Great Shot, Griswold!
Ashley now had Lefty to contend with. No sooner had she turned her beautiful back on him than he'd sneak his especially clever little left paw under the cloth to see what it could find.
"Stop Snitching, Lefty! Can't you wait until I have everything properly prepared? It's considered bad manners to eat before your hostess has everything ready. It makes such a better show with everyone around to admire it before digging in."
"But it's best when it's fresh, you always say." Lefty tried, with a wistful smile on his devious cute face.
"Off with you! Go get me some pretty flowers from the bank if you have nothing better to do!"
"I always say, "Who cares what it looks like? It's how something tastes that counts,'" tried Lefty, who was now able to pull the cloth back to reveal the ham and cheese, since he was doing it in full site. He carefully covered them back up, appearing to be cooperative, licking his lips, hoping Ashley would let him have at least a sample.
"And those pieces of ham and cheese looked exactly like something that would taste good to me..." added Lefty, who was really hungry, and didn't want to pick flowers. He wanted ham and cheese, and he wanted it soon!
But Ashley was obviously adamant and giving him that scowling look she reserved for snitchers. So he pretended to wander off to the other side of the tree to pick flowers. What he really intended to do was sneak around behind Ashley's back and snag himself some of that ham and cheese!
Little did Lefty nor Ashley know, but while they were discussing Lefty's manners and self-control (or lack of it), Griswold had silently floated nearer the red and white checkered picnic cloth. He smelled the delicious muffins, was enticed by the fragrance of the ham and the cheese, could care less about the carrots, and... What's that he smelled? HONEY!
All he had to do was quietly crawl under the cloth and sneak a peek to see if the honey jar was opened enough to suck up a drop or two. He carefully, ever-so-slowly, sneaked his way under the cloth.
Griswold didn't make a sound. What he saw was beautiful. Not only was the food great, but Ashley had garnished it with tiny little fresh blossoms. A few little yellow clover blooms and some morning glory blossoms... one of Griswold's favorites.
And there were cosmos and heather, even a few miniature pink roses from The Cottage on the Knoll. They grew intertwined with the grapes and the grape scent lingered still. Griswold knew the area well. Grapes are irresistible to a hornet.
Nectar dripped from everything! "Now if people would just leave me alone with all this for awhile...." he buzzed, happily, to himself, as he set to work eating his face out.
Part Two, Under Cover
Little did Griswold know that Lefty was sneaking up on the red and white cloth too. Suddenly, Griswold sensed the warmth of Lefty encroaching on his territory. He turned to see the dark shadow of the black of Lefty's coat getting closer to the cloth. But this was Griswold's stash now. No cheating cat would get his goodies!
Griswold stayed perfectly silent, under a cosmos blossom, and watched the little left (of course) paw go to work. Unlike his sister, Lefty had only two toes that were white, and to Griswold, the bottoms of those two digits looked mighty tender!
Lefty, putting his superior snitching equipment to work, moved his paw ever so stealthily under the cloth. He was pretty sure he remembered precisely where that ham and cheese was laid out, among the cosmos. A patient millimeter at a time, Lefty's paw crept closer to the ham and cheese he knew was a little more to the left hand side, which required turning a bit, which exposed the underside of his paw a bit...but the maneuver would surely yield his prey.
Griswold had plenty of time to take careful aim.
YIPES! YOWWWLLL!! I'VE BEEN STABBED!!! Cried out Lefty, in excruciating pain!
As everyone froze in their tracks from all over the pond and the park, and looked to see who or what was killing whom... which is what it sounded like... Lefty began to slowly withdraw his paralyzed paw from under the cloth. Ashley was the first one to get to him, and as the paw came out, there was Griswold, plunging his stinger in for the second time! HARD!
Lefty tried first to shake him loose, but that didn't work. Then he slashed at Griswold with his right front paw, and it felt like he scored, but the pain in his left paw was so intense he didn't know what was happening. He must have scored though, for Griswold finally let loose.
"Griswold... Get!" Ashley scooted him away and yelled for Maverick to bring mud from the water's edge. "QUICKLY MAV! Ashley slapped it on his wound. "Now go get moss, Mav. QUICKLY! She chose Maverick because he could move faster than lightening when need be, and was still young enough to take commands well.
"Comanche, Ashley yelled after him. Make sure he gets CLEAN MOSS!!!" Comanche grumbled acknowledgement. It took more than a hornet sting to get her riled up.
Poor Lefty, thought Ashley, who would have to be Subdued. By now he was yelping and shrieking, in terrible pain, darting to and fro, not knowing what to do or where to go! The pain was like none he had ever felt before.
"If only I'd brought our Nurses Caps said Ashley to Joie in a private whisper when she arrived to help render aid. Ashley and Joie made lovely nurses in their caps. "Everyone pays so much more attention when we're wearing them."
Joie nodded in agreement. There wasn't a nurse on earth as beautiful as Joie when in that precious little cap.
It looked like he'd have to be held down in order to help him. Spike pinned him, and Joie sat on his chest while Mary Jane held his back haunches, being careful to keep her claws to herself. Poor Lefty. Even Mary Jane was concerned!
