A few sleeps ago came a lone, forlorn creature in amongst our huts. It was unlike any other we had seen before, and we realized that it must have traveled very far to reach us. Its long, bulbous muzzle hung low with fatigue, and its parched tongue lolled out of its mouth. Its enormous belly was as empty as a ceremony drum, and great gurgles and growls of hunger punctuated its movements as it lurched snuffling for an ort of food, a drop of water.
We were afraid to approach it, lest it be diseased or cursed. Then the mad, wise woman of the cave arrived. She pooh-poohed our fears and strode right up to the beast.
"How now, my glorious curiosity!" cried the mad, wise woman, and thumped the animal familiarly on its side.
"Come, come!" she said, and, pitching herself forward to walk on all fours, led her fellow the way to the nearby stream.
"How tired you must be, not to be able to find our water. Poor dear, poor dear....
"Now tell me, do, do tell me, do..." she crooned after her friend had had a long drink, "Where oh where have you, have you, have you... left... your... tail?"
Water flew as with a shake of its head and a huge, gasping wheezing cough, the animal cleared its throat.
"My tail," he then said in a winsome baritone, "grew fatigued in the mountain pass, and it stopped there for a bit of a rest. I'm sure it will be along presently. If, that is, it has not been eaten by a goat!" And he laughed long and strong, he did.
The mad, wise woman clapped her hands with delight, and she and her friend went side-by-side up to her cave to dine, conversing as they went about fantastical things in far-flung lands.
I and a few others followed at a distance as far as the tree-line before the cave mouth. Spellbound, we were, by the animal's low, chuckling voice.
"And after we sup," we heard the mad, wise woman's voice reecho just as they passed within, "we shall pose you for a portrait!"
Now days and nights have come and gone and no sign of woman nor beast. Perhaps she has eaten him, or he her. Or maybe he has taken human form and they are making mad, wise babies.
More likely, they have much, much to discuss, and it is taking some time to get the portrait just right.
I declare. It is too bad that there can be only one mad, wise woman. And that I am a man.
Most days, I would trade her places in the wink of an eye.