Far away, the sleeping Elephant awoke to a tiny clip, clipping sound.
He tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. The sound was soft, but incessant, like a wind-whipped leaf trapped against a light pole. It was so soft that as he moved to find it, his steps drowned it out. He had to pause and listen, then walk. Pause again and listen, then walk a little more. He moved this way across the moonless plain until the sun rose and the clipping sound stopped.
Soon, he was back to the forest, and thirsty. Remembering the pool he had visited the day before, he made his way to the now-familiar clearing. It wasn’t far. He crossed the clearing to the pool. The rising sun had turned everything pale gold and slightly molten—the leaves, the branches, the dust and the water. It shone on his back and lit the rims of his ears, which he shook a little to alarm the morning’s first tiny flies.
As the day quickly warmed, he finished drinking and began to forage in a stand of young bracken. He brought a bundle of fronds and fiddleheads to his mouth, but a flash of velvety red in its midst caught his eye. He paused and looked closely.
There, like a quaking jewel, a tiny caterpillar gripped a fiddlehead and regarded him with awe.