A Table for Two

Once upon a time there was a lonely little cottage on the bleakest mountaintop in the whole world. Inside this cottage lived a lonely little wolf.  She always set the table for two and kept a freshly trimmed lamp in the window after sunset. But no one ever came to see her. This made her very sad.

“I wish I had other wolves to talk to,” she often sighed to herself. “There’s old Mrs. Tabletop and Grandpa Oakendoor and dear little Juniper over there, but it’s just not the same thing, is it?”

“There, there, dearie,” said Mrs Tabletop soothingly. “You’ll find friends someday, don’t you worry.”

Little Wolfie dozed off, comforted. Mrs Tabletop gave Grandpa Oakendoor a shove.

“Wake up! We have to do something!”

“We – ah yes, yes, quite right, so we must, so we must. Something, what? That’s the spirit, eh? Let’s do something!”

“Quite, but what shall we do?”

“Something. Don’t fret, old girl. Something always does turn up!”

Juniper snorted. “Of all the tosh! Things don’t just ‘turn up’!” But neither of the old people paid her any heed at all, so she gave one more hoity-toity sniff and went back to sleep.

Now, as it happened, Something was passing by the window just as Grandpa Oakendoor mentioned him. He saw Wolfie’s wan face and made up his mind at once: here was one very special turning up to do before he turned in for the night.

So he knocked merrily on the door and stepped inside with a right cheery ‘what ho’ as Grandpa swung out of the way. Wolfie leapt up, all awake all at once.

“Oh hi!” She said brightly. “Do come in out of the storm … Dear, dear! You’re my very first visitor and I don’t even know what – er – who you are!”

“I’m Something.”

“If it isn’t too awfully rude – what?”

“Something. I turn up, every now and again.”

“Oh,” said Wolfie doubtfully.

“I’ve come to take you on a little adventure,” said Something. “To see the other little wolves in the forest.”

“Oh have you really? How splendid!” Cried Wolfie. “Let me just get my coat. And my hair – oh dear! I’ll be just a moment. Please don’t go away, Something!”

She rushed away to get her things. Something stared Mrs Tabletop, then at Juniper, then at Grandpa – “Good grief.” He said finally. “Has she always been like this?”

“Yes indeed, the little darling!” said Mrs Tabletop. “I found her sleeping near my front left leg one day, poor little mite. All alone she was, but such a dear little thing even then. Why, you never would believe …”

“So – she’s never seen another wolf?” said Something slowly.

“Not that I ken of,” said Grandpa Oakendoor.

“Well, she’s in for something of a shock, that’s all,” muttered Something grimly to himself, and he wondered if he should just vanish off the map. But that was the catch to being Something; one didn’t just disappear once one had turned up.

So off they went into the forest, searching for wolves. Something knew where they were, of course, but he was dawdling his very hardest to avoid them, and Wolfie kept on stopping to exclaim at stuff.

Suddenly a fierce growl emerged from the bushes, followed by a pair of dripping fangs bared from a ferocious snarl, and then a huge pulsating mass of hair, matted with blood and stinking to the tip of its crouched tail. Wolfie shrank away.

“Goodness gracious!” she cried. “What in the world is that terrible creature?”

“That,” said Something. “Is a wolf.”

“Right ho!” said the grinning creature hoarsely. “A wolf. Welcome to the club, little lady!”

“A – wolf? No. No. No!” cried Wolfie. “You’re lying! You can’t be a wolf! You just can’t! Ugh! Go away, you dirty thing!”

“Well, I – ” began the indignant wolf, but Something broke in hastily. “Look, a rabbit! A rabbit in the bush!”

The wolf bounded away. Wolfie had soaked her hanky clean through by now.

“It c-can’t be true. It just can’t!” she wailed. “They’re not all like that, are they?”

Something sighed. “Yes, they are, but –”

Wolfie wouldn’t listen. She cried all the way back to the cottage and ran inside and shut the door in Something’s face.

“Go away,” She said firmly. “I’m sorry, but I think it would be best if you never turned up again.”

“But – but I – ” began Something.

“Shoo! Shoo!” Said Mrs Tabletop, and drew the curtain firmly across the window, shutting out the sputtering Something for good. “Tell me, dearie, what’s the matter? Oh no, of course all wolves aren’t horrid! You’ll see, you’ll meet a fine handsome young wolf just like you …”

But Wolfie never set the table for two again.

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