It must have been bad, because the animals all over Legacy Ranch could hear his yowls! Lefty was beside himself with uncontrollable shrieks, the pain was so intense. Ashley had Maverick drop moss, which was the perfect amount to cover the entire paw, which was dripping with mud. Comanche even came over to be sure all was in order.
While everyone was focusing on Lefty, Griswold, who by now had eaten his fill, flew back to Mz Possum's with a satisfied smirk on his honey-laden face.
The Emergency Treatment was well in hand now. Ashley washed down the wound with very cold water, which made it feel a bit better, and noticed two distinct slits in Lefty's quickly swelling paw. She selected the proper mud pack, encased it properly in the moss, fashioned it into a proper bandage, and elevated the patient's very sore limb above that of his fast-beating little heart. And all this without wearing her nurse's cap. Splendid job indeed!
Joie, Spike, and Mary Jane instinctively circled the scene, on guard for another possible attack. Lefty was still shrieking, though not as frequently, but still it sounded like he was dying. And indeed, he thought he was! The cats were all justifiably frightened, which made them especially strong, and watchful. Everyone was Very Concerned about Lefty!
Ashley had her own style of calming people down in a True Emergency. She started telling them way more than they want to know about a subject. She knew Lefty would be all right. It was simply a matter of time and fussing over him now, and things would be back to normal by tomorrow morning.
Back @ Ashley's Inn
Ashley set about her Expert Healing by telling anyone who would listen, in her astonishingly calm voice, what humans (like the people at The Cottage On the Knoll) would do in such a circumstance. Their hearts pounding still, they gathered round and listened.
"If it had been a human child that was stung, ICE would be the proper treatment, perhaps with baking soda or an aspirin applied directly to the bite to help draw away the pain. "ICE: Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It works in all sorts of emergency injuries." Sure enough, everyone began to calm down, and started taking interest. After all, it could happen to them someday.
"ICE keeps the swelling down and helps to get the patient stabilized. It's Extremely Effective," said Ashley.
"Where did you learn all this, Ashley?" Mary Jane wanted to be just like Ashley when she grew up, and know Absolutely Everything!
"My greatest resource to date has been experience, of course, and they there's the book I found when uncovering my ancestor's special burrow from years ago. Grandmother Blackie (who was mostly white) spent plenty of time with humans and wrote everything she thought useful for generations to come. It's full of incredibly helpful hints, ...and delicious recipes.
She sat back on her haunches a moment, the initial crisis over, and looked at Mary Jane. It's titled "How to Live Comfortably in Protective Custody" and comes in very handy in Times Of Emergency. Like this! I'll gladly let you study from it, Mary Jane."
Ashley was delighted she had a potential protégé! Indeed, Mary Jane would look wonderful in a nurses cap. When Ashley though about it more, however, she felt Mary Jane was perhaps more suited to being a doctor! A surgeon, to be specific.
"We have no ice nor soda here at the pond, so cool mud will have to do. Here, Mary Jane, lay yourself down beside him and let him prop up his paw on you for elevation while I apply more moss. Comanche, will you please go and fetch more water? You'll keep it cooler in your mouth than Maverick can. Teach him, however, and keep it coming."
Ashley had the team working well now. The more involved they were, the more calm they each became.
Slowly, Lefty's sobs began to subside, but only when Joie started licking and nuzzling him. Joie was the softest, most beautiful cat in the world, in Lefty's eyes... and in anyone else's who has the privilege of seeing her.
Back @ Mz. Possum's
Back at Mz Possum's, Griswold was feeling smug after his obvious victory. Rocky and the others were clearly impressed. They all gathered round to greet him.
"Great Shot, Griswold!" his pals said, in unison. It was the kind of entertainment they'd come to expect out of patrons of Mz Possum's Cafe.
"Serves the little snitch right," said Griswold, taking a mid flight bow, then proceeding with blatantly cleaning up and sharpening his grizzly weapon right in front of them. Bullies can be so tacky! He did it to impress everyone that he'd soon be ready for another attack, if provoked.
It pays to stay wary of Giant Hornets.
However, this wasn't his usual show-off stance. He seemed to be hiding something. What he was hiding was the side of his body where Lefty had slashed him!
Griswold didn't want Rocky and the others to know he'd taken a hit. But it was definitely time to buzz off and lick his wounds...in private. He looked Rocky square in the eye and said, without the usual conviction...
"I did it in self defense, of course...."
"Yea, right..." said Rocky, who knew that it wasn't at all clear who the snitcher really was. But since he'd lost the bet, he though it best to keep silent for the present.
It was an impressive show, and more excitement than on most sunny days. But Lefty really looked in terrible pain. And if Griswold could do that to Lefty without retribution, the same pain could be inflicted on an innocent little raccoon paw...
Rocky let it drop at that and Griswold darted and departed.
As is the norm with most carnivores after witnessing an unpleasant encounter, Mz Possum, and all the others who had gathered for the show, showed little emotion and also kept quiet. In fact, Mz Possum went soundly to sleep.
©1998 by The Legacy Company