Gather round ye citizens of Ealdormere as Bear tells his tale and Hare recites his verse. For in their story of friendship then enmity lies a lesson for all to observe.
In the time of our grandfathers the Bear and the Hare were great friends. Many a day would find them visiting friends in the tower and many a night the moon shone upon them raising a cup in a toast to each other. These two merry creatures travelled the kingdom, visiting shires and cantons throughout our great Ealdormere.
It was on one of these meandering journeys that Strife took notice of the two friends. Seeking to split apart the allies, she whispered her cool breath down the back of the hare. Ruffling his brown fur and chilling his soft skin she knew that he would turn to his best friend for aid. “Oh Bear” whimpered the Hare, “I am so cold. If only I had a white winter coat like yours to keep me warm”. Bear, hating to see his friend in such distress, tried to pull out some of his fur to give to Hare. But Bear’s hair was fine and would not stay together and form a coat.
Spying Ram coming over the hill, Bear trundled over and used his mighty claws to comb some wool off of Ram’s back. Twisting and turning his claws together he was able to form a fine white coat out of Ram’s soft wool. Hare immediately hopped right into his coat, which was as warm as nature could make it. Thrilled to be free from the bite of the cold wind, Hare gambolled his way around the woods. Leaping this way and that, thumping his hind paws for joy! And with every leap he cried “I am the warmest, most beautiful and luckiest creature in the realm of Ealdormere!”
Soon the ruckus had attracted the attention of all the beast of Ealdormere. Many noticed that Hare had changed colour and asked him why he was now winter white in place of summer brown. Hare delighted in taking his coat on and off, showing both colours to all. In no time at all, he declared himself to be the handsomest fellow that ever there was, for he was the only animal that had two fine coloured coats.
Now as everyone knows, when good fortune favours a man (or Hare) not all who observe are so generous with their feelings. Many soon tired of Hare’s prancing and bragging. Some blamed Ram for producing such fine wool, while others thought Bear should make white coats for everyone. Soon other animals were plucking at Ram’s fur as he passed by. A few cuddled up to Bear and tried to wheedle a coat for themselves. Some even followed Hare hoping to steal his coat when he was asleep.
In no time at all the woods were in chaos as friend turned against friend and sides were drawn up. Would the peace of Ealdormere be shattered forever?
To be continued…