( Book 1 - Heir to the Throne )
Greetings from Little Harry; and from me, Big Harry, his adopted Dad!
After the enormous success of my series of books 'Born to be a King';
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12. Sneaking like a cat; and behaving like a 'mad porcupine'.
Now and then, Misha stopped; and waited until we had followed his trail and caught up to him.
Then, he disappeared again into the heavy undergrowth, after silently beckoning us to follow him.
Jonno and I followed his trail at a small distance; knowing that Misha would watch over us.
We wouldn't get lost in our vast woods; while, at the same time, we trained ourselves to follow a human trail...
I tried to hone my trapper skills; by waiting until Misha had disappeared completely.
Then, I started to follow him; looking for faint footsteps and telltale signs of disturbed branches...
All the time, Jonno seemed to be glued to my back, while he followed me very close.
Now and then, he even bumped into me, without excusing himself!
This way, he spoiled all my fun; and I started to become a bit angry with him.
Why didn't he keep some more distance from me?
After a moment, Misha turned around, and whispered:
"Please, stop behaving like 'mad porcupines' and making so much noise! All the animals can hear you from far away; and they will flee towards the mountains...
"Walk as if you are a hunting cat; striding noiselessly, avoiding dry branches, and even breathing without making any noise. Do you understand?"
Both Jonno and I were very impressed, and we nodded like well-behaving kids.
Of course, Misha was absolutely right, and we WERE making quite a lot of unintentional noises.
Although I knew that Jonno had made most of the loud noises, I decided not to mention it.
I hoped he would be more cautious from now on; and at least keep some more distance from me...
Misha motioned us to follow him; and once again disappeared into the dense shrubbery.
I didn't hear him, except for a slight scratching sound when he touched the entwined branches.
Then, even that faint sound was gone; and, now, it looked like Jonno and I were all alone in our woods...
Wow! Misha was VERY good at sneaking away noiselessly!
He was an excellent trapper, and I wanted to be like him!
I started to follow Misha's trail, sneaking through the undergrowth, trying to behave like a hunting cat looking for its prey...
Within two steps, I was taken aback by the loud sound of a 'mad porcupine'.
Jonno followed me very close; plodding wildly through the bushes!
He didn't even look where he was going; and followed me blindly, until he bumped into me again.
This time, I became very angry, because he made it impossible for me to train myself properly.
I stopped, turned around, and hissed at Jonno:
"Stop making so much noise! I can't hear myself, because you are behaving like a mad porcupine. Stay further behind me; and try to proceed like a sneaking cat!"
I started to move stealthily through the bushes again; pretending I was a hunting cat, looking for my prey...
To my utmost irritation, the 'mad porcupine' bumped into me again and screwed up all my training!
Now, I became very mad at Jonno; and I had to repress my urge to kick and pummel him until he finally listened.
How DARED he follow me this closely, and ruin all my fun!
This way, I would never be able to train myself, to sneak noiselessly like a hunting cat and become a better trapper...
I stormed towards Misha, who waited a few steps away, and protested:
"How can I practice my trapper skills, with such a truck full of rattling bricks following me... That dork spoils all my fun!"
Misha smiled at my heated face, put his hand on my shoulder, and whispered:
"Please, calm down, and count to ten before you react so angrily. Of course, not everybody can be our youngest 'natural trapper'...
"But, being a better trapper than Jonno doesn't necessarily make you a better human being. I think that, today, you behave more like a spoiled brat!
"You will have to be patient, because Jonno cannot help it. Eventually, he too will learn how to sneak without making too much noise."
Immediately, my anger subsided, while I felt rather ashamed of myself.
Of course, Misha was right. Why should I think Jonno had to hinder himself, only to let me have a bit more fun?
It wasn't Jonno's fault he couldn't sneak like a hunting cat; but he would probably outdo me in other things...
Obviously, I had to learn to be tolerant with others, who maybe were not as bright and 'natural' as I thought I was...
In the meantime, Jonno showed up; sniffling, and timidly looking at his feet:
"Sorry, but I do the best I can. It's too creepy here, and I am afraid to be left alone and get lost..."
Now, I felt very ashamed of my bratty behavior.
I had never thought Jonno could be afraid of getting lost in our beautiful woods!
That was impossible, of course, because Misha knew exactly where we were...
I turned around, to face my sobbing companion and offer him my excuses.
Now, I could clearly see how scared he was, with his teary eyes and runny nose...
I put my arms around him, hugged him, and told him:
"Sorry for my outburst; and I didn't know that you were scared. I was too impatient and behaved like a spoiled brat, but I promise I will try to do better..."
Misha's face lit up like a torch; while he grabbed my waist and lifted me into the air.
