Book 2 - Our Lucky Mascot
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(This is the SECOND book of my famous sequel 'I am a Gypsy Prince')
5. Finding a solution; a porcupine lair; and clambering on and on.
Soon, I decided to stop moping and do something more worthwhile!
I sat more upright, straightened my back, and told myself that I had to learn from this experience...
After I came through unharmed, I would certainly be much stronger and a lot more proud of myself!
Having pepped myself up, I started to think again.
What would a 'real trapper' do now, if he was in my position?
Would he give up, or would he immediately start looking for another solution to find his way home?
I decided to have another look at the bottomless ravine across the clearing.
Maybe, it would give me some new ideas...
I went to the border of the ravine, and stared into its depth.
Now, I saw that it wasn't really bottomless; but it was very deep, at least in my eyes.
A foaming water stream meandered along its bottom, coming from far away and disappearing into nowhere.
It was a beautiful sight, and I really enjoyed looking at it; but I had other things to do!
What would happen, if I yelled for help into this huge ravine?
Would the enclosing rocky borders amplify my voice, and send it towards our camp?
Suddenly feeling like a little discoverer, I decided to try it out.
First, I folded my hands around my mouth, to create a trumpet that would amplify my voice.
Then, I yelled into the ravine, screeching at the top of my lungs:
"PLEASE, HELP ME! I AM LOST, AND I DON'T KNOW THE WAY BACK!"
For a long time, lots of unintelligible echoes reverberated around the ravine, seemingly coming from everywhere.
A couple of beautifully colored birds flew up, and several small critters scrabbled away hastily.
For a moment, I thought about setting our traps here, the next time we went into our woods.
I was sure we would catch many more animals around here than we had caught ever before...
Or, would this splendid environment full of life be too far away from our camp?
Maybe, nobody else knew that this ravine existed...
In the meantime, I waited patiently; until, finally, all the echoing sounds had disappeared into a far off distance.
Now, the ravine was silent again, except for the softly murmuring water stream at its bottom.
I perked my ears up, and listened intently for any faint answer...
Alas, nobody answered my cry for help.
Obviously, this ravine was too far away from our camp to be heard.
How would my people ever be able to find me here, being lost at the border of some unknown ravine...
I almost started to pity myself again.
However, I immediately decided to be PROUD of myself, as my Dad always told me to be.
I was no longer a crybaby, but a real Gypsy Prince!
And, I had to behave myself accordingly!
Now that my people weren't able to find me, I had to find my people.
How was I going to do that?
I thought about descending towards the water stream at the bottom of the ravine, and letting myself float towards our waterfall...
Only, I couldn't think of any possible way to reach the bottom of this extremely steep ravine, without breaking all my bones.
But, I HAD to find a way to go home, before the sun disappeared behind the mountain tops!
The SUN, our reliable source of light, coming up every day; and going under in between two mountain tops...
Maybe, the already setting sun could be of help, to show me the way to our camp?
I started to think, closing my eyes to picture our camp easier...
Where did I always see the descending sun disappear in our camp, near the end of every day?
I was sure it always sank in between those two mountaintops that looked like a huge nose and some strange bird...
First, I tried to imagine I was in our own camp, looking at the setting sun.
Then, I reopened my eyes, and looked at the two well-known mountain tops where the sun always disappeared.
I pointed my nose into the same direction from where I always saw the disappearing sun in our camp.
Next, I turned around exactly half a circle...
Now, I only had to follow my own nose, to walk into the direction of our camp!
Finally, I had found a useful means of knowing where our camp was.
That is, supposed there would still be any sun to look at...
But, too soon, the sun would disappear behind the mountains, and I would lose the only beacon I had...
I didn't want to wait until the sun would reappear the next morning.
I wanted to go home NOW!
Would I be able to find some landmark, which let me follow the correct direction?
I looked along my nose...
To my utmost delight, I saw that my nose pointed parallel to the ravine!
Thus, I only had to follow this ravine, to arrive at our waterfall and go home!
I almost started to dance from sudden relief, but my cramping legs and sore feet immediately protested fiercely.
Obviously, I had to give them some more rest first...
I laid down on a flat mossy surface, and stretched my cramping muscles.
Fortunately, the pain started to diminish almost immediately, and the trembling subsided considerably.
For a moment, I closed my eyes, while trying to give my tired body some more rest...
I woke up, because the air around me started to feel too chilly.
