Lanz & Gwenhevre: Love Against the Tide

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Chapter II: Three Nights, Three Months

Physical and Moral Portrait of the Wauleis

Julius Cæsar’s Commentary on the Conquest of Gaul:

“Physically the Gauls are tall. In any case, they are not as short as the Romans.”

“The Gauls are generally blond or have red hair... In any case, they have less often brown hair like the Romans. They have long hair and long moustaches. Gauls do not shave as the Romans do.”

“The Gauls have blue eyes...at least they have less often dark or brown eyes like the Romans.”

“Morally, the Gauls are smart. They are sharp. They quickly assimilate various Roman tactics and attack strategies. They love fighting. They are extraordinarily brave, bold and tough. But they are unstable. They easily change their minds. They are easily discouraged. They lack the perseverance of the Romans.”

“The Gauls love bright colors, bracelets, necklaces, ornaments. They like to gab, sing, dance.”

Since Julius Cæsar there have been two other names for WauleGallia in Latin and France, after the Franks. The Gauls, formerly called Gallo-Romans, are now called the French since the Frankish conquest. The extent of Charlemagne’s Empire no longer exists, so the Capetian kingdom of Louis VII is much smaller in territory, and his royal domain l’Isle de France is surrounded by four rivers – the Seine; the Marne; the Oise; the Beuvrone, but this restricted domain is not really an island, rather a distorted translation of the Frankish Lidle Franke, meaning ‘Little France,’ since French royals called it that in Frankish, a Germanic tongue not spoken by the subjects of France. For that reason the Wauleis today refer to the former expanse of the old empire as Waule, not France, though the total population of the Capetian kingdom, including its feudal principalities, has exploded to twenty-two millions, one-third of the continent! Compared to France’s twenty-two millions, we count only four million subjects in England and Wales combined; one million in Ireland; and half a million in Scotland. In contrast, the latest tally of French subjects, dear reader, is teeming aplenty!

Five centuries before the Franks, Julius Cæsar conquered ancient Waule. His dictatorship ended the Roman Republic (Res publica) and gave to Europe the imperialist model in perpetuity. After the fall of Rome, the Germanic Franks imposed the same imperialist system in Waule for two dynasties: Merovingian and Carolingian. These Romano-Germanic empires lasted a thousand years and eventually left a hodgepodge of dialects and customs in the Capetian kingdom.

The Romans had called this conquered land Gallia and the inhabitant a Gallus. By coincidence, Gallus means two things in Latin: ‘cock’ and ‘Gaul’. Finding no offense in this double-meaning, the Wauleis today remain defiant and proud, crowing when they can “cou-rou-cou-cou” to all new invaders.

According to his writings, Julius Cæsar admired Gallic bravery; on the other hand, the dictator considered the Wauleis primitive and barbaric, justifying suppression of their native culture in favor of all upgrades that Rome had to offer: alphabet and written language; high technology; legal system and written constitution; imperial administration. Who today wants to live in small, remote tribes? Me! I’d love to slow down and do as I please at my leisure!

Franc, the root behind the word ‘French,’ also has a literal meaning in Frankish. Today ‘franc’ means ‘overt and direct’ in manner and ‘free’ – without cost or restriction. Ironically, the Romance language of the French inherited two different words for freedom – libertet from the Roman conquerors and franchise from the Frankish conquerors, but is the ‘rooster’ really free? Yes and no. Let’s visit the fugitive mayor at the dam to rediscover ancient traditions of Waule.

According to the ancient Gauls there are two seasons to divide their twelve-month calendar – the dark season, beginning with samonios, then the bright season. The mayor escaped amid spring colors – blue, pink, yellow and green – the season that inflames lovers! But just imagine – harassed three days – how could he believe in love? The manhunt drove him crazy. Tottering at the bank, he couldn’t see and fell in the water! Caught in a strong current – stunned and panicky – he grabbed a vertical post, colliding against a crossover of vertical branches. Knocked about, he swallowed a pint of mud and weeds. God help him! Suddenly he sank, half drowned!

Unable to penetrate the hut’s entrance, the mayor astonished the household by breaking the flooring with his head, the very moment the family had began the three-night ceremony trinox samoni sindiu. Despite the din and destruction caused by the intruder, the beavers welcomed him with good cheer, except the son who had already slapped three times his flat, scaly tail – sounding the alarm – the son, immediately reprimanded with a disapproving look from his mother.

Such open hospitality contains the wisdom of a long tradition, and by this wisdom beavers manage to ensure a close relationship with their Goddess of Sacred Waters – Matrona. This peaceful practice also helps to get to know outsiders better, to break free from fixed ideas and to open up to new ideas. Thanks to their generosity, beavers can grow wiser and increase their knowledge of the sacred in nature and in family bonds.

