Gulliver Locke – Chapter Six

As the Boyer’s arrived home from their walk, Jadith’s dad grabbed the door latch, opened the door and turned to his wife and daughter and exclaimed, “Somebody has been here!”

“How do you know?” asked Jadith’s mom.

“Because the door is unlocked!”

It was the same every week.  Jadith was getting a bit tired of the joke.  Of course the door was unlocked.  They didn’t even have a lock.  Jadith just rolled her eyes at her dad and followed him into the house.

“Somebody HAS been here!”  her dad said again.  Judith was getting a bit frustrated that her dad was choosing to continue the joke, but as she scanned the room, she realized that for once, her dad wasn’t joking.  It wasn’t much, but there were some leaves that had been tracked into the house.  She knew that those had not  been there when they had left.  As they entered the kitchen, she noticed that there was an empty bowl on the kitchen that had the remains of porridge in it.  Nothing appeared to be missing, but things were certainly amiss!

Jadith’s dad was still holding his stout walking stick, and her mom grabbed a cast-iron skillet.  Thus armed, the three of them began looking through the house.  When they arrived at the bedroom, they were shocked to see a boy…fast asleep on the floor next to Jadith’s bed.  Even more shocking, he was covered from head to toe in oatmeal.

Jadith’s dad poked the boy with his stick.  Gull woke up and, seeing the three Boyers staring at him, he let out a scream of fear, but then, trying to calm down he said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to break into your house, but I was lost.”

Jadith’s mom and dad relaxed their grips on their “weapons”, and her mom said, “Why don’t you come to the kitchen, and we’ll get you cleaned up.  You seem to be one rather messy eater!”

Gull began to explain about the oatmeal being good for rashes, but was told, “Don’t worry about that right now, just come to the kitchen.”

After they had gotten Gull cleaned up, he asked them if they could help him find his way home.

“Ah…you see…that’s a problem,” said Jadith’s dad, “If you get home, the townsfolk will find out about us living here.  You might even remember how to find our place and lead them to us.  No, I’m afraid that you can’t go home.”

***Author’s Note:  Some of my readers have remarked on this story being suspiciously similar to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  That is only partially accurate.  The Goldilocks story is a work of fiction based loosely on a true story.  THIS story.  The original title of this story was Gull D. Locke and the Three Boyers.  Somehow, over time, as stories often do, this one became corrupted.  “Gull D. Locke” was changed to “Goldilocks”, and the “Three Boyers” became “Three Bears”.  And, of course, the Goldilocks version only told part of the story.  If you stay with me over the next while, I will endeavor to tell you more of the story as I continue to research it and reveal it to you,

Gulliver Locke – Chapter Five

On Thursday, when Gull had taken one too many steps into The Woods, he never dreamed that he would walk, uninvited, into the home of a stranger.

To be fair, when Gulliver came upon the cabin, we was more famished than he had ever been in his life, he was dangerously dehydrated, and he was covered from head to toe in a nasty rash.  In short, he was desperate.  He knocked for quite some time before, being quite convinced that nobody was home, he tried the door-latch.  To his great surprise, the door opened with ease.  He tried to call out a loud “Hello?”, just in case somebody was in fact home, but found that his throat was too dry to produce more than a whisper.

Sometimes desperation wins out over courtesy, and Gulliver was at that point.  He stepped into the house and closed the door behind him.  He found the kitchen and looked around until he found a large pitcher of water.  He guzzled the water greedily, but then almost immediately, it all came back up….so after his stomach was empty again, he paced himself.

After allaying his thirst, he noticed that there was a pot, hanging from a hook in the fireplace.  There was no fire, but it was obvious that it had only been recently extinguished.  He looked in the pot, hoping that there might be some food.  Sure enough, the pot was full of oatmeal!  Gull had heard somewhere that oatmeal was soothing on rashes, so after scooping some of the oatmeal out of the pot, he placed it on part of his rash, and immediately yelped in pain, and learned the hard way that oatmeal soothes the best when it’s not hot!  After letting it cool for a while, he found that the oatmeal was just what he needed for both his rash and his stomach.

Now that his most urgent needs had been addressed, Gulliver found that he was exhausted.  Sure, he had slept in The Woods on each of the two nights that he had been lost, but never deep enough or long enough to rejuvenate him.  Still covered in oatmeal, he found a place on the floor (he was polite enough that he didn’t want to make a mess), and lay down for a nap.  As he drifted off, he briefly worried that the home-owners might return and be upset by his presence, but he was too tired to care, and soon drifted off into a deep sleep.

