Author's note: The character June Redtalon was partly inspired by a real Seneca Clan Mother (now deceased) for whom I had great respect; furthermore, the character is named in honor of my late maternal grandmother who passed away just a month before this chapter was publiced at the Acorn Café. And, as usual, improper language has been dealt with in a manner I hope is deemed fitting.
The Wandering Feather
Written by: Kevin (KS) Sharbaugh
It was just passing noon by the time the Ranger Plane returned to Dee's hanger. Much to Gadget's delight, with the assistance of the new Balloon Retraction system entering the mill wasn't quite as difficult as the night before.
Once everyone had disembarked, Dee called over to her daughter, "Hey, Raven, now that we've got all the necessary running around done, how would you like to go for a ride in the Banshee?"
"Sure!" Raven replied excitedly.
"I just gotta go through the pre-flight routines then we can get going!" Dee pointed out just as excitedly. She was surprised by how delighted she felt. Short of Chip proposing to her she couldn't remember anything that had made her feel so good, she almost felt like laughing. However, she had to temper the joy brought on by doing something fun for one's child since making a mistake preparing a jet for flight could have unpleasant consequences.
"Make sure you're secured tightly," Dee called back to her passenger once they were ready for take off. Receiving the ok from Raven, Dee pulled back the lever that lit the rockets and withing moments the aircraft was flung from the hanger.
As the smoke cleared, Chip heard the pow' of the Banshee's ramjet engaging. "It could give you a heart attack just watching it launch," he commented to Gadget.
"Well, the psychological reaction created by the sight of the sudden acceleration combined with the flash of the rockets and the billowing smoke is quite shocking," Gadget responded, "But it sure was fun to watch!"
It wasn't long after the departure of the Banshee that the Ranger Wing returned with it's passengers. Chip was greatly relieved to see that Dale's piloting had apparently been devoid of any blunders. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to go up with him without fearing for my life, Chip thought to himself.
"It looks like they're getting ready for one bonzer party in town!" Monty announced as he and the others disembarked.
"Yeah, they're going to be having a powwow!" Dale elaborated.
"We heard," Chip replied, "Dee made it clear she expects us to attend."
"That's a safe bet," Monty laughed, "Like you could keep me and Dale ere away from a party!"
The latecomers soon settled in and Dale located a movie of interest. Unlike most instances, his choice actually appealed to the others. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' provided a draw for everyone even if the appeal was different for everyone.
"I hear Costner had miniature cows brought in for the background to make it as historically accurate as possible," Chip commented.
"If he really wanted to be historically accurate," Monty snorted, "He coulda' at least tried to speak with an accent... like all the other actors in this thing." As Chip and Monty discussed Kevin Costner's cinematic ego trip, their attention was drawn away by a distinctive screeching wail. "Sounds like the Misses is home!" Monty joked as he poked Chip in the arm.
Sure enough, Dee and Raven were on the landing approach in the Banshee. Chip, not having seen the jet land before, watched the hanger entrance intently wondering if it was as exhilarating as the takeoff. He was slightly disappointed... for one, it was over within a second, and two, there was nowhere near the pyrotechnic pizzaz of the rocket assisted takeoff. But upon reflection, Chip realized the only way for there to be pyrotechnic pizzaz was if it crashed and burst into flames... a visually spectacular sight he was perfectly content to do without.
"The only thing I can think of that would make being human tolerable would be if I could become a carrier pilot," Dee commented to her passenger as they disembarked, "That would be a rush!"
"Did you enjoy the flight?" Chip asked his future stepdaughter.
"Shoot, who needs a roller coaster when you got my mom flying a jet?" Raven remarked, seemingly quite stunned by the experience.
"You whine like a mule! You are still alive!" Morgan Freeman spouted from the movie.
"Who asked you?" Raven snapped back.
"It didn't seem that exciting when we were flying in it last year," Dale responded.
"That's because I wasn't doing loops, barrel rolls, or skimming within inches of Red House Lake when you were flying in it last year," Dee explained, "I could have, but by the time we had the spare time I had a broken leg and couldn't fly."
Dale couldn't pass up the possibility to enjoy such a thrill. They had the time now, Dee was fit to fly... He wanted to go for loops, barrel rolls and skimming within inches of a lake! "Can I go for a ride with you next time?!" Dale asked excitedly, "Can I, can I, can I?!" His enthusiasm soon got the better of him and he ran up to Dee and grabbed the collar of her jumpsuit and pleaded emphatically, "Oh please, oh please, oh please!!" It didn't help Dale that he was unintentionally shaking her. The response to his entreaties was a quick blow to the abdomen.
