Neria - chapter 11
11 – A Bath and a Book
and a Dog
When we got back to the cave we both changed out of our leather clothes and put on the jeans and tee-shirts we wore in my World. I'd left my old leather clothes with Neria's Mum so it was my new clothes with the goat picture that I left hidden in the cave along with Neria's clothes with the same goat picture. It made me feel as though I was really part of her family too.
We'd had a long day in Neria's World, it was getting dark when the cave party was over. Now we were back home and it was still early afternoon.
I asked Mum if we could have a bath. She looked at us and seemed a bit surprised at my request but then she looked at us again and said "I think that's a very good idea, there's plenty of hot water so you can have a bath each, without waiting for the water to warm-up again.
I showed Neria how to turn the bath taps and the shower on and off and found the old bottle of louse shampoo that Mum had used on me.
Then I went to my bedroom (well I suppose it's our bedroom now) and found a book to read while Neria tried to drown her lice.
Neria re-appeared, wrapped-up in a big towel and I told her to sit on her bed while her hair got try and while I had my bath. "Read one of my books while you get dry if you like."
When I came back, wrapped in my towel, Neria was looking through a book. She was turning the pages and looking at the pictures. It was a book about dogs. "Did you make these paintings Edouard? Like I did the goat in the cave?" I told her that I couldn't draw that well and anyway these were photos like the one she had used my magic phone to take of me."
"I didn't know you had tame wolves in this World. Have you got one? Can I play with it?"
I explained that we had a special word for tame wolves: we called them dogs. "Yes, we've got one. She's called Moonlight and she's our sheep-dog so she doesn't live in our house like most dogs do. She sleeps in our barn - the one that's got all those electricity panels on its roof."
It had been a very tiring day and Neria wanted to get into her pyjamas and go to bed. I said “We can’t go to bed yet even though we’ve just had a bath. It was evening when we left your World but it’s still afternoon here and we haven’t had our evening meal yet.” So we got properly dressed and went downstairs for our meal. It was quite difficult to stay awake and we were both quite glad when Mum asked if we’d like an early night.
I said "Goodnight" to Neria and she asked whether she could see my wolf tomorrow. Before I had replied she had fallen asleep.
After breakfast Neria said simply "Where's your wolf?" so I took her out to the barn and let Moonlight out. She bounced around, tail-wagging, and tried to lick each of us. Neria was entranced, she had never met an animal that actually liked people before. Moonlight didn't even mind when Neria put her hand in the dog's mouth so she could see and feel its teeth. "They are just like a wolf's teeth - she ought to be a really fierce animal. Why isn't she?"
This is Moonlight playing with one of my toys
"It's like the cows. Dogs have lived with humans for hundreds of years. They probably think they are humans or that we are the boss dogs in their pack."
It was time to check the sheep and we decided Moonlight could come with us. I don't usually take her because you don't need a sheepdog when all the sheep are safely in their own field. Also she was a nuisance when you wanted a swim.
Of course the sheep were still safely in their field but we went through the gate so I could show Neria how my tame wolf hunted sheep. I whistled the same way Dad does and Moonlight ran to round-up the sheep and got them all together in one corner of the field and then she lay down looking at them. If one tried to wander off, she got up and chased it back to the flock. Neria said "I want a tame wolf, think how easy it would be to hunt deer if you had a wolf to round them up like that. Let's go to my home and try to tame a wolf."
I wasn't sure this would work but Neria wouldn't change her mind, so we changed into our leather Goat clothes and went through the cave.
Neria's Dad was carving a piece of bone into a really good model of a deer. He said he was fit it to his spear-thrower to bring him luck when next he went hunting. Spears get broken quite often but spear-throwers last a long time so it's worth making a really nice carving to go on them.
Neria interrupted her Dad "Come on, you can finish the carving tomorrow I want you to catch me a wolf-cub.
Her Dad explained that they only hunted wolves in the winter when their fur was really thick and made warm clothes. Neria interrupted to say "I don't want a dead wolf to make some new knickers, I want a live baby one I can tame and teach to hunt for us."
Her Dad said "Well it's still the time of year for wolf cubs but they stay in their dens so I don't know how we could catch one. Why don't you come hunting with us after our meal, we'll see if we can spot any wolves. You'll need to be careful and let me and the other men go in front - you haven't got spears and we might need them."
So after lunch Neria's Dad and five other men set off for a hunt with me and Neria following along well behind them.
The Gods must have been on our side that day.We found a herd of bison most of which ran away before we got close. But one must have been hurt and was limping and couldn't run fast. The men crept up and soon had it speared. When it was dead the men joked with us: why don't you carry it home for us?" Of course we couldn't move it an inch let alone pick it up, so four of the men fixed it on a pole and set off to take it home. Neria's Dad said "Come on, two men aren't enough for hunting but let's see if we can find a wolf cub."
We followed the bison tracks up the hill until we got to where the snow started. There were the bison that had run away from the hunters and a pack of wolves were closing in on them. Neria's Dad said "We don't want wolves killing all our bison, lets chase them away." So we did but we also chased away the bison by mistake. Neria's Dad said "Come on kids, it's time to go home and get that bison skinned." and we were just setting off when Neria spotted a little animal outside its burrow. It was a wolf cub.
We grabbed it and took it home with us. "It can eat some bison meat" said Neria but she was wrong. It was too small and needed its mother's milk. Neria was afraid it would die but eventually she persuaded her big sister, who had a baby of her own, to let the wolf-cub share some of her milk.
A week later the puppy started eating the chewed-up meat we gave the bigger babies. Neria called her puppy Kumia and she was soon friends with everyone and ate the meat people threw to her while they were eating their own meal.
We had been in Neria's world for more than a week and I wanted to go home. Neria knew we'd be back with her wolf cub in no time at all, so she didn't mind coming with me.
When we got out of the cave and into our normal clothes Moonlight was still guarding the sheep and hadn't noticed we had been away. We went straight home but we should have had a swim first. As soon as Mum saw us she said "How did you get this dirty, it was only yesterday you both had a bath." We said we'd been playing with a puppy. I suppose spending a week or two in Neria's World does leave you a bit dirty. We both had another bath that night.
Things to think about
- Do dogs in our world think they are still wolves? or humans? or just dogs?
- There are hundreds of different sorts of dog, big, small, fluffy or smooth, long pointed muzzles or short faces. As soon as a baby is starting to talk it says "dog" whatever sort of dog it sees. How does the baby know that they are all dogs and not cats?
- Would you like to go hunting bison? Or is it cruel? What could Neria's people eat if they didn't hunt animals?
- Do you eat animals? Who kills them?
Read the next chapter
Things to think about
- Would Edouard use the same money as us?
- How would you explain how a car works to Neria?
- Have you ever eaten a wild animal?
- If Neria takes the ten pretty coins home with her what will her parents and friends think they are?
- Why hadn't Neria ever seen potatoes before?`
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