Tisdale the Snail had no intention of Fleeing. He had no intention of hiding either his Family or Himself. Snails were slow but they were loyal and above all not Cowards. Grace's advise to him had made him angry, and this extra surge of adrenaline gave him a bit of energy. He quickly began the arduous Task of unbuckling his shell. It is difficult to describe this process and I will tell you if you have ever had a shirt on that was just too tight that you had to haul up over your shoulders and pop your head through then you will understand Tisdale's task. With this accomplished he stood quite naked at the Garden Gate. He turned the Shell end over end, held it to his lips and BLEW. There was the Sound of a Bugle call that issued forth. He Blew again, straining to make this a louder and more urgent call. BAY-YOOOMHH, BaY-YOOOMHH.
It is difficult to describe what happened next. I am reminded of a fire drill that is occasionally practiced but is now played out by those who have under the circumstances of reality, bumbled their parts. Tisdale himself was not prepared for the chaos that resulted. There were animals scrambling everywhere. Yelling and cries of "What, what is it? What's going on?" were heard as Tisdale climbed up upon the Gate gate to gain command of the scene. He stood naked in the late fall air, waving his antennae stalks and shouting:"Line up, LINE UP....Form YOUR LINES!"
"Quiet!", someone shouted. All around the animals were getting into their places, some counting to make sure that all were present, taking the role.
There was an uneasy and Library-like silence that had fallen. Some whispered. Tisdale spoke and directed his question to Ernie the weasel, "Is everyone here?"
"Murray is not here, but we think he is with Mrs. Tenderstitch," advised Ernie in a voice of importance.
Tisdale the Snail looked out upon the assembly. There were the anxious faces of many animals: mice and moles, groundhogs and squirrels, opossums and raccoons. There was a family of skunks that could hardly miss being noticed.
Tisdale spoke to them in a voice that was strong and urgent. "Baggaraggs may be under attack. Mrs. Tenderstitch asked that I gather you folk to spread the alarm, so that we might seek safety and shelter. She advised me to gather my family and to Flee. I tell you, this is my Home, and I SHall NOT FLEE. I will not leave the Baggaraggs to a band of Invaders... I say we FIGHT!"
It was not a mighty speech. It was short and urgent and full of the sense of danger that Tisdale felt was coming when he watched Mrs. Tenderstitch stride off with Murray and Maybell into the late Autumn afternoon. She had never spoken those words to him before...to take flight. He did not know what was coming. It could be an invasion of Giants like Mrs. Tenderstitch that could careless crush a snail like Tisdale under their giant feet. He only knew that the Baggaraggs was his home. The garden here was open to him... Mrs. Tenderstitch made sure there was plenty for every creature.
There were looks of consternation on the faces of the animals of the Baggaraggs. They did not respond in unison with agreement. There was not a mighty roar of "Yes, we Fight!" in response. There were questions shouted over the whispering, "What comes to the Baggaraggs? What are we fighting?" No one seemed to care that the skunk family quietly scurried off into the woods.
Tisdale patiently listened and answered their questions. They did not know what was coming. They did not know when the intrusion would happen. They did not know the purpose of the attack. They had practiced for this day and were in some respects oddly prepared for such an occurrence. When it was time to vote, there was a majority of Paws raised in the chill air that carried the defense of the Baggaraggs. They would fight.
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