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BUDDIES  9' A prisoner and a rat become buddies

Once upon a time a long time ago, in a prison far, far away, a
prison guard in a black uniform opened a cell door and slid a
plate of food and a bowl of water into the cell, then he slammed
the cell door and locked it and walked away. The prisoner
inside, who was sitting on the floor against the far wall,
crawled over to the door and knelt over the food. The guards had
only fed the prisoner once a day. So, he was very hungry.

Suddenly, the prisoner heard the guard shouting and running and
stomping is foot. Finally, with one last shout and one last
stomp the guards foot landed just outside of the cell door. At
the same time a rat dived under the cell door into the cell --
inches away from the prisoner.

The rat looked panicked. He couldn't go back outside. He would
get stomped on by the guard. But he was also afraid of the
prisoner who looked like a giant as he looked down at the rat.
So, the rat stood still, hoping the prisoner couldn't see him.
The prisoner didn't move either until he heard the prison guard
walk away.

"Hello, little fellow!" whispered the prisoner, "Are you hungry?
Would you like a little bread?"

Then the prisoner very slowly broke off a piece of the bread he
was eating and placed it on the floor a few inches away from the
rat. But the rat was afraid to move. He thought there was still
a chance that the prisoner couldn't see him. He didn't
understand that the whispering was the man trying to talk to
him.

The prisoner started eating again, but slowly, so as not to
scare the rat. With the guard gone, the prisoner talked in his
normal voice. "Go ahead. Eat. It's not much but it's the best I
can offer."

After a while the rat moved very slowly toward the bread, then
stopped suddenly to see if this was a trick. But the prisoner
continued to eat his food and drink his bowl of water. So, the
rat finally picked up the bread with his front paws and began
chewing on it. When the prisoner finished the food and water, he
slowly pushed the dish toward the rat. But the rat thought he
was going to attack so he turned toward the door, ready to run.

But the prisoner slowly backed away toward the back of the cell
saying, "It's okay little fellow. I was just going to let you
have my leftovers." Then he sat back against the cell wall and
watched the rat finished the bread and lick the dish and the
bowl.

The prisoner smiled and said, "It's nice to be able to have
someone to talk to down here. I'm the only one in this jail."

When the rat finished the last of the food he dived under the
door and disappeared. The prisoner was sad because his only
friend had left him. But a few minutes later, the rat came back
under the door. He stopped for a few minutes.

"I'm glad you came back." said the prisoner.

After a few minutes the rat walked slowly across the cell floor
toward the prisoner.

"You got something in your mouth, fellow?" asked the prisoner,
"Yes, you do. What is that?"

The rat dropped what he was carrying in the middle of the floor.
But the prisoner didn't try to reach for it for fear that he
would scare the rat away again. After a while, the rat picked up
the object and brought it closer to the prisoner, then dropped
it again.

"You want me to have that?" asked the prisoner. So he slowly
reached out and picked up the object. 

"It's a button! That's amazing! You gave me a gift. Thank you!
This is lovely!" exclaimed the prisoner. "I tell you what. Let's
be buddies. My name is Phillip. And what's your name?"

The rat just blinked.

"Alright," said Phillip, "since we're buddies, I'll call you
Buddy. How's that?"

And so, Phillip began to talk to the rat as if he was a person.
He told him stories and jokes and riddles. The rat didn't seem
to understand, but he seem to enjoy being buddies with Phillip.

After a while, they could hear the foot steps of the guard
coming down the hall. Buddy let out a chirp and ran to the
corner near Phillip. When the guard slid open the peephole to
check on the prisoner, Buddy dived behind Phillip and shook.
After the guard closed the peephole and walked back down the
hall, Phillip whispered, "It's okay, Buddy, he's gone, you can
come out now."

Phillip and Buddy became good friends. At the end of the next
meal, Phillip had Buddy eating out of his hand. And after the
meal, Buddy left the cell and returned with another gift for
Phillip. This time it was a piece of string. Phillip thanked him
warmly and stroked Buddy's neck and back with his finger. Within
a week, Phillip had a pile of gifts from Buddy.

But one day the gifts became useful. This time Buddy brought
back an arrowhead. A few days later, Buddy brought back a piece
of rusted, bent wire. "Perfect!" praised Phillip in a whisper as
he petted Buddy's neck and back, "This is our way out of here!"

Phillip used the arrowhead to drill a hole through the thick
wooden door until he could see the iron door lock. Phillip bent
and twisted the wire to reach into the door lock and unlock the
door. Then, during the late hours of the night, when all the
guards were sleeping, Phillip sneaked out of the jail and ran
into the woods. He was free!

Suddenly, Phillip heard a rustling of the leaves behind him. He
turned quickly with his fists at the ready to fight. 

"Buddy!" Phillip whispered. "You want to come with me?"

Buddy sat up on his back legs as if to beg.

