Eldred came closer. With the haze of sleep gone from Drue’s eyes she could see the great beast properly. He resembled a leopard, but he was much too large to classify the genus appropriately. His head, was proudly carried, chin out with a mouth slightly agape exposing unforgiving vicious yellow canines. Eldred’s body was even more impressive, covered with a glossy coat of blue-black fur, his bulging muscles rippled along the expanse of this thick form as he walked. Tail swishing slightly and held just above the ground, the j shaped tip curling toward the sky.
Sounding a bit like a child in need of approval, Drue blurted out “I made a house among the trees today.” The sheer size of Eldred had an unnerving affect on her. From a distance she had known the cat was big but now that it had reached her she was profoundly aware that he stood nearly four foot tall at the withers; which placed the hauntingly yellow eyes on the majestic feline only inches under her own.
Eldred was courteous “Have you now?”
Gaining back a bit of composure Drue replied. “Yes, I marked the way when I went looking for water. I know it’s not far, it didn’t take me long to get here, but I doubt I can find my way in the dark.”
Eldred laughed a sound Drue found herself wishing she wouldn’t hear often as it came out as a hearty chuckle followed by a continuing sound of wheezy hisses which reminded her of a severe asthmatic. Still laughing, he hissed out “The days and nights are unusual here in Midway. Sometimes the sun rises and sets, other times a second sun rises before the first is even gone, and sometimes the world lay in complete darkness. But I am a cat my dear, seeing in the dark is not really a problem.”
Thoroughly embarrassed now, Drue cast her eyes to the ground and managed a whispered response. “Of course.”
Drue put her hand out and touched Eldred’s coat, it was luxurious and velvety smooth, her hand shrank back and Eldred laughed again. Taking it as an indication that her curiosity was readily accepted Drue smiled, reaching out for a second time she let her fingers weave into his fur. Eldred searched the ground for signs of her trail and led the way back to her small camp as Drue walked silently along at his side.
Eldred was quick to find the ground location of Drue’s new abode. Drue didn’t know what he expected so she thanked him for his kindness and apologized.
“Thank You, I am not sure I could have made it on my own. I am sorry to have kept you for so long. Will I see you again?”
The great cat purred, “Rest now Druesilla of Midway. You have much to learn.” and with that he leapt through the brush and jumped onto a low lying branch. Nimbly climbing higher and higher until Drue could no longer see him.
Drue was alone once more, she sighed. The feeling of emptiness began to set in as Druesilla took flight and carefully maneuvered the branches of her Banyan Tree. She was home, sparse as it may be, this place was all she had. Laying herself down in her makeshift hammock of vines and leaves she closed her eyes and slept until the sun once again broke the horizon.