Oscar began to feel his body relax and his mind open to the thoughts. He laid his head on his outstretched arm.
Ring began, “Many, many years ago, before there were people on the earth, the animals owned the world.” As he spoke in thoughts, his blazing eyes began to soften.
“All animals speak a single language in thoughts. No matter where they are in the world, the language is the same. This ability ensures an accurate record of all major events, stretching back hundreds and hundreds of years, no matter where they occurred.”
Oscar was hearing Ring’s thoughts as though they were spoken words.
“We have a special gift beyond merely sharing thoughts, a gift that allows us to actually connect our minds. What I know can be shared with others of my choosing. It is a gift given only to animals, and only animals can cause a mind to connect. I have never connected with a human, but if I can share my mind with you, I can teach you many things. Do not worry; no harm will come to you. If we connect, you will learn many things from all over the world, things we know to be true because one of us was present for every event that ever happened. I am a Teller, responsible for all of history. There are no distance restrictions to mind connections between Tellers, but there are rules that must be followed. There are thousands upon thousands of Tellers, and each of us carries this history and passes it to our replacements. We also pass it to other Tellers, if requested.”
Oscar raised his head slightly and looked at the raccoon he now considered his friend. “I trust you. Let’s see if it will work.”
Ring’s thoughts were instantly transferred to Oscar. It was like pouring words from a pail. The pail had been filled one spoonful at a time but was emptied as though tipped upside down. The words came together, intermixed and interwoven, yet Oscar understood everything that was passing into his mind. In the blink of an eye, Ring told him of ancient history: the Pharaohs of Egypt, a man named Jesus and his miracles, the secrets of the Roman Empire, of Hannibal and Napoleon. Ring told it, and Oscar took it all in. In every instance, there were animals at the center of major events of the world. Their viewpoint was unlike any other.
Finally, Ring told of modern history. Oscar heard about the pilgrims and the settlement at Jamestown thirteen years before Plymouth Rock. He was told about the American Revolution and the progress of the new nation. Ring recounted the history of his ancestors and identified the last passing of the Wild Ways as the source of the Native American belief that humans must live as one with the earth and all creatures that share their world.
He told of White Eagle and the Native Indians, and their disappearance from the island. He told of the current animal inhabitants and how each functioned to help the others. The raccoon’s concentration was intense.
He told of the elder, Cottonwood, and how the Island Council now used her for their meetings. He told of the families: the shrews, squirrels, birds, turtles, snakes, and all the animal families now living on the island.
Ring was exhausted. Memories flowed from his mind. As he remembered stories that had been passed down from one generation to the next, they immediately transferred to Oscar’s mind. He told of the council meeting and why it was called. Finally, he told Oscar about Chatter, Old Blue, Archie, and Knothead. He told him about Spark, the chipmunk, Tambo, the crow, and all the others that helped bring him to the chamber.
“Oscar, you must use this knowledge to help all humans understand the wild creatures. You have the power to do much good.”
Then he was finished.
Oscar blinked, and the trance was lifted. He looked with softness at the wise creature that had taught him so much. He reached his hand to touch the raccoon, and Ring responded by pressing his head against Oscar’s palm, drawing close to his shoulder. They sat there for a long time.
“Why was I chosen?”
“You were chosen because of your good heart, Oscar. We knew you were a special human, and we thought we could trust you. The many kindnesses you showed us before your friend moved in far outweighed the bad things you did while you were with him. We have been watching. We were right.”
“But . . .”
“You will now be able to talk to all the animals. You must never allow another human to know you have this power because they will not understand.”
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