Tale of the Ghost Moose
It’s time for another campfire story! Gather around campers!
The moose clan that live in these woods tell a story of the ghost moose. They say it is a true story. So we will share the story of this legend with you! Grab your chair and join us around the camp fire to hear this tale.
Once a year the moose clan of the Salamander woods celebrate the annual strawberry full moon festival. It’s one of the best festivals in area. The moose clan gathers strawberries from all over and enjoy a large feast with strawberry tarts, strawberry shortcakes, strawberry marzipan, strawberry drinks and strawberry pies. Every year the festival concludes with the telling of the story of the ghost moose.
You see campers many years ago, the Salamander woods were run by the great Grumpy Grizzly. He was a grouchy, snarly, gnarly old bear who said that no fun shall be had in all of Salamander woods. If he saw a party or heard laughter it would enrage him. Any animal caught having fun would be sent to the dark caves and never seen again. The moose clan were banned from having their annual strawberry full moon festival. It meant no tarts, no shortcakes, no marzipan, no pies or fun! It was a very dark time for all the animals.
In the largest oak in the woods, lived Old lady badger. She was so old that no one remembered her name. Her black stripes had turned gray and she wore spectacles that looked to be too small for her large badger nose. Old lady badger was a wise old sage and often counseled the animals of Salamander woods by reading tea leaves. She could predict the future in those tea leaves.
One morning, the leaves in her tea formed a moose shape and then turned white and disappeared into a puff of a smoke. She could hardly believe it. This had to be the answer she thought! She hobbled as fast as she could to the home of the moose tribe. She told the moose clan of prophecy. A white moose would be born during a full moon and would bring peace and laughter to Salamander woods! The moose tribe were elated. The news of Old Lady badger’s prophecy soon spread across the woods and straight in to the ears of Grumpy Grizzly.
Well, Grumpy Grizzly was not happy to hear this news. He knew Old lady badger’s power to predict the future and he was worried about the white moose prophecy. He had his gnarly rat gang spy on the moose clan and watch their every move. Luckily the gnarly rat gang had missed the fact that Maisie moose was pregnant. She wore a shawl that kept her growing tummy out of sight. As the time came for Maisie to give birth, the moose hid her away. They could not take any chances. If she had the white moose baby, it would be disastrous if Grumpy Grizzly learned of the birth.
On the night of that year’s strawberry full moon, a little moose was born. He was all white with two dark brown eyes. The entire clan came to meet him. He was so odd looking with his white fur. It was shiny and almost translucent. The little moose instantly began to stand and the sight of his spindly legs and his knobby knees made everyone laugh. His mother named him Spirit because of his white fur. The clan knew they must hide the little white moose away. Grumpy Grizzly and his gnarly gang of rats could not find out he had been born. They decided to hide him and his mother with Old Lady badger.
Living in an old oak tree was not easy for two moose and a badger. It was tight quarters. Spirit and his mother share a small space in the living room. Old Lady badger’s home was full of nick-knacks, tea cups and furniture. Spirit was a clumsy moose who often ran into her cupboards, tables and shelves full of tea cups. He often broke items and was scolded. As he grew older, it only the tiny oak tree seemed to shrink. Spirit wanted run and play and meet other moose. He did not understand why he had to live in the old dusty oak tree. He wished to have brown fur and be free. His mother and Old Lady badger told him little about why he had to stay. He did not know of the prophecy. He only knew that Grumpy Grizzly did not like him!
As Spirit grew older and more graceful, he would dance and sing in the old oak tree. His songs would make Old Lady Badger and his mother laugh and clap. He so loved entertaining them. He would beg to go outside and do the same for others, but they would always tell him no! “But why? Why did Grumpy Grizzly forbid laughter,” he would always ask his mother. “Now Spirit, you know you must stay here with us. It is not for us to question why Grumpy Grizzly has come up with this rule. We must obey it for now. You must not dance and sing,” she would always tell him.
Spirit knew he was forbidden to go out into the daylight as he surely would be caught by the gnarly rat gang. His mother explained that they would take him straight to Grumpy Grizzly and the dark caves. She said he would never be seen again. But this made Spirit want to go out even more. One night after Old Lady Badger and his mother had fallen fast asleep, he decided to sneak out. Oh, the night air felt so cool and fresh on his white nose. He noticed that in the dark, his fur turned more translucent and he began to blend in with the darkness of the woods.