"DALE!" Foxy yelled upon see the incident.
As Dale crumpled to the floor, Dee realized what she'd done. "AHH! Dale, I'm sorry!" she proclaimed hurriedly, "It was a gut reaction!"
"Yer tellin' me," Dale croaked, still clutching his stomach.
Foxy shot Dee a very stern look as she helped Dale up. "At least I didn't hit him as hard as last time," Dee offered sheepishly. Following behind as Foxy led Dale back to the couch, Dee began to explain, "Not all the guys I was with took the news that I wasn't that kind of girl anymore all that well and I, well, got into the habit of, whenever a guy grabs my clothes and starts pulling, hitting first and asking questions later."
"It coulda' been worse, lad," Monty joined in, "Instead of using her fist she coulda' used her knee, and instead of targeting your solar plexus she coulda' gone for your-"
"We get the idea," Chip interrupted as he and the other males cringed at the idea.
"I'm really, really sorry," Dee offered once more. "No hard feelings?" she asked Dale, leaning over the back of the couch where he was seated, "Please?"
"Nah," Dale groaned, "No hard feelings."
"Anything I can get you?" Dee asked.
"Got any chocolate?" Dale responded with a smile.
"Think you can keep it down?" his hostess asked.
"C'mon, you didn't hit me that hard!" the chipmunk boasted.
As Dee left to find some conciliatory chocolates, Chip laughed, "I don't think anything short of being beheaded could stop Dale from eating chocolate!"
The rest of the afternoon passed swiftly as everyone found something, or someone to occupy themselves with. Dale quickly forgot about the incident earlier that afternoon after some chocolate and a promise that Dee would take him for a joyride in the Banshee... provided he could restrain himself for a day or two. The condition was more Chip's idea than Dee's, but was fairly easy to get Dale to agree to, especially after Chip claimed he simply lacked the willpower to control himself.
The sun was starting to dip behind the hills in the west when Chip, Dee, Raven and Fangs returned from a nature walk. Foxglove was still seated beside Dale, who had only left the television's enticing glow a couple times for snacks or other pressing matters'. Foxy was half- heartedly listening to Gadget explaining her latest time-killing project to Zipper in the background when she heard a familiar voice calling her from outside. From the frequency of the voice she knew it was one of her new winged acquaintances trying to be unobtrusive. Even though she could have a perfectly normal conversation with another bat through the closed sliding glass door without being overheard or bothering Dale's tv watching, she considered it somewhat impolite.
Getting up from the couch, Foxy walked over to the door, slid it open and called over to her guest out loud', "Hi, Bert! What's up?"
"I was wondering if you'd like to do some more sightseeing," he replied as Bernie finally caught up with him and perched nearby.
"Well, I dunno, I'll check," Foxglove responded uncertainly. Turning back towards Dale she asked, "Sweetie, would you be upset if I went for some more sightseeing with Bert and Ernie?"
"Bernie," Bernie corrected.
After realizing she wasn't referring to the Sesame Street duo, Dale replied, "Your bat friends? Sure, you can go sightseeing with them."
"Are you sure?" Foxglove asked. She knew that it wasn't always a good thing to have a possessive boyfriend, but she was hoping Dale might actually express the desire to spend more time with her, maybe even behave just a little jealous.
"I don't want to stand in the way of you having a good time," Dale pointed out, "So go ahead and have some fun!"
"Well, if you insist," Foxy responded as she took flight.
Monty just caught sight of Foxglove as she made her departure. Taking a seat near Dale, he asked, "Foxy going out with Bert and Ernie again?"
Zipper squeaked something at Monty as he joined him.
"Roight," the Aussie replied, "Bert and Bernie."
"Yep," Dale responded simply.
"And you're ok with that?" Monty asked.
"Sure," Dale answered, "They're just going sightseeing."
"Ok," Monty replied cautiously.
"Why? It isn't a problem, is it?" Dale asked, concerned by his friend's tone.
"I just wouldn't want Foxy to get the impression you were taking her for granted," Monty clarified, "I mean, you're the reason she come with us on vacation and all."
"Nah," Dale dismissed casually, "Foxy can spend time with me at home, she didn't have to come all this way."
Monty popped a cheese snack in his mouth before replying, "But you're not home now are you?"
"Well, no," Dale answered.
"There ya' go!"
