Mike: The Spotty Beaver
In the river Loire in Western France, there is a lodge full of beautiful, russet-coloured, smooth-feathered beavers. They are working hard day and night to build the largest dam in Europe. The three strongest beavers, Larky, Coleen, and Wester, are moving the heaviest branches and helping everyone finish the work fast. All the beavers are very impressed with Larky, Coleen, and Wester; every time they have gatherings under the water, everyone cheers for them. Well, almost everyone…
Inside his family’s lodge, Mike, the spotty beaver, sits alone. He doesn’t help the other beavers, and nobody talks to him. His sweet, elderly parents try to encourage him to go outside and make friends with Larky, Coleen, and Wester, the other beavers his age, but Mike puts his large head down and stares at his webbed feet.
“I can’t; they’re scared of me,” he says.
“But darling, they have nothing to be scared of. If they spend some time with you, they’ll see that you’re just like them,” says his mom.
“No Mommy, I’m not. Look at you and Dad and everyone else. You have tiny eyes, and I don’t. I have two big black eyes, and I scare everyone away. I’m not like you. I can’t even carry the branches or push the mud.” Mike cries.
“Don’t say that. You’re special. Your father gets very sad when he sees everyone else’s children outside and not you. Come out with me tomorrow. You can just help me and nobody else. Your father will be very proud, and all the other beavers will slowly get used to your big eyes.”
Mike looks up; his big, black eyes full of tears look like fireflies under the water. He nods, and they all go to sleep.
The next day Mike follows his mom around.
All the other beavers stare at him, and Larky yells, “Look, the black spot came out of the lodge!”
Coleen and Wester laugh.
“What happened black spot did you miss the sun?” asks Wester.
“Come on, let’s go guys. I can’t look at him. He scares me with his big, black eyes. He looks like a monster,” says Coleen.
Mike hears them and accidentally drops the branch on his mother’s front claw.
“Ouch! Try to be more careful, Mike,” she says and looks at him.
“I’m sorry, Mom. It’s too heavy,” Mike says and lowers his eyes again.
“He can’t do it. Just let Mike go back to your lodge. We’ll build this dam faster if he stops following you dropping everything,” says another beaver working nearby.
Mike swims back inside the lodge. At night he hears his parents talking.
“This years’ swimming competition is in a week,” Mike hears his father saying to his mother.
“Honey, that’s wonderful news. You should definitely participate,” says his mother.
“I have to. It’s a tradition. All of my ancestors were great swimmers. Every year they won the competition, but my great-grandpa was the fastest of all. He was a proud, French beaver and his only wish before he died was that we continue to get the title of the greatest beaver: ‘Le Plus Grand Castor.’”
“But what’s going to happen next year when you’re older and can’t participate anymore?” Mike hears his mom asking.
“We’ll lose the title if Mike doesn’t want to do it.”
Mike waits for them to go to sleep so he can get out and eat some aquatic plants. As he swims, he looks at his torn body. He knows that if he doesn’t start working soon, his body will lose all its functions, and he will never be able to build a dam. As he is eating, he sees the fish swim together. When he turns around and looks at them, they all vanish in fear.
“Wait, wait. I just want to play,” he says.
Mike is ready to return home when he decides to chase the fish. He swims all night trying to catch the fish, and when he finally goes home in the morning, he crashes into his bed. For six days, Mike goes out every night and swims as fast he can to catch the fish. His body starts to get stronger, and he has more energy.
The day of the competition comes.
“This year, I’ll be the winner,” says Larky. “Mike’s father can’t beat me; he’s gotten old, and I’m the strongest.”
“Larky, I think you’re wrong. You might be the strongest of all of us, but I’m the fastest, so I’ll win,” says Wester.
“Boys, you two think you’re strong and fast, but I’m the strongest, fastest female beaver, and I have the biggest feet. This competition is mine,” says Coleen.
The three of them, along with Mike’s father and all the other beavers, line up next to each other inside the river. They have to swim to the edge of the river and back. Whoever makes it back first will be the winner. The elderly beavers signal the start of the competition, and all the participants start to swim. Mike’s father is getting ahead.
Mike has hidden behind a rock at the edge of the river to see his father swimming. As the beavers are approaching the edge of the river, Wester passes Mike’s father. Larky and Coleen are on the same line as Mike’s father.
Mike hears them coming, but he also hears an unknown, strange sound. He pops his head outside the water, and with his big, dark, eyes notices a red fox approaching. He puts his head back inside the water.
“Oh, no! What do I do? I have to tell them. Why can’t they see the fox?” he wonders to himself.
Mike sees Larky, Wester, and Coleen approaching the edge of the river. All the other beavers are still far behind. He doesn’t see his father. He hears the fox approaching. Without a second thought, Mike gets out of his hiding spot and starts swimming towards them.
“Go back! Go inside the lodge. There is a red fox,” he yells.
Larky, who sees him first, says, “I see no red fox. Get out of my way, black spot. You’re trying to slow us down to help your father win.”
When Coleen sees Mike, she yells in fear, “It’s the monster. Oh, my God! Help.”
Tears start falling from Mike’s eyes, but he is determined to swim back to lodge as fast as he can to tell everyone else. Next to him is Larky, who has started to swim back to the finishing line. As they approach the line, everyone sees Mike and starts murmuring among themselves.
“What is he doing here?” asks a beaver.
“Look how fast he is swimming!” says another.
Mike crosses the finishing line, and Larky follows aggressively.
“Cheater!” says Larky.
Mike tries to catch his breath.
“There is a red fox! There is a red fox. Go hide.”
The beavers finally see the red fox, and everyone starts swimming inside the lodge.
Suddenly, they hear a beaver yelling, “Help, help. My feet are stuck.”
“That’s Coleen, my baby. Please someone help her,” the beavers hear Coleen’s mom say.
“Nobody is fast enough to get her before the fox comes,” says Larky.
As everyone gets inside the lodge, Mike gets out and starts swimming towards Coleen.
“Mike, come back!” his father yells. “You’re not fast enough!”
“Yes, I am,” says Mike. “I’ve been practising.”
Mike swims as fast as he can and sees Coleen’s feet stuck behind the rock. As the fox approaches and opens her mouth to snap Coleen out of the water, Mike pushes his body against hers and frees her feet. The two swim as fast as they can and make it back safely to the lodge.
“You’re my hero,” says Coleen.
Everyone cheers for Mike.
“I think he deserves this year’s prize, the title of the ‘Le Plus Grand Castor,’” Coleen’s mom says.
Mike cannot believe his ears.
“Thank you! Thank you,” he says.
“I told you, Mike, you’re special,” says his mom.
“Your great-grandpa would be so proud of you,” says his dad.
In the river Loire in Western France, there is a lodge full of beautiful, russet-coloured, smooth—feathered beavers. They are working hard day and night to build the largest dam in Europe. The four strongest beavers, Larky, Coleen, Wester, and Mike, are moving the heaviest branches and helping everyone finish the work fast. All the beavers are very impressed with Larky, Coleen, Wester, and Mike; every time they have gatherings under the water, everyone cheers for them. Well, yes, everyone!