On the Trail of the Jubjub

The jubjub you've been warned against
is upset to have had such bad press.
She wanders into the next town on,
can't make a friend, and leaves depressed.

I had the good fortune to encounter the jubjub in a card shop last week.  The clerk was searching through box after box, muttering about what a dodo he was waiting on.  The extent of his search afforded me the opportunity to scrutinize my fellow customer carefully, and it was only through such scrutiny that I recognized her as the jubjub.  She was incognito, and had in fact done herself up in the fashion of a dodo bird, accounting for the clerk's odd choice of epithet.  The clerk returned and apologized, "It's a rare card.  It's worth more than it looks like you've got anyway."  The jubjub let ot a good harrumph at his reference to the shabbiness of her disguise.  "Nothing's too good for Mum," she declared.  "I'll take my business elsewhere."  She was gone with a jingle of the bells on the door.  I paid for the card I'd been clutching, and hired a coach to follow wherever the jubjub went.  I trailed her to five other card shops.  At each, I was obliged to pop into the hattery next door and purchase something different from what I had on, preventing the jubjub from realizing she had attracted some attention.  At the last card shop, on the outskirts of town, the coachman informed me that we had reached the limits of his jurisdiction.  I paid him and left him with instructions for leaving the hats back at my flat, thinking that would be money saved come the holidays.

We were out in the brush area to the west of town, the jubjub and I.  She was several meters ahead and traveling excitedly, having found the card she sought.  I recalled to memory the jubjub folklore I had collected throughout my career, gauging how difficult it would be to follow in her manner of travel.  It struck me as odd to have found her in the city, but I reasoned that finer gifts were available there than in the less urban regions she preferred.  The jubjub's predatory nature has led to a general shunning of her, and though she must have learned to love her privacy, I wondered if she didn't yearn to socialize.

My method was thus:  I observed the jubjub from the top of one hill until she disappeared over the crest of the next, and so on for hill after hill until she clambered into a tree for the night.  I was sure to rise before she broke out of the last of her six nightly sleeping cycles, which are punctuated by a long warbling coo which carries well on the night winds of the hilly regions.  I knew when she emerged which direction we would be traveling in that day.  She sometimes struck south, sometimes west, whichever direction was favorable that morning according to the tenets of her peculiar geographical religion.

On the fourth day after the coachman let me off, I was approaching the summit of the first hill of the morning.  The sun was rearing itself up over the treetops, claiming one more day for its own.  The dew from the grass leapt to my boots in a final effort before conceding to the sun.  Annelids and nematodes once again sought the cool underground.  Mosses and dill weeds and ground ferns greeted me at the crest of the hill, where I welcomed the sun and watched it chase away the fog in the valley below.  From the shadow of a towering wild rosebush in the valley glared the jubjub, who cried an enraged squawk and disappeared up into the sunlight.  I wondered with a frightened thrill how long she had known I was following her, and why a jubjub had never before been observed in flight.

I lost sight of the jubjub ten days ago, and for seven days prior to the date of this writing have been convinced that the jubjub has followed me back to the city and is giving me a taste of my own medicine.  All mothers warn their children of the jubjub, and the one species the jubjub's mother warned her of was the biologist, a title I have the dubious honor of bearing.  I no longer walk the streets with my accustomed confidence.  I am considering the possibility that I may be rid of the hunted sensation which has overtaken me if I transfer my base of operations to the wilds, where I may be one with the flora and fauna and wide-open spaces.  As for the jubjub, she has shown me the motivation for seeking freedom in the countryside.

The End

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