Norbert

Once long, long ago, in a land far, far away, in an age that has been forgotten by most sensible folk, there lived an ogre. He lived alone in a very large cavern in the face of a steep cliff near the base of the largest mountain. From the mouth of the cavern he had a beautiful view of a vast evergreen forest that was not only filled with birds and other forest animals, but fairy folk fluttering here and there and of course people, who did not flutter here or there. The ogre's name was Norbert and this is his story.

Now although Norbert was an ogre, he was not at all like any ogre you may have heard about. Norbert was not large. He was not mean. He wasn't even particularly dirty. He was the most un-ogre-like ogre there has ever been. And this is still true today. Not only was he extremely small for an ogre (he was more of a midget ogre really) but he also had the wee tiniest ogre voice.

You might be surprised to learn that little Norbert was a very successful ogre. In fact he was one of the most successful ogres that the whole huge entire world has ever known. Unfortunately, Norbert has never been credited for his successes as an ogre, nor was he aware that he had ever been a successful ogre. It was all due to an unfortunate circumstance. Norbert's tremendous success was on account of his snoring. It may seem odd that such a thing could make an ogre famous, but in Norbert's case, it did just that.

Norbert didn't always live alone and if he were choosing a house for himself, he never would have chosen an ogre mansion like the great cave he lived in. Norbert grew up in a large ogre family in which all the ogres were of a normal ogre size. In fact, when the whole family was at home sitting around the tremendous rock slab that served as a table the cavern seemed very small indeed.

Let us travel many of thousands of years back in time. We must go back to a point in time just before Norbert was born. The ogre activity around the cave was pretty normal. There were cattle raids and scaring parties. At home, all of Norbert's brothers and sisters played tag and ran yelling and screaming through the cave. The occasional fight was not uncommon. In short, all of the kinds of things that would be frightening in any normal home happened daily in this ogre home.

One day this very normal ogre home was forced to undergo an unnaturally serious change. It occurred on the day that Norbert was born into the family. With Norbert's arrival normal ogre behavior in the cave came to an instant and abrupt halt. It was as if a new pet had arrived in the cave. He was so cute and so cuddly that the fearsome ogre family became a careful, conscientious and loving ogre family almost overnight. It wasn't possible to run pell-mell through the house for fear of hurting poor Norbert. Yelling and screaming became an event of the past so that Norbert could get all the rest a growing ogre might need. Norbert grew up never knowing that Ogres were considered disgusting, mean and dangerous by every living thing, including fairies, gnomes and sprites.

All of the other ogres in Norbert's family were no different than any other ogres. As you may know, Ogres can live for thousand's of years. This was true in Norbert's family as well.

As millennium after millennium slowly faded into forgotten history Norbert's brothers and sister ogres grew up and made their way into the wide world to terrorize young and old in every corner of the world. Before long the only ogres left in the vast cave were Norbert and his parents.

Eventually there came a day when even Norbert's parents were gone and Norbert found himself alone. For the first time in his small life, he found himself without company and dwarfed by the silence of the vast cavern. And this is really where Norbert's story begins.

At night, Norbert curled himself up in his favorite swamp grass blanket with his favorite moss pillow that his mother crocheted for him when he was little. He would roll up and go sound asleep.

At first there was only the quiet sound of his breathing as his little chest rose and fell in the night. But, shortly after Sleep had wrapped him in her gentle arms, his breathing became heavier and heavier until finally he began to snore. Norbert's snoring became louder and louder until it began to resonate throughout the cavern. The sound bounced from stone to stone growing louder and louder. It ripped through the throat of the cave amplifying even more until it wailed. Still, the noise grew louder.

When it finally left the mouth of the cave, the noise was no longer just the faint sound of little Norbert's breathing, but a gigantic shrieking that filled the night and the surrounding valley so that all the animals of the woods and every human for miles ran away to hide.

News traveled quickly through the enchanted gnome world and soon no one would venture into the woods. Without the constant tramping of animals or people to keep the plant growth down, the forest grew deeper and thicker until no one (not even fairies) could venture in.

One bright morning Norbert woke up to absolute silence and for the first time ever he realized that he wasn't just by himself. He was totally alone. Norbert's gentle heart began to break. He couldn't bear the thought of the loneliness that he would surely have to face for the rest of his life.

