Writings from the New Yorker 1925-1976

Writings from the New Yorker 1925-1976 by E. B. White

Book: Writings from the New Yorker 1925-1976 by E. B. White Read Free Book Online
Authors: E. B. White
jungle, the animals assembled their delegates in the council place to put an end to the scourge of trouble and to establish a community of beasts, de-void of tooth and fang, free from the legacy of fear. Delegates were soon making speeches, among the longest of which were the speeches of the Bear, the Eagle, and the Lion.
    â€œIt is quite clear,” said the Bear, pounding the table with his paw, “that the Eagles are up to no good. Everything Eagles do is warlike and wrong. Lions are bad, too. The jungle would be an excellent place if all animals would act more like Bears and would turn matters over to the head Bear. Bears are the thing.”
    The animals listened attentively to this speech and the Raccoon applauded loudly. Then the Eagle rose and opened his beak.
    â€œThe trouble with Bears,” said he, “is that they keep too much to themselves. I would like to see Bears mingle more. Because a Bear likes raspberries, it doesn’t mean I like raspberries. Because Bears sleep in winter, must an Eagle who stays awake be called stupid?”
    â€œGood speech,” said the Lion. “Jolly good. Furthermore, time runs out.”
    There followed a few other speeches by minor animals and then the delegates withdrew to their personal jungles.
    The first to get home was the Eagle.
    â€œWhat happened?” asked all the Eagles.
    â€œIf you were listening to your radios, you know what happened,” answered the Eagle. “There will be a rebroadcast at ten-thirty this evening for anybody who missed the proceedings.”
    The Lion was the second to get home.
    â€œWhat happened?” asked all the Lions.
    â€œHere—read all about it,” said the Lion, handing them copies of the London Times.
    The Bear was the last to get home.
    â€œWhat happened?” asked all the Bears.
    â€œWell,” said the Bear, “I simply told the other animals how the Eagles and the Lions were preparing for war. I explained that the jungle would be all right if everybody would be more like Bears and would turn things over to the head Bear. I made it clear that Bears are the thing.”
    â€œWhat did the others say to that?” asked the delighted Bears.
    â€œWhat did they say?” said the Bear. “Say? Why, they said the same old stuff. What they said was propaganda. You Bears don’t need to know what they said, because it is without meaning.” And the old Councilbear smiled. That night, when some of the more inquisitive of the Bears turned on their radios, all they heard in their radio sets was the sighing of the wind in the treetops.
    The debate continued for several months. Each jungle session saw the Bears, the Lions, and the Eagles at odds. After each session, the Council-animals returned and made their familiar reports. Once in a while a very small animal would make a speech—a Chipmunk, or a Water Beetle—but nobody paid much attention. Everyone concentrated on Lions, Bears, and Eagles.
    The Eagles worried so much about what the Bears were doing they got ulcers. Some Eagles had to sip milk in the middle of the morning. It was humiliating. The Bears, on the other hand, worried about what the Eagles were up to. The more they worried, the closer they kept to themselves. They would sleep for months at a time, hibernating, in the wintertime of fear.
    The Eagles, sensing trouble, sharpened their talons and stockpiled steel toenails. The Bears, sensing trouble, sharpened their teeth and stockpiled brass claws. Everyone in the jungle was acutely unhappy, except, of course, the Chickadees, who never allowed anything to depress them. The small animals were restless, realizing that the jungle was overburdened with strong Bears lying low, strong Eagles flying high. It was a bad situation. However, things weren’t impossible. Bears didn’t re-ally dislike Eagles, and the Eagles didn’t really dislike Bears. It was all on paper—or in the mind.
    It wasn’t till

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