The Chipmunk and the Tree

The tree spoke to the chipmunk with utmost gratitude. ‘Thank you, my dear fellow. Thank you for watering my parched roots.’

The chipmunk grinned and showed off his large gnashers. ‘You’re very welcome, Mr Tree. I could tell that you were thirsty.’

‘Oh I was, dear boy,’ the tree sighed, his old branches creaking. ‘A terrible drought has fell upon the land. My roots have soaked up every last drop of moisture.’

‘I will bring you more,’ promised the chipmunk. ‘Give me a few days and I’ll be back with more.’

‘That would be marvellous,’ said the tree, overwhelmed with joy. ‘How can I ever repay you?’

‘Well,’ pondered the chipmunk, stroking his fluffy chin. ‘It would be nice to hear some stories.’

‘Stories?’ the old tree frowned.

‘Yes,’ said the chipmunk. ‘You have been here for hundreds of years. Tell me some stories of what you have seen.’

The old tree chuckled. ‘Be careful what you wish for, Master Chipmunk. Are you sure that you want to listen to me prattling on about winters gone by?’

‘Please, Mr Tree,’ begged the chipmunk. ‘I have always yearned to know what came before.’

‘Very well,’ said the tree. ‘But I warn you, Master Chipmunk – not all of my stories are pretty.’

The chipmunk made himself comfortable on one of the tree’s thick branches, nestled into a knotted groove. ‘What was it like?’ he asked, no longer able to contain himself. ‘What was it like before the world fell to ruin?’

‘Oh, it was beautiful!’ the tree exclaimed. ‘Many a rendezvous took place beneath my branches – secret lovers in the dead of night, picnics, children playing hide and seek – I was barely ever alone…’

The chipmunk gave him a sympathetic smile. ‘I don’t encounter many living things either. You’re not alone in that respect, Mr Tree.’

‘There used to be so many people,’ the tree cried. ‘But alas, they destroyed themselves – my boy, there has been so much death…’

The chipmunk bowed his head, weighed down by the sadness of the tree’s words. ‘Do you think the land will ever flourish again, Mr Tree?’

‘With creatures like you, Master Chipmunk, then quite possibly,’ the old tree replied.

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