.”

Eagle landed atop a high mountain. Badger did not like the high mountain.

Eagle stood amid a bundle of sticks and leaves. “This is my nest,” she said.

“What’s a nest?”

“You live in a hole,” said Eagle. “It’s like a hole.”

“This is very unlike any hole,” said Badger. “This is the opposite of a hole.”

“It’s easy to explain,” said Eagle. “It’s like a hole in every way except the ways that it is completely unlike a hole.” (This is an odd thought but it’s how Eagles think.)

Eagle took the hat from Badger and placed it carefully in her nest. This would be a reminder that The Man threw rocks at her and she stole his hat. There was a note tucked inside it that said something urgent about the Amazons, but neither of them could read it so it wasn’t important.

“What now?” asked Badger.

“I think The Man is angry we took his hat,” said Eagle. “And he’s very angry at Frisky Fox Pup for attacking him. I think he’s going to try and hunt Frisky Fox Pup and hurt him.”

“The Man isn’t nice,” said Badger. “Even when we’re nice and offer to share his meat with us.”

“He should not be in the forest,” said Eagle.

“I have a plan,” said Badger. “It’s very complicated.”

It was not a complicated plan, but it was for a badger. It involved Eagle carrying Badger while she chased The Man through the forest. Badger would scratch his head and ears as they flew around for pass after pass until The Man fell, exhausted.

Eagle saw The Man just lying in the middle of the path, which was something Eagles did not do. Eagle then landed Badger on top of The Man’s chest. The Man looked very scared. Badger explained to The Man that he wasn’t welcome in the forest any more. All The Man heard was hissing, but the message seemed to get through because he found enough energy to get up and start running again.

The next day, Eagle threw an apple at The Man to make sure he left the forest. There was more to this apple than she knew, but that’s a story for another time.

THE END

Eagle and Badger will return

in

THE RONELLAN SOUP ADVENTURE

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