He used this advantage and as he ran all around the woods. He saw the raccoons at the river, he heard the frogs chirping in the trees and he saw the dormice picking seeds in the big field. They were so quiet and solemn. He walked over to their field of flowers and said hello. The dormice jumped and scattered! Spirit sat down and began to cry. A little dormouse quietly walked over and tapped on his hoof.
“Excuse me, but why are you crying Mr. Moose?” Spirit looked up startled and replied “Oh! Hello! I am sad because I scared you little dormice and I just wanted to dance and sing for you.”
“Oh well, we didn’t see you coming,” said the little dormouse as she climbed up on to Spirit’s knee. “You surprised us. We thought you might be part of Grumpy Grizzly’s gang!”
“I am so very sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you! This is my first night out ever and I’m getting use to my funny fur and my camouflage ability,” he told the little dormouse.
“I know who you are Spirit. You are the moose who was foretold to save the Salamander Woods. You mustn’t be here! The gnarly rat gang patrols the woods all night,” said as the little dormouse as she scurried down Spirit’s leg. “Be gone with you. Go home and hide. We will need you.” And with that she disappeared into the darkness.
Spirit knew his adventure for the night was over and that he should go home. As he began to gather himself, he felt a thud on the back of his head! And then another and then many more. He turned around and saw a gang of twisted rats throwing rocks at him. He jumped to his hooves and began to run. The rats caught up with him quickly and began nipping at his hooves. He realized he was in an open field and he needed the darkness to help him disappear. His ducked and ran for the woods. Just as he entered, the rats slowed down. He hid behind the biggest tree he could find and listened.
“Where did he go?” “I have no idea boss!” “How do you lose a big moose?” “He was the white moose we’ve been looking for right?” “Yeah, he was definitely white! I can’t believe he’s real!”
“Alright, split up and look around! Grumpy Grizzly will want to hear about this!”
As the rats scurried all around him, he stood as still as a statue. They finally gave up and ran deeper into the woods. Spirit ran the opposite direction towards the old oak tree. When he arrived, his mother and Old Lady Badger were up and waiting for him! He was in for it! “Where have you been, “his mother shouted!
“You could have been seen by Grumpy Grizzly,” Old Lady Badger yelled! Spirit knew he was in trouble. His mother and Old Lady badger yelled at him for another hour and then went to bed. Spirit curled up in his corner of the living room, but he couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t stay at Old Lady Badger’s forever. He was endangering his mother and Old Lady Badger. Once the gnarly rat gang told Grumpy Grizzly they had seen him, they surely would come looking for him. Spirit decided he need to leave. He quietly tiptoed out the door, not knowing where he was going.
He found himself in the field where he met the dormouse earlier that night. As he headed toward the west side of the woods, he heard a tiny voice. “Hey! Didn’t I tell you to go home?”
Spirit looked down to find the little dormouse he met earlier. “The gnarly rat gang saw me and now I’m running away to keep my family safe,” he told the dormouse.
“Oh goodness, you can not be out in this open field! We need to get you to a safe place,” the little dormouse whispered as she climbed up Spirit’s leg. She planted her bum on Spirit’s head. “Where are your full antlers?”
“They are still growing, “he replied embarrassed. “I need to go before the rat gang finds me again.”
“You have no idea where to go do you? Come on, let’s head back to my home. You’ll be safe there,” said the little dormouse as she pointed west.
“Do you have a name,” Spirit asked the dormouse.
“Of course, it’s Delilah! Nice to meet you knobby knees,” she giggled! Spirit blushed.
As they walked towards the dormouse cave, Delilah talked & talked. “You see, Wilfred the most ancient of our clan has cast a magical spell on this cave to keep those twisted rats out.” She shuddered as she spoke. “Those rotten rodents like to terrorize everyone in Salamander woods, especially the smaller animals. They even run up the trees to where the bird clans live. There is no escaping them or Grumpy Grizzly,” she explained. “They run Salamander woods with iron paws”
“You better walk faster my knobby kneed friend. The sun will be rising soon and you’ll stand out like white beacon of light,” she said as she poked him on the nubs that would be antlers one day!
“Ouch! There’s not need to poke, ” he grumbled.
“Yeah. Well you don’t want to know what kind of ouches will happen if Grumpy and his gang get a hold of you. Now pick up the speed knobby knees,” she exclaimed. She poked him again.
