CHAPTER EIGHT – MOBY DICK
Like standing on the edge of some giant cliff, Hermano the spiny tree rat was on the very verge of giving in, of giving up hope entirely, when suddenly he stopped. He was standing in the light of an old fashioned street lamp in New York city, in front of a little bookstore, on 7th Avenue now, one of the few bookstores to survive the Internet and the Virtual, Online world. In the window Hermano had never seen so many books together before. There were hundreds of them and they all looked very real. Then, as the tears cleared a little, in the window, right in the middle, the tree rat saw a large old book, with the picture of a huge white whale on the cover. ‘Moby Dick’ it said, by Herman Melville. There it was then, at last. THE BOOK.
“Herman Melville,” whispered Hermano wonderingly, “it wasn’t Bellville then, but Melville. Then he did write his Shaman book after all. It’s called Moby Dick.”
Hermano suddenly longed to be sitting safe and snug somewhere with Hermione and reading it from cover to cover to their children. By the book, with a little card, was a photograph of the famous human writer, a hundred and fifty years ago, with bright eyes like Hermano’s once, and a huge moustache and dangling beard. He had a strange smile on his face. Hermano wasn’t looking at the human now though, but at what else was in the faded photograph. For there, sitting by a manuscript, was an old fashioned looking White faced Brazilian spiny tree rat, with a smile on his face too.
“Great, great grandpapa,” cried Hermano delightedly, for he looked very like Hermano himself, apart from the rather antiquated white face, “then you and grandpa Raoul didn’t lie. You did come here to New York City, all those years ago, as an immigrant yourself, and you did make friends with a famous human being. A great and immortal writer. Herman Melville. It is possible for people and animals to be friends after all.”
Hermano felt a strange warmth in his heart, and now another huge teardrop fell from his snout but as it broke on the pavement, Hermano remembered Yage.
“Tears,” the tree rat whispered guiltily, drying his eyes, “there are good tears and evil tears, and thinking of myself alone, I have been crying only bad tears and seeing only bad things. Seeing only evil and sorrow and the dark. But the world is like a water drop, that reflects light too, not just darkness and sorrow, and as round as rain, and it turns too.”
Hermano was remembering the Indian Hamster as well, as he saw a red light flicker in the window of the old bookshop, telling him that on the Great Wheel of life and karma things always turn. Then, as he saw his tear trickle off the edge of the pavement, which he knew was somehow always moving under the surface, if very, very slowly indeed, he saw a little ant. The miniscule thing was scurrying along, carrying a part of a leaf in its pincers, five times its own size. Ants must be incredibly strong, thought Hermano, and at first he remembered poor Grandpapa Raoul’s body and thought of Death again. But as the ant turned left, and right, clearly looking for something, Hermano remembered Che saying that insects, and especially ants, are the wisest things there are and wondered why. Hermano saw other ants now, with the leaf carrying ant, almost bumping into each other, though they seemed to be talking and then the leaf carrying ant joined a column of others, all carrying bits of carefully carved leaf, and all going in the same direction. With such tiny heads Hermano wondered if they all had brains, but nonetheless they seemed to have an extraordinary, instinctive purpose, one that used natural bits of waste, recycled them, and an amazing determination. Nature was incredible. Hermano looked up and suddenly his courage rallied, as he felt heat on his fur from somewhere nearby.
“Stories,” he whispered, looking back at Moby Dick through the window of the bookshop, “the world is full of stories, millions and millions of stories, some true and some false, and all told from different opinions and points of view. But what really matters is finding your own story among them all, and your own courage. And for that you have to play a part, like the ants. You can’t do anything else.”
“Courage,” cried a scornful voice, Hermano recognised immediately, “and what darn courage do all you dang wastrel vagrants ever show, spiny little spineless squirrel?”
Hermano turned his head and saw a familiar black bird sitting on the ledge of the bookshop snapping his beak at him and remembered Jeb had called him grizzly too.
“Colonel Black,” cried Hermano, realizing the superior East Coast miner bird had been watching him coldly. “And I’m not a squirrel, or garbage either, and nor are my friends. You have to be happy in your own skin in life, Colonel Black, you should know that. And in your element too.”
The minor bird was looking about too though, nervously, at what Hermano had seen as well, in the reflection in the bookshop window. Because along the pavement little flames were leaping up in the heat.
