A Stranger in the Enchanted Forest (After Milne)

edited December 2015 in Writings for Children
One unusually sunny day Pooh Bear rolled over on his cot and mumbled louder than usual to himself,
“can’t sleep, too much sun, and there’s a knock at the door to positively prevent any more sleep at all.”
Eeyore was at the door, a picnic basket on his back along with, you guessed it, Owl in sunshades,
Piglet, sweat rolling into his eyeballs, Kanga and Roo swaying side to side in the heat. “What is the meaning of this,
do we have a meeting scheduled for this morning or are you determined to destroy my health from no sleep?”
“No, no,” brayed Eeyore, “we’re headed for the Enchanted Forest and the wishing pool where it’s always cool,
with shady trees and clean soothing water.” Pooh thought a second, no more, and said “well, that does seem like
a good move to make, it seems the sun must have moved closer to our world overnight and wants to burn us to a crisp.”

Kanga, in her soothing voice, said “well let’s get hopping, or we’ll have to dig very deep holes where it will be cooler
and all jump in.” Owl, after quite a long pause, said, “well I can almost always find a breeze in the top branches of trees
but today they’re still as a stone on the ground, so I’m all for the Enchanted Forest.” They all filed off after Pooh had had a dip
of his thumb in the almost empty honey jar, song was usually a part of their caravan of friends but today nobody could revive
the memory of a lullaby.

As they entered the forest, they noticed a small-sized culvert on their left and some strange mewling sounds coming from deep within.
Pooh halted the group and observed that this might be a dangerous situation, who knows what was inside making that noise.
Owl said “let’s continue on our way, other ways are not always best when you have one particular way in mind. “ Eeyore spoke up
with the observation that if the unknown beast was stuck inside the pipe, it was no danger to at least take a look. Pooh agreed and, slowly,
they all converged on the open end. Pooh, with his poor eyesight, saw black and white heaving together in a small mass, “Oh, it would seem
to be a skunk, there are no other black and white creatures about us that I know of. Owl moved closer to the opening, took a look and announced
“that’s not a skunk,” (Owl, of course, had amazingly sharp eyes) it would appear to be a baby horse someone’s painted with black stripes.”
Eeyore approached, peered in and remarked, “well, horses and I are related, but I’ve never seen any horse like that. It does look harmless,”

Pooh sat and thought for what, to the others seemed like a very long time, then said, do you see those grape vines ?” “Piglet, you and Eeyore
measure a good long length and each of you chew off one end and we’ll pull out whatever it is, and keep our distance in case it’s a biter.”
They went about it and little Roo was elected to crawl into the p;ipe, attach the vine to the unknown beast and skedaddle back out. All the while,
a sort of baby-like mournful sound was coming from the unidentified creature. Pooh attached one end of the vine to Eeyore and asked him to move
slowly forward. At first there was a sharp cry from inside the pipe, the beast wasn’t moving. There happened to be some very large aloe vera plants nearby
and Pooh suddenly, with that Pooh Bear inspiration that struck so unexpectedly, declared “we’ll use that gummy liquid from the plants to ease the creature out.
They found a large stone that was shaped somewhat like a bowl and stripped the leaves of the greasy substance. Roo was again elected to enter the pipe
and spread the solution as far underneath the creature and all the way back out the pipe. Finally, Eeyore pulled, and to his satisfaction things went much easier,
until, emerging from the pipe opening , the creature, no bigger than Roo himself, snorted and gave a tiny whinny that immediately identified it as some sort of baby horse.
He was not violent in the least and lay on his side in the shade a giant elm afforded.

Eeyore had brought some strawberry juice for the picnic and in a small cup offered it to the strangely painted animal.
Now, Pooh considered for awhile how to approach the animal, when along came Christopher Robin, with a picnic basket and a jug of water,
seems he had the same idea as his friends. “Hallo, hallo everyone, what on earth are you doing all standing around looking at the ground?”
Pooh said nothing but pointed at the strange creature. Christopher saw the new animal, and remarked, “my goodness gracious, how did a zebra
get into this neck of the woods?” He approached the wheezing and chuffing ball of black and white and ventured to ask it who it was.

Gasping and in a soft voice that caused everyone to lean in to hear it, it said I’m Zeb, and I lost my mama and papa when the circus train went off the tracks.
I ran and ran into the woods, and yesterday when it started to rain I crawled inside the pipe, it kept me dry but then when I tried to get out I couldn’t manage,
even though the clowns in my circus had taught me all kinds of tricks, none of them worked to get out of the pipe.

Pooh, looking at the two picnic baskets that had accumulated in the middle of the action, exclaimed, what better place for a picnic?”
“We have shade, and we have a new friend who has been through too much to ask him to trek deeper off into the Enchanted Forest.
Christopher said that was splendid idea and that once Zeb had recovered, maybe he could tell us something about his circus, it must be very exciting.
All agreed and began to set out the picnic things. Owl, after everyone had settled into the forest luncheon, asked Zeb, “do you know
where your mother and father are?” they must be very worried. “I know, said Zeb,”I want to go back to where the train went off the tracks,
I was thrown from the train and I just kept running because I was so scared of the noise, and there was some fire.”

“Well,” Eeyore said, “I propose, as soon as it gets a little cooler later this afternoon, that we head off toward the railroad tracks
and get our new friend back to his parents and what’s left of the circus.” “Here, Here, and a Hooray to that,” from one and all
now thoroughly satisfied and filled to the brim with the picnic offerings.” Little Roo was anxious to talk to Zeb and Kanga noticed.
“Go ahead and ask him what’s on your mind, Kanga told him.” “Well, I was just wondering if you could possibly show us a trick or two
that you learned from the clowns” Zeb said, “sure, after all you’re the one who saved my life today. So, Zeb got up; and started swaying
back and forth, “just warming up,” then he swung his back legs up in the air and began walking on his front hooves almost twenty feet or so,
until he found an oak tree blocking his way. “Hoora, Hoora for Zeb. And then, much to everyone’s astonishment, he danced on his back hooves,
standing tall, and doing graceful waltz turns to his own “la la la la’s” “My mom and dad actually waltz together in the center ring,
it’s one of the biggest hits in our circus. My mom and dad taught me everything I know and I miss them so much. When we find them
I’m sure they’ll invite you all to center ring seats. They all rested, of course, Pooh Bear slept soundly for an hour or two and then
the expedition started off toward the tracks. Roo practiced waltzing as they went along and, at one point, Eeyore just couldn’t resist
and stopped long enough to fall flat on his long nose attempting to walk on his front hooves.

Zeb reunited with his parents, the group saw a special, abbreviated version of the circus, just for them, and Zeb and Roo danced and danced
across the center ring to the applause of everyone there.

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