The stronger the staff

  July 2008 »
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Apart from an attempt to keep an eye on the hills near the meadow, which David found difficult amid the dense foliage, he wandered aimlessly. Everything on the ground was rotting and he had been taught too well while growing up that he wasn't to harm a living tree if he could help it. Not that he was an animist, he wasn't, but it was foolish to harm something that might offer you food or shelter later. If he needed a walkingstick right then it would have been different, of course, but he needed to walk off some of the emotions that were building up anyway.

Nearly half an hour had passed before he spotted a tree that looked like it had been struck by lightning. It was near the top of a large hill, but if it was recent, some of the branches were bound to be strong.

As he climbed, the trees spread out a little and David noticed a small grove to his right that stood very straight. Climbing this hill was hard work and the spot would make a great place to sit down for a moment. Lying between the trees, almost as if to save him the trouble of climbing to the crest of the hill, were several branches of various sizes.

David started at once to test their strength and flexibility. If nothing else, they would make the climb easier. The branches hardly bent at all and they could easily support his weight. He started limbing and then stripping two of the most promising branches.

While he worked, the wind blew gently across the hill, keeping it cool from the sun's rays. The trees around him murmured softly in the breeze.

"Mark must be done eating by now," he muttered. "Guess I should head back."

He examined the two walkingsticks he had been working on. They were still a little long and needed carving. It could be fixed later, Mark was probably waiting. He stood to leave but found that the branches of the trees were woven together to form a complete wall around him.

David stood agape. "How in...?" he started. "Now what?!"

Anger was beginning to build inside him and he took it out on the branches blocking his way using Mark's bush thinner.

An hour later he was still at it. The branches were thick and had worn away at his anger, but he wasn't going to admit defeat. Three branches were already casualties to the blade he held, and with another two he could squeeze his way back to freedom.

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