He almost crushed me in between his strong arms, while he swung me around.
Then, he put me back onto my feet, while he whispered:
"My friend, that is the spirit I love most in you! I am glad you were honest to Jonno, and I'm sure you will be an excellent King in the future."
I started to blush; and, for a moment, didn't know where I should look...
Misha helped Jonno blow his nose in a tuft of moss, and dried his eyes for him.
Jonno looked at me, produced a faint smile, and promised me to try to be a better trapper...
Now, Misha offered us a different way of training ourselves:
"I will teach you how to sneak after each other! One of you goes into the bushes, and the other one will follow from some distance.
"Of course, I will keep a close eye on you; and, if necessary, I will help you. How does that sound?"
"Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun! Okay, let's start from here! Can I go first?"
Misha and Jonno nodded their consent; and I started to sneak away through the dense undergrowth.
I tried to stride as noiselessly as I could, like a hunting cat, looking for some prey...
And, I intended to show off to Jonno, to let him see how even our smallest trapper could sneak through the shrubs without making any noise...
That would teach him a lesson, and it would certainly encourage him to follow my example!
Within a few steps, I found out that I didn't sneak any better than Jonno had done.
My clumsy steps sounded like a truck full of rattling bricks, and I couldn't help it...
Being untrained as I was, I simply couldn't avoid all the cracking dry twigs, nasty swishing branches, and moving little pebbles.
Every time I took a step, my movement created sounds that reverberated against the trees and shrubs around me...
Was it ME who had criticized poor Jonno so much?
Now, I felt even more ashamed of myself!
After another couple of frustratingly loud steps, I slumped down onto a mossy boulder, and waited.
Soon, Misha and Jonno would follow my noisy sounds, and laugh at me about my clumsy sneaking...
Had I ever thought I could be a 'natural trapper'?
Maybe, I had better go home...
I slumped down even more, and buried my face in my hands.
For a long time, I waited for my two companions to show up...
Had they forgotten me; or, had they decided to abandon me and go away without me?
Was Misha too disappointed in my 'natural trapper skills'; and had he decided to go home?
Should I go home too, and forget about being a 'natural trapper'?
However, how would I ever be able to find the way back home, without Misha's help...
Then, I heard a faint sound from a rolling pebble, a dry twig cracked, and a small branch swished.
There was Misha, and he seemed to be looking for me!
I dried my eyes hastily; and looked at where the sounds came from.
There he was, but he hadn't seen me yet...
Misha stopped, looked around, and hesitated before he went on...
He clearly hadn't followed my sound, and obviously couldn't find my trail!
Maybe, my sneaking had been quite a lot better than I assumed in my self-pity...
Now chuckling inwardly, I decided to tease my trapper friend, by taking advantage of my small body.
I ducked my head and crouched down behind my boulder, swiftly making myself as invisible as I could with some fallen leaves.
This, I had done many times before in our camp, while we were playing 'hide and seek' in our surrounding bushes.
I always was very good at it, and none of the other kids could find me...
A moment later, Misha passed my boulder; looking around everywhere, but without seeing me!
To my surprise, he overlooked me totally, although he nearly stumbled over my outstretched legs...
Was I that good at hiding, so that even a trained trapper like Misha couldn't find me?
Wow! Then, I HAD to be a real 'natural', after all...
Involuntarily, I started to snicker; although I tried to bite my lips to suppress my sound.
Now, Misha heard me, and stopped dead in his tracks!
He looked down with a surprised face; and started to sweep the leaves away, until he saw my sparkling eyes and big smile.
For a moment, he just stared at me, with amazement and a lot of pride in his now beaming eyes...
Then, he squatted down next to me, and motioned me to be silent and wait.
A few seconds later, we heard our 'mad porcupine', desperately trying to find us.
He stamped towards our hiding place; wildly charging through the bushes, and... crying!
Blindly, he almost tore all the shrubs apart, in his frantic hurry to find Misha and me.
He passed us, without looking where he was going and without seeing us, until Misha called him.
Then, he stormed towards Misha, sobbing loudly.
Misha threw his arms around Jonno's trembling body, and told him:
"Shush, shush, now calm down and don't make so much noise! You are chasing all the animals away! What happened?"
"I... I couldn't find you, and I was afraid nobody would ever find me again in this creepy forest..."
"Well, there's no reason for your fear! Now, come here, let's blow your nose and dry your eyes."
Again, Misha helped Jonno blow his nose and dry his eyes with a few tufts of moss.
Again, Jonno pulled himself together and promised us to try to improve his trapper skills.
However, his teary eyes still showed a lot of fear...
I stared at the little boy, trying to find out why he was so unhappy in our woods.
