"The Fiercest Little Animal in the Forest" is now available in book form through https://www.createspace.com/3408785 and Amazon. Story by Terri Reinhart, Illustrated by Patrick Reinhart
The fiercest animal in the forest was the pine marten. Every time another animal would come near to him, he would growl and snarl and snap at them. Then the animals would run away from him. If any people walked through the forest, he would hide in a bush and growl and snarl and snap at them as they went by. Then the people would walk a little faster to get away from the snarling and snapping beast.
One day, the pine marten heard people coming. There were a lot of people coming right through his forest! It was St. Nicholas and all his helpers. The pine marten hid in a bush close by the path. As the people came by, the he started to growl and snarl and snap his teeth. Some of the people closest to him began to walk faster. But one man stopped and looked down at the little pine marten. The pine marten suddenly was afraid and wanted to run away, but he found that he was caught in the brambles of the bush. St. Nicholas, for that is who had stopped to look at him, bent down and gently picked up the pine marten and put him in his pocket. The little fellow began to scrabble and scratch, but it was no use.
He was stuck in St. Nicholas’ pocket all through the journey across the forest and all the way to the sea. He stayed in St. Nicholas’ pocket when everyone boarded the ship and when they sailed all the way across the sea.
When they finally arrived at the other shore, St. Nicholas’ helpers carried bags of food: flour, apples, nuts, and honey cakes. They went together to a town where the people were very poor and hungry. St. Nicholas and his helpers left food on each doorstep. Then St. Nicholas took the little pine marten out of his pocket. St. Nicholas looked closely at the pine marten, “No more growling,” said St. Nicholas, “no more snarling and no more snapping. I have work for you to do.” And he sent the pine marten in each house with coins to drop into the stockings that were hanging by the fire. The little pine marten worked very hard, carrying the coins in his mouth and slipping into the houses. He worked all night long and when morning came and he was finished with his work, he was very tired. He was happy to go back inside St. Nicholas’ pocket!
The little pine marten was so sleepy that he didn’t even know when they got back on their ship and sailed across the sea for home. He didn’t wake up, even when they came to the forest. But when they came quite close to where St. Nicholas had found him, St. Nicholas took him out of his pocket and told him that he could go free.
But the little pine marten wanted to stay with St. Nicholas. And so, he went back into St. Nicholas’ pocket and continued on the journey to St. Nicholas’ home. From that time on, he lived in the woods close to St. Nicholas’ house. And whenever St. Nicholas needed his help, he was right there.
Terri Reinhart 12/06