This is part two of the Unicorn Tale. If you haven’t read part one, click here: https://ferretrunner.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/a-unicorn-tale-part-one/
The days passed. Shylock galloped and walked by turns. He followed game trails but saw no signs of human habitation. On the fourth day of his journey, he was far from the Glen and lands of his people. He followed a trail next to a river. The spring rapids powerfully surged. He stopped to drink in a small clearing. The river had come to a small inlet and the water was cold, fresh, and pure. His acute hearing detected high pitched crying. It sounded like a young animal was in trouble.
Shylock carefully followed the sound. Under a large pine tree was a baby squirrel. Her eyes were barely open. She evidently fell from her nest. Shylock lowered his head, “Bright Blessings, young one.” The squirrel’s eyes widened and her whimpering stopped. She shrank back from the large creature looming over her. Having never seen a unicorn, she was convinced that he was going to eat her. “My name is Shylock. I am a Unicorn Warrior. You seem, young maiden, to be in trouble. May I help?” The baby’s eyes got larger and she looked at him with an expression of shock. Shylock gently blew air through his nostrils and looked up. “You fell, right? I don’t see your nest. I will stay with you until your mother returns to keep you safe.” The squirrel gently touched her nose to Shylock’s and sniffed.
“You stay wif me?” she lisped. “Itz scawy.” Shylock nodded. He folded his legs to lay next to the baby. “Can you climb onto my back? That way, you have a soft place to rest.” The baby clumsily climbed over his legs and onto his side. “Good enough,” he sighed. Shylock spoke softly to Gail, learning of her siblings still in the nest, her mother’s hunt for food, and the storm that caused her to fall. Gail’s eyes closed and she drifted off into a pleasant sleep. Shylock lay in the warm spring sun, watching the pattern of shadow and sun caused for the trees gently swaying in the breeze. He felt a deep, peaceful contentment. Perhaps helping Gail did not require a great battle but he still aided a young innocent.
As he mused, he heard frantic chattering as the mother squirrel arrived home and noted her missing offspring. “Little Mother,” he called, “Your daughter is safe with me.” A gray head poked out a bole in the tree. The mother squirrel assessed the unicorn, noting her sleeping daughter. She scampered head first down the trunk, leaping the last few feet unto the unicorn’s back. The sounds of happy reunion echoed through the trees. The little squirrel excitedly chattered about her new friend and her adventure. The mother squirrel gently groomed her face. After several moments of mutual reassurance, the mother grabbed up her young in her mouth and climbed back home. “Bye, Shylock” the little called, “Mommy sez wait, she wanta talks to you.”
“Merry we part, little Gail. It was nice to spend the afternoon with a special maiden.” The squirrel giggled.
After several minutes, the mother squirrel reappeared. She clung to the trunk at eye level to Shylock. “Greetings, White Warrior. I thank you for your service to me and my family.”
Shylock inclined his head, “It was my honor, Little Mother.” The squirrel studied him for several moments, noting his horn with a tilted head. Shylock ducked his head in shame. Why must his horn always interfere with his life?
“I am Gwennyff. My child tells me your name is Shylock?” He nodded. “I cannot reward you enough for your care of my daughter. If you hunger, I offer nuts for your refreshment. There is a spring behind the rock with grass clumps.” Shylock understood the squirrel Way. She was offering hospitality. She was concerned for a misbalance of the Wheel. She must balance good for good. When evil happened, squirrels balanced the evil by good acts or offerings.
“It is not necessary, Little Mother, though I thank you for your offer. I have the sweet green grass, the cold water, and the warm sun. I am refreshed. It is not needful to deplete the stores for your young.” Shylock understood how hard squirrels worked to gather food for their families. By declining, he was releasing her need to offer hospitality. “I am glad I could be of service to your family,” he continued.
Gwennyff bowed her head in acknowledgement. “It is not often we see a White Warrior here. Is there danger coming?” she asked in concern.
“No, Little Mother. Not to my knowledge. I am on my Quest.”
She sighed in relief. “That is well. It is ugly when evil comes. War and hunger always follow. I must return to my young. I am Gwennyff. You are Shylock. We are Friends. If you have need, tell the squirrels and we will provide aide. Good journeys and may the Goddess smile upon you.” So saying, she turned and scampered up the tree, disappearing into the leaves.
Shylock turned toward the river, thinking. He knew that Gwennyff offered more than friendship. The word she used translated closely to “family of not blood.” He still wondered what she saw when she looked at him. Was his horn shocking to her? She treated him with respect. However, Shylock’s experience was that his difference was shameful and ugly. “She’s a squirrel,” he decided, “Perhaps to her, magic was less important than her daughter.” He trotted off into the early evening. He had some hours to travel before dark and rest.