“Fire,” cried Hermano, “that’s what the rats have been doing, Colonel Black, gnawing through the city cables, so setting fires everywhere, among all that garbage. It’s my fault too, because Vladimir’s eyes lit up when I said I wanted to light a fire in animal’s hearts. And in this heat, all New York City will soon be ablaze.”
“With no darn humans to stop it,” said the Minor Bird gravely, “with all of them on strike and the others stuck in their own little worlds. Even the kids seem on strike now. I mean.”
“Yes, Colonel Black. And with no water either, with the ban. Then we’ve got to stop them, Colonel Black, us animals.”
“Stop them? But how, grunt? It’s impossible.”
Hermano was thinking of Hermione, up there in her gilded cage, and Toola Iceberg too and as he looked up and up, his vertigo vanished all together, and glancing repeatedly at Jeb’s Water Tower, his bright eyes shone.
“I’ve got a plan, Colonel Black, I think, that’s a fact, and you’ve got to help me.”
Colonel Black may have been very superior, but he was good at responding to orders, and a plan too, being a military kind of bird and grizzly as well. So after he had listened to Hermano whispering in his ear, he flew off immediately. Hermano was left alone again, wondering if he could really do anything at all. He felt lonely once more, and wondered if Hermione was looking down on him somewhere, or had forgotten him completely. All around him the city seemed on fire now though, a burning ring of fire. But suddenly, through the flames, came Jeb Cowpaw and Rumi, Lenno and the others. Walpole the Owl was flying above them down 7th Avenue.
“Jeb!” cried Hermano.
“I’m sorry I’ve been a coward, partner,” said the mongoose, whose nose was covered in soot, “and don’t really like fighting snakes. I guess I lied, or liked a braver story about the Wild West and myself too. But we’ve all come to help you now. I mean, use just gotta help out folks, don’t you? Though we’re not sure how.”
“The Great Wheel,” said Hermano immediately, looking up at the stars, his eyes sparkling, “it always turns, Jeb. And if a great writer once said we’re all in the gutter, he also said that at least some of us gruzzles are looking up at the stars.”
“Huh?” said Jeb Cowpaw.
“Never mind,” said the literate tree rat, “but you’ve got to go back up there, Jeb, to the rooftops and take others with you. And somehow we’ve got to make all the animals wake up and help. We’ve got to make them realise everything has to work together and really be connected.”
As Hermano thought of his plan though he was suddenly worrying about a lobster.
“No,” said Rumi gravely, “they hate us Immigrants, Hermano, and us vagrants, especially ones who believe in God. They don’t believe we’re brothers and sisters at all, even cousins, just something else that isn’t them, and which they fear.”
“But we are, Rumi,” said Hermano, “because everything is connected, somehow, perhaps even more now. So an angry boy pressing a button killed my parents in the Amazon, even if he didn’t mean to, and the fences and human borders in Botswana are killing the Zebra and the Wildebeest, and junior’s cruel because he’s sad he lost his mother that terrible day and everyone bullies him on Social Media and Toola Iceberg is right because she’s gruzzly. While the most terrible thing in life is not being connected to anything at all. We all have to wake up, Rumi. But how to make the animals do it?”
“Strike,” said Pepe angrily, as Rumi pondered.
“Oh not now, Pepe. Please. Not baseball.”
“No, Hermano,” said Pepe angrily, “Not Baseball, but a Strike. A General Strike. If the humans can strike, caramba, and now even the kids too, led by Toola Iceberg, then why can’t the animals? A General Animal Strike. “
“The free and absolute right of any human being or any animal to withhold their labour,” said Hermano, nodding, “If they’re not slaves, at least. Yes, Pepe.”
The animals blinked at him.
“But how do we persuade them?” said Hermano, frowning again. “I mean there are so many, just in New York alone, and there’s no time. The fires are spreading and the rats are out in force. This is the real world and we have to live in that too.”
“Animal Media,” cried Buzzy, “Charlotte’s Web and Twitters and Buzz feed.”
“Of course,” cried Hermano delightedly. “I mean it’s rather modern, but it’s all the rage, and you have to work with the world as you find it. We’ll call a General Strike on Animal Media, then the Humans will have to notice too. Their kids have already.”