Faintly, I sensed something nasty that happened to him, probably in one of his past lives.
What had happened to Jonno; and how could we help him overcome his fears?
However, what could we do now...
Misha seemed to feel frustrated too, because he told us:
"Let's go straight to our old traps, and empty them. Jonno, take my hand; and Harold will sneak after us from some distance. Okay?
"Okay; let's go! Misha, do you know the way to our traps?"
"Duh, what do you think?"
I chuckled at Misha's indignant face, and didn't dare say another word.
Of course, Misha knew his way blindfolded; although I still hadn't the faintest idea how he could be so sure.
Maybe, he had a built-in compass; or, our traps pulled at him with their energy and showed him the way...
I tried to sense the energy of my trap; but too many different energies pulled at me, and I didn't know what I should look for.
Feeling a bit frustrated, I decided to ask Misha about it, as soon as we were allowed to talk again...
Misha took Jonno's hand, and they tried to slink through the bushes without making too many noises.
They disappeared into the heavy undergrowth, while Misha showed Jonno how to avoid snapping branches and rolling pebbles.
This time, I envied Misha, for showing so much patience with the still very clumsy Jonno!
I wanted to learn THAT too...
I waited, until they had disappeared and their sounds diminished.
Then, I started to follow their trail; looking at their faint footsteps in the litter, and searching for any disturbed twigs.
Too soon, I found them; and I waited again until they disappeared and their whispers and sounds faded away...
Then, I started to walk parallel to their trail, trying to make my quest more difficult by looking for only very faint clues.
That turned out to be a lot more fun; and I was sure I had found an even better way to train myself some more.
Suddenly, we reached our dangerous stream with its many foaming rapids!
Together, we started to cross it, by jumping from boulder to boulder, with me up front.
Then, Jonno nearly fell into the foaming water, suddenly screeching and flailing his arms!
Fortunately, Misha rescued him at the last moment, by grabbing his arm and pulling him to safety onto the next boulder.
Jonno started to cry; and he only stopped after Misha again let him blow his nose...
At the same time, my small legs performed their magic all on their own, letting me cross the stream fast and safely.
I was even sure that I would be able to rescue myself, in case I stumbled and disappeared into the foam...
It felt good, to be a 'natural trapper', and know what to do in our woods!
From now on, Misha guided us in a beeline towards our traps.
This time, I saw clearly how he halted and felt around, just before he started to walk again...
I tried to copy him and feel around for energies; but I still didn't know what to look for...
Again, I decided to ask him about it, as soon as I had a chance.
A moment, later, I recognized our surroundings, while we went straight to our traps.
I was happy to have caught a small hare, and put it into the string bag Misha carried on his back.
Misha had caught a small marmot; and Jonno's trap turned out to be empty.
Again, I thought he had set up his snare too clumsily; chasing all the animals away before they got caught.
I was sure that Jonno would never be a good trapper...
We took our snares with us, to set up new traps in the dense forest, far away from our camp.
Now, Misha put his arms around our shoulders, pulling us towards his face.
Trying not to make too much noise, he whispered:
"From now on, I want you to be careful not to make any noise at all! I will go first; followed at some distance by Jonno, and finally by Harold.
"Please, keep a close eye on me, because I don't want you to get lost in the dense forest, or tumble into some hidden ravine!"
Jonno started to shiver, and stared at Misha with a paling face.
He wavered, lost his balance, and let himself slump down onto a boulder.
He had goose bumps all over his body, while he looked at us with fear and panic in his eyes.
Then, he started to sob:
"I don't want to get lost in ANY forest! It's creepy here, and I want to go home..."
Of course, Misha and I tried to convince Jonno to join us.
However, he was too scared, started to cry, and refused to follow us.
At last, we decided to bring him back to our waterfall; where he could wait until we showed up again.
Jonno looked very relieved and almost started to dance, in spite of his tears...
This time, I knew where we were, and proudly started to show the way!
I brought us back across the dangerous stream, along the steep ravine, and through the bushes towards our waterfall.
Misha helped Jonno descend the ridges; until he arrived at the bottom safely.
Then, he handed him our string bag, to take care of it until we came back for it.
A happy looking Jonno went to our waterfall, skipping, and enthusiastically swaying the bag...
Misha and I looked at each other; and we both saw the relief in each other's eyes.
I felt sad for poor scared Jonno; but, at the same time, I was happy to leave our 'mad porcupine' behind!
Now, I could really train myself to sneak around, noiselessly, like a hunting cat going after its prey.
Feeling happy, I followed my friend Misha back to our woods...
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Harry AnderS, Dutch psychotherapist and writer of 'books with a message'