Despite his name, Calvin felt Mister Grimm was anything but. Sure, he was a nearly six foot anthropomorphic ferret/rat/... person, and that would have been enough to set several people Calvin knew back in high school into a fit of the screaming heebie-jeebies, but the effect was spoiled by the broad straw hat he always wore and the thoughtful manner he puffed on his pipe when asked a question. In Calvin’s opinion Mister Grimm (he’d found he couldn’t think of the man without adding the “Mister” part) would have been right at home on the front porch of a general store in Maine or Massachusetts somewhere, playing checkers, drinking beer, smoking his pipe, and discussing the weather, farming, fishing, and if the Sox were going to make it to the Series again this year.
“Where did we all come from?” Mister Grimm closed his eyes, rubbed his chin, and paused to exhale a cloud of smoke. It hadn’t taken long to learn you didn’t rush Mister Grimm. He came to his answers in his own due time, and couldn’t be hurried.
“Fyrkat was founded several hundred season ago.” He gestured with the stem of his pipe westward before continuing. “When the town of Askam grew too large, people came here, found the land good, and settled.”
Grimm took a long draw on his pipe and gazed at Calvin expectantly. Yeah, he belonged in New England... or in a movie, playing the quintessential grandfather. “But that’s not what you meant, is it?”
No... no it wasn’t.
“For me, Fyrkat always has and always will be.” He shrugged, “I normally leave such questions to Mother Gytha.” He paused again, and gave Calvin a wink. “But, I should do something to pass the time while you put my picture in that book of yours.
“The Farming People say they have always been here. That the world was made for them or that they were made for the world.” Another shrug,” I don’t know about that, but I know there are more of them than any other people.” He paused and eyed Calvin for a moment, “But then, all women are the same once the candle goes out, right?”
Calvin dropped his pencil and felt his face grow red. The casual acceptance of sex here in the village took some getting used to. Part of it stemmed from an acknowledgment that inter-species romances were inevitable, the other was that the long houses had no inner walls or doors, just curtains. So if you decided to take a villager up on her offer, odds were everyone else in the long house was going to know what you were doing. However, for the most part, they simply took it in stride, without all of the sniggering and whispering you’d get back home.
“The Hunting People have stories of living in a great forest, a forest larger than the world, and coming here in search of fresh game.” Mister Grimm shook his head and smiled slightly. “They do like their stories.”
And the Leaping People?
“We came out of the ground.”
“Long ago, the Leaping People lived underground, like the Mining People do. We ate roots and crawling things. We ate that which ate mud.” Mister Grimm set his pipe aside, clasped his thin-fingered hands together (thin or not, they had a grip like iron), and leaned back, closing his eyes. “We lived in damp darkness, not knowing of the sun, or fire, or metal. Then, one day, as we dug for new roots, the roof of our world fell in, and we rose from the broken earth to find ourselves in a world of light and heat. Of sun and air, of fire and water. Of things to eat that grew out of the ground and not in it.” He paused and leaned forward.
“And that is how the Leaping People came to be.”
Return to The Well Of The Worlds