The Swallows and the Talking River Story Snippet

There was once a man who stood so proud that people took it for stubbornness and thus, everyone thought him to be very ignorant. He believed that he knew more about the forest that stood beside his village than anyone else. Often the man would preach about the flowers that bloomed at different times of the year, the way that the trees swayed in the wind and all the creatures that called it home.

Although he portrayed himself as a man of the forest, his most treasured piece of knowledge was of the birds. He could name any of them from their song, their tone, or how they sounded as they flew through the undergrowth. He would go on for hours at a time, his pride and arrogance growing so strong that even the trees began to wilt and the wind would start to moan from the sound of his voice.

He didn’t care who he spoke to, just as long as they would listen. He would repeat himself to anyone unfortunate enough to lend him their ears and he made no acknowledgment of their bored looks and sighs but instead would begin as he always did:

‘Let me tell you about the morning song…’ and so on. There were many birds that arose at the crack of dawn to begin their beautiful tune. It would quieten down in the midday sun allowing the crickets to speak up for a time. Soon that noise would be replaced by the morning birds late arising cousins when a new chorus would begin to welcome in the afternoon. In the evening, a new ensemble would lament the passing day in muted chirps until the darkness descended and all the birds would fall asleep.

It was on a midsummer day during one of the man’s speeches when the other villagers grew so tired of his arrogance that a brave young soul spoke up.

‘How do you have all of this knowledge without ever spending any time within the forest?’ The other villagers began to nod their heads in agreement and mutters rippled through the crowd as more began to question how he could possibly make the claims he did. When the man heard these words he grew angry for he didn’t like being accused of such a thing. To prove himself, he declared that he would spend three days and nights within the trees so that the villagers would never doubt him again. He went home to pack a small bag with a sense of smugness. He knew he would be telling everyone about this adventure for months when he returned.

The next morning he walked into the depths of the forest, moving with great purpose as he weaved between branches and stepped over the wild undergrowth. Wanting to prove everybody else wrong, there was no fear or uncertainty in his mind as he pressed forward, and it was hours before he came to a halt. There was a spot his father had told him about once when he was a boy, a river where the flowers bloomed in dizzying colour in the day. It took a good few hours to find, but he never faltered in his steps. Once he found it, he stood there smugly.

It certainly was a beautiful spot, full of the greenest grass and most dazzling water he had ever seen. The sky was clear and the morning birdsong could be heard about the treetops and was carried in the breeze.

The arrogant man congratulated himself. Never could a finer spot be chosen to prove to everyone that I was right, he thought. Sitting down cross-legged amongst the grass, he closed his eyes and listened to the melody of the forest, picking out the bassline of the bees and the percussion of the woodpeckers. His harmony was only disturbed when there came a sound that was out of the ordinary. A snapping and cracking noise began somewhere in the treetops, rustling the leaves directly on the other side of the riverbank. The arrogant man jumped to his feet in fright, getting ready to flee from some sort of wild beast he believed to be lurking there…

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