Gulliver Locke – Chapter 4

Jadith Boyer and her parents were out on their regular Saturday Morning hike, and were completely unaware that there was a boy from the town who was lost in The Woods, and had been since Thursday.  Had they known, they would have gone to visit the other folk who lived in The Woods and put a search party together.  As much as the townsfolk might worry about the missing boy, their superstitions were severe enough that venturing into The Woods was completely out of the question.  No, townsfolk would never venture into The Woods.  They’d rather wring their hands in worry in the safety and comfort of their homes.  Folk from The Woods had no such fears, but without knowledge of the townsfolks’ worries, no search party was organized.

Jadith’s mom and dad were always teaching her about one thing or another, and on this walk, her dad was teaching her about various roots, berries, and fungi that could be used as food or medicine, and teaching her how to differentiate between the beneficial ones and the ones that were harmful.  Of course, Jadith already knew a fair bit of this…knowing what is safe to eat in The Woods is a matter of life and death, but it was a lesson that her dad knew was important enough to bear repeating numerous times, and each time, Jadith learned a bit more.

After the lesson was over, Jadith’s mom suggested that Jadith use some of her knowledge to choose some berries to add flavour to the oatmeal porridge that was cooling back at the cabin.  Jadith’s stomach began rumbling as she thought about it.  Their custom was to go for their hike before breakfast, and so the first meal of Saturday always seemed to taste better than their breakfasts any other day of the week.  After another half hour of gathering berries, they began to head home.

Gulliver Locke – Chapter Three

It had been a Thursday afternoon when Gull had found himself lost in The Woods.  A Thursday afternoon that became a Thursday evening, and then a Thursday night.  Still, Gull could not find his way home.  He knew that his parents would be getting worried, but Gull…well, Gull was made of sterner stuff.  Sure, he was a little bit worried, but he knew that his best bet would be to find a place to sleep and resume his search for home the next morning.  As far as he had heard, there were no dangerous animals in The Woods, so he found a spot that seemed a little bit softer than the rest, and he lay down to sleep.

The following morning, he woke up stiff and sore.  More importantly, he realized that there were dangerous creatures in The Woods.  He was covered from head to toe with all sorts of insect bites.  Maybe they weren’t fatally dangerous creatures, but boy did he ever itch!

Gull was smart enough to know that some types of roots and berries were perfectly safe to eat, while others could make him extremely sick.  Some could even kill him!  Unfortunately, he wasn’t smart enough to know which were which, and so he continued searching on an empty stomach, hoping that he’d find his way home soon.

As he continued walking, though, the sun continued in its ever westward march, and the day wore on.  Gull began to panic as the sun set for the second time, while he remained lost.  With nothing but a growling stomach to keep him company, he was forced to once again lie down and provide his skin as a living feast for the myriad of ants and mosquitoes.  Normally an emotionally strong lad, that night Gulliver cried himself to sleep.

On Saturday morning, his itches had turned to rashes, he was so hungry that he hurt, and his mouth was so dry… Gull knew that he was in trouble.  If nothing else, he needed to find water.  He was desperate enough that he would be willing to drink from any stream or creek…if only he could find one.  But he was also so exhausted, he was just about to lie down and give up…

But then he saw a cabin.

Gulliver Locke – Chapter Two

The Woods were not, in fact, haunted.  Jadith Boyer knew this, but she didn’t mind that the townsfolk thought that it was.

She and her parents lived in the midst of The Woods, a few miles away from the town.  They’d occasionally venture into the town for supplies, but not very often as they managed to live almost entirely off the land.   When they went out, they didn’t bother to lock their door.  They didn’t even have a lock on their door.  The townsfolk’s superstitions were all the security that they needed.

From an early age, Jadith had been taught a strong work ethic.  To live as self-sufficiently in The Woods as they did, most days were filled with many chores – gathering dead-fall for the cooking fire, trapping small animals for their meat and fur, tending their small garden in a small clearing, cooking, cleaning and numerous other tasks.

They may have worked hard, but they knew how to have fun too!  The days may have been filled with chores, but the evenings were fillled with laughter and song.  Although there weren’t a lot of other folk living in The Woods, they did have a few neighbors, and at least once a month they either hosted or attended a party.  Jadith lived for these nights, when she could get together with other kids her own age.

On Saturday mornings before breakfast, it was their habit to go for a hike.  The Woods were large, and there was always something new to discover, or someplace to see that they hadn’t been before.  Besides the adventure of these hikes, they served a practical purpose as well.  Her dad taught her to recognize the different types of trees, how to notice subtle differences even within a single variety of tree, how to tell direction from where the moss grew and many other ways for her to navigate The Woods without losing her way.  “The townsfolk believe that the trees all look the same,” he told her, “and that is why The Woods are so dangerous for them, but if you have eyes to see how much difference there is between one tree and the next, you can live here quite safe and happy.”

~~

Gull did not have eyes to see the differences, and the longer he spent looking for a way back home, the further into The Woods he actually went.