"My fine young lad, what day is it?"
The little one responded, "Why, it's the day before we go to the south country...We always go there in the winter. But today we celebrate."
Eban chuckled good-naturedly. "Oh, thank goodness I haven't missed it! What a bright little child! Splendid!" He asked the child hadrosaur, "Have the festivities gotten underway?"
"No, sir." Eban laughed again, saying, "Charming little rascal, absolutely charming. I say, is it still there?"
"Is what sir?"
"Why, that pile of fruit and foliage prepared for the feast."
"You mean the one bigger than my dad, sir? Yes it is."
Eban grinned from ear to ear. "Bright boy! Yes, yes. Now, go and tell the adults to save a spot for me. And if you hurry, there will be a special treat for you!"
And with that, the young one merrily scampered down the hill with Eban following close behind. The old ceratopsian hung back just as that same pair of gallimimus approached him. Yes, the same pair who only yesterday asked Eban to contribute to the upcoming festivities. To which Eban responded with a resounding, "Humbug!"
Well, not today...
"Good morning, gentlemen!," Eban greeted lustily. The pair, rather taken aback by this sudden display of jovial good will, responded in kind. Then Eban said, "Gentlemen, is it not too late to make a simple contribution? I mean, while I'm not as spry as in youth, I can still entertain the little ones in their games..."
Is this the same old "Bah Humbug" Eban? The two gallimimus
couldn't believe their ears, but Eban was so earnest in voice and
demeanor. All they could muster was a surprised, "Oh, yes, Eban...Why,
your contribution will be most welcomed, sir!"
"Good! And may I wish upon you gentlemen a Happy Holiday!"
"Why thank you, Eban. And a happy holiday to you too, sir!"
"My word, look who's coming!," said a thunderstruck Eema. All eyes focused on the lone figure gaily approaching. It was Eban all right but something was not quite right...
Baylene, trying to stifle a giggle, leaned down to Plio, saying, "He's
most likely eaten some rotted fruit...Such indulgence does make
one rather giddy."
Eema still didn't quite figure it out and said with a snort, "The old fool's either drunk or just plain crazy!"
Eban was just within earshot when he sidled up to the elderly styracosaur, saying laughingly, "My dear Eema, I am neither intoxicated nor have I lost my mind. I'm just so excited about the day and all."
He looked at Baylene and complimented the big brachiosaur. "Ah, our dear Lady Baylene, and I shall address you as such from now on. I say, m'lady, you get more beautiful and gracious with each passing day. "
He then turned to the lemur matriarch and began very loftily, "Good morning, Madame Plio, an equally charming lady indeed..."
"What has gotten into him?," Baylene asked Eema. "While I appreciate the kind words and...Oh my goodness! Did he just address me as 'Lady Baylene'? No one's called me that in so many years, not since my mate passed on...Oh, Eema, something profound has happened to old Eban."
Eema sized up the situation all the while watching Eban praise Plio for
her, "Kindness, generosity, and compassion."
Just before he moved on, Eban inquired about Aladar and Neera. A curious Plio replied, "They're all down by the lake with Suri and Zini, preparing for today's celebration."
As they watched Eban hurry to the lake, the grande ladies of the Herd
were quite perplexed. Then Eema finally surmised that things did indeed
change. "You know, girls," she said, "I think old Eban's had a change of
heart. It's no act -- He's really not the same anymore."
Then, letting out one of her characteristic deep belly laughs, Eema said, "I guess I'll have to find some new names to call him, 'cause I can't call him 'old fool' anymore!"
Down by the lake, Eban strode up to Aladar and his family. Neera saw this then hissed to her mate, "Oh joy, Eban's here to rub it in again. So help me, I'd like to..."
She raised her right hand, the sharp thumb spike at the ready, but
Aladar stopped her.
"No, Neera, this is not the way. Besides, there's something different
about Eban. I mean, look at him."
A very jovial, very hale-and-hearty Eban ambled up to Neera and said in his grandest voice, "Dear Neera, how is your little family today? Ah, here they come now!"
Indeed, the children hurried to their parents -- Castor, Lydia, Harmonie, and bringing up the rear, little Timor. Aladar beamed with a father's pride as his little joys ran up to him. For a moment, his eyes fell upon Timor's tiny frame.
Weird, thought Aladar, Tim isn't limping as badly as in previous weeks...
"Aladar, you and Neera have reared fine strong youngsters," pronounced Eban. "No doubt the girls take after their good mother, and the boys are a spitting image of their father." A startled Aladar merely stammered, "Uh, why...hm...Thank you, Eban!"
Then Eban said something that neither Aladar nor Neera would ever hear him say. "My good lady and gentleman, please forgive me of any past indiscretions. Something happened last night and it left such a profound impression upon me." Eban's voice was earnest and gentle; he wasn't kidding nor was he being rude. Aladar beamed and replied, "Eban, everything is forgiven." Turning to Neera, Aladar then said, "Isn't it, Neera?"
For the first time in many long years, Neera smiled at Eban and said in a loving gentle voice, "Oh, yes! Eban, you are right, for something good has happened...I forgive you, and may I personally invite you to our celebration?"
To which Eban replied with many laughs, "Of course, dear lady. I shall be delighted to join your pleasant little family." He bent down to little Tim and said, "And, young Timor, if I may join you and your siblings in a rousing game of 'Keep Away from Zini'...Yes, and may I recommend that YOU be the leader of the games today, that is if isn't too much trouble..."
Little Timor and his siblings, soon joined by Zini and Suri, shrieked with excitement as they soon ganged up on the old ceratopsian. Eban didn't seem to mind as he ecstatically led them to the lake.
It has been said that the elderly pachyrhinosaur encountered something of a divine nature that night. What else could possibly explain the sudden change of heart, the sudden obliteration of a lifetime of ill-tempered indifference? Overnight, Eban made a complete turnaround in character; and, the following afternoon, at the celebration, no one played harder nor ate heartier than old Eban.
Eban never encountered the Spirits again nor did he see old Kron's ghost. Oh, there was the bittersweet memories of Maribel, a love forever lost, but Eban learned from his past, his present, and his future.
When the appointed hour came for the Herd's annual southbound migration, Eban insisted on placing the elderly and very young, "At the head of the Herd. We don't want to lose our precious children nor our beloved aged citizens." At the head of the Herd, Aladar reserved a special place for Eban alongside Eema and Baylene.
And, in the years that followed, Eban would make that trip again and again, always looking out for those less able. And, as always, old Eban's booming voice could be heard in tandem with little Timor's as the Herd headed out...
"Bless us, Everyone!"
CopyrightŠ2000 by PRP (crazedwriter)