The Happy Tails from Rainbow Bridge

Far far away, vaguely where the earth breaks into thousands of stars is the Rainbow realm. Very friendly little felines live there. Most of them dwell in the small village known as Rainbow Bridge.
They are very happy little felines and go about with broad smiles and cheery greetings for everybody and so they call themselves the Happy Tails. One of the things the Happy Tails like best is to give cowls to one another. Each of these little felines carry over his shoulder a bag, and the bag is filled with cowls. Now, it is especially nice to give someone a cowl. It tells the person that they are special. It is a way of saying "I like you." And, of course, it is very pleasing to you, when you take it and feel its warmth and fuzziness against your cheek, just extra-nice. You feel noticed and appreciated when someone gives you a cowl, and you want to do something nice for them in return.

The little felines of the Rainbow Bridge love to give cowls and get cowls, and their lives together were very happy indeed.

Outside the village, in a cold, dark cave, there lives a great green leprechaun. He doesn't really like to live all by himself, and sometimes he feels lonely. But he can't seem to get along with anyone else, and somehow he doesn’t enjoy exchanging cowls. He believes it is a lot of nonsense. "It isn't cool," is what he will say.

One cold November evening the leprechaun walked into town, and he was met by a kingly little Happy Tail. "Hasn't this been a fine Happy Tail day?" said the little feline with a smile. "Here, have a cowl. This one's special, and I saved it just for you, for I don't see you in town that often."

The leprechaun looked about to see that no one else was listening. Then he put an arm around the little Happy Tail and whispered in his ear. "Hey, don't you know that if you give away all your cowls, one of these Happy Tail days of yours, you're gonna run out of them?" He noted the sudden look of surprise and fear on the little feline's face, and then added, peering inside of his cowl-bag: "Right now I'd say you've only got about two hundred and seven cowls left there. Better go easy on handin' 'em out." With that, the leprechaun padded away on his big green feet, leaving a very confused and unhappy feline standing there.

Now, the leprechaun knew that every one of the little felines had an inexhaustible supply of cowls. He knew that, as soon as you give a cowl to someone, another one comes to take its place and that you can never, ever run out of cowl in your whole life. But he counted on the trusting nature of the little Happy Tails, and on something else that he knew about himself. He just wanted to see if this same something was inside the little felines. So, he told his fib, went back to his cave, and waited.

Well, it didn't take long. The first feline to come along and greet the little Happy Tail was a fine friend of his, with whom he had exchanged many cowls before. This little feline was surprised to find that when he gave his friend a cowl this time, he received only a strange look. Then he was told to beware of running low on his supply of cowls, and his friend was suddenly gone.

That Happy Tail told three other that same evening: "I'm sorry, but no cowl for you. I've got to make sure I don't run out." By the next day, the word had spread over the entire village. Everyone had suddenly begun to hoard their cowls. They still gave some away, but very, very carefully. "Discriminatingly," they said.

The little felines began to watch each other with distrust, and they began to hide their bags of cowls under their beds for protection at night. Quarrels broke out over who had the most cowls, and pretty soon people began to trade cowls for things, instead of just giving them away. Figuring there were only so many cowls to go around, the mayor of Rainbow Bridge proclaimed the cowls a system of exchange, and before long the people were haggling over how many cowls it cost to eat a meal at someone's house or stay overnight.

On some dark evenings - with stars sparkling at the night sky the kind the little Happy Tails had enjoyed for sleprechauning in the parks and greeting each other to exchange cowls - it wasn't safe to be out and about. Worst of all, something began to happen to the health of the little felines. As time went on, more and more little Happy Tails became afflicted with a disease known as freezing the heart. Probably every citizen of Rainbow Bridge would gladly have returned to the former days when the giving and getting of cowls had been so common. But giving cowls never really came back into style in Rainbow Bridge.

Some little felines found that they could keep on giving cowls away without ever having their supplies run out, but the art of giving a cowl was not shared by many. Suspicion was still there, in the minds of the felines of Rainbow Bridge.

Sometimes a little feline would think to himself how very fine it had felt to get a cowl from someone, and he would resolve to go out and begin giving them to everyone freely, as of old. But something always stopped him, like going out to see "how the world was".


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