So Buzzy flew off to alert Buzz feed, and Walpole the owl Twitters, and Pepe started striking at Charlotte’s Web, with Morse Code, tap, tap, tap, to spread the Word on Animal Media, as the others set off to climb upwards again, with the other critical part of Hermano’s clever plan. Hermano was left alone again, wondering how they could really drive out the terrible, smooth black rats, except this time Rumi the thoughtful hedgehog was still at his side.
“Well, Rumi,” said Hermano, with a sigh. “I’d pray to your God, though I’m not sure he even exists. I’m sorry. I’ve looked. And it’s Science we’ll really need now, if my plan’s going to work. Though it was a book, Moby Dick, that strangely gave me hope again. Even if stories aren’t exactly true. It’s a bit confusing, Rumi. Like those bad Humans that attacked the city. Is it all hopeless?”
“No, Hermano,” said Rumi, peering through his horn-rimmed spectacles wisely, “because I’ve worked it all out at last.”
“You have, Rumi?”
“Oh yes, Hermano. Suddenly. The problem is really the two languages.”
“Two languages?” said the Amazon Rat in confusion, “but there are hundreds of languages in the world, Rumi, like there are hundreds of countries and peoples. A lot of them in New York City, it seems.”
“Oh yes,” said Rumi, “that’s true, Hermano. But they are all really talking just two languages now. The Language of God, Belief and meaning and the language of Facts and Science.”
“Oh,” said Hermano in surprise, but looking rather impressed with the mystical hedgehog.
“But the two languages are at War now,” said Rumi sadly, “that causes real wars too. Because they are both trying to drive each other out and speak only one language instead. To win. But they can’t really win, because they don’t understand that they are really just two different languages, that both have their use and meaning.”
“I don’t understand, Rumi,” said Hermano humbly.
“The language of God and Belief,” said Rumi, “it’s like the language of feeling and love and storytelling too. Of dreaming and making things up and finding your own meaning in things. That’s just like books and stories, even if they aren’t always strictly true.”
Hermano glanced at Moby Dick again and thought of the word ‘metaphor’.
“But the language of Science is about how things really are underneath,” said Rumi, “and how they work. And the language of Science is winning, because it helps them control the world, and do things and make stuff and the humans to make money too. But it can’t teach us anything at all in the end. I mean anything moral, or about feeling or meaning or the heart, or why we’re here and what to do with it all. How to really be.”
Hermano thought of Max’s question he hadn’t answered about what to really do with life and what matters.
“No,” said Hermano, thinking of all those numbers in Time Square too, “I guess it can’t.”
“So we have to wake up and realise there are really two different languages at work, brother,” said Rumi, “and how they have to learn to talk to each other again. And if they can’t agree, at least know which language is being spoken at the time.”
“And God,” said Hermano, “I mean, does…”
“In the start was the Word,” said Rumi, with a twinkle in his bespectacled eyes. “Though you can’t prove it with the scientific language. Perhaps the idea of God makes humans human. Perhaps God is the connection of everything. But wouldn’t it be terrible in life if you couldn’t believe in something bigger than ourselves?”
“What’s the point though,” said Hermano, and he missed Hermione once more and felt as if he was falling again, or slipping at least. “I mean I came here to be an artist, Rumi, to be the greatest Shaman storyteller that ever lived, and light a fire in animals’ hearts. But now I see that you can’t do anything to really stop or change it at all, or save the World. Art is pointless.”
“Well, I’ve just been down the cemetery,” said Rumi, looking at Hermano kindly.
“Cemetery?” said Hermano, thinking of his grandfather again.
“River Green Cemetery,” declared Rumi. “A famous human painter called Jackson Pollock is buried there. But I saw an inscription there too, Hermano. And it said this. ’Artists and poets are the raw nerve endings of humanity. By themselves they can do little to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving.’”
Hermano looked at Rumi, and thought of junior swinging him by his tail.
“Little worth saving?” he whispered, his heart rallying again. “Yes, Rumi, then what matters isn’t just living, and surviving, eating everything up, but how you live. So Art does matter and I will be a storyteller, a very great storyteller too.”
Yet Hermano sighed again.
“Yet isn’t the real story that the humans are just going to destroy the whole World in the end, Rumi, and the animals too? Like Toola Iceberg says.”
“Perhaps,” said Rumi thoughtfully, “and yet there’s the hole, Hermano.”