"Never mind, lad," Monty chuckled.
The morning broke bright and sunny for the first day of the Powwow. The parking lots within walking distance of Vet's Park were already starting to fill to capacity... much to the irritation of anyone who simply wanted to stop by the local businesses to pick something up and be on their way back home. The police officers directing traffic were too busy trying to keep drivers from hitting pedestrians to notice two rodent piloted aircraft pass by overhead. Dropping down behind an auto repair shop, the two vehicles landed among the trees and bushes that surround the human's park. After disembarking, the Rangers, Dee, Raven, Fangs and Foxglove merged into the throng of mice, rats, lizards and other small animals attending the festival. Though they remained together for a while the group eventually dissolved into pairs or trios, each going their own way in search of new sights, foods, or crafts.
Raven and Fangs had found their way to where local Seneca performers were demonstrating various ceremonial dances. The young lady had become so distracted by the rhythmic movements of the dancers in their brightly colored garb that she hadn't noticed her companion ducking away for a moment. Her focus on the dancers was broken, though, when she heard her beau call to her.
"I saw something, back when we passed one of the vendors," Fangs began once he had Raven's attention, "And I figured it would perfect for you, so I went on back to get it." He held out his wing displaying the necklace he had purchased for her. Suspended from a gold chain was a turquoise pendant in the center of which was set the miniature sculpted image of a blackbird in flight.
"It's beautiful!" the young mouse proclaimed as she examined it.
"Here," the vampire murmured as he placed it around Raven's neck.
"Thank you," she replied softly and sweetly, hoping no one noticed how much she was blushing... at least, no one that wasn't supposed to notice. Raven was about to give her chiropteran companion a quick kiss when she noticed, just over his shoulder, a male mouse just a little older than herself point in their direction.
"See, that's the one I was talking about," he mentioned to another.
Seeing Raven's attention drawn away by something that she apparently found unpleasant, Fangs turned to see what was up. Both mouse and bat witnessed the unnecessarily exaggerated reaction of the mouse that had been spoken to as he caught sight of the vampire.
"Man! I didn't think it was legal to go out looking like that!" the second mouse mentioned to his companion once he'd steadied himself, "At least not during the day!"
"Yeah, like I told you," the first of the two replied as they began to walk past, "Like something that escaped from Frankenstein's lab!" Walking on, he couldn't help but look back one last time. "I'm tellin' ya', his mother shoulda' done him a favor and drowned him when he was born," he sneeringly commented to his companion.
Though his last comment wasn't intended to be heard by anyone but his partner, it was more than loud enough for a bat. Such exchanges was one of the reasons Fangs had long avoided public gatherings, and to have such at that particular time was by no means a pleasant experience. This was readily apparent to Raven when she caught his expression when he turned back. Raven, herself, had heard what was said and was sickened by the callousness of the attitude expressed by it, but what stuck in her heart like a dagger was seeing how much it had hurt her friend. That was something the short tempered sorceress couldn't let go unanswered. The thought of using her magic to reprimand the rodent never even entered her mind, though, not that it mattered as her anger had exceeded the point where she could focus her powers. Raven was going to take a more paws on' approach in her retribution.
The second of the two males, the one who had been the least insulting, turned to make a comment to his friend only to be stunned into silence when he noticed Raven charging in their direction. Had he even been capable of speech at the moment there wasn't enough time to warn his companion before she tackled him. The two tumbled for a space before the male came to a rest on his stomach.
Raven, wasting no time, straddled her prey and grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled back hard. "If you thought my friend looked bad wait'll you get a look at yourself in the mirror when I'm done with you!" she hissed.
"Hey!" the other male shouted as he attempted to break things up before things got broken. Raven just snarled at him when she saw his paw approach her, which he quickly withdrew.
"Get off me you crazy b****!" the mouse beneath Raven hollered.
The sudden intervention of a cane on the back of his head was enough to startle Raven out of her rage. Looking up at the new combatant, she beheld an elderly female mouse sitting in a wheelchair looking quite cross.
"Ow!" whined the mouse upon whom Raven sat.
"What did I tell you about using that language in public?!" the wheelchair bound elder angrily queried. The young male merely looked up, as much as was possible in his position, while stroking his sore noggin. The elder repeated her question, "What did I tell you about using that language in public?!" Though the way she growled out her question made it sound more like a statement, it was obvious by her tone that she was going to get an answer... one way or another.
"But she attacked me for no reason!" the youth vainly protested in response.