Spirit was beginning to regret his decision to leave when they arrived to the cave Delilah had guided him to. This little dormouse never stopped talking. “Stop here knobby knees,” she instructed him. Then Delilah shouted as loud as a dormouse could, “Rockem Sockem Bopem!” Suddenly a light flashed and she poked Spirit to move forward. He did so with hesitation. As they crossed the threshold to the cave, he heard another crack and the entrance of the cave was gone. He then looked around and realized he was surrounded by dormice!
“Hi everyone! This here is Spirit or knobby knees as I like to call him,” Delilah said as she crawled down his back and his leg.
“Oh Delilah! You didn’t,” said an older dormouse sternly as ran up to Delilah.
“But mom! He was in danger out in the woods by himself,” she pleaded. “Those rotten rodents are searching high and low for him as we speak.”
As Delilah’s mother guided her away from Spirit an old dormouse came hobbling up with a tiny cane and a very long beard. He had wild fur growing out of his ears and his whiskers were just nubs. He had long thin fingers on his front paws and he used them to stroke his beard.
He stared intensely at Spirit, making him uncomfortable. And then he hobbled over to Spirit’s right front hoof. “Hey knobby knees! Give me a lift,” he yelled as he poked Spirit with his cane. Spirit leaned down and the old dormouse hobbled up his nose, poking him with his cane as he walked. He turned around and sat on Spirit’s head facing the dormice that were present. He tapped his cane twice on Spirits head making Spirit whence! What is with these dormice and poking, he thought. As he reached to rub the sore spot on his head, he realized that a light from the old dormouse’s cane had lit up the dark cave.
Then the old dormouse stood on Spirit’s head and proclaimed, “This is Spirit, the moose that was prophesied to save the Salamander Woods. Welcome him! We will protect him! We will help him!” The dormice erupted in cheers. Spirit noticed there were bats, spiders, tortoises and many other animals cheering alongside the dormice.
He was so overwhelmed he sat down. Again the old dormouse shouted, “Off to bed with you lot. The sun rises and we must get rest to help our new friend.” And with that all the animals scattered, except Delilah who tapped Spirit on his hoof and waved, “Goodnight knobby knees!”
Spirit laughed, “Night Ms. Delilah! Thank you for your help.”
The old mouse cleared his throat and tapped his cane on Spirit’s head again.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but could you please stop poking me with your cane. It hurts,” Spirit groaned.
“That is nothing compared to what Grumpy Grizzly will do if he finds you,” scolded the old dormouse as he poked him again.
“Why does everyone keep saying that? I’m sure if I could just talked to him and explain that my songs and dance will make everything better; he’d understand,” Spirit explained.
“Oh little do you know knobby knees! Now let’s get to work!”
Spirit had no idea what that meant. “What do you need help with,” he asked the old dormouse.
“I don’t need help. It is you that must learn how to make the animals laugh again. But we cannot do this while they are awake. You will do this as they sleep.”
Spirit looked perplexed. Was this old dormouse nuts? Old lady badger had never said anything about sleeping animals. Then again old lady badger had not explained much.
“Well, show me your song & dance,” the old dormouse barked as climbed down Spirit’s nose again.
Spirit began to dance and sing! He was quiet elegant as he tiptoed across the cave floor, but then mid-song he would trip and fall flat on his face!
“Ugh! Get up and do it again,” snapped the old dormouse.
Spirit got back up on his feet and tried again. Again he fell right at the same spot in the song.
“This will not do knobby knees! Now let’s do it again!”
Spirit practiced until dusk when the animals in the cave began to wake up for their night foraging activities. “I can’t dance one more step,” he said exhausted.
“Yes. Yes. You may rest, but we will start at sun rise Spirit, “the old dormouse told him.
Delilah greeted Spirit as he finished and showed him to his bed in the back of the cave. As he laid down she covered him with a quilt and sang him to sleep. Spirit had nightmares of Grumpy Grizzly nabbing him while he danced. He woke up in a cold sweat with the old dormouse standing over him. He poke Spirit with his cane. “Time to get up, the sun is rising and you must make these animals laugh.”
Spirit’s training went on for weeks. Each night his dancing and singing improved. Each night he made one more sleeping animal laugh in their sleep.
“OK, it is now the day where you must make every animal in the cave laugh while they sleep,” old dormouse told Spirit one morning. “Once you do this, we will devise a plan to get you to Grumpy Grizzly.”
Spirit was still unsure of himself. He had make all the animals in the dormouse clan laugh as they slept. He had managed to get everyone to laugh except for a few very crabby tortoises that would not budge. If he could not make them laugh, then all of Salamander woods would be doomed to be miserable.