“Hole?” said Hermano, thinking of what he had seen as he looked through the leaves of his Graviola tree.
“In the sky,” said Rumi, looking up. “There used to be a great big hole in the sky.”
“There did?” said Hermano in amazement. It seemed there was so much to discover.
“Yes, Hermano. In the atmosphere, in something called Ozone, that used to be eaten up by the human sprays and chemicals. But when they found out about CFC’s they stopped it and now the hole’s nearly better. In the sky itself.”
“So they can do something about the harm they cause?” said Hermano, thinking it amazing there could be a hole in the sky, like in the forest.
“Yes, and in the country of India recently ordinary people planted a million trees in a day. Though the problem with Humans is that so often they only wake up when it’s nearly too late. Yet, though bad things happen,” added Rumi, “perhaps they see things in too short a time span. I mean, take the internet, that changed everything, and their books, real books I mean, they seem to be coming back now. Sometimes what seems like change then is only temporary. You have to have hope.”
“Yes,” said Hermano, “and if all is change, you can change the story too. In fact you have to. So come on, Rumi. It’s time to fight the dirty rats. Together.”
So they started to run, run through the burning, garbage strewn streets of New York City, and that is how it happened, as Jeb Cowpaw and the vagrants began to climb with Hermano’s orders back to the rooftops, higher than a Brazil nut tree. For having been alerted in a very modern way on Animal Media, all the animals of New York City suddenly went on strike. They refused to walk their owners, or be stroked, or be groomed and shampooed. They refused to do tricks, or walk to heel, or make silly human noises for the children. As they did so the humans got very uncomfortable indeed, and started to wake up too. It was partly because so many Computer Modems had gone on the blink too, with all that gnawing. They noticed the little fires, that were growing, and the garbage piled up on the streets and soon the phones and emails were jammed, ringing and badgering the Mayor, on the 54th Penthouse Floor, and some even went in person.
“God damn it, Coolidge, what the hell’s going on?” Mr Sugarbug boomed furiously in the lofty Penthouse, as the lawyer and the chauffer stood beside him. “Something will have to be done this time. And junior, while I’m away, play with Hermione, when you’ve cleared up your darn toys, boy. Come on, Augustus.”
But as the Mayor looked around he saw that Hermione’s golden cage was open and empty, and that his son had vanished too.
“Is the stupid kid looking for that silly French rat?” the Mayor asked his chauffeur.
“I don’t think so, no Sir. Hermione vanished last night. But Sir, she’s a Golden Gerbil anyway, and it’s French Canadian, Sir.”
Coolidge looked coldly at Augustus.
“But I think your son is very upset. He can’t stop crying, day and night,” said Augustus. “Between you and me he says he misses his mother, Sir, when she, you know, when she went away that terrible day and that everyone abandons him and he doesn’t like being bullied Online either.”
Junior’s father suddenly looked miserable, as the King of Social Media hurried toward the elevator. Down there on the streets a little rodent was moving along the hard New York pavements, tired and frightened and alone. Hermione looked miserable as she dodged the flames around her, which had already singed her beautiful tail. But suddenly the golden Gerbil stopped in horror. Along the sidewalk were a huge group of smooth black rats glaring greedily at her and at their head was Vladimir. Poor Hermione started to shake, but with that there was a cry and something flew through the air and landed in a ball of quivering spines between them.
“Hermano,” cried Hermione, as the rats backed away a little from the bravely bristling shape.
“Stand back, Hermione,” ordered Hermano courageously.
“Oh, Hermano, Mon Cheri,” cried Hermione happily, as Hermano’s spines seemed to get bigger. “Oh my love. How I have missed you, Hermano, missed your stories too, sending me safely to sleep. How I love you.”
“But you said I’m a spineless coward, Hermione,” said Hermano, with a frown, glaring at Vladimir. “And I stopped telling stories too. I’m sorry.”
“No, my love, I have been the coward, Moi, up there in a Gilded Cage, an Ivory tower, and without you at my side, Mon amour, it’s just a prison. Yet now at least we shall die together, for nothing can fight the dirty rats.”
The rats looked very nasty indeed as they advanced again, Vladimir in the centre, looking especially hungrily at Hermione. The elegant Gerbil was petrified. But suddenly it was as if the rain clouds had come, for the skies were turning black, and the New York air was filled with cawing and the flapping of wings. There were birds everywhere, and they were swooping and diving at the rats.