"I may not be able to run or walk like I used to," the elder mouse began, "but my hearing is as sharp as it effer was... and I heard what you said about her friend. If I had been her age and that had been my friend you were degrading, I'd haff already put you in a hospital!" Laying her cane across the armrests of her wheelchair, she continued, "I may not know the bat personally but I do know he's not from around here which makes him our guest, and you do not go around insulting your guests... it makes our tribe look bad, it makes our family look bad, and it makes you look like an idiot!"
"I'm sorry, Gramma," the young male mumbled.
"I'm only one of the people you should be apologizing to," the mouse's grandmother pointed out.
"I'm sorry I called you a freak," the mouse called back towards Fangs.
"And," his grandmother prodded.
"And I'm sorry I said your mother should haff drowned you," the young mouse added.
"And," the elder mouse prodded some more.
"And what?" the youth replied.
"Don't tell me you didn't notice the girl sitting on you!" his grandmother shot back angrily, gesturing with her cane.
"But she attacked me!" the grandchild replied indignantly. His grandmother lifted her cane as if to crack him over the head again. "Ok!" the youth hastily stated, "I'm sorry I said those things about your friend, and called you a... what I called you."
"Now was that so hard," Raven commented as she climbed off of him.
As the young male stood up and brushed the dust and dirt off of his clothes his grandmother inquired, "Now am I going to be hearing from anybody else today about you behafing like this?"
"No, Gramma," he replied with obvious annoyance before walking off.
"I-I'm sorry too," his companion mentioned to Fangs, "I should haff known better." Then he followed his friend off into the crowd.
Raven was busy brushing dirt off of her cloak as the elder mouse addressed her personally. "You wouldn't, by any chance, be related to somebody named Hawkfeather?" she asked.
"My mother," the girl replied.
"Then you must be Rafen," the elder concluded with a sly smile.
Raven and Fangs looked at each other in confusion. "How do you know that?" the young mouse asked.
"Because when I saw you tackle my grandson I thought I'd gone back in time and was watching your mother," came her reply, "I'm a friend of your family... both your mother's and the Southmont's."
"I was wondering where you two had gotten to," Dee proclaimed as she, Chip and Gadget walked up to the group.
"Hello, Dee!" the elder female greeted, "I see you finally came back to us! I'fe just been talking with your daughter."
"Chip, Gadget, this is June Redtalon," Dee introduced to her guests, "She's the head of the Hawk Clan. June, this is Chip Maplewood, my fiancé..."
"Pleasure to meet you," June stated as she shook paws with Chip.
"And this is Gadget Hackwrench," Dee continued, "my long lost half-sister."
"Half-sister?" came the inevitable question.
"We found out what Mom was up to the year before I was born," Dee clarified.
"Oh... Yes, you definitely have your mother's eyes," June declared as she gave Gadget a good look, "It's good to see that the Hawkfeather's aren't as close to dying out as it seemed." Then, turning towards Chip, she asked, "So you're Doohickey's fiancé... Turn round, I want to get a good look at ya'." Chip, after a short pause, very self-consciously turned himself about. "Ooh, fery nice," June commented approvingly. "You'fe got some good taste there, girl," she added to Dee, "I imagine it wasn't hard getting the blessing of your Clan Mother."
"Well, I have a question about that," Dee replied, "How do I get out of being a Clan Mother?"
"Why would you want to do that?" June incredulously inquired, "I'd think you'd be pleased to know that your Clan thinks so highly of you, that they're looking beyond your past."
"That's nice," Dee conceded, "But what kind of Clan Mother can I be if I'm only twenty- six?"
"We had a Clan Mother who was eighteen at one point," June explained, "Just because you live long enough to see your hair turn gray doesn't mean you're wise, it just means you're lucky."
Before Dee could further press her point, the group was joined by another female mouse. Tall and thin, the grey mouse had shoulder length black hair with streaks of silver. Her exceptionally stern expression was put off only a little by a patch of brown fur that covered much of the left of her face. "Doohickey," she greeted Chip's fiancé slowly, "I see the wolfes didn't eat you after all."
"Why would they eat me?" Dee replied with obvious irritation.
"The better question would why wouldn't they," the tall female countered, "Makes one wonder what you offer them."
"Free cable," Dee answered. It didn't occur to her until after the words left her mouth that she should have let the matter rest, that she was just opening herself up to some kind of snide remark.
"I'm sure that's what the guys tell the she-wolfes," the grey female remarked with a smarmy grin.
