There were once two maidens; one had sparkling brown eyes and hair the color of earth, the other was fair-haired and fair-skinned, with eyes the color of the summer sky. They were the best of friends; always laughing at and recollecting the same memories, and making new ones together.
One fateful spring day, just as the ground had been covered in a carpet of green, and the trees were filled with sweet, fragrant blossoms and brilliant green leaves, the brunette said to her dear companion, “this seems to me a wonderful day for a walk. Let us leave our house(for they were also sisters) and go enjoy what nature has to offer us.”
The sister with the golden locks of hair replied, “this strikes me as a good idea. Let us go and leave now,” for they did share the same ideals.
So away the two girls went, but before they did, they packed a luncheon so that they might have a picnic when they grew hungry.
Birds chirped and sang sweet songs in the trees above the girls, and the occasional brown rabbit could be seen, scampering along the trail before them, or rustling in the thicket on either side of them.
All at once, the lovely cinnamon- headed one said, “stop, sister,” and ceased in her walk. “Is this not the trail that we followed to the brook, last summer?” When the sister with honey- colored hair replied to her sister that this was indeed that very path, the latter went on:
“But I do not recall seeing that little path that went off of this one,” and the brunette pointed to a little footpath with honey-suckle growing over it, off of their current trail.
“Shall we follow it?” Asked the October- blonde. “The brook does not strike me as a fantastic place to visit on this cool spring day, and it might better suit us on a day when the sun shines fiercely onto us, so we might take this path instead, and see where it takes us.”
“Perhaps it will lead us nowhere,” said the girl with the fawn brown eyes, “yet I feel as though that is not so.”
Slowly: “let us desert this path and take that one, to wherever it may lead us.”
After what felt like many hours, the path widened, and they were confronted by a large, shaggy, grey beast with long teeth that made both girls shudder to see. “Hello,” the beast said in a voice, so low and gravelly that it sent shivers up the sister’s spines.
“G-good day,” stammered the sister with the ginger hair, stepping forward, bravely.
The wolf(for that is what he was) sniffed the air. “I smell food,” he announced, licking his mouth in anticipation.
The fair- headed sister paled, thinking that he was referring to her as food, and took a step backwards, nearly falling into a patch of thorns. The basket that she held rolled away from her, and stopped right before the wolf. He looked up from it, at the girls. “I will leave you in peace, if I only may eat.”
“You may,” the girls said together, hastily. They then wasted no time hurrying away.
After much more walking, the two sisters were very surprised to find themselves at a sparkling brook, that gurgled and splashed, rejoicing at the arrival of spring. “This is the brook that we came to last summer!” Recalled the brunette. “Let us drink, and then perhaps stop and eat what is left of our luncheon.”
The two sisters had just stooped down for a drink, when they heard heavy footfalls behind them, and they both turned.
There stood a great, strong- looking bear, with two little twin cubs beside it, that might have been adorable if they hadn’t looked so much like a miniature version of their fierce mother.
“This is our brook!” Boomed the mother grizzly. “Shall you leave dead, or alive?”
“Alive, thank you,” said the brown- haired sister quickly. “And here are three rolls, one for each of you. Good day.” She grabbed her sister’s slim, white hand, and led her away.
“We might turn around soon,” suggested the yellow- headed girl. Her voice still trembled. It had been nearly an hour since the run- in with the bears, and nearly two hours since meeting the wolf, but she was still very frightened, and kept looking behind her to be sure that nothing was pursuing them.
“And encounter those bears or that wolf again?” Laughed the other. “No, thank you. But surely this path must lead us somewhere…”
All at once, a horrible, ear- shrieking scream cut through the mellow spring air, and the brown- headed sister jumped, while the blonde gave a loud gasp.
“What- was- that?” Asked the latter in a whisper, too afraid to speak any louder than that.
“I do not know…” whispered the girl with the hair the color of toasted bread. Just then, a huge, sleek, tawny figure jumped with an agile grace from a tree; a great cat. It had startling yellow eyes and a sickening smile.
“Hello,” said the brunette sister, shaking like a leaf. “Are- are you hungry? We have one more-” She had started to reach into her basket to pull out their last sandwich when the the great cat leaped forward with alarming speed, and snarled. “You aren’t a fan of an egg sandwich?” The girl asked, stepping back.
“No,” agreed the panther. His voice was very quiet, as though he were far away, rather than being four feet between him and the two sisters, who clutched each other’s hands. His voice was low, and dangerous. “But I AM hungry… And I think you two might just be the perfect main course for this evening!” Just as the panther was about to step forward, a grey streak flew at it, howling and growling.
“The wolf!” Gasped the two girls. The blonde covered her eyes, but the brunette watched with horrified fascination. Each hit that the panther gave seemed to weaken the wolf very much, until he lay down, defeated, and covered with bloody marks. To the wolf”s credit, he had been fighting very well himself, but it is hard to beat an enemy bigger than one’s self, as the wolf soon saw. Just as the panther leaned in the give the fatal blow, a humongous beast ran into the scene, giving a deep but rather feminine yell. It was, undoubtedly, the mama bear the two girls had met at the brook.
It did not take long for the panther to go down; as the bear was so large, with great claws, and also had two small allies who fought gallantly for their size indeed.
Afterward, the two sisters stepped forward. “Thank you for saving our lives.” the brown haired girl began. “We owe you a great debt now. But, why did you save us?”
“YOU saved me first,” the wolf said. His voice was still deep and rough, but somehow no longer threatening. “I was starving. I had been cast away from my own, and wolves are not accustomed to hunting on their own.”
“You gave us food, as well.” The mama bear spoke now. “And you don’t know how much I needed it. It is very hard for a spring bear, with cubs to account for, to find nourishment.”
“I am very glad that we were of service to you,” the October- blonde said, sincerely. “And, really, thank you for saving our lives. Come to us whenever you are hungry.”
Afterward, the brunette said to her sister, “I had always underestimated the value of a favor before, but I never will again.”
“And I had always underestimated how dangerous it was to travel on foreign paths,” added the fair- headed sister.
“That, too,” laughed the other.