Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chapter the Eleventh: Randall S. Chipmunk, Esq.

“The nuts were nicely and conveniently gathered,” Fulsome attempted meekly, “but there was no one about and no way for me to know they were yours. I am so sorry.”

“Indeed, Sir,” the chipmunk uttered indignantly, “would you follow me, please.”

Fulsome and Jonathan obediently followed the furry little fellow to the locale of his somewhat depleted nut hoard.

“And what do you call that, pray?” the chipmunk asked indignantly, gesturing toward the tree in a crevice of which the nuts lay. The travelers’ gaze followed upward until it rested on a neatly lettered sign.

Randall S. Chipmunk, Esq.

“I see what you mean,” Fulsome said. “And I am very sorry. Please forgive me.”

“Much better. Apology accepted. Now what about those biscuits, young man?”

The chipmunk was obviously appeased and Jonathan proceeded to share what remained of their meal with him. After introductions all around, conversation flowed. Jonathan and Fulsome shared the object of their quest with the chipmunk who, by now, insisted on being called Scramble (his middle name) rather than R. Chipmunk, Esq., which he considered inappropriate among friends.

“In fact,” he suggested, “why not help me store these last few nuts and I will join you.”

“Splendid,” Jonathan agreed.

“HOW VERY, I mean, how very nice of you,” added Fulsome.

“You see, I’m so very small and frightfully quick, not to mention clever and, ahem, literate, that I’m sure I should be of great assistance to you in the hour of peril.”

At the mention of peril both Jonathan and Fulsome gave a slight shudder. But then again, if a small chipmunk was not afraid of the fearsome gnord, why should they be? And if two heads are better than one, three should be better yet. And so the three travelers were soon on the road again.

Jonathan could not help thinking that this had been the longest day of his life. The sun was still not about to set. Perhaps time was somehow different in Wolmsley Wood. Everything else seemed to be. But with two companions to lighten the burden of his journey and support him in his quest, Jonathan was feeling much better about the whole thing.

The going was very pleasant now inasmuch as they were passing through Zymel meadow. The flowers and grasses brightened the journey considerably and sunlight was refreshing after his previous traveling in downpours and in the shadow of thick trees. In fact, Jonathan once had to reprimand Fulsome for stopping too often to look at wildflowers and intriguing bushes. Scramble was always running ahead then dashing back to describe, in his usual breathless manner, whatever lay in their path.

“Ithinkwe’regettingclosetoWishwood!” he announced as they came near the end of the meadow.

“Beg pardon?” inquired Jonathan.

“I said, ‘I think we’re getting close to Wishwood’,” Scramble repeated carefully.

“And what, pray, is Wishwood?” the lad inquired. “I see it on the map, just before the Gardens of Isapher, but Auntie Woezzl told me nothing about it.”

“Nothing about Wishwood?” Fulsome intoned, somewhat surprised. “Indeed, it may constitute on of our gravest dangers.”

Tobesure, I mean, to be sure,” added Scramble.


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