Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bear Ride

After Prior William attempted to muzzle and chain the Bear once more, while Bear's new friend Brother Gunther seemed to betray him, the Bear rallied the men to him and seized command of the small party. He visits upon Prior William a taste of what he had inflicted upon the Bear. The next day dawns with Captain Bear firmly in charge, aided by a competent old soldier, Angest.

When the sun began to rise, the Bear awoke from his short nap to find Angest rousing the men. He seemed to intuit he had caught the Bear's attention, and approached.

"Good morning, Captain," he said, sounding both official and comfortable.

"Good morning, Lieutenant," the Bear answered. sitting up.

"I've appointed a good man to see to our supplies. He's getting the fire revived and setting a couple of men to cook breakfast for the lads. The rations aren't a problem now, and we've got plenty of --" Angest hesitated, "that is, plenty of food."

"Bear meat," the Bear filled in. "Don't worry. Killer will be good for something at last. Bear will have some, and there's no need to cook it. But first have someone bring our two good monks to Bear." It was done, with one man each behind Prior William and Brother Gunther. They were shivering. "Take that off of Prior William," the Bear ordered softly. The muzzle was removed. "Hand Bear the chains." They were removed and given to the Bear. "Now untie him and remove the gag."

Prior William seemed weary and uncertain. Brother Gunther looked upon the Bear with an unreadable expression.

"Prior William, Bear first says he is sorry for mistreating you."

Prior William said nothing. The Bear waited, then shrugged. He placed the muzzle on the ground and crushed it under one paw. Then he picked it up with his teeth and tossed it deep into the forest. "Now," the Bear continued, "let Brother Gunther speak again."

"You are released from silence, Brother Gunther," Prior William said said softly, and without hesitation. Brother Gunther said nothing.

"Bear believes it is time for Lauds. Angest, where are the rest of the men?"

"I had them gather staves for those spear heads," Angest replied. "Give men similar weapons and you've got a company, not a gaggle, even if these will just be for show. And, there's this." Angest reached into his bag and removed a large, fat purse. "I relieved Prior William of a small fortune in gold. There are bandits about, and the sight of our few spears might deter them."

"That's mine," Prior William objected, showing some emotion for the first time. Brother Gunther's serenity was challenged for the first time, and he turned his head toward Prior William.

"You mean the abbey's," Bear corrected.

"If I might suggest, sir," Angest said, "there will be expenses associated with this expedition. It is naive to imagine that we are just going to march into Rome these days. We do not know what we will find, but if the Lombards are stirred up again, nobody is seeing the pope."

"Are you going to raise an army?" Prior William asked with surprise.

A slow grin spread over Angest's scarred face. "Not me, Prior."

Prior William seemed to be considering his options. In the early morning silence, the faint chop of wood, and the nearer sounds of the cooks were distinct. "The Bear," he finally said, and began slowly nodding his head. "I approve. Get me to Rome, and I don't care who's in charge or how much it costs. The Bear, assisted by the redoubtable Lieutenant Angest, will command this expedition, subject to my advice, of course."

"And afterwards," offered Angest, "you can have what's left of your abbey's gold."

"Let us say Lauds," the Bear said with an air of wrapping up matters. "From now on, Lieutenant, Bear wants the men to listen to the Opus Dei morning, noon, and evening. And Bear will hold onto gold. Finally, after prayers, Bear requires some of Prior's and Brother Gunther's time."


The men were busy affixing the spear heads to the newly-cut shafts. One of them looked up and froze. "Do you see what our Bear is doing now?" The others looked up and also froze. "Captain Bear's a caution, isn't he lads?"

"Now hang on tight," the Bear called over his shoulder to Prior William and Brother Gunther, who sat astride his broad back with expressions of terror on their faces. "There's plenty of thick fur, and Bear will try to keep you balanced. Bear would say he is as fast as a horse, but many a horse would say faster."

The Bear started to gallop from a standing start, nearly losing his riders. As he disappeared up the trail with surprising speed, he left behind the mingled cries of the two monks hanging in the air.


  1. How do you come up with this? There has to be a book in here somewhere. All this wisdom shouldn't be only available to your woodland creatures.

  2. Truth to tell, I just knock 'em out. I had a plan at one time, but then St. Corbinian died, and Prior William took over, and the Bear's getting mixed up in world affairs. I do spend a lot of time sweating the details. Ok, the men are getting wood for spears. What Alpine pass lies below the tree line? Not many! So then I find a low pass. Shoot! It's through Switzerland to France. But it turns out it's more or less doable on foot. People were hardy back then. They could get to the col de l'Échelle
    (where the they are now) and it's only 61 miles to Turin.

    Who lives there? What language do they speak? What are the politics? I didn't really imagine a major city for what follows, but now I've written myself into a corner.

    What lessons can be learned from each episode? That's the hardest part.

  3. Avoiding what is evil,
    doing what is good,
    cooperating with grace...

    The Bear continues to inspire all who read him....


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