Bennett the Beaver stood on the river bank, staring at the colony’s so-called masterpiece. He certainly didn’t feel the same level of enthusiasm the other beavers felt for their project. There was a definite disproportionate feeling of disappointment given the amount of time everyone had spent on this abysmal excuse for a dam. There was no doubt that certain elements of the dam were impressive. The slides and tunnels were enjoyable ways to get from one side of the dam to the other and then there was the homely nature of the lodge they had built together. Perhaps the positive memories associated with building the lodge clouded his judgement and, to an outsider, the lodge was no where near as impressive as what Bennett thought it was, but that was beside the point. If they were going to be the best beavers the world had ever seen, then they needed to be critical of the dam as a whole. It was time, Bennett thought, to show them The Invention.
Bennett took advantage of the colony’s scheduled breaks from building the dam, to develop diagrams and plans of his own. Most other beavers were satisfied with sticking to the same schedule and using the same materials used by beavers throughout history and Bennett couldn’t deny those plans worked. This, however, was a question of efficiency. What if the beavers could invent something that would save them time and energy while protecting them from more predators than they could imagine? Allowing them to both create something they were proud of, something that could keep their enemies at bay and something that would allow them to have more time to enjoy the fruits of their labour. After sunset, while the rest of the colony were relaxing and recharging, Bennett was developing an invention that would allow the colony to use a new substance to build their dam walls with far more efficiency. The substance, he was told, was concrete. And it was readily available. All he had to do was say the word. “The Word”, however, had to come from their leader, Miss Belinda.
Getting an appointment with Miss Belinda was easy enough, she always made time to hear the other beaver’s thoughts, particularly towards the end of a build, when maintenance was their focus and there was less of a need for rest. Bennett gathered his thoughts and ran through his presentation in his head one last time. Right on sunrise, after their final night of working on the dam, Bennett took the underwater trap-door built into the lodge and nervously greeted his leader. Miss Belinda asked the other beavers to excuse themselves and sat on her log to hear what Bennett the Beaver had to say.
“What brings you here so formally, Bennett?” Miss Belinda looked at Bennett, her soft face showing nothing but care. “This time is dedicated to celebration, yet you seem preoccupied with your thoughts.”
Bennett revealed the piece of bark where his plans were meticulously draw. “You see, Miss Belinda, that’s the thing. I believe I’ve invented a way for us to be able to celebrate much sooner and for far longer.”
Miss Belinda leaned forward. “Go on, Bennett”
“I was visited by some human wood cutters.. in the forest. They offered me some advice, and, at first, I didn’t want to listen but they were so convincing, Miss Belinda.”
“The wood cutters have their ways as we do ours, Bennett.” Miss Belinda hopped off her chair and limped over to Bennett, standing behind him and pointing to his plans with her walking stick. “What’s this, then, Bennett?”
“These are the plans, Miss Belinda. The wood cutters claim to have invented a new substance called concrete. They can get it for us if we want it. They said that it will halve our work and double our time for relaxing.”
Miss Belinda tilted her head. “At what cost?” she asked quietly.
“Very cheap they said.”
“But, what is the real cost?” Miss Belinda asked. Bennett scratched his head and squinted his eyes.
“What do you mean, Miss Belinda?”
“I mean, Bennett, that your plans do not take into account the bond formed by our colony while building the dam. Nor does it take into account the other animals with whom we share the forest. This is not to mention the satisfaction we gain by using the forest materials and watching them grow again for future beavers.”
Bennett didn’t completely understand everything Miss Belinda had said, though he knew she was not happy with his plans.
“You are disappointed, Bennett and that is understandable. Come and celebrate with us and we will show you that being part of a colony is not all about making dams quicker or stronger.”
Bennett followed Miss Belinda as she dove under the water. When they broke the surface on the other side of the ledge, Bennett was struck by the celebrations occurring around him. “Our dam my be large, Bennett, but that does not mean the small things do not matter.” The two of them swam towards the beavers dancing at the far end of the dam where the plan was to celebrate everything that made being a beaver such a wonderful experience.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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