Above the smoke that rose from dancing fire, the distant stars moved in their eternal courses. My mother had taught me the stories that the stars had told. They were the stories that night after night since ancient times, the stargazers told and retold, over and over again. I suppose it was with the artistry of our human instinct to imagine that stirred some bored shepherds to sketch lines between the stars, creating illustrations on the ceiling over their world.
On that night of which I know speak, I began to tell Bandit the stories that were to be found in those stars above us. For the most part, I was remembering the story as it came from my mother's lips; yet, in another most important part, I could sense that I was adding my own imaginings to the ancient tale.
Bandit seemed to be listening to my yarns, tying the words that fell from my lips with the stars that hung above.
"Bandit, they say that the stars are slowly drifting apart and that one day the sky pictures will have to be redrawn."
Bandit never answers aloud when we have heart-to-hearts. Oh, maybe a little yip now and then, but usually he answers with a cock of the head, a sniff of the nose, a glance of his cool blue eyes, and sometimes with a drowsy resting of his head upon my knee.
"But the pictures, Bandit, they still look the same to me. What d'ya think? Does that not look a bear to you? And over there, is that not a hunter drawing his bow in a cosmic hunt?"
Bandit looks upward and then returns to me. As is my way, I spoke the thoughts of Bandit. "You agree? But what if we wrote our own stories, new stories about the stars?"
Bandit sneezed. I was not all that sure what a sneeze meant, but I went on - or I was about to go on when an owl made himself known by sending into the night that surely must send shivers through the spines of little creatures who scurry through a nighttime woods.
Bandit rose to attention and his ears searched for the presence of the owl. He did not appear to be frightened, but he did appear to be cautious. Looking back, I should have listened to Bandit. Yes, I should have listened to Bandit, to be sure.
In silent flights from tree to tree, the owl did near. Closer and closer, until he was right upon us, gazing down with fire-lit, golden eyes.