In sudden disbelief, I stared at the remaining small piece of sun, already disappearing behind the mountains...
Then, I bolted upright in panic, sternly admonishing myself for falling asleep!
Within an hour, the forest would be pitch dark; and I would probably freeze to death...
I had to go home immediately!
Fortunately, my strained muscles felt a lot better, and the pain in my feet was nearly gone.
Come on, let's follow this ravine, and go home!
Enthusiastically, I started to walk and clamber along the ravine, longing to be home.
However, going home turned out to be a lot more difficult than I had imagined.
I had to climb many huge rocks, jump across nasty cracks, and walk around several dense thorn bushes...
Now and then, I looked down at the foaming water stream, to assure myself I was on my way home.
I only had to follow the water downstream, and I was reasonably sure it would end up in our waterfall.
If I only could climb down; and let myself float with the water...
From time to time, I yelled into the ravine, hoping that somebody would hear my cry for help...
After my echoes faded away, I listened intently for any answers or other faint noises.
Alas, nobody heard me and answered my loud calls for help.
Then, I clambered on, rounding the next thorn bush and jumping across the next nasty crack...
After almost an hour of climbing and jumping, my bare feet started to feel very sore from the many sharp rocks.
My poor legs started to tremble again from the heavy strain they weren't used to.
My small body started to feel more and more tired, and my little heart almost hammered out of my throat.
Ultimately, I was only five years old, and a bit too small for my age...
I HAD to get some rest, before I would be able to clamber the next rock!
Reluctantly, I decided to grant myself a few minutes, before I went on.
My people were waiting for me; and I was sure they missed me by now.
I certainly missed them!
I sat down next to a bush; and collected a couple of berries and seeds to still my hunger.
Fortunately, I knew which ones were edible, by feeling what they did to my body.
I found a little bit of water at the bottom of a pothole, and drank it using my hands, hoping it wouldn't contain too many impurities.
Then, I waited until my legs stopped trembling and my feet became a little bit less sore...
Way too fast, the remaining piece of sun disappeared behind the mountaintops.
Immediately, the ravine became very dark, so that I couldn't see the reassuring water stream any more.
The air around me became too chilly, and I started to shiver from the sudden cold.
Again, I was on the verge of giving up, wanting to sit down with my head in my hands...
However, I forced myself to stand up and go on immediately.
Stubbornly, I jumped across the next crack and rounded the next thorn bush.
I wanted to be home, and sleep in my own bed!
However, after a few more minutes, total darkness set in, and I couldn't see my path any more.
Unwillingly, I had to admit that jumping any more cracks would be the same as committing suicide!
I couldn't possibly go on, unless I wanted to kill myself by breaking all my bones...
Reluctantly, I forced myself to stop at the border of the next nasty crack.
Shivering and with chattering teeth, I decided that I HAD to find some shelter for the night!
It was impossible to go on, until the sun reappeared again the next morning.
Fortunately, a half moon showed up, spreading some faint and spooky light.
I started to look for a shelter to spend the night; feeling more and more desperate...
How could I build myself some tent, or dig some safe hole in the ground, without any tools?
Would I be able to build a cover out of a heap of fallen leaves?
I gathered some leaves from the forest, but they were too clammy to offer me any warmth at all...
What should I do now?
"Ancestors, or Spirit Guides, please, help me..."
Suddenly, I thought I saw something interesting, faintly shimmering at the far end of a small cave...
I stared into the cave, and thought I could see some fluffy white hair.
Had I really found a huge porcupine lair, to use it as my provisional shelter for the night?
I sneaked nearby, and cautiously poked into the white fluff with a long branch...
Then, I almost cheered when the lair turned out to be empty!
I had found myself a nice and cozy place, where I could spend the night and have my much needed sleep!
"Thank you very much, my beloved Ancestors!"
For the first time in my young life, I was grateful for being such a small boy.
With ease, I wormed myself into the narrow cave, where I nestled into the warming fluff that nicely covered my naked body.
Of course, it reeked of porcupine, but not too badly; and the wooly fluff felt very cozy and welcoming.
I closed my eyes, stopped my thinking, and almost immediately fell asleep.
Tomorrow, I would go home; and everything would turn out for the best...
Suddenly, I woke up in shock and opened my eyes, looking around in disbelief.
A whole bunch of small critters were running across my naked body; curiously sniffing at my face...
Now and then, one of them beeped, while a few others tried to nibble at my ears and fingers...