"And you are?" Chip interjected, quickly taking a dislike to this new acquaintance.
Her smile vanishing, the female glared down her snout at the chipmunk. Crossing her arms, she replied in an imperious voice, "I am Carol Halfshell. Matriarch of the Turtle Clan. Who do you think you are?"
"I'm Chip Maplewood," he responded boldly, "A Rescue Ranger and Dee's fiancé."
Carol's expression became one of clear disgust. "Figures you'd marry an outsider," she commented to Dee, "You'fe already been liffing with them for years, like you're too good to lif with the tribe."
"She's also my aunt," Dee pointed out to the others, disregarding her relation's insult.
"Don't tell me Gadget and I are related to that thing!" Raven spouted loudly, pointing at Carol. The shear abrasiveness of the girl's outburst was anything but unintentional... she sensed a fight coming and she wanted in on it, even if it meant helping to provoke it in the first place.
As Carol glared at Raven, Dee elaborated to her daughter about her relations, "Aunt Carol is my father's older sister, and since Gadget has a different father she doesn't have to share in our shame of being blood relations with her."
Carol chose to let the most recent jab slip in order to satisfy a pressing curiosity. "And who is Gadget'?" she asked.
"I am," Gadget politely replied, "I'm Dee's half-sister."
Carol observed Gadget for a moment, then developed a broad and sinister smile. Dee rolled her eyes, she knew that whatever words were going to ooze from that mug were going to be unpleasant. She also felt sorry that her newfound relation to Gadget was going to be the cause of it. "So let me get this straight," Carol eventually began, "While Doohickey's mom was gone for a year she spent all that time drinkin' and w***in' with some lecherous foreigner and popped out some b****** half-breed... Like mother like daughter."
Gadget may not have had enough of a chance to bond with her mother for the insult to her honor to have serious meaning, but no one talked that way about her father. "You dirty-" she began before Chip held her back.
"I'd beat the living snot out of you for that," Dee responded in a slow and controlled manner, "but it wouldn't be fair to lay into someone who is as... elderly as you are."
"I'm hungry," June interjected loudly, waving her cane between the other two Clan Mothers, "What say we find a table near the food and Chip, sweetheart, you can explain to me what it is you Rescue Rangers do." Like boxers pulled apart by a referee, Dee, Gadget and their aunt backed away and returned to their corners'. As Dee and her party began to head off to the communal picnic tent, June called back to the young mouse who was providing the motion for her wheelchair, "Ken, to the food!"
"How did that thing get to be a Clan Mother?" Chip asked once they were some distance from the aborted brawl, "I thought you had to be the most respected female in your Clan." Chip looked back over his shoulder at his future in-law.
"There's more than one form of respect in the world, Chip-honey," June answered, "There's the respect you get from being honest, hard-working, and haffing a sincere interest in the well-being of your friends, family and community..."
Chip watched as Carol bumped into a bystander that didn't get out of her way fast enough. "Out of my way!" she shouted as she shoved the bewildered individual aside like a bag of garbage, causing him to collide with a table of crafts, many of which wound up scattered on the ground.
"Then there's the respect that comes from people being afraid of you," June continued, "Carol chose the latter. She's been bullying efryone in her Clan for years, and when the prefious Clan Mother died she simply declared that she was the new one."
"And anyone who disagreed with her kept their mouths shut out of fear," Chip realized.
"Is it me or has she gotten more irritating since I talked to her last?" Dee asked.
"It's not your imagination," June assured her, "I think she was hoping that the new matriarch of the Wolf Clan was going to be someone she could bully into submission, that way she could have twice as much influence ofer tribal affairs."
"And she's also jealous that she's not the most beautiful," Chip added as he took his fiancé's paw. Dee couldn't help but blush.
"Oh she's jealous all right," the elder Clan Mother agreed, "Both of her youth and the fact she's in good with a pack of wolfes. All Carol has is a gaggle of mice and rats to act as her toadies, and that bunch only do what she tells them because they know she'll let them get away with petit theft and fandalism against efryone else in her Clan."
"Speaking of toadies," Ken spoke up as he brought the wheelchair to a sudden stop to avoid colliding with an amphibian, "Where did all these frogs come from?"
"I don't know," June replied, "Since I got here this morning they'fe been efrywhere, like there's an infasion or something."
"Then I suppose it's fitting to point out that a large group of frogs is an army'," Chip added.
