Chapter the Twelfth: Wishwood
Actually, Wishwood seemed quite pleasant. Not all like Wolmsley Wood proper, where the trees tended to grow so thick and dark. Here the sky shone above and the trees were nicely spaced. The air smelled fresh and wholesome and Jonathan felt very relaxed. The dangers of facing a fearsome gnord seemed to flow from his mind. Wishwood was a very nice place.
Fulsome began to comment on the pleasant atmosphere of Wishwood when Scramble interrupted, as he was wont to do. It seems that Wishwood was not any ordinary congregation of trees, thickets, and streams. It was an enchanted forest wherein one’s fondest dreams came from among the alders and ashes and occasional azaleas. indeed, the spell was already beginning to work. From behind the nearest pedunculate oak an image of Jonathan’s nanny came, bearing before her a steaming plum pudding. Jonathan was reminded how hungry and tired he was, and how very much he was beginning to miss the comforts of home.
Fulsome, on the other hand, was distracted by the sight of his parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and former neighbors, all approaching him with friendly faces and outstretched arms, declaring how glad they were to have him back among them. The fetchit had long ago adjusted to living on his own and would never admit it to another, but the thought of returning, welcomed, to his tribe had haunted his dreams ever since he had been exiled. How he longed for their booming voices!
Unaware of the others’ longings and fantasies, Scramble heard a familiar voice. It was Miranda, the loveliest chipmunk of the wide, wild Wood, calling for him. He turned, and then he saw her as he had dreamed of her so many times. Before, however, his dreams were always shattered by the harsh realities of her many refusals to have anything to do with someone as young and impetuous as he. But this time her furry charms were all for him. And that was what alerted him. It was too good to be true. in fact, it couldn’t be true. Miranda would never give herself so willingly to Randal. It was a fantasy! The spell of Wishwood was working. He had to resist, to fight the illusion. But it was so real, so wonderful.
No! He couldn’t give in . They all had to concentrate, to withstand the enchantment.
“Fight!” Scramble cried. “Fight with all you have! It’s only an illusion. They’re not real! Whatever you are seeing or feeling, it’s only the spell of Wishwood. Jonathan! Fulsome! We must get out of here, quickly!”
It took a while, but the chipmunk’s voice finally pierced the veil of their spectral fantasies. It was not easy, however. They did not want to yield what seemed so welcome. As they gradually became aware of the danger, they strained their minds in an intense effort to resist, to reject the lure of the false pleasures that tempted them to stay. At last they found their feet and began to walk back out of Wishwood. As the spell weakened, and the pleading voices of their separate illusions faded, they began to run until they were clear of Wishwood’s wicked spell.
Now, however, it was getting dark and they knew they would have to make a long detour around Wishwood. The valiant trio decided to sleep on the edge of Zymel Meadow and continue their journey in the morning. Just as they found a thicket where they would be sheltered somewhat from the evening cold they stumbled across a large bundle. It was wrapped in brown paper and had a label which read simply:
Fulsome tore it open and there in the bundle they found six heavy blankets: two very large, two of medium size, and two rather small ones. Also in the package were a nice rich cake, a tin of biscuits, a wedge of cheese, and some dried fruit. Auntie Woezzl hadn’t forgotten them.
After a quick snack, the weary adventurers snuggled into their respective blankets for the night. The blankets felt so cozy the three had no trouble sleeping soundly until dawn.