Cedric and Sylvia were lying peacefully on the water. They were part of a group of seven otters, all of whom had just enjoyed a delicious breakfast of mollusks. "I think Im gonna move," announced Cedric.
"Move?!?!?" Sylvia exclaimed. "After you so carefully selected your den? Youve only been there a little while."
Cedric said, "I guess I dont really want to move. Its just that it seems that I should be doing something and Im only playing, eating, and sleeping."
"Thats living, Cedric. Thats what were supposed to do," Sylvia replied.
"I know, but Im bored," said Cedric.
"Bored?!" Sylvia questioned. "Cedric, youre busy all the time, except when you choose to relax. You have to hunt for your meals every day. Lots of times you have food available that you choose not to eat. You continue hunting until you find what you want to eat. Those are choices that help keep you busy."
"Oh, I know," Cedric replied. "But I dont even think of those choices as being something to do."
"But they are," said Sylvia, "and youve learned what foods give you the nourishment your body needs to do all the things you want to do, when you want to do them."
"Oh, I know, Sylvia," Cedric replied with a sigh. "But none of that makes this otters life any less boring."
"Oh, I give up," said Sylvia impatiently. "Go play with your other friends. Youre always happy when youre playing."
"Arent you going to play too?" asked Cedric.
"No, not this morning. Ive got some work to do and maybe I can think up some things to cure your boredom. Come back at lunchtime and well talk some more."
"OK," Cedric replied. "Ill see you later," and off he quickly swam to join the others who had begun an active game of tag.
As lunchtime approached, Cedric looked around for Sylvia but didnt see her. So he hunted for a clam and enjoyed eating it with the group of otters he had played with all morning. Sylvia still had not joined the group by the time Cedric finished the last bites of his clam.
Wondering what was keeping her away, he swam to her den to investigate. As he approached, she was nowhere to be seen. The opening of her den was underwater, so he dove down and quickly entered, cheerfully announcing, "Hey, Sylvia! Youre missing lunch!"
"Shhhh," Sylvia whispered and when his eyes had adjusted, he saw that she was holding and rocking a young otter. "Im taking care of Andy while his mother is hunting for food," she said. "He had the end of his tail cut off by an outboard motor on a speedboat."
"Oh, my!" Cedric said sadly. "Is he going to be OK?"
"Yes, hell be all right. His tail is healing and hes not in much pain now. Would you like to hold him?" Sylvia asked.
"No, I dont think so," Cedric replied. "I feel so sorry for him that I might cry, and I cant do that."
"No, I suppose not," Sylvia said. They sat quietly with Sylvia gently rocking the young otter and making soft, comforting sounds as he drifted off to sleep.
"Sylvia, do you want me to go hunt you up some lunch?" Cedric asked.
"That would be very nice," Sylvia responded. "Bring enough for yourself too and we can enjoy lunch here together."
Cedric swam off to hunt for some lunch and as he did so he thought about the poor little otter that was with Sylvia. He thought that Andy must have gotten too far from the shore, not knowing about speedboats. He realized how fortunate he was that nothing bad like that had ever happened to him.
As he swam along, an eel swam right in front of him and he grabbed it quickly in his mouth, thinking that it would be a fine lunch for Sylvia and him and there would be enough for the little one too, if he woke up.
"Oh my!" Sylvia exclaimed as Cedric entered with the eel. "You brought a feast!" "There will be plenty for the two of us and enough for the little one, if he wakes up and is hungry," Cedric replied. The two of them ate quietly. When they were finished, Sylvia tidied up and tucked the leftovers under some leaves toward the back of her den. Cedric sat quietly, deep in thought. Sylvia looked at the little otter who was still asleep. She saw that Cedric seemed content so she curled up for a little nap too.
Sylvia was awakened when she heard someone coming into the den. She sat up as Andys mother entered. "Hello, Edna," Sylvia said. "Were you able to find enough to eat on your hunt?"
"Oh, yes," Edna replied. "Im not hungry anymore and I took some clams and part of a trout home so I wont have to hunt again until the morning."
Andy was beginning to wake up and Cedric woke up too. "Your little otter was very good," he told Edna. "He slept almost all the time you were gone."
"Hes not very energetic since he got his tail hurt," Edna said. "I think healing takes most of his energy. He sleeps a lot."
"Thats good," remarked Sylvia. "We want him well as quickly as possible."
"We sure do!" agreed Cedric.
"Well, we had better be going," said Edna as she nudged Andy toward the dens entrance. "Thank you for your help."
Sylvia said, "I have some leftover eel, if you would like some."
"No, thank you," said Edna. I think I have enough for the rest of today and tonight. By tomorrow, Ill want to get out and hunt. Cedric, would you like to come to my den and stay with Andy while I do that?"
"Oh, Id love to," exclaimed Cedric. "As long as he is happy with me, Im happy to watch over him.""Oh, he wont be any trouble. Hes a happy little otter. I just dont want to leave him alone, particularly since hes been hurt," Edna replied. "Can you postpone your playtime after breakfast in the morning?"
Cedric said that he would be happy to go to her den and be with Andy while she hunted. "Ill see you then," she said and wrapped her arm around Andy as the two of them swam out of the den.
When they had gone Cedric sat quietly. Sylvia busied herself making all things neat. When she was satisfied with her work, she asked, "Would you like to go out and play?"
"I was just thinking," Cedric replied. "This morning I told you I was bored, but Im sure not bored anymore. Now I have Andy to watch after and from now on, when we play, I will always be watching to be sure none of the little otters get too far from the shore. Ill never have time to be bored."
Sylvia smiled. "Would you like to go play now?" she asked.
"Sure!" Cedric replied. "Im ready!" and quickly swam out of Sylvias den to have a good romp before dinner.
Sylvia followed in a more relaxed manner, thinking to herself, "I hope I never hear the word bored again.