Faintly, I could see many of them running around in the shimmering moonlight.
I started to screech, and swung my arms and legs; trying to chase them out of my lair!
The rats stopped, stared at me with frightened eyes; and then they scrabbled away in a sudden hurry.
Obviously, they were even more shocked than I was!
My heart tried to pound out of my throat, while I gasped for air until my breath slowly returned...
Then, I started to laugh.
Everybody knew that rats weren't dangerous at all!
Some gadjo children even kept one as their personal pet, teaching it little tricks!
Although I wasn't very happy to have them around, I closed my eyes again and tried to get some more sleep.
A few minutes later, another animal warily sneaked into the small cave.
It sniffed the air, looked at me, and indecisively rustled its many quills...
I woke up again, now staring at two faintly glowing eyes that stared back at me in fear.
There was my porcupine!
Or, maybe, this was one of its prickly friends...
Well... tonight, this was MY lair, and its owner had to look for another shelter!
I yelled at the porcupine, clapped my hands, and told it to go away and leave me alone.
Immediately, the frightened beast turned around and hurriedly disappeared.
Again, I closed my eyes and tried to get some more sleep.
However, after a moment, the rats returned, now warily staring at me.
This time, they behaved a lot better, because they kept a safe distance from my face.
I didn't care anymore; and, in some way, I even welcomed their company.
After a few minutes, they all nestled into the cozy fluff alongside my body.
Slowly, they crept nearer, obviously liking my body warmth.
Their company even gave me a reassuring feeling, as if now I was less alone...
A few minutes later, all of us were sleeping soundly, softly snoring while warming each other!
I woke up early in the morning, and needed some time to realize what had happened.
My body felt as stiff as a dead tree, and my skin was itching all over!
Then, I remembered where I was, and that I wanted to go home.
My little companions, the rats, had already left our shared lair, without saying goodbye...
Groaning, I worked myself out of my cave and stretched my very stiff muscles.
I was delighted to see the warming sunlight, already shining over the mountaintops.
Soon, the chilly morning air would start to warm up, while I would be on my way home.
I had survived my first night in solitude, accompanied by a bunch of snoring rats!
I looked at my itching body, and saw it was covered with many nasty fleabites.
Apparently, my porcupine was hosting a complete army of bugs as well!
Fortunately, they had stopped their biting after they discovered I wasn't an animal to their taste.
After some scratching, the itching disappeared, and the only things left were a lot of small red specks.
I started to laugh at myself, because my poor body now looked like having the measles...
Soon, the sun started to shine more and more abundantly, nicely warming the surroundings.
I collected a lot of tasty berries and seeds, to fill my empty stomach.
Then, I found a couple of wet potholes, and scooped some water from them, no longer caring about any impurities.
Finally, I thanked the poor evicted porcupine in my mind, for renting me such a nice shelter.
Feeling refreshed and full of energy, I restarted my journey along the ravine.
Again, I looked at the meandering water stream at its bottom, showing me the way towards our waterfall.
Again, I climbed huge rocks, jumped across nasty cracks, and walked around dense thorn bushes.
I was going home!
However, way too soon, my still swollen feet started to protest again.
My legs restarted their trembling, and my still strained muscles were again cramping.
Ultimately, I was only a five-and-a-half-year-old little boy...
I thought of my Dad, teasing me with my 'baby-stiffness', and involuntarily started to sniffle.
Would my Mom and Dad miss me very much, or did they think I had to be dead?
Had my people set up a rescue search, and were they now trying to find me in our vast forest?
Would Misha accompany them, also looking for me everywhere?
Or, would Misha feel guilty, for not following me through the dense forest...
Of course, this had not been Misha's fault.
Probably, I had been too good at sneaking away noiselessly.
Maybe, Misha hadn't heard me, once I sneaked after that rustling porcupine?
However, I hadn't done it on purpose, and nobody could possibly blame anybody else for it!
Everything had been the fault of that frightened porcupine, trying to flee from its stalker!
Stubbornly, I clambered on and on, acting as a 'tough guy' and denying my discomfort.
Now and then, I had to bite my tongue, to be able to bear the pain in my cramping legs and sore feet.
A few times, when my legs were trembling too much, I had to sit down and take a short rest, until the cramping diminished.
Then, I pulled myself together again, and stubbornly went on.
I wanted to be home today, and cuddle my parents and Misha!
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Harry AnderS, Dutch psychotherapist and writer of 'books with a message'
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