“The Founding Feathers,” cried Hermano, as he saw Colonel Black at their head, “Colonel Black’s brought the Founding Feathers to save us.”
“And to defend the Animal Constitution,” cried Colonel Black. “For I believe in Government of the animals, by the animals and for the animals.”
“Which is why you have to save the forests too,” cried Hermano, “and the seas, and the whole planet, like Toola Iceberg says. I mean, people are animals too.”
“Yes, brother. So I’ve even recruited those God dang pigeons,” cried Colonel Black, as the black rats began to be spattered with something white and slimy. “To crap on them from a great height. It’s like the good ol’ days.”
The rats were in mayhem now, at this sudden attack from the skies, and several had begun to run, some into the storm drains to be gobbled up by abandoned crocodiles, since like all bullies they were really cowards, even abandoning Vladimir himself.
“It’ still hopeless though, Hermano,” cried Hermione desperately, “the rats may be frightened, but nothing can stop these terrible fires, my Hermano. This terrible terror too, in this terrible heat.”
“Nothing, Hermione?” said Hermano softly, gazing high, high up into the heavens, “Except the animals, perhaps, working together. For the wheels always turn.”
Hermione looked up too, in amazement now, for she had felt it on her snout, like a single tear drop – water. Now the gerbil saw it too, everywhere, rushing down the sides of the burning buildings, pouring from the New York rooftops like rain, quenching the terrible flames of the fiery city as it did so. Then Hermione saw them too, the animals who had climbed up again with the Cowboy groundhog, swinging on the wheels above the faucets in the skies.
“Les Water towers,” cried Hermione happily.
“Yes, Hermione,” said Hermano, “Jeb Cowpaw has made the animals open the taps on all the Water Towers. Hydrostatic Pressure. Though that’s just gravity. You have to work with Nature, Hermione, scientifically, it’s very clever, but they’ve turned the wheels of fate. You see Hermione, in life you have to be a Rainmaker.”
“And we’re saved, my brave, clever Hermano,” cried Hermione adoringly, as a great waterfall came pouring down from the Chrysler building, just like in the Amazon, pouring down over both Hermano, who certainly needed a bath, and over Hermione. Hermione laughed, and shook out her beautiful Golden tail, and with that she grabbed Hermano by the paws and started to turn him, round and round, and dance with him in the dripping streets, as Vladimir looked on jealously. As they did so both Hermano and Hermione found they were crying. But as they laughed too, they knew they were crying with happiness and love and that these were good tears, not bad. Then everyone was dancing, the animals and the humans too, especially all the kids in New York, who were all on strike themselves, thanks to Toola Iceberg, who not only did not want to die, like any normal person, but didn’t want anything to be extinct and X either. Besides, they had heard sirens, seeming to sound in rhythm like music, and the human Authorities were racing through the streets again, the Garbage and Firemen, the Sanitation men, and suddenly the rats all turned and ran. All except Vladimir, that is. Instead Vladimir was advancing on Hermano, despite his bristling spines, and Vladimir’s huge teeth were prone to strike, murderously. He was far bigger than the little rat.
“No,” cried Hermione desperately, but something else was moving through the air, something huge, an American Bald Eagle, swooping right down 5th Avenue, and then something purple, with snapping claws, came falling straight toward Vladimir.
“Max,” cried Hermano, as the rat saw its snapping claws and the Lobster landed straight on the huge black rat, knocking Vladimir out with his hard shell and squashing him completely.
“Dear Max,” said Hermano desperately, rushing up to the flailing lobster on the pavement, “Thank you, Max, you saved my life. And I’m sorry, Max, that I had to make a choice to save the city. Your water tower.”
“I understand, Hermano,” whispered the Lobster faintly, “we all have to make sacrifices sometimes. For others to live well. And give our own lives meaning too. I’m glad Jeb never managed to fix that hole in the roof.”
“But we’ve got to get you to a tank,” said Hermano, “to some water. To your own element. Sardis?”
“No, Hermano,” said the lobster, as Hermano noticed the crack along his purple Exo-Skeleton, “I’m finished. But it doesn’t matter, brother, I’m old anyhow, oldest dang Lobster that ever lived, and I’ve had my time, for sure.”
“Oh Max,” whispered Hermione warmly.
