Book 2 - Our Lucky Mascot
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This is the SECOND book of my famous sequel 'I am a Gypsy Prince'.
3. Empty snares; sneaking; cheating; and being friends forever.
The next morning, Misha took us straight to our own steep ravine, to have a look at what we had caught in our traps...
However, much to our disappointment, both porcupines seemed to have left their hiding place without coming back!
And, probably, all the other animals were still in hibernation, or too sleepy...
Our traps were still empty and untouched.
Maybe, the porcupines had been too wary to return, and resumed their breeding at some other place...
Moping, we set our new traps along other trails, silently cursing both escaped porcupines.
Maybe, we had been a bit too noisy, after all, thus chasing the wary animals away for good?
Now, we only hoped our friends would want to share a piece of their own first meat with us...
Otherwise, we would have to wait until tomorrow, hoping then we would have more luck.
Slowly, we sauntered back to our flat boulder; where we slumped down onto its mossy surface.
Misha put an arm around my shoulders; and I leaned into him, still feeling disappointed.
I had so rejoiced at finally savoring my first mouthful of fresh meat, spiced by my special herbs...
Silently, we stared at the meandering water stream that happily foamed along the bottom of the steep ravine.
After some time, Misha released my shoulders, and whispered into my ear:
"Maybe, we were not silent enough, yesterday; while we rounded that nasty thorn bush, or jumped across one of the cracks...
"It's quite possible that both porcupines heard us and fled away, because they have an excellent sense of hearing.
"What do you think... shall we practice our trapper skills some more, by trying to sneak towards each other in absolute silence?"
For a split second, I pondered Misha's idea; and, then, I nodded enthusiastically and whispered back:
"Yes, I think that is a very good idea! What do you have in mind?"
"One of us sneaks away through the dense forest; while the other one tries to follow his sound from some distance..."
"Okay; that can be a lot of fun! I think you should go first, because you know the way."
Magically, all my feelings of disappointment disappeared; and I felt full of renewed energy!
Misha and I jumped off our boulder; and we trotted to the surrounding dense forest.
Here, we stopped, and Misha smiled at me and ruffled my hair.
I smiled back at him, and threw my arms around his waist...
After a brief cuddle, Misha pointed to a faintly visible porcupine track and whispered:
"Let's do something easy first. I start following this track; and, after ten seconds, you try to catch up with me. Okay?"
I nodded enthusiastically, closed my eyes, and silently started to count to ten.
In the meantime, I heard Misha sneak away into the forest, causing no more than only a faintly rustling sound.
Again, I realized that my friend was extremely good at sneaking; and I wanted to be like him!
I hoped that Misha would teach me how to be a REAL natural trapper...
After counting to ten, I opened my eyes and started to follow the porcupine track into the dense forest.
Much to my delight, I found out that I no longer sounded like a rattling truck full of bricks!
I had certainly learned quite a lot, since Jonno followed my footsteps and spoiled all my fun.
And, now, Misha was training me to become even better...
After a couple of sneaking steps, I halted, and perked my ears up...
Was Misha still following our porcupine track?
I stood still, and listened...
A faint rustle sounded in front of me, almost disappearing into all the other forest noises around me.
There he was, apparently still following the same track!
This was almost too easy; and I hoped Misha would soon leave this track, to make our training a bit more difficult.
Planning to surprise him, I tiptoed silently towards his faint rustle...
Suddenly, I heard a cracking sound, in front of me.
Could Misha unintentionally have stepped onto some dry branch?
I even heard a suppressed curse, as if he reacted angrily!
Now, I wanted to laugh out loud; but immediately bit my tongue to suppress my sound.
I took the next step towards the sound, planning to surprise him...
Unintentionally, I stepped onto a dry branch myself, and the reverberating sound was deafening!
Of course, this had not been my intention; and I admonished myself for being so careless.
Now, Misha knew exactly where I was...
This time, I could clearly hear his stifled laugh, while he tried to suppress his snickering.
I didn't like to be laughed at; and felt even more determined to catch up with him as soon as possible.
Silently, I sneaked towards his sound, ready to jump onto his back and teach him a lesson...
Then, I heard another faint crack, this time sounding from my right side.
Obviously, Misha had left our porcupine track and tried to run away...
Okay, but he would not escape my wrath!
Immediately, I changed directions and hurried towards the new sound.
However, within a few seconds, another faint crack distracted me, coming slightly from the left!
How could Misha have changed directions this fast?
That was impossible for a human being...
Feeling very confused, I tiptoed towards the newest sound.
Within another few seconds, another faint crack sounded, coming slightly from the right.
This was becoming eerie!
No human being could ever be able to change directions like this, within only a few seconds!
How, for heaven's sake, could Misha have split himself into two halves, both of them stepping onto dry branches?
Or, had another kid showed up, to help him; and were they now working together, pulling a prank on me?
Not knowing what to do, I halted, waiting for the next faint crack...
Suddenly, I jumped up in shock and almost yelped, because something unexpectedly tapped my back from behind!
Automatically, I dived to the ground at lightning speed; on my way grabbing the first branch I saw, to defend myself against my unknown attacker...
Tensing all my muscles, I pointed my branch up; ready to push it into any open mouth with nasty teeth that would show up...
Then, I saw Misha, looking at me with a shocked face, while he stepped back hastily!
How the heck could Misha be at my back, while I had heard his cracking sound in front of me?
This was really eerie!
After Misha saw I recognized him and calmed down, he started to smile and told me:
"My goodness; your reflexes are fast! Did you really plan to impale me with your branch?"