As Chip's comment was considered by those present, a rat, his blond hair tied back in a ponytail, approached the gathering. "Bon jour, fellow rodents," the rat opened in his heavy french accent, "I was merely minding my own business when ze accumulated beauty of so many lovely ladies drew- non, demanded my attention... and being one who admires beauty I felt compelled to come over." The Frenchrat knelt before June, took one of her paws in his and proclaimed, after giving it a reverent kiss, "Madam, zough cruel fate has zentenced you to zis wheeled contraption, I can see in your eyes zat a great fire of passion still rages wizzin." The elder mouse upon retrieving her paw, replied to his greeting in fluent Seneca, the meaning of which went right over his head. "Your people ave such a noble language," the rat replied at an utter loss for anything more intelligent to say.
Standing, the rat took Dee's paw. But, as he bowed to plant a kiss, he noticed the engagement ring. His rather undignified shriek upon seeing it was quickly followed by a more stylish response. "Mon dieu! I am too late, zis succulent fruit has been plucked by anozer," he stated in apparent distress, then continued specifically to Dee, "I truly envy ze lucky b****** zat has snatched you up!" As soon as he looked away, Dee pulled a rag from one of her pockets and wiped off her paw.
Turning to Gadget, the rat made a point of checking her paw for a ring before bowing to kiss it. "Ma cherie," he declared longingly, "Your eyes, zey are bleu as a Summer sky unfettered by ze jealous clouds who seek to hide eet's beauty!" Reaching up with a paw, he caressed her hair, "Your hair, eet eez radiant as ze rays of ze golden sun which all ze flowers reach out in zere primal desire to know eet!" He proceeded to stroke her forearm as he continued, "And your fur, eet eez so soft that zere simply eez no equal!" In one swift motion, he pulled Gadget to him with one arm. "Zere eez zis little Parisian cafe on ze West Bank of ze Seine," he breathed to her passionately, "You must go zere someday, I will be waiting!"
"Paws off my sister you frog!" Dee commanded, breaking them up.
"Non, non, I am not a frog," the Frenchrat corrected. Then, grabbing one of the numerous amphibians loitering nearby and holding him up by the back of his neck, proclaimed, "Zis eez a frog!" The object lesson chortled, grabbed Gadget's paw with it's tongue, and kissed it intently.
"Ewww!" the offended mouse squeaked. Drawing back her paw, Gadget slapped the offending croaker hard... as hard as she could.
Tossing the bewildered amphibian aside, the rat declared, "Such force!" then dropped to his knees, "Such passion!" He grabbed her paw, "Please, I must have your name!"
"Gadget!" she replied, yanking back her paw, "Now who are you?"
"I am Philippe Marie-Suzon, ze greatest arteest in ze world!" the rat declared.
"That's nice to know, Philippe," June joined in with obvious irritation, "But you stopped us on our way to get something to eat, so if you're done drooling at Gadget's feet we'd like to be on our way while there's still food left."
"Of course!" Philippe blurted out as he leapt up, "Do not let me prevent you from partaking of ze culinary bazaar zat has been prepared for ze festivities."
As Gadget and the others proceeded on their way, Gadget having borrowed her sister's rag to wipe off her paws, Chip turned to June, "What was it you said to him earlier?"
"Translated," she answered, "what I told him was- I'm not as immobile as you think, touch me again and I'll kick you where it hurts." Noticing she got some surprised looks from the others, she added, "Hey, at my age I don't haff time for that kind of insincere flattery."
Philippe stood where they'd left him, unable to take his eyes off Gadget. He studied every line and curve as she walked further away, remembering everything for future inspiration. So enamored by her was he, that he was oblivious to the frog walking up to him.
"Monsieur," the frog croaked, "Do you think Mademoiselle Alfshell would-"
The sentence went unfinished as Philippe grabbed the frog by his throat and shook him angrily, "Ow dare you interrupt me when I'm admiring Nature's beauty!" Throwing his hapless lackey aside, he tried to find Gadget again, but she had disappeared into the crowd. "Sacré bleu! I've lost er!" Lifting the frog up, he demanded, "Now what eez eet you were trying to say?"
"Would Mademoiselle Alfshell approve of you flirting with anozer girl?" came the reply.
"Do you see er anywhere?" Philippe asked. Looking around quickly, the frog shook his head no'. "Do you plan to tell er I was flirting with anozer girl?" he asked further. Once more, the frog shook his head no'. "Zen who cares?!" Philippe proclaimed as he dropped his cohort, "She will never know! Now come, I must make art while eet eez fresh in my mind."
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