If only they thought more like muskrats

The Compass - - PORTHTE -

Mizkat, the premier of New­found­land and Labrador, had been pre­oc­cu­pied for awhile. Nal­cor, the pet muskrat she had brought from Labrador to stay with her in her St. John’s home, had been up­set at first as her be­hav­iour be­came dis­tant.

“Maybe she doesn’t care about me any­more,” Nal­cor thought, fur­row­ing his al­ready furry brow.

But true to his roots, Nal­cor was pre­pared to adapt. That is the strength of muskrats. When things change we find ways to change with them. So that is what he did. It started with learn­ing to use the com­puter, which he only did when Mizkat was out of the house. She had for­bid­den him to use it. She called it “play­ing,” but to Nal­cor it was not a toy, but a tool for learn­ing. There was so much to learn. He had learned of Shaw­na­dithit, the last of the Beothuks. She too had been brought south to live in a house. But Shaw­na­dithit wasn’t a muskrat. She couldn’t adapt and sadly, she died, the last of her peo­ple.

As Nal­cor learned more, he re­al­ized that Mizkat knew an aw­ful lot of things, but not ev­ery­thing, and maybe she couldn’t adapt any bet­ter than Shaw­na­dithit. For ex­am­ple, as far as he could tell Mizkat was un­aware of the muskrat’s role in sav­ing the world af­ter the Sec­ond Great Flood.

It would have been bet­ter if she knew more about muskrats be­cause Mizkat and the man with the white hair were plan­ning the Fourth Great Flood. His name was Ed. Ed with the White Head used such strange words when be­ing in­ter­viewed on tele­vi­sion that Nal­cor had trou­ble un­der­stand­ing. Why did he keep say­ing “go­ing for­ward” all the time. Mizkat used the same ex­pres­sion. We ex­pect ev­ery­thing will be­come clear “go­ing for­ward.” It was as if by re­peat­ing the words “go­ing for­ward” con­stantly they were try­ing to re­as­sure them­selves that they weren’t go­ing back­ward.

Nei­ther Mizkat nor Ed with the White Head wanted to go back­ward. Spe­cially not back­ward to the time of the Third Great Flood. That had oc­curred in by­gone years at a Falls on the river named for the English Prime Min­is­ter with the Big Cigar. Those falls were up­stream on the same river that Nal­cor had lived on be­fore Mizkat brought him south to live with her.

While watch­ing tele­vi­sion Nal­cor had learned of the Third Great Flood at Big Cigar Falls and what a ter­ri­ble event it was in the his­tory of Mizkat’s peo­ple.

Nor­mally there wasn’t much worth see­ing on tele­vi­sion, but when Mizkat was away it was some­thing to do. He had hap­pened on the pro­gramme when do­ing what Mizkat called chan­nel surf­ing. Nal­cor didn’t like chan­nel surf­ing be­cause he was afraid his claws would scratch the re­mote. Then Mizkat would see the scratches. She’d re­al­ize he was watch­ing tele­vi­sion and she might guess that he was also us­ing the in­ter­net, which she had strictly for­bid­den.

She was a nice lady and very kind to him, but Nal­cor had seen how quickly she could change when peo­ple did things she didn’t like.

She got very an­gry when­ever she spoke of the Third Great Flood at Big Cigar Falls. Her peo­ple had been be­trayed and even af­ter all these years, they were still an­gry.

That anger had been one of the main rea­sons that the scheme for the Fourth Big Flood, this time at Muskrat Falls had been hatched in the first place. The An­gry Man who Talked Too Fast had thought it up. He had oc­cu­pied Mizkat’s job as Boss of New­found­land and Labrador, the Rich and Poor prov­ince, be­fore he quit in a big hurry one day, no one was sure why.

The An­gry Man’s idea was that Muskrat Falls show the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for the be­trayal at Big Cigar Falls who was in charge. The An­gry Man would show them. They’d be sorry they messed with The An­gry Man who Talked Too Fast.

But then he quit and was gone, play­ing hockey in a big build­ing in the cap­i­tal, and build­ing an­other face­less sub­urb in or­der to get richer still.

When Mizkat in­her­ited his job she also took over re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Fourth Great Flood at Muskrat Falls. Nal­cor could tell she was ner­vous about it. It wasn’t just that she couldn’t stop say­ing “go­ing for­ward” with a tremor in her voice, it was how she blew her stack when­ever any­one sug­gested there might be even the tini­est need to take it slowly, be just a tri­fle care­ful be­fore com­mit­ting to such a huge project.

Nal­cor was happy that Mizkat, Ed with the White Head and the An­gry Man who Talked Too Fast all re­ferred to his home as Muskrat Falls. It was an hon­our re­ally, to have the place you lived named af­ter you.

He only wished they would be­have more like muskrats as they pre­pared for the Fourth Big Flood.

Nal­cor saw it this way: If a muskrat who was swim­ming in a cer­tain river, got caught in a trap and wound up nearly get­ting skinned as a re­sult, he would be very cau­tious where he put his feet if he was ever swim­ming in that river again.

… to be con­tin­ued

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