You may have noticed by now that the riverbank folk generally lived in harmony, accepting newcomers like Rocky even when they weren’t native and were hard to understand. Rocky had settled in with Badger and they formed an unlikely friendship, one hardly speaking and the other nearly unintelligible, but they were part of the riverside community.
The only ones who never made an effort to fit in, carnivore or not, were the mink. They had invaded from outside, made no approaches to be friendly with the other creatures and stole! So unpopular were they that their name became Stinkers, instead of Mink.
One mid-Spring morning Dog-Otter was trotting along the riverbank when he heard Crow screeching hysterically from her nest in an ash tree. Alert to her cries of distress and danger, he loped over and saw a mink slinking down the tree with one of Crow’s chicks in her mouth, struggling and squeaking.
Baring his teeth and showing his muscles, his fur bristling, Dog-Otter stood on his hind legs and hissed at the intruder.
“We is victims.” The mink whined, dropping the chick, which Crow swooped down to rescue. “We wuz bred for fur. We wuz kept in cages. We iz hated but we iz victims.”
“Rotten fish!” Otter replied. “That was past time. You is not in cage now.”
“Is because we is foreign.”
“No, is because you steal. Is because you make no friends. You not come to circle. You not help. Go away!” Dog-Otter was becoming very heated.
Otter, hearing the chittering and squealing, swam upstream to investigate. She hauled herself up the bank and got the story from her mate. The mink was still half way up the tree, arguing her cause.
“Oi! Listen.” Otter was a bard but also practical. “We all live here. You live here. Play good, be nice. We like you. Play bad, steal and be not friends – we not like. Is easy.” Regarding her mate and the American creature, she was struck by the similarity of them. The mink was smaller but also aquatic and similar in shape.
“We think about.” The mink called down.
“Is sing-at-stones time soon. You come, you friends. You not come, you not friends.” There was little doubting what the Bard intended.
“I talk to others.”
“Think they’ll come?” Dog-Otter asked her.
The moon was full as the creatures from the riverbank gathered by the stones, each species by their own stone, a truce called for the night, the fish gathered by the bank, not fearing the otters at this sacred time.
Owl started the celebration from his post on the walnut tree, calling the opening of the ritual as the moon rose. As if in answer, She gleamed on the river. In turn, each group performed for Her. As Otter stood to sing, the mink arrived in a group, shyly grouping themselves with the other mustelidae. Otter waved them forward and they astounded all the other creatures with their dancing. The mink formed a circle and leapt, twisted, stamped their feet and even appeared to become other animals as they offered their celebration to the Moon.
“Welcome, friends. Be our honoured guests.” Dog-Otter spoke as they finished and joined the group, panting with exertion.
“No Stinkers?” enquired the female who had taken Crow’s chick.