“But Hermano,” said the Lobster suddenly, “What Rumi said about Eternal life. Maybe I was wrong. I don’t mean in some hereafter, we can never see or know. I mean things can live for ever in this life too.”
“They can?” said Hermano in surprise, thinking Nature very extraordinary indeed and again remembering Yage saying everything is alive and that above all the living forest has memory.
“Turritopsis dohrnii,” whispered Max faintly, the life leaving his lobster Exo-Skelton, “it’s a kind of jelly, brother, which grows on the bottom of the sea, like a polyp, then changes and floats about and mates too. But if it’s in danger it can become a young polyp again, and plant itself once more on the sea bed. It’s called the Immortal Jellyfish.”
With that poor old Max the Lobster died, but if Lobsters, that are very stiff creatures, could have a smile on their faces, Max would have had one in that peaceful moment.
“Thank you, Max,” whispered Hermano, “My grizzly brother.”
“Gruzzzly, mon cheri,” said Hermione a little irritably, “what does it mean?”
“Mean?” said Hermano, “well, its just a made up word. But I guess it means, well, a cross between grizzly and lovely, so hard on the outside, but kind within.”
“Look Hermione,” said Hermano in astonishment though, as he looked out towards the Hudson Bay now. Hermione was amazed too, for there in the water, they had suddenly seen a huge face push up through the waves and look at them approvingly. It was a Right whale. In the heavens too the skies were grumbling, and a great storm seemed to be coming to break the heat. But as the animals and humans stood there, and the fires died and the rain from the Way-Out-Western Water Towers finally stopped too, still there was water in New York City. But only in the eyes of a little boy, who was standing on his own, outside the old bookshop on 7th Avenue, still shedding bad tears.
“Junior,” said a soft voice behind him though. “There you are. Thank God you’re safe.”
“Just leave alone, Dad,” said junior, “Everyone leaves me alone in the end. Everyone always abandons me. And Toola Iceberg. She never even asked me to join the strike.”
“No, junior,” said Mr Sugarbug, as he came up behind his son and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I’ve been working too hard. All this politics and money. And your mum, she didn’t mean to leave you alone. She just died. That terrible day. And she loved you very much indeed, Randy.”
“She did?” whispered Randy, almost breaking into a nasty smile.
“Like me. And sometimes bad things happen that you can’t do anything about, but you mustn’t let it get into your heart and head, if you can help it.”
The Mayor, the Internet Wizard, the King of Social Media, the richest man on the Planet, Mr Sugarbug, was suddenly hugging his little son tightly, looking like a grown up, thinking that this was much better than any Virtual World.
“That book,” said the Mayor thoughtfully, as they broke apart, looking into the bookstore window. “Melville’s Moby Dick. Your mom was reading that that day when I met her in Borderlines, and we fell in love. She loved that story.”
Randy looked up too and wondered if everything is connected.
“You came from that story, in a way then, Randy,” said Mr Sugarbug, “And you know son, this city just ain’t the same without real bookstores, where real people can really meet and make friends and be truly connected, even if they’re gruzzly.”
“Make friends,” whispered Randy longingly and thinking of Toola again.
“I mean books aren’t just the words floating around, but they have personalities, like people and animals too. Not the same with everything online and in VR. Too many bullies about too, who just don’t understand. Too many people who just don’t notice what’s going on under their God darn noses either, all the time, always, let alone their skins.”
“Yes, Dad,” said Randy.
“So our Depository in the Amazon, son, I think I’m gonna convert it, since it mucked up your order, and plant some trees instead. And use my vast fortune too, to set people to work, and clear up all the plastic in the oceans, and find new ways to use stuff safely and recycle. If they’re no money in it, well, I’ll spend some of mine, but start festivals too. Clean-Up festivals, we’ll call them, where folk can be together but sell things too. We’ll travel too, Randy, all over the World, because, son, you’ve made me realise what’s really important about being alive and what you should do above all.”
Standing there, Hermano the tree rat suddenly realised it too, the answer to Max’s question. That if being alive is not just about surviving, but how you live, which is quite an Art, and if we’re all going to die anyway, one day, as is only natural, then what really matters too is what you leave behind you. Hermione winked at Hermano, as Jeb the Groundhog loped up too, having climbed right down to the ground again, and offered his Amazon brother his Cowboy paw to shake.
To be continued one more time…