Tails of Brave Ulises

Pocahontas takes Ulises for a walk. 
(Jamestown, VA.)
Ulises imagines that perhaps he was the one who killed the pirate Blackbeard!
(Ocracoke, Outer Banks, NC)

The opening story, From Spanish Harlem to Mexico, tells how Ulises was abandoned, then rescued, and finally given to Richard Nathan. The other five stories were inspired by places Ulises visited on his walk and by the fascinating history he discovered there.

The Ghost Who Just Wanted To Go Home is set in the village of Westford, Massachusetts. In this story, Ulises disturbs the ghost of Sir James Gunn, a Scottish knight who died in America while on an expedition with Prince Henry Sinclair of Orkney in 1398-99. Ulises assists this troubled but kindly ghost in his efforts to sail to his homeland.

The True Story of Pocahontas is set in Jamestown, Virginia. In this story, Ulises reveals that it was his life that was saved by the beautiful Indian Princess Pocahontas and not, as Disney would have us believe, that of Captain John Smith. Captain Smith it turns out was ready to hand poor Ulises over to the butcher, in order to feed the hungry English settlers

The Most Dastardly Pirate That Ever Lived is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In this story, Ulises encounters the horrible pirate, Blackbeard. Ulises attempts to escape and to save a poor old nag (horse) who is being forced to work for Blackbeard’s gang. He is caught and forced to walk the plank, which threatens to hurl him amongst a fiendish army of prickly pears.

The Swamp Dog and the Swamp Fox is set among the swamps of the Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina. In this story, Ulises is a private in the British army during the Revolutionary War. He is commissioned by his commanding officer to go deep into the swamps and capture the Swamp Fox, who, in Ulises’ telling of the story, is a real fox. He catches the fox, but then realizes he must hand him over to the firing squad. This he cannot do.

The People Who Came From Dogs is set along the coastal plains of Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico.  Ulises meets  the Chichimeca, a simple tribe of nomadic Mexican Indians whose name means, ‘the people who came from dogs.’ Our hero learns that the Chichimeca are suffering greatly under the rule of the Aztecs and their king Moctezuma. The Chichimeca welcome Ulises as the great Quetzaldoggy, believing that he is the one who has come to save them. Ulises has a face-to-face with Moctezuma, to try to sort things out.

Ulises at the top of an ancient Mexican step-pyramid. This one is at El Tajin; a 1000-year old Totanaca site near Papantla,Veracruz. 

Extract from The People Who Came From Dogs.

“Behold!” said the Chichimeca chief. “There sits our enemy. Moctezuma, the king of the Aztecs. You must defeat him so that our people can be free.”

Taking a quick look at all those thousands of Aztec warriors on the temple steps, I didn’t fancy our chances in a fight, no matter how great the Chichimeca thought I was. Perhaps I could just have a friendly little chat with this Moctezuma fellow and make him see the error of his ways. Maybe I could persuade him to be a little nicer to the Chichimeca.

To speak to Moctezuma, I had to climb all those steps. There were hundreds of them. When I was about halfway up, I looked down, just to see how high I’d come. Wow! There in the distance on the ground were my Chichimeca friends. They looked like tiny ants. I carried on walking, upwards, past hundreds of Aztec warriors, all of them wearing golden helmets that gleamed in the sunshine and all carrying enormous, heavy spears, which were twice as long as the puny little sticks of the poor Chichimeca. Then, just below the summit, I reached the throne of Moctezuma.

Like the Chichimeca chief, Moctezuma had a fancy headdress, but his was three times bigger and a lot more colorful. It was made of long feathers, some red, some yellow, some green, and some in colors I had never seen before. He didn’t look too happy to see me, and neither did the man standing next to him. He was a tall man with a nose like an eagle’s beak, and he was wearing a heavy cloak of black and gold that covered all his body below his head. He whispered something to the king, and from the way he glared at me, I knew he’d said something about me, and that it probably wasn’t very flattering.

“My high priest tells me that you are Quetzaldoggy.” said the king. “Why have you come to us?”

I could have said that I’d come to kick his butt, so that the Chichimenca could go free, along with all the other people he was being horrible to. But then I thought that this would just get him angry. Besides, I hadn’t yet figured out how exactly I was going to kick his butt, not to mention those of all his warriors standing down below. The Chichimeca chief had said something about how the Aztecs would all run away when they saw me. Well, here I was, out in the midday sun, in full view of them all, and they hadn’t budged an inch! I would have to be diplomatic.

“I’ve come to have a chat with you.” I said, as though I were offering him a cup of tea. “You see, I have these friends, who’ve been awfully nice to me, and they were hoping, and I was hoping too, that you might be just a little bit nicer to them in the future.”

“Friends?” he said. “Who are your friends?”

“The Chichimeca. There’s a few of them with me ....”

“The Chichimeca!” he screamed, before I could finish what I had to say. “They are the people who came from dogs! They are worse than dogs. They deserve to be treated like dogs!”

Now many people, as you know, treat dogs very well. But others treat dogs very badly, and I fancied that this Moctezuma fellow was one of those who treated dogs very badly.

“Well, I think you’re a bit of a rotter!” I told him. “And you ought to be ashamed of yourself speaking like that. After all, you and your people came from dogs too!”

Now I’d really upset him.

“That was a long time ago!” he screamed. “Look around you. Look at these great buildings that reach to the sky! Could a dog build such wonders?”

“You’d be amazed what a dog could do.” I told him. “It strikes me that you need to get a bit more in touch with your doggy past.”

“Do not remind me of my doggy past!” he said. “It is shameful.”

Then he went all quiet, and I thought for a moment he was going to cry. His high priest bent down to whisper something else to him. Whatever it was the high priest said to his king, it definitely cheered him up.

“Yes, perhaps you are right, Quetzaldoggy.” said the king with a smile. “The high priest of the Aztec himself has reminded me that we need to make an offering, to honor our doggy past.”

“That’s more like it.” I said. “What will you offer to your doggy past? How about a nice juicy bone?”

“Yes!” said the king very cheerfully. “A bone will do nicely. Come with us, to the very top of the temple. We will make the offering together.”

So I walked with King Moctezuma and his high priest, not to mention a bodyguard of Aztec warriors, all the way to the very top of the temple. It was so high, it touched the clouds. The top was flat so we could all stand on it, and there, in the middle, was a large, oblong stone table.

“Is that where you make the offering?” I asked, pointing to the table.

“Yes.” said the king. “And we would like you to receive the offering on behalf of our doggie ancestors.”

“And when I’ve received it, will you promise to be nicer to the Chichimeca and to all the other poor people?” I said, remembering why I was up here.

“Yes, yes, of course!” said the king. “Now you must jump on the table so we can make the offering.”

Well, this was turning out much better than I thought it might. There wasn’t going to be any fighting, the Chichimeca were going to be free from bondage, and, to cap it all, I was going to get myself a nice, juicy bone!
I jumped onto the table with the king at one side and his high priest at the other.

“So where’s the bone?” I asked.

“It’s here.” said the king, taking hold of my tail and stroking it all the way down to my  flocus.

“What! But that’s my tail!” I shrieked.

“Yes.” said the king. “First, we will offer your tail bone to our doggie ancestors and then we will cut out your heart as an offering to the sun.”

Four of the warriors grabbed hold of me so I couldn’t move. Then the high priest put his hand inside his heavy cloak and pulled out an enormous knife.

“Cut off his tail!” screamed the king. The high priest grabbed hold of my tail at the rump and brought down his sharp knife.

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