He quietly danced from one area of the cave to the next, making animals laugh in their sleep as he danced on the tips of his hooves and sang a silly song. He finally made it the tortoise pile. He changed the lyrics of his silly song to sing about an upside down tortoise and he danced and danced. At first it was not working and Spirit was about to give up, but then suddenly- out of nowhere one crabby tortoise began to chuckle. It spiraled from there and soon all of the tortoises were laughing in their sleep!
He had done it! His magic song and dance had brought laughter to all the animals in the cave! Old dormouse hobbled up Spirit’s nose as he bent over and tapped his cane on his head in between his antlers that had grown over the last few weeks. Old dormouse’s cane lit up the whole cave and slowly all the animals awoke. As they rubbed their eyes and yawned, he announced “Spirit had done it! You all laughed and laughed in your sleep! Now he must do the same to Grumpy Grizzly.We must all undertake this mission if he is to succeed.”
He continued, “Dormice, you must spread the rumor that he has run away forever after failing to make any animal laugh. Bats, you will keep an eye on the gnarly rat gang when Spirit heads to Grumpy Grizzly’s cave. Spiders, you will have those webs ready to trap anyone that tries to stop him! Tortoises you will ensure that he knows the way! Are we ready?”
Everyone cheered and hurried to their areas. Spirit sat down and asked old dormouse “Are you sure I am ready?”
“Of course! You can do this,” he replied with encouragement.
“Old dormouse, can I stop to tell my mother and Old Lady Badger that I am alright? They must be so worried about me. I left without saying goodbye or telling them where I was going.”
“Oh Spirit, they know you are here. They have known since the night you left. You don’t think Delilah was just hanging out in the field by herself do you? We knew it was time to train you when you snuck out earlier that night. We couldn’t risk you being caught or running away. So Delilah waited in the field knowing you would come back,” he explained.
“I have missed them so very much. I am so happy to hear they have not been worried about where I am. I have felt so guilty.”
“Come now, let’s go over our plan. You must only travel at night. This is when your fur is not visible and you will be able to get through the woods without being detected,” old dormouse explained as he waved over the tortoises. They brought over a map of the woods. “This is where Grumpy Grizzly and his gang live. You will have to sneak in and perform your magic song and dance. Once Grumpy Grizzly laughs, his dark miserable spell over the woods will be broken.”
“Um, so I know my fur makes me hard to see. But how on earth will I get past the gnarly rat gang,” Spirit asked.
“The spiders will ride with you and trap them with their webs,” said old dormouse. “Delilah! Delilah! Come here girl,” he yelled.
Soon, Delilah, Spirit’s best friend came running! “Yes old dormouse?”
“Delilah, did you get the password,” he asked sternly.
“Why of course! Those dumb rotten rats are easy to fool! Some of Rita’s special drink and they were talking up a storm,” she told them excitedly.
“Good! Spirit, Delilah will go with you to open the cave once the gnarly rats are trapped. She has a gift for magic spells! Now off to bed for you Spirit. You will need your rest for when the sun sets!”
Spirit wandered off to his corner of the cave with his head racing. Everyone seemed to be ready, but was he? What if messed up? What if the spiders missed their webs? What if Delilah said the password wrong? There were so many things that could go wrong. He finally dosed off after hear Delilah sing her sleeping song.
The sunset alarm went off it was time to rise and shine. It seemed that many in the cave had been up all day, when they normally would be resting. There was a buzz in the air. Spirit felt a poke on his head, one he was all too familiar with. He opened his eyes and old dormouse was standing in his face with his beard whiskers tickling his nose!
Spirit sneezed, “sorry,” he said as he wiped off old dormouse!
“Yes! Yes! Up with you! Delilah and the spiders are waiting for you at the entrance of the cave,” he muttered as he ushered Spirit up and towards the front of the cave.
They were all waiting for him. It was now or never. If the planned failed, months of work and planning would be ruined. If Grumpy Grizzly found out Spirit still lived in Salamander woods he would be done for!
“Come on knobby knees,” said Delilah as she and the spiders climbed up to Spirit’s back. “Let’s get this show on the road.” They all buried themselves in his neck fur so not to be spotted.
Quietly they made their way out and into the darkness of the night. Spirit had not been out of the cave since the night he came to live there. The fresh air and the sound of the katydids were pleasant. The tortoises had given him a map, but they had also spoken to the firefly clan. Soon Spirit began to follow their signals, watching for the gnarly rat gang as he made his way across the woods.