In an instant, the whole family began to nurse the mayor, administering right away castoreum, putting off their banquet till the next day. First, let me say a word about their interrupted holiday: trinox samoni sindiu. It marks the beginning of the druidic year in late October or early November. As usual, any celebration, as well as any day of labor for the beavers, begins at sunset; that is to say, their ‘day’ starts at sunset (nos) ending at sunrise (diios), and this period from night (nos) to dawn (diios) is called latis. In addition, to celebrate a holiday takes three days – from sunset, the day before the festival – until sunset the day after the festival. Nocturnal animals, such as beavers and foxes, still follow this druidic concept of ‘day’, starting at nos, ending at diios.

The French no longer enforce the druidic calendar, formerly known and followed throughout Waule before the Roman conquest. Beavers assume, however, that the expression in French quinze jours (fifteen days) to represent ‘fourteen days’ is based on the solar-lunar calendar by which Druids divided each and every month equally into thirty days, so that half a month always totaled fifteen days, not fourteen latis, as is the case in the English expression fourtenight, ‘fourteen nights’ to represent two weeks, starting at night and ending with dawn.

Today in Waule, sunrise marks the start of the day and not sunset, so the expression ‘fifteen days’ to say ‘two weeks’ persists for no obvious reason, and there’s also the expression ‘eight days’ in French to represent a week. As a result of the druidic solar-lunar crossovers (nos and diios), these French expressions confuse the starting point of the day – sunrise or sunset? Anyway, the French understand each other when they say ‘fifteen days’ when they mean to say fourteen days, but they forgot why they say it.

In any case, beavers adapt to all kinds of logistical and structural crossovers; ultimately, they are, par excellence, engineers, and they love puzzles. Therefore, beavers build whole villages of stick and earthen huts and know how to divert streams, digging bieds to redirect waterways in any direction they want. ‘Bieds’ or ‘biez’ is another term to explain; these are ‘channels’ and mean simply ‘beds’ in Frankish, the language of the Franks, but the etymology is disputed among some beavers who insist on the origin being a Wauleis word, bedo, meaning ‘ditch’ or ‘grave’. What a mix of languages in beaver civil engineering, demonstrating multiple invasions that took place in Waule, yet, remarkably, these beavers continue to safeguard their oldest traditions.

After three months of fosterage, the mayor was transformed physically and mentally – from head to tail – thanks to the brave, bold and tough ‘kidneys of the river’. His healing quickened with the administration of two drugs, one being the favorite of beavers, an extract of willow bark, which contains an acid that relieves pain. Regarding the second, the mother administered it to him herself, in a generous dose excreted under her scaly tail. This second drug is called castoreum.

Though men often hunt these kidneys of the river for fur – pale brown; beige; red; black – ultimately, it’s the antispasmodic castoreum taken from their glands that marveled the mayor, not the long, shiny coats of the beavers. In case of another emergency, the mayor put aside a large amount of this excretion:

Bugibus! What an elixir!”

Were there problems those three months? Of course! Beavers recognize easily their own clan through a well-developed sense of smell, having also keen hearing and a sensitive touch, though beavers are downright blind. Despite their generosity, these beavers had great difficulty putting up with the human intruder. Why? He stank!

What to do?

Having laid the man naked immediately to examine and treat his injuries, the mother decided to leave him in his natural state throughout the season. Then she began giving the man multiple baths each morning in quick succession. For the beaver husband, the wife’s generosity went too far. After four mornings seeing his wife bathe the man, the husband ended up building a separate chamber to isolate the intruder.

During three months of fostering the mayor, to which the entire community contributed, each beaver wore a mask. Why? They had to. Each and every day one of the males complained of the stench of decay emitting from the man’s chamber into the common room. This male then swore on the head of his father that Rous-sans-Coue must be drinking in secret and called the man ‘Barrel-Dregs’, claiming he stank just like the spirits regurgitated near the dam by a passing hoodlum, although the nearest tavern is located six leagues upstream or downstream. Obviously, this mayor’s odor defied the wind, but all’s well that ends well; the community survived.

Beavers are fiercely monogamous. Despite the morning baths and other flirtatious missteps of the mayor, Rous-sans-Coue became a member of the commune. In Bevres Rous-sans-Coue was mayor at twenty-three years old, a hardcore bachelor, not used to listening seriously to women’s views. On the contrary, beaver couples raise their pups and make all decisions together as a couple. This sharing includes daily tasks, where both male and female mark and defend their territory, both build and repair together all constructions. However, once the pups are born, they spend the first month in the hut with the mother, while the father works outside the area.

At one year old, the young leave the protection of the hut for the first time to help their parents develop food reserves for winter and repair all the constructions. In any case, adults do most of the work, while the young are helping. By mimicking the tasks of their parents, youth learn to stock supplies and ensure the survival of the community. Still, the young play while imitating their parents, but it takes years to hone to perfection all that responsibility.

