Mr Wolf heard the sound of water. He picked up his pace and it didn’t take long to reach the stream.
A dam went from one side of the stream to the other. It held the stream back, creating a lake. Around the lake, beavers had built a village. The dam let just enough water through to make the gurgling sound he’d heard. It had rails across the top like a bridge, but it didn’t look very sturdy.
Mr Wolf barely noticed the beaver guarding the dam, as he wondered whether it would hold his weight or not. He decided to give it a try when he bumped into a wooden staff.
“Hey!” he complained, “What are you doing?”
The beaver on the other end of the staff looked at him suspiciously. “What are you doing?” asked the beaver.
“I was just about to cross this dam, er, bridge,” Mr Wolf said, annoyed that the beaver was delaying him.
“Are you disparaging our bridge?” asked the beaver. Mr Wolf didn’t even know what disparaging meant, but he didn’t think he was doing it.
“No, it’s a fine bridge,” he said, impatiently.
“What’s your business?” asked the beaver.
“I, ah… I’m between jobs right now,” Mr Wolf replied, wondering why it was any of his business what his business was.
“No. What’s your business with our bridge?” asked the beaver, nudging him with his staff.
“I don’t have any business with your bridge,” Mr Wolf replied.
“Right then. Be on your way.” The beaver turned away from Mr Wolf, with his staff still blocking the bridge.
Mr Wolf wasn’t sure what had just happened. He was about to argue with the beaver again when he noticed that there wasn’t much water coming through the dam. He’d barely get his knees wet if he just walked across the stream below the dam.
“I’ll just cross over there,” he said.
“Sorry,” said the beaver. “can’t let you do that.”
“Regulations. All visitors must use the bridge when crossing the stream.”
“WELL THEN LET ME CROSS THE BRIDGE!” Mr Wolf shouted.
“What’s your business?”
“I already… Look,” Mr Wolf stopped and thought for a second. “I need to visit my sick Granny. I’m in a hurry.”
“Well why didn’t you say so?” The beaver lifted his staff and called across to another beaver on the other side of the bridge, “He’s okay to cross.”
The other beaver yelled back, “What’s his business Woody?”
“He appears to be unemployed,” Woody answered.
“No,” the other beaver shouted, “what’s his business with our bridge?”
Mr Wolf put his hand on Woody’s shoulder and sighed. “It’s alright,” he said, “let me…”
He stepped onto the bridge and the logs beneath his feet shifted. He clamped his hands onto the rails. Suddenly he wasn’t so eager to cross.
“Oh that happens all the time,” Woody said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Mr Wolf continued, feeling carefully with his toes before each step. After a few steps the bridge hadn’t fallen, so he went forward more confidently.
That beaver had wasted so much time. Mr Wolf was worried the girl might catch up to him. They would probably let little miss goody two-shoes go straight across the bridge. He wondered how else he could delay her.
He had just reached the middle of the bridge when another log shifted under his foot. He grabbed hold of the rail, and had an idea.
He stamped his foot. The dam creaked a little, but otherwise remained stable. He jumped up and down a couple of times, but the dam merely groaned. The beavers turned to see what he was doing.
“Hey! You’re not supposed to do that,” Woody shouted.
Mr Wolf leaned down and pulled out a piece of wood. “Hah!” he yelled, expecting the whole bridge to collapse.
Nothing happened, except the beavers were angry now.
“What do you think you’re doing?” the other beaver shouted.
Mr Wolf pulled out another piece of wood. “HAH!” he yelled again.
Still nothing happened, except both beavers were running towards him now. He leaped down and frantically pulled at the logs. The guards reached the middle of the bridge just as it started to fall. A spurt of water appeared from the dam.
“HAH!” Mr Wolf cried, holding out his arms, success at last.
Another spurt of water appeared. Then another, and another. Suddenly Mr Wolf realized that he was standing right in front of a collapsing dam.
The beavers grabbed hold of each other as the water swept them over the top of Mr Wolf.
Mr Wolf could only hold his breath as the entire dam and the lake behind it, crashed down on top of him.
Beavers streamed out from their huts around the lake. They dived into the water and slapped the surface with their tails – a warning signal that echoed through the forest. It was joined by an explosion of sound from the village as other animals and their houses were washed away.
In all the chaos, no one noticed when a very wet wolf dragged himself from the water. Each movement was more painful than the last. He collapsed on the bank with barely enough strength to admire his handy work. He held up his hands and gave a weary “Ha!” before crawling up the rest of the way to the path.