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.