The trip was easy and there were no rats in sight. Now Spirit knew he was hard to see in the woods, but something was off. This trip was too easy. He whispered to Delilah, “Something is wrong. This trip has been too easy. We haven’t spotted one gnarly rat.”
“It’s fine. Those dumb old rats are probably patrolling another part of the woods,” she reassured him.
But Spirit knew something was off. The fireflies had led them safely to the entrance of Grumpy Grizzly’s cave, but there were no gnarly rats anywhere. Now he knew for sure they needed to leave immediately! “We need to go back! We need to go back right now! Something is very wrong,” he whispered nervously!
Delilah whispered back, “I think you may be right. There should be rats here! Turn around and move…” Before she could finish her sentence the leaves behind them rustled and then they heard the low growl. Delilah buried her face in Spirit’s fur as he turned around to face the growl! There was Grumpy Grizzly in Spirit’s face. He could smell his strong breath and see his yellow mixed up teeth.
Spirit slowly backed up. He quickly realized that he was surrounded by gnarly rats. He and the others were trapped. What was he going to do! Grumpy approached him with a menacing smile. “So you’re the white moose. You think you’ll get me to laugh, do you? You think you’ll get me to change, do you? Well you are wrong you freak,” he growled.
As Spirit continued move backward, he felt Delilah hold on. “Yes! Yes I came to make you laugh! How did you spot us?”
“Your spider friends have been spying on you for weeks,” he explained as they came over to stand in front of Grumpy. “They left me a nice trail of webs to follow you.” Spirit looked down and saw all the spiders he thought were friends scowling at him.
“Let’s grab him boys,” barked Grumpy.
“Hey boss! Don’t forget that dumb dormouse girl,” said one spider.
Just as the gnarly rats began to tie Spirit’s legs up, Delilah climbed to his head in between his antlers and yelled, “Who you calling dumb, spider?”
Spirit closed his eyes. They were goners for sure! He heard Grumpy shout, “Grab the girl!”
But then Spirit heard Delilah shout, “Sleepus bearus! Sleepus ratus,” over and over and over. Slowly Spirit opened his eyes as he heard each gnarly rat fall and drift into a deep sleep. Then with a great big thud, he watch Grumpy fall over too. “You did it Delilah! You did it!” As soon as he said that though, the spiders were quickly spinning a web around the pair. “Trying dancing now you klutzy moose!”
“Quick Delilah, say a sleeping spell for the spiders,” he shrieked!
“Sleeping spells don’t work on spiders,” she yelled nervously! Now what would they do? Suddenly out of the sky came the bats! The picked off each spider without making a sound! Delilah cheered! She slid down Spirit’s leg and used a piece of bark to cut his legs free of the webbing.
She yelled up to him “You must dance Spirit! Quickly before the spell wears off!”
Spirit began to dance and sing with all his heart. As he did so, he became aware that others were watching. Out of the corner of his eye he could see old dormouse, his mother and Old Lady Badger at the edge of the woods. Knowing they were there to cheer him on, even if doing it silently, gave him extra courage. He danced and sang like never before. Slowly the gnarly rat gang began to giggle and then they exploded with laughter! But Grumpy was still silent. Spirit began to whisper his song directly in Grumpy’s ear. He smiled. Then he smiled bigger showing off his yellow teeth. Spirit sang louder and Grumpy chuckled. Spirit sang even louder. The others joined in, all of the animals of Salamander woods were there singing! Then Grumpy sat up wide awake without a smile on his face. Spirit stopped and stood motionless. They stared at each other for a moment and then Grumpy Grizzly busted out laughing! He laughed and he laughed until tears rolled down his mangled whiskers. He finally stopped to catch his breath.
“No more! No more! I am a changed bear. I forgot how fun it was to laugh,” he said as he wiped tears off his snout! “I was wrong and this moose has shown me how amazing laughter really is! Thank you,” he said as he hugged Spirit!
Spirit hugged the big grizzly back. He had done it! He had saved Salamander Woods! His mother and Old Lady Badger ran to hug him.
Old dormouse hobbled over and said to him, “I knew you could do it knobby knees!”
“I couldn’t have done it without my best friend Delilah and the other animals.” He looked around and found the little dormouse. He scooped her up with his hoof and placed her on top of his head. The two sat in the woods until all the animals had gone home and the sun began to rise.
“We did it Delilah!”
“Yes we did knobby knees! Yes we did.” And she patted him on the head.