I stared at his smiling face, threw the branch away, and uttered:
"How come you suddenly tapped my back? I was sure you were in front of me..."
"Sorry, for making you panic. But, your reaction proves that you are absolutely able to fend for yourself! You already ARE a real trapper.
"Now, do you want to go on with our practicing? This time, it's your turn to go first, and I will follow your sound after counting to ten."
I nodded, and immediately started to sneak away; while Misha closed his eyes and started to count.
After a couple of silent steps, I curved to the right to distract him, while thinking about what had happened...
How could Misha have sneaked around me that fast, so that he suddenly tapped my back from behind?
Only two seconds before, I had clearly heard his faint cracking sound in front of me...
This was impossible!
Was it really Misha's cracking sound I had heard?
I thought it had to be him, because he carelessly stepped onto a small branch that cracked...
But, had I really heard a cracking dry branch?
Or, could something else have caused that cracking sound...
Ultimately, Misha was a very experienced trapper, and he was perfectly able to avoid all these dry branches...
Had he mislead me?
I decided to try a few things out, and deliberately stepped onto a tiny branch.
Immediately, it snapped under my foot, while I listened intently.
Well... this cracking sound differed quite a lot from the sounds I thought had been coming from Misha!
Obviously, I had NOT heard a cracking dry branch, but something else!
I sneaked to the left; because Misha would of course go straight to my loud crack, and I didn't want him to find me this easily...
After some more thinking, I came up with only one reasonable explanation...
Obviously, Misha had deliberately thrown something in front of me, to distract me!
But, what could he have thrown?
I decided to try out my theory, and took a small branch from the ground.
Next, I threw it away, trying to let it land in front of Misha...
Alas, the branch stopped almost immediately in between all the entwined twigs; and it caused quite a lot of noise!
From behind my back, I heard Misha's suppressed snickering; and I sneaked to the right to stay free of him.
What else could Misha have thrown in front of me, to mislead me, causing such a faint cracking sound?
It had to be something very small, which could be thrown far away without getting stuck in between all the twigs...
Would a small pebble do the trick?
Let's try it out, and throw one...
I took a small pebble from the ground, and threw it to Misha's left side...
Then, I almost started to cheer.
THERE WAS THE SOUND!
I suppressed a cry of victory, while Misha hastily changed directions and went to the faint crack.
This time, I HAD him!
During the next couple of minutes, I had lots of fun!
I was able to send Misha into every possible direction where I wanted him to go, just by throwing small pebbles!
He tiptoed from left to right, went forward, turned slightly to the right, and went to the left again...
All the time, he followed my carefully thrown pebbles, thinking it had to be my sound...
Obviously, he never thought I would be able to use his own trick on him.
All the time, I had to bite my tongue to suppress my laughter!
At last, I got too bored, and decided to have my real revenge.
This time, I lured Misha towards me, still carefully throwing my pebbles.
I sent him past me, let him stop, and silently sneaked up to him until I was at his back...
Then, I jumped forward and threw my arms around his neck!
At the same time, I cried my victory:
"GOTCHA, you cheater!"
Misha spun around and desperately tried to get me off his back, while he whined:
"How the hell did you do THAT? You almost caused me to have a heart attack! I thought you were in front of me..."
"Now, you know how it feels to be cheated! Do you think you would be the only clever one here? Then, I have to disappoint you!
"I've used your own dirty trick against you. All the time, I threw small pebbles to mislead you, just like you did to me."
"What? How the heck do YOU know what I did? You are the first one in all the years to find out how I'm cheating."
"Never underestimate your little Prince..."
Misha started to laugh, while he lifted me high into the air:
"You are absolutely right, and I am very impressed by your abilities! All the time, I thought it was you who made the cracking noises...
"You are the youngest natural trapper, and the biggest cheater, and a real little devil... but I love every part of you!"
He put his arms around me, and we hugged each other for a long time.
For the first time, Misha told me he enjoyed our special friendship very much, and that he wished we could be friends forever.
At first, he had been waiting for the 'little cookie', until I finally would be dry during the night and old enough to join our friends into the woods...
Then, he felt elated when I took his hand and trusted him to guide me along the ravine and across the stream.
He felt awful when Jonno suddenly chose him to be his guide; because he was afraid he would lose me to one of the others.
Fortunately, everything turned out for the best!
I offered him an extra fierce hug, while I told him:
"You will always be my special friend, even when little Dimi shows up in our woods and wants to be with us."
"Yeah, I know; and, please, always remember that I can easily guide two younger kids!"
"I certainly will."
After declaring our friendship, we decided to sneak after each other again, to train our trapper skills some more.
However, this time, we would do it without any cheating or using dirty tricks!
It was Misha's turn to go first; so I closed my eyes and started to count to ten.
Again, I heard his faintly rustling sound, while he disappeared into the dense forest.
After ten seconds, I opened my eyes and started to follow him.
Because he hadn't followed any animal track, I didn't know for sure where he was, until a small branch cracked.
There he was; his sound coming from slightly to my left...
I sneaked towards his sound, but he heard me coming and immediately changed directions, trying to get away.
Of course, I didn't give him a chance to escape, and followed him like a sneaking cat following its prey...
A moment later, he sped up some more, and promptly stumbled across a hidden pothole!
I heard him stifle a cry, while he mumbled something that sounded like a curse...
Inwardly, I grinned in triumph; already planning to jump onto his back as soon as I caught him.
Again, I sneaked towards him, in total silence, feeling like a real predator...
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Harry AnderS, Dutch psychotherapist and writer of 'books with a message'
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