By two years old, the pups remain with their parents caring for younger siblings and help with whatever is needed to save community members of all ages during crises – drought; flood; fire; epidemics; overpopulation – intrusion!

Beavers – is that all they do – work, work, work?

Of course not! Having fun is essential in family life. Beavers spend hours and hours playing together and discussing projects, but never at the expense of others. Their shared moments often involve examining what is sacred and mysterious in nature. According to druidic beliefs, certain trees are oracular, and those trees communicate messages directly to beavers from the beyond. According to this belief, the first beaver was created from living wood by Matrona, and this explains the term ’family tree’ to describe family lineage from generation to generation.

In any case, the veneration of trees is universal.

For example, Christian faith, like that of the Druids, is based on trees, the wood that furnished the Cross with all its symbolism. The Bible says that the God of Abraham “planted a garden east of Eden,” where the one God (unique but triadicin three persons) made “grow every tree pleasant to the eye and good for food.” Then this God of Abraham planted in the garden the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. By eating the forbidden fruit thereof, Adam and Eve committed original sin; on the other hand, redemption became possible thanks to yet another tree planted by God, the Tree of Life, also called Adam’s Tree or the Tree of the Cross.

Despite certain shared ideas between Christianity and Druidism – mysterious trees and triadic gods – beavers follow better Gallic traditions, or, more likely, Druids follow the traditions of the beavers.

For those beavers that practice their faith, it is forbidden to build huts to worship Matrona, the Water Goddess, so worship is done outdoors. To avoid interruptions during service, like the intrusion of the mayor, beavers select the deepest recesses of the forest, called dervees or oak groves, and those trees are transplanted from a distance to create secluded locations. The tree of choice is oak, the most revered tree. These oaks are watered by way of a local fountain or river, in honor of Matrona, surrounded by a dike to hide the ritual sites from intruders. In fact, these sites are watched ’nos’ and ’diios’ by beaver guardians.

Some dervees are arranged into a circle to benefit from the magic power of this form, as is the reason for the shape of the Round Table of Avallon, but other dervees are oblong. Sometimes a dervee can be big, sometimes small, depending on the population of the local cult. In the center of the dervee is an enclosure of two perpendicular rows of stones forming the central temple, where there is always an altar to lay offerings.

In the dead of winter one night, Rous-sans-Coue found himself in this magic circle at the funeral of an old beaver. Suddenly, Rous-sans-Coue, all naked and shivering, went into a trance, his mind subjected to reverberating rhythms of the wailing congregation: whistles, moans, raps of tails. Coincidence? The honored beaver had just reached his twenty-fourth year, exactly the same age as the handsome redhead in a trance. Is this the key to the mayor’s transformation? Or was it the deadly cold? Or perhaps it was the mesmerizing vibrations? It’s a mystery, but it’s true, in that magic circle, Rous-sans-Coue turned into a beaver, from head to tail! Matrona divine!

Since his transmigration, nothing is the same, physically or morally for the fugitive mayor. First, Rous is now able to use his own tail to administer the castoreum. And great news! Despite his bad character of yore – shady and questionable, Rous has become a worthy beaver.

Since then, Rous appreciates his fate and accepts it – for example, his waterproof fur and ability to stay underwater for fifteen minutes, making easier his aquatic life. Without any lessons, he now darts like a salmon, propelling himself with webbed feet. In short, the mayor of Bevres, formerly selfish and cowardly, is as strong and handsome as he is courteous, and as grateful and charitable as he is a gentleman to the beaver community, what he could not do in his human state.

Since then, Rous particularly regrets his narrow escape and the horrific fate of the burghers. Increasingly, the man still in him regrets the countless, secret baths, before those at the dam, earlier ones as mayor in Bevres, often mouth to mouth with the most becoming ladies. Since then, with his riverfront transformation, Rous lost the human appetite for infidelity and all hunger for accumulating gold. Since then, Rous has even forgotten ‘his’ coins stashed in the pool, those three bougetes swiped in flight from the treasury of Bevres.

Since the mayor’s glorious transformation, the beaver community respectfully calls him ‘Rous’ in admiration of his fur, or affectionately ‘Roussel’ in admiration of his new, solid character. The mother calls him more tenderly Rousselot on account of his very long tail. Falling madly in love with him, Bele dared one night to whistle in his ear, moaning softly:

“Let’s both leave together!”

Without hesitation, Rousselot replied:

“Beautiful lady, I am leaving alone to purify myself; when I return to serve you, I will never be remiss in loyalty!”

Oh dear! What a gallant beaver! Frankly, Rousselot had no choice. Because of his former human behavior, he had to leave the community to calm the waters and domestic quarrels.

And what about poor Bele?

