I’ve missed a fair few prompts over the last weeks, so I’m not sticking to any order, just going where inspiration strikes. This story is inspired by Sue Vincent’s last but one photo prompt. It fits in well with the folk tale series I’ve been polishing.
Forest Dog fell into the river and was carried away by the fierce current. Hearing the terrified barking, River Pig pushed out into the white water, standing firm across the dog’s path. Gratefully, Forest Dog clung to the pig’s back as the sturdy boar carried him back to the safety of the bank.
“One day, I will return your kindness,” Forest Dog said. The pig snorted gently in disbelief, but grunted a polite, ‘Safe home’ and ambled back to the river.
Years later, when the leaves on the trees had fallen and grown green again many times over, and the river had run dry and swollen to a furious torrent again many times, and many piglets had been born and grown to adulthood, and many puppies had grown to form packs of their own, the old river pig was growing short sighted, short winded and hard of hearing, and the few teeth that he had left made him picky about his food. One fine autumn day, he got an irresistible longing for acorns. The forest was full of oaks, and the joyful sound as acorns rattled from the trees was too much for him and he left the foaming river in search of the delicacy.
It was a fine autumn day, and so the hunt was out. The boar neither saw nor heard the hounds, fixed as he was on the scent of acorns. When the first of the hounds burst into the glade where he was snuffling through a pile of oak leaves, he finally understood the danger and let out a pig roar of fury. He was too far from the river for the other river pigs to hear, and too old to make a run for it. So he stood his ground, head lowered and tusks gleaming in the late sunshine.
The hounds gathered, baying and belling, and River Pig pawed the ground. He saw only blurred shapes, quivering with excitement, but the voices were wild and frantic, and he knew it was only a question of moments before the bravest hound attacked. He swung his head from side to side, and readied himself for the shock that never came. Instead, a huge shape swung between him and the quivering hounds, and a deep voice bayed into their furious faces.
“Go. This is a dog friend. Your masters know nothing of dog friendships. Leave. Just for once, obey the dog laws.”
The frantic hounds were silent, and their quivering calmed. With a final bark, they turned and bounded away along a different track. Forest Dog sank back on his haunches, his tongue lolling, then slowly lowered himself to the ground and rested a weary muzzle in the drift of oak leaves. River Pig nuzzled him gently.
“Thank you, friend. You remembered.”
“Just in time, friend,” Forest Dog replied. “It is time for us to be leaving, I think.”
River Pig nodded. “Where?”
“Can you still carry me?” Forest Dog asked.
River Pig snorted. “Come on.”
So the two friends made their way to the river. Forest Dog nosed one last time through the dark, earthy mould, and River Pig savoured one last time the soothing caress of the rushing water on his skin. Then Forest Dog wrapped his paws round River Pig’s neck, and the two old creatures gave themselves up to the spirit of the wilderness. The river rushed over them in a wave of dazzling icy foam and turned them to stone. The forest laid a soft green blanket of moss over their still forms, and there they rest to this day, Forest Dog and River Pig in a friendly embrace, to the end of time.