|Synopsis of Saturday's tale: Bearnacle Bear and his crew started their sea voyage with great hopes for success. It was Bearnacle's first experience as a sea captain. During the first night, a terrible storm struck. The first mate fell overboard, and, shortly afterward, the entire crew left in lifeboats. Bearnacle resolved to go down with his ship. The ship struck dry land and was grounded. Bearnacle was taken into custody by men with weapons and was accused of landing illegally on their shores.|
Bearnacle Bear's Continuing Tale
I was in prison, and I was not feeling too happy. All I could do was to pick at my food. This was not my usual approach to eating but, in prison, nothing looked good. I reflected on my trial in the courts of the humans, which was very brief. A man, who said that he was my lawyer and advocate, advised me that fighting the charges of illegal entry to the Land of the Humans via Sea and Attempted Terroristic Attitudes and Being a Bear Where Humans Reign Supreme would result in a very long and arduous sentence of imprisonment in a tower and hard labor digging up invasive (and aggressive) plants with roots that went to the center of the earth. The prosecutor rubbed his hands together and chortled gleefully, for reasons that I, Bearnacle Bear, who was a very sad Manacled Bear, did not understand. After that display by the prosecutor, I agreed to plead guilty to the charge of Illegal Entry to the Land of the Humans via Sea, as long as the other two charges were dropped. The judge sentenced me very quickly to be held in a Prison Farm and to be required to work hard every day except for Sunday, which was when I should sing for the sun because, in this land, the sun hardly ever shone.
And now, I was in prison with humans who were supposed to be Terrible Malefactors but, who, in reality, were just regular people. I did have to dig weeds all day but, at least, they were not aggressive weeds with long and very sharp spines and thorns.
The prison was old and decrepit. The paint was peeling from the walls and the mattresses were ripped, with the stuffing sticking out. The prison guards reminded the prisoners that they were nothing but No Good Malefactors who someday would meet a Very Bad End.
I wandered the prison grounds aimlessly. I was truly shipwrecked: separated from my crew, mourning the loss of my first mate, and imprisoned in a strange land. I felt sad and sorry for myself. Would I ever be the captain of my own sailing ship? Would I ever be free? Would I ever go back to the land of the Bears? I wondered if I should make friends with these humans who were supposedly the malefactors. And so, I did. I had friends there in that sad and sorry place, where the sun rarely shone. I had these friends because it is hard to have to handle difficulty alone but it is easier when the difficulty is shared with others. When you have friends, you can overcome terrible challenges.
I dug weeds by day until there were no more weeds left to dig. I ate those weeds, too, because the humans' food stopped looking good. I used to like eating the humans' food but, when they took me hostage, the food started looking sad.
After a few weeks, I decided that I had to do something dramatic about my situation. If I wanted to go back to sea and go home to see my bear friends and family, I had to escape. I had to focus all of my thoughts on getting free. I couldn't wait for the humans to let me go.
One day, one of the few guards who didn't use the word malefactor all of the time did help me to escape. I can't say anything more than that because I promised this human that I would protect him, in case the other humans wanted to punish him for losing a bear. But he could see that, for me, prison had become quite unbearable.
And so, I found myself back on the seashore. I had been given a canoe by someone who said, "This is a secret. Say nothing more about me than I gave you the canoe."
I got into the canoe and paddled back out to sea. I wondered how long I could last in this little boat, especially if a storm kicked up again. I had already been shipwrecked once and I was in a large sailing vessel. That vessel was grounded and it broke apart in the storm.
I paddled and paddled and then rested. I caught fish with my paws and ate the fish. After that unappetizing prison food, the fish was delicious. I felt lonely in the boat by myself but I felt hope because I was back at sea, even if the boat really was unseaworthy.
Then another storm struck. The winds howled and the rain pelted me sideways. Soon, hail stones were falling from the sky. They were big stones that smacked me with enough force to cause pain and bruising.
The boat was beginning to go down. It listed from side to side, threatening at any moment to capsize. I was sure that my end was near and that the only witnesses to my demise would be the swirling water, the fish, and the large birds of prey that swooped and rose in the fierce wind.
Just then, I once again struck land. The boat immediately capsized. I washed out of the boat and onto land. I was on a small island that seemed uninhabited. I couldn't see much because it was raining and hailing so hard.
But, at that moment, I looked out to sea and saw a female form. I was sure that she was a mermaid.
Are mermaids real or am I just going mad?
The mermaid began to sing, and this was her song...
(to be continued tomorrow)