When the boy left the cave, the sky was already starting to darken. This meant that in a little more than an hour, it would be pitch black in the woods. He looked up. The clouds gray and heavy were racing across the northern sky and then slowing down in the center. He knew it was going to rain again.
The boy quickened his pace.
He was wearing high-ankle leather boots that were a few sizes larger, an overcoat that fell down to his ankles, and a hat that had covered half his face. The hat was old and torn, and around the rim were many holes. If one looked closer, they could see that the overcoat and the boots were no better off, but in the last seven years nobody had ever come into the woods so what he wore really didn’t matter. He had outgrown his clothes long ago. His father’s clothes big, but they were comfortable.
He took the gravelly path that went around the hill of his cave. Only he knew about the existence of the path – others would have seen nothing but the undergrowth and the bushes that camouflaged it. The path took him halfway around the hill to the grove of the apple trees. His hill was one of the many that surrounded the mountain that he thought of as the Big Mountain. The grove of the apple trees was in the valley between by his hill and the big mountain.
He was sure he would find some apples there. They would keep him going until morning. All he wanted to do now was collect the apples and run back to his cave, so that he could spend the whole night in the secret room that he had discovered this morning.
He decided to take a shortcut and veered right. The shortcut was his way of sliding down the side of the hill to the grove. The hillside wasn’t smooth and grassy, so his first shortcut had left him with a pair of seat-less trousers.
After that terrible failure, he had invented the Wruff, which was a plank of wood with a handle in front. All he had to do was hang on to the handle tight. He got on it and as the Wruff flew down the hillside, he let out a happy yell…wheeeeee. It took him half a minute to reach the grove.
The grove looked exactly as he had imagined it. The storm they had last night had shook the apples off the branches.
Several apples were lying in the grass, and many looked good to eat. He picked them up, checked them, sniffed them, and after tossing five of them away, he selected three. He deposited them into the pocket of his overcoat and prepared to leave.
Just then, the air around him filled with a strange sound. He had never heard that kind of sound before. It sounded a little like a wolf howling, but he knew for sure that this wasn’t really a wolf.
The sound was soaked in loneliness. It was a plea for help.
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Part II reveals our hero. Shhhh…! (A secret: If you love dogs…you are going to love Chapter 4 – Part II)