or Ferdinand, Part III (Revenge of the Flowers)
In a cork tree, Two Cats laid upon a long, firm branch. Season upon season, they looked down upon 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 upon the grass of the pasture. And, throughout, they trod upon 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, this meant that he walked upon the flowers. And he also sat upon the flowers. Sometimes he rolled. Throughout, he ended up mashing the flowers into a mush-pile. Eventually, the sun that peaked 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.
Convincing their friend the Bee to sit with them and chat awhile, Ferdinand eventually sat down upon him and got stung for his trouble. Now the flowers knew nothing of matadors or the 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 set upon smelling the flowers.
Later, Ferdinand was harmed by the Other Bull (the one who 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 that many of the Other Bull’s cohort would hide right there…under the cork tree!
And, as you know from 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 upon them, the flowers now had many bulls fighting and struggling upon 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 left. Plus, it was at this time that the Other Bull came back with another approach; instead of fighting, he took upon spending every waking moment there, wooing her. One must note: While this was an improvement, it still was twice as many of the creatures as what it was before. The flowers began to despair.
They prayed then, to whomever could see them from throughout 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.
At that, the beautiful breeding cow left, never to be seen again at the Ganadería.
So the flowers’ prayers, with a little help from man’s mad greed and lust for violence, had been answered. All in all, it would have been a happy ending, if such a thing were to ever exist.
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.
But being a Brave and Strong matador, he did not seek any medical attention. And so he died of infection a week later.
Thereafter, for their troubles, each and every one of the flowers under the cork tree was picked, to be delivered to the funereal procession for the slain matador. They were woven into garlands and other draperies for the floats. And all who lined the streets wept for the brave man.
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 told me.
Photo by Stephane YAICH on Unsplash