He gathered his belongings and decided to make his way out of the forest and find other creatures similar to himself. He hadn't traveled far when he discovered that the forest had grown up much too deep and thick for him to penetrate. Alas, Norbert was in a prison not even he could break out of.

The little ogre went back to his cave and began to think and ponder. His head began to ache from hours of scratching it. He came to realize that he was going to need a tool to help him if he wanted to escape and that in turn saddened him greatly. Poor Norbert was the only ogre that he could think of who would ever need any kind of tool to move a few trees. He may not have been quite so sad if he had realized that many of these trees were so massive that even the biggest of the ogres could never have moved them.

Norbert continued to think and ponder and scratch his head until finally he came up with a plan for a machine that could help him. He sat to work on it straight away building, constructing and calculating.

First he worked hour after hour which then turned into day after day. And these in turn became year after year. Eventually Norbert's machine was finished. It was a monstrous machine that made almost as much noise as Norbert himself while he was sleeping. Norbert packed up his great machine and away he went to the edge of the forest. He positioned it in front of the trees and turned the switch that made it start to work. At first the machine began to hum. Then it started to vibrate. Then it began to shake. A great arm swung around, latched onto the nearest tree, and ripped it out by the roots. Before the first tree hit the ground the machine was reaching for another. Soon trees were flying in all directions. Norbert began to jump up and down with joy.

The thick forest was miles and miles deep. A large town had grown up on the outskirts of it. The children of the town grew up with bedtime stories of the fearful monster that inhabited the mountains beyond the forest.

Even from many miles away they could see the trees torn up by the roots and launched into the air. It was enough to strike fear into even the bravest of the town's folk. Simply put, Norbert had once again created pandemonium. People were running here and their, arms flailing. It was such a stressful and fearful time for them that some of the town's people even moved away. But a few of the very brave decided to stay and fight whatever evil might eventually break out of the forest.

During the day they would meet by the edge of the woods with their pitchforks and rakes. At night they would start huge bon fires and keep watch. Day after day they waited while their hair turned whiter and their impending doom inched closer and closer.

One day, the shrieking of the great machine and the destruction of the forest suddenly came to an abrupt halt. The people of the town stood in shocked silence each waiting for the worst. Suddenly, a small shrub from the lowest part of vegetation at the very edge of the forest parted. Norbert made his way into the open. What he saw before him was both startling and frightful. A mob of scared villagers holding pitchforks and rakes looked angrily down on him.

Norbert watched and waited. Slowly the fear in the mob began to melt away. A villager raced forward, took Norbert by the had and quickly brought him into the safety of the crowd as they gathered together to face the monstrosity that would surely emerge from the forest.

Hours passed. Nothing. More hours passed. Still nothing.

After two days of waiting and still not even a peep from the deep dark forest, the crowd began to grow uneasy. Finally, Norbert asked bravely what the commotion was all about. The farmer that had pulled him to safety related entire story.

Now you might think that Norbert would catch on right away and realize that the only ogre that was in the forest was no longer in the forest, but he didn't. Norbert could only think of the possibility that he might not be all alone. He bravely volunteered to go and search the forest for any sign of the fearsome ogre.

Properly outfitted, Norbert once again entered the forest. He searched high and low. He searched in every nook and cranny. He spent days and weeks looking and hunting. And the more he looked the more he be became discouraged until once again he had to admit to himself that there was no other ogre to be found.

Sadly disappointed he trudged out of the forest on a cold and gloomy day. There was only one young boy there to receive him when he finally arrived at the edge of town. The boy said nothing except with questioning eyes. Norbert, with head hung down, shook it back and forth and simply said,

"There are no ogres in the forest".

Before anything else could be said, the boy ran down to the village to spread the news. And the news did spread... faster than jelly; faster than wild fire too. Before night fell, the whole town was in celebration.

Some of the town folk ran to find Norbert. And when they did, they hoisted him upon their shoulders for a hero's welcome. They paraded him around town and fed him the finest food. Norbert had no idea what was going on.

From then on Norbert was never able to make the same horrible sounds snoring. Without the help of the great cavern to amplify his snoring, no one ever knew it was he who had made the horrible sounds. Norbert finally found what he had always dreamed of... a warm fire and a place to come home to with family and friends. Not only did Norbert find a new home, but also the town's people adopted him and he became a child of every household. All of the children played with him and invited him for sleepovers. Norbert grew to a be a very old and a very happy ogre.

 
 
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