Gammelnok in Andalucia - Chapter 4: Saint Hans Night  
Chapter 4: Saint Hans Night... Home | Print this page | More Stories
They came from all directions, drifting in in pairs, on their own, or in the case of the GreenFinches, in droves. Some came through holes in the fences, others jumped or flew over.

Ugle the Owl was perched high in her tree, keeping a watchful eye on the surrounding area, warning and guiding animals safely towards Level 6, across unsafe territory, making sure that natural hunter and predators didn't meet outside the safe area. There was a lot of Hooting going on, but with the help of a squadron of BatMen, who flew back and forth, relaying messages, all went well and by the time Saint Hans Night Midnight came, everyone had arrived safely and were having a good time drinking PondWater and eating bird seeds.

The GreyFaces were chasing Mr P playfully around Level 6, knocking over bins and flowerpots. Ping and Pong had settled themselves on the edge of a pile of stones, and where Cooing away, when a Robin decided to join them, tipping the balance, sending them all flying.

Gammelnok walked among this amazing gathering, careful not to step on anybody's paws or claws. He was trying to get a drink of PondWater, and finally managed to push his way to the edge. Pulling a long handled ladle from his Handsack he lay on his stomach and reached into the water...

"Careful with that thing, you nearly knocked me of my leaf." Sitting on a Lilly leaf, watching the water level drop around him, as more and more PondWater was consumed, was Isaac the Newt.
"They are drinking us out of house and home. What will the world come to. Mrs Isaac is getting worried. Can't you do something?"

Before Gammelnok could answer, Benny the Frog jumped onto a nearby leaf. "Hello Darling. Give us a kiss," he croaked. He had appeared in several Fairy Tales, and knew his stuff. "One day it might just work," he thought, jumping on.

"Who was that?" Gammelnok asked. "Oh that's Benny. He lives here all the time. Not like us at all he is. We only come here for our Annual Holiday. " Isaac the Newt had quite forgotten his water worries already, and was now worrying about how to get his large family organised for the trip back to the Rocks in August, where they spent the rest of the year.

"Order! Order!" boomed Obvious, who had elected himself as chairman. But as is the case in other democratic assemblies, this approach did of course not work, so he jumped onto the garden table, sat himself down and facing the White Moon gave out two heartrending howls.

That got their attention all right!

"The Great Controller has issued a new directive," he began. Shouts of "Oh No, not again," and "About time too," greeted the announcement.

When he had explained about the "Open Territory Policy", that had come from Herr ZigZag, there was much discussion among the animals, but no overall agreement as to whether it was good or bad emerged.

The carnivores among the animals thought it good, while the smaller species, who generally could find enough to eat within their own territories where not too bothered one way or the other.

Obvious and Old Scraggy were getting exasperated, trying to explain the consequences of such a policy to the gathering. In the end, they decided to ask Gammelnok, if he would address the crowd.

"Let me tell you a story," he began. He had been lifted up onto the garden table by Ping and Pong, who had flown onto his shoulders, dug their claws in and with a lot of flapping of wings had managed to take off with Gammelnok between them.

The White Moon was like a spotlight, shining on him, making him feel important.

Clearing his troat, he began, "Once upon a time, in a land far to the North of here, where a good friend of mine, Nickolaus, lives with his flock of little helpers and his trusted reindeers, the days and nights were of equal length, 28 of each between White Moons.

It was warm in summer and cold in winter, and everyone was happy.

But, as is the case in every part of the world, somebody has to keep a record of when to change Moon, when summer ends and winter begins.

Their Controller, Count Notenoughsky, had decided that it was too much trouble changing Moon 13 times a year, and that once would be enough. Not everyone agreed, but they could not get themselves organised to protest properly, and the proposal became law.

Now, one day is more then 6 Moons long, and one night the same. Animals have to hunt in daylight half the year, and at night for the other half. Very depressing that is."

Exhausted from talking for so long, Gammelnok sat down, dangling his feet over the edge of the table and lit his pipe.

He was happily puffing away, when suddenly a light came on down on Level 1. A door opened, and out came one of the Servants. Within seconds, most of the animals had disappeared. Benny dived headlong into the pond, the mice and moles scuttled into the undergrowth, Atilla The Hen ran around in circles a few times, before she found her way out, and Bro Badger, who had arrived late, was so startled by the commotion around him, that he started running on the spot, his long heavy claws scratching the steps as he gained speed, and finally disappeared through the tunnel on Level 7 into the outside world.

Gammelnok meanwhile had managed to crawl down onto a chair, and from there onto the ground. All was again dark down by the house, and he took time to look around. "HimmelUndErde! That was a close one," he thought, wiping the sweat from his brow with a large red and white handkerchief he had pulled from his Handsack. He felt happy and content in his new surroundings, and the problem of Herr ZigZag and his directives were not really bothering him too much.

"What I would really like now," he thought " is a large bowl of RicePudding, with Syrup and Cinnamon, a warm loft to eat it in and a few Nisser to keep me company." With that happy thought, he waddled to the edge, jumped down the few steps to Level 5, and singing a Ditty to himself made it safely to his chair, settled down and went to sleep.

© Copyright January 2004
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