"Listen, Buddy," said Phillip, "I have to run fast or I'm going
to get caught. If you come with me, you have to ride. Okay?"

With that, Phillip crouched down and layed his hand on the
ground. Buddy ran onto his hand and Phillip lifted Buddy to his
shoulder.

"Hang on, Buddy!" warned Phillip, "It's going to be a bumpy
ride!" And off Phillip ran. He got to the harbor before dawn.
There was a sailing ship loading cargo. Buddy hid inside of
Phillip's shirt as he approached the people.

Phillip asked the captain, "I need to get to the mainland. But I
don't have any money. Do you think I could work off my passage?"

"Sure!" replied the captain, "I'm short more than one crew
member. You're a welcome addition to the crew."

Phillip helped the crew finish loading the cargo onto the ship,
and set the sails. After setting the top sails, Phillip took
Buddy out of his shirt and placed him on the highest yard arm.

"Keep an eye out for trouble, Buddy." said Phillip as he climb
back down to the deck of the ship, "I'm counting on you."

Two hours later the crew on the deck heard a loud chirp.

"What was that?!" asked the captain.

"That means trouble." replied Phillip as he looked up at buddy.

Buddy was looking toward the horizon at the rear.

"Someone is after us!" shouted Phillip.

"I don't see anyone!" replied the captain as he reached for his
telescope.

"Astern!" shouted Phillip.

The captain looked over the back rail of the ship to the
horizon. "Well, I'll be! There's a ship following us and he's
gaining fast."

"To arms!" shouted Phillip.

"Are you sure?" asked the captain.

"I'm sure. They'll come along on our starboard side, and board
with about six men. If we repel the first six boarders, they'll
retreat."

The captain asked, "How do you know so much about naval
strategy?"

"I've served with the royal navy." replied Phillip.

"Very well," replied the captain, "better safe than sorry."

So, the captain opened the ships armory and gave each crewman a
sword saying, "Since Phillip knows about these things, he can
tell you what to do."

And Phillip showed them what to do. Before the enemy ship caught
up with them, they even had time to practice fighting off the
soldiers who wanted to come aboard the ship. While they were
practicing, Phillip climbed up to the yard arm to praise and pet
buddy. He showed Buddy how he wanted him to help fight off the
soldiers and then Phillip climbed back down to help with the
fight.

As Phillip predicted, the enemy ship came along side on the
right side. But when the enemy soldiers tried to swing onboard
on ropes, Phillip's men slashed the ropes with their swords and
the men fell onto the deck. Crewmen were waiting there to throw
them overboard.

"Left full rudder!" Shouted Phillip. And the two ships began
drifting apart as the second group of enemy soldiers tried to
swing on board. But as soon as they set foot on the rails,
Phillip's crew men swung big wooden boards at them knocking them
into the water. Only one was left. He managed to jump down from
the rail onto the deck. Phillip moved in and began expertly
sword fighting with him, pushing him back until he was under
Buddies yard arm.

Phillip shouted, "Now, Buddy, now!"

With that, Buddy bit the last of the ropes holding a large
wooden pulley, which fell and hit the enemy soldier on his head,
knocking him down. The crew members picked him up an threw him
overboard. By now the ships were too far apart to send more
soldiers and most of their men were in the water. So, the attack
was over.

"Well done, Phillip!" shouted the captain. Then he looked up
toward the yard arm, unable to see anyone, "But who is this
BUDDY you were yelling at?"

"It's a little hard to explain," replied Phillip.

The cargo ship continued on toward the mainland. That night
after dark, Buddy climbed down the mast and below decks where he
crawled into bed with Phillip and inside his shirt.

Phillip petted Buddy and whispered, "Well done Buddy! Well
done!"

On the mainland Phillip collected his pay and rented a horse.
But before he could mount the horse, Buddy let out a loud chirp.
Phillip immediately looked around for a soldier, then ducked as
a sword swished at his head missing him by inches. Phillip found
a pitchfork nearby and used it as a sword to battle the soldier.
Using both ends of the pitchfork, he finally knocked the sword
out of the soldier's hand. When he did, the soldier ran for his
life.

Phillip petted Buddy and whispered, "Well done Buddy! Well
done!"

Then he mounted his horse and rode off at a gallop. After two
hours of riding, Phillip came upon thousands of soldiers. Again,
Buddy let out a loud chirp.

Phillip replied, "It's okay, Buddy, these are MY soldiers.
They're our friends."

When the soldiers saw Phillip, they all knelt down, shouting,
"Your Highness!"

You see, Phillip was a prince and the leader of the king's army.
His enemies kidnapped him before the coming battle, knowing that
without him to lead them, his army would lose the battle.

But Prince Phillip escaped from their jail and led his army in
battle and defeated the enemy.

Needless to say, Buddy was with Phillip in every battle from
then on.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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http://www.bobsnook.org  email: bob@bobsnook.org

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