She endured great pain to see him go. That day, many blondes, brunettes, and redheads wept at the shore, as many males as females. Rous had become their hero. To set the record straight, the husband asked Rous to accompany him to the round temple, where the husband recounted a brutally moral fable.

Here is a translation, interpreted in the English language from the whistles, groans, and gestures performed by the husband of Bele:

“Half-Cocked”

Once upon a time there were an old man and an old woman. They were poor with hardly anything left to eat. All that they had left was an old rooster. One day, the old man said to the old woman:

“We’ll have to kill the old cock. Then he added: “We’ll eat one half today and save the other half for tomorrow.”

So, the old woman went and got the rooster. She put half of it on the mantel for tomorrow. After a while, Half-Cocked came down from the chimney and started to scratch the ground. He wandered outside and found a gold coin in the woodpile. A stranger was passing by and took the coin from Half-Cocked and put it into his pocket. Half-Cocked started running after him:

“Cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin!”

Down the road, Half-Cocked met Wolf, who asked him: “Where art thou going, crying out ‘cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin’?”

“I’m chasing that man who stole my gold coin.”

“Let me go with thee,” said Wolf, “jump on my back, thou wilt move faster.” Half-Cocked jumped on Wolf’s back and left. A little farther down the road, they met Fox. He asked:

“Where art thou going, Half-Cocked, crying out ‘cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin’?”

“I’m chasing after that man who stole my coin,” answered Half-Cocked. “Mister Fox, come along with us but stay behind us.” After awhile, they crossed River. River asked:

“Where art thou going, crying out ‘cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin’?”

“I’m chasing that man who stole my gold coin,” answered Half-Cocked.

“Let me go with thee,” said River.

“Come if thou wilt,” River, answered Half-Cocked, “but stay behind us and don’t move too quickly.” When they got to the man’s house, Half-Cocked perched on the windowsill and began to crow, “Cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin.”

The man’s wife said: “What’s that thing on the windowsill?”

“I was passing by a house today and there stood Half-Cocked who had found a gold coin. I put the coin in my pocket, and that’s what he wanted.” The wife told him:

“Go and throw that thing into the chicken coop with the other hens. We’ll kill it.” So, the man took Half-Cocked and locked him up in the chicken coop. When the man had gone back into his house, Half-Cocked called Fox:

“Oh, Mister Fox! Thou, who likest chicken so much! Come here!” So, Fox went into the chicken coop and killed all the man’s hens. Half-Cocked got out and went back on the windowsill, crowing:

“Cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin!”

The man said to his son: “Take Half-Cocked and throw him into the stable.” So, the little boy took Half-Cocked and threw him into the stable. Half-Cocked called out to Wolf:

“Mister Wolf, thou likest fat meat so much. Come here; there’s lots of good meat.” Wolf went in the stable, then killed all the sheep. Half-Cocked went back on the windowsill: “Cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin.” The wife said:

“Wilt thou grab that thing, then put it into the oven. He will roast.” The man took Half-Cocked, then put him in the oven, then the man went back. Half-Cocked called River:

“Oh, River! Come quick and wash the oven. I’m going to burn!” So, River came and washed the whole oven. Half-Cocked went back on the windowsill and began crowing again: “Cou-rou-cou-cou, give me my coin!”

“Thou must give back his coin. We’ll never be able to sleep with that thing around all night.” The man gave back his coin. Half-Cocked returned to his own house, then gave the coin to his old master so that they would have something to eat for a few days.

The next morning, the man went out to see his sheep, but they were all dead. Then, he went to look after his hens, and they were dead and eaten. His wife went to put bread in the oven, but the oven was all knocked down:

“If I find Half-Cocked with his coin again, as far as I’m concerned, he can keep it!” said the man.

“He killed everything I had on the farm. I surely don’t know what kind of a creature that was!”

After a thoughtful pause, the fabulist asked:

Me sire Rous,” said the husband, “what do you think of this tale?”

Mi don, the lesson is obvious! Happiness is possible but ‘beware of thieves’! Above all, ‘stay away from those who borrow’ but ‘he who gives to the poor lends to Matrona’.”

“You’re right, frere Rous! Note well, despite his mutilation and poverty, Half-Cocked remained faithful to his master and knew happiness with his friends. Such collective efforts, along the way, made them loyal friends and good company to keep.”

“Aye, mi don, I will never forget your courtesy and the efforts of the community.” Happy to agree with each other, the husband adds one more proverb for the road:

“Drop by drop, we fill the bucket. It’s our choice, cher Rous, what to put in remembrance, the bitter water or the sweet water – half and half – or all one or the other.” By turning the page of this painful chapter – half whistling, half-moaning – the husband shouts for joy:

“Matrona divine, Roussel, long live adventure! Safe journey and gramercy!” There you see, dear reader, reconciliation and courtesy very common among beavers, also an example of their riverside wisdom, preciously transmitted by way of Gallic proverbs – drop by drop.

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