Two Cats and a Load of Bull: or Ferdinand, Part III (Revenge of the Flowers)

In a cork tree, Two Cats lay upon a long, firm branch.

Years past, season upon season, they had looked down at a pasture filled with cattle. And this is what they saw:

Most of the cows and bulls (and other animals, chickens, and what-not) ate the grass of the pasture. They shat on the grass of the pasture. And, throughout, they trod on the grass of the pasture.

Perhaps that is why the flowers grew only under the cork tree.

And how they did grow! They grew into a broad splay of luscious, verdant foliage. Bees would come to dance in the air and feast upon the nectar of those flowers and the flowers prospered. Every day of summer was, indeed, summer.

That is until Ferdinand came along. Ferdinand, the quiet bull, whose sole pleasure in life was to smell the flowers. Unfortunately, being a bull, he walked on the flowers. And he also sat on the flowers. Sometimes he rolled. One way or another, he ended up mashing the flowers into a mush-pile. Eventually, the sun that peeked through the leaves of the tree, and the rain that drip, drip, dripped from above would give them the strength to stand up again.

But they grew tired of the effort. And so they hit upon a plan: They convinced their friend, the Bee, to sit with them and chat awhile. Then, when Ferdinand paid them a visit and sat down on them as usual, he got stung for his trouble. Now, the flowers knew nothing of matadors or crowds — but they figured a stung bull would not return. So, the flowers quietly cheered as Ferdinand was taken away.

Alas, as you know from the famous story, return he did. And, once again, he started smelling the flowers.

Later, Ferdinand was harmed by the Other Bull (the one whom some refer to as “he who will not be named,” so we will call him the Other Bull because that is shorter).

Ferdinand was, once again, taken away (this time to the animal doctor); but the flowers could take little pleasure in this. You see, in that the Other Bull would fight anywhere, it was yet another bit of floral misfortune, for many of the Other Bull’s cohort would hide right there under the cork tree!

And, as you know from Papa Ernest, this did not stop him, as he would fight them and defeat them, anywhere. Why, in fact, the Other Bull would not hesitate to start combat right there, on top of the flowers! So now, instead of one gentle bull sitting on them, the flowers had many bulls fighting and struggling right on them, almost every day. Disaster!

As things were now quite urgent, they began to think outside the flower box, as it were. They hit upon the idea of attracting the most lovely breeding cow in the entire pasture. They convinced their friend, the butterfly, to lure her hither; and soon she was spending all of her time right there under the tree. The flowers figured that the bulls would stop fighting once she was there.

Indeed, the bulls fell for this trick and when the beautiful breeding cow strolled away, they followed her and left as well. But it was at this time that the Other Bull came back and smelled the lovely scent she left behind. And, instead of fighting, he started spending every waking moment there, waiting for her return. One must note: While this was an improvement, it was still more creatures than the flowers could put up with. So they began to despair.

They prayed then to whoever could see them from the mighty tree above. They prayed for deliverance.

And so, it was that the Other Bull was taken away. And later, through the whisper-stream of the pasture winds, they learned that the Other Bull had been slain by a man. In an arena. For the pleasure of other men.

So the flowers’ prayers, with a little help from man’s mad greed and lust for violence, had been answered. In fact, all in all, it could have been a happy ending. Happy endings aren’t so difficult if all you want is a happy ending.

But, you see, during the fight with the Other Bull, the matador that had ‘won’ had also been wounded by the beast’s impossibly strong horns.

And, you see, being a brave and strong matador, he did not seek any medical attention. And so he died of infection a week later.

Thereafter, each and every one of the flowers under the cork tree was pulled from the ground — picked, for their troubles, to be delivered to the funeral procession of the slain matador. Their dead husks were woven into garlands and other draperies for the floats. And all who lined the streets wept for the brave man, if not for the flowers.

And in that celebration of death lies our moral. For the next year Ferdinand, who was largely healed, returned to the tree.

And so did the Bees. As did the Butterflies.

And so, too, did the Flowers.

At least that is what the Two Cats tell me.

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