BOHIDEUS: CHAPTER VI
Number of readers since Aug. 13, 2000:
Number of readers since Aug. 13, 2000:
By Warren Scott Foster
Illustrated by Adrienne Potter
Bo sat and thought. Was he
really stuck here? Could he climb up the sides of the island...the tree?
Bo cautiously allowed himself the thought. Could it be done? It would be
pitch dark on the way up, and almost straight up. For several miles, at
least! And there was at least one big panther up there that considered him
fair game. There were giant snakes and bugs and other creatures which also
considered him prey, not to mention waterfalls running down the sides of
"But I'm tough!"
Bohideus cried aloud, shaking his fist at the jungle, desperately trying
to convince himself. "Who else has gone over the great waterfall at
the end of the world and lived to tell about it? Who else ever fell off a
cliff a hundred miles high without a scratch? I WILL climb this
tree!" he cried. "I WILL!"
And so he began. First Bo took some flower stems and wove them into a
net-like knapsack. Then he gathered some glowing mushrooms and peeled their
outside layers off with his knife. The mushrooms were as tall as he was, and it
only took a couple to fill his knapsack. He didn't yet know if the mushrooms
would be safe to eat, but their skins glowed bright enough to light his way. Bo
knew he would have to hope for some food on the way up if this took very many
days. But now he had light, at least, and he started along the top of one of the
ridges in the bark, slowly making his way back up the tree.
Bo walked, jumped, scrambled, and walked some more, changing ridges once
to avoid a snake, until the tree slope grew so steep he had to begin climbing.
Mushrooms, flowers, and other plants grew within the bark, providing hand holds
and footholds. And there was always moss to hold onto. Soon he came upon a large
muskrat-like rodent nibbling on a mushroom. The muskrat scampered away, very
frightened by this enormous creature it had never seen before. Bo decided that
if the mushroom was safe for a muskrat, it would be safe for him...he hoped. He
tasted it. Not bad! He made a fast meal of it, stored several pieces in his
knapsack, and resumed his climb.
When Bo became tired, he hid himself in bushes growing in a hollow of the
bark. He dug a hole in the bark dirt and spread leaves over it. Then he curled
up, pulling the bushy branches down to hide him from hungry animals. The leaves
would keep him from falling as well, and he quickly he fell asleep.
Bo awoke a while later, and ate a mushroom breakfast. Or at least he
presumed it was breakfast. There was no way to be sure this deep in the jungle.
When he was finished, once again he began his climb. The tree grew steeper and
steeper, almost straight up now, as it would be for the rest of the journey.
There were nearly always things growing out of the bark to hold onto. At times
he was forced to use the bark itself for hand holds, using his knife to carve
out hand and footholds. The climb was very slow. Bo didn't want to fall again.
His biggest fear was not the fall itself, but knowing he would have to climb all
this way again.
Higher and higher he climbed, for days and days, it seemed. For Bohideus
a day was the time in between sleeping, which he did whenever he was tired since
he had no sunrise or sunset to measure the time. Bo was constantly on the watch
for places where he could lodge himself without fear of falling. Fortunately
there were many places where the bark of the tree trunk jutted out and up,
forming little steps for climbing, and ledges upon which he could sleep. Often
he chased other small creatures away from such refuges so that he himself could
use them. He rested when he was tired, ate when he was hungry, drank when he was
thirsty, and slept only when he was sleepy. Time was of little concern. His only
hurry was to get the task over with, and then to find some way of getting home
Up, up, up he climbed, above and out of sight of the glowing mushrooms
and flowers, into the pitch black darkness. His only light was the mushroom
skins in his knapsack, but after many days they began to fade. It was hard to
see, harder still to climb, and even harder to find safe places to rest. Always
Bo had to be holding onto something for fear of his life. Once he became so
sleepy that he drove his knife into the bark, then tied his knapsack to the bark
and to himself so that he could sleep without falling.
After what seemed like forever in the darkness, and as his glowing
mushrooms had all but faded away, at last Bo began to see a faint glimmer of
greenish light here and there in the darkness above. It was getting lighter! And
there were his trusty vines. "I made it!" Bo gasped breathlessly,
stretching his weary limbs. It would take more than weariness to keep Bohideus
down now. His body was sore, and he was sick of climbing. But only a little
higher and he would be able to grab the vines. From then on the climbing was as
rapid as he had the strength and breath for. Two days later he was back in his
favorite part of the jungle, eating his favorite fruits and nuts, and jubilantly
celebrating his return. It wasn't home, but it almost seemed like it.
Bo rested for several days, lounging by a leaf pool, drinking pure, clear
rain water, and eating delicious fruits, berries, and bird eggs. Once he was
well rested, he found he could leap through the trees and climb the vines almost
as well as the monkeys! The long, difficult climb had made Bohideus
very strong. And a little
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