(I want it read to me)
But how! She thought in near panic and excitement. What can a single cat do to save such a big tree?
She needed advice from those far wiser than her. The Council of Elders. Her father had told her that many of these Elders had lived here long before even he had roamed these canyon walls.
She climbed down from her high bough, stepped to the edge of her branch, jumped and landed on the cave cliff.
Her father was waiting for her.
“Father, Harry is in trouble. I need advice from the Council. Can you call a meeting?"
“They are gathering now.” He said as he touched her head with his. “The Council has asked me to come and get you.”
He turned and together they walked back into deepest part of the cave where a shaft of light came from an opening in the rock ceiling far above.
She sat next to her father in the circle of cats.
The leader of the council, a grandmother, noticed Stella taking a seat in the circle. “Good, Estella, I am glad you are here. Please come to the center.”
Estella looked at the far end of the ring of cats and saw a silver and black spotted leopard sitting on the tallest flat stone. The Great Grand Mother Elder. Estella walked into the center with fluid steps and stood where the beam of light made her bright.
“We know of Harry’s fate." The Grandmother Elder said. "Has he told you anything?”
“He told me that what causes the woodcutters to want to cut him down. They desire a metal that sparkles yellow. They call it gold. He told me that these people think the gold will help heal a sickness that is causing the woodcutter's children to cough. They can trade Harry's body for this gold and then give the gold to people who will try to make their children well."
She paused. “That is all Harry told me. I thought you might know about these City People,” she said. “I have come here to ask for your advice. How can we save Harry?”
The Grandmother Elder replied with a question. ”Estella, you know Harry best. Have you been able to formulate a plan to stop them?"
She had just learned of markings herself and didn't have much time for put together a plan, so she started to think of a strategy as she spoke. "There are three vertical cuts in Harry’s trunk. Harry told me that they are the woodcutter's markings to show other woodcutters what trees to cut down when they return. Perhaps, I could cover those markings with mud and pine needles so that they disappear. Then they would not find Harry and go home.”
The circle of Elders looked at her as though she wasn't finished. She didn't know what more to say. She really hadn’t time to think about this too much. She felt foolish. Something was missing from her plan, but she didn't know what.
The circle of elders was silent. She went back to sit next to her father. After a few moments, her father stood and stepped into the center of the light.
His fur shined bright. He began by commending Estella's strength and her courage to come to the council. Such courage, he said, can only come from her love for Harry. As he turned his head to look at her, he said that he felt proud to know someone so strong. He felt blessed that he knew her as his own child.
And then he turned his face back toward the circle of cats and continued to speak his thoughts. “Estella’s plan is the beginning of a good plan. But it is not perfect. It has a small flaw.”
"Even if the tree cutters cannot find Harry when they return," he continued, "and even if they get confused and go home, eventually, they will return. When they do, they will cut him down and carry him to the city in many small pieces. They will do this because they want the gold, as Stella said. Because of this desire, they will cut him down. And not just Harry, but his entire family of ancient trees. They will do this because they wish to not only heal their children, as Estella also said but mostly because they want to build their city bigger. Eventually, they will cut down every tree in every forest until our land is covered with big cities everywhere."
There was a murmur among all the elders. The faces looked troubled by his thoughts. One of the elders spoke loud, "How do you know this will happen?"
He waited till they quieted down, and then continued.
"Harry told me."
"Harry said that their problem is not simply that they want to heal their children and build more cities. That is the result of their problem. City People have an endless hunger, and they don't know how to feed this desire. Their deepest need is to know that they belong to a greater power. The forest was were their ancestors came from. Only the forest can fill this constant craving."
"They do not see Harry for his immense powers to help them heal what troubles them. They are like blind fish swimming caught in small pools of rocks not knowing how to swim around them and get back into the flow of the river."
"What troubles them is that they are suffocating from a lack of beauty in their lives. Harry showed me the places they live. Most of these City People have lived behind walls in dark square rooms, in grey buildings that are surrounded by more dark, dirty rooms, breathing in smoke from the time when they are born until the moments they breathe their last breath. They are separated from the beautiful trees. Because of this, their children become sick. This sickness makes them hurt until they become angry. They are angry because they feel deprived of what the spirits who live in their bodies were designed for. The forest."
“We, on the other hand, live in a canyon filled with only beautiful beings. Our homes are white granite caves. We wake in the morning and step to the edge of our caverns. We see nothing but beauty. When we get hungry for breakfast, we walk into Trinity where she has waiting for us to catch, fresh fish. During the days and through the nights Trinity continues to sing her babbling splashing song. Her song reminds us how she carved the canyon floor leaving tall white granite walls reaching high into the blue sky. Within this canyon, we have everything we desire. Food, water, homes, friends, and generations of children to teach the canyon songs. Just the way our parents learned and their parents before them. We live in paradise. The beauty and power of this paradise are what feeds our spirits.
His voice became more serious. "Now imagine if all this was taken from us, and we were stolen away and put in dark little caves that had no trees. No beauty. When we looked up the blue sky would be replaced with grey smoke. The sound of Trinity singing, gurgling and splashing replaced with nothing but voices of other cats and animals who are each imprisoned in small rooms. The freshwater fish we once swam to catch now dumped onto the stone floor by a strange people."
We too, like these City People would become sick and tired.” He turned his head slowly allowing his eyes to rest on the face of each elder until he scanned the entire circle.
"This is the cause of their children's coughing sickness. The children's spirits are suffocating from not being able to live in the beauty and strength of the forest. A forest that gave homes to their own ancient ancestors. And until we can bring them here to meet Harry and his family, to know these trees as the saviors of their children, as the healers of their own spirits...until they discover the magical beauty of Harry and his family, these City People will only see these majestic trees for the gold their wood brings them."
“So, Roccio. Do you have a plan?" the Grandmother Elder asked.