Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Chapter One, Part Five
Sammy and Jonathan looked at each other as they lay in the leaves. Jonathan wasn’t sure what to make of it. He had seen riders on horseback before and in fact, he was a pretty good rider himself. His father owned three horses and a pony, which was Jonathan’s. But he hadn’t seen anything like those two riders before. They were hard to see in the dark shadows of the forest, but he knew they hadn’t come from Hampton – or anywhere nearby – that he was sure of.
It was time for another chocolate chip cookie and Sammy got one too. Jonathan lay there and thought about what to do next. The riders were no doubt a long ways away by now and if they returned he was bound to hear them before they saw him. He could hear the creek again and decided to continue on. Besides, he was thirsty and had forgotten to bring anything to drink.
It wasn’t hard to find the creek, but finding the fallen tree was another thing altogether. The water roared down the narrow gully with a speed and force that amazed Jonathan. The creek wasn’t very wide – normally only about ten feet at most – but it was wider and deeper this time of year and the large rocks were below water level. Any other time of the year he might have been able to find a couple of rocks to use as stepping stones to jump across in a zigzag fashion, but now it was impossible. Most of the large rocks either under water or creating the treacherous rapids. There were also dead tree branches and other things that the water had swept away, only to be caught up on the rocks. It looked a lot different now than when he had seen it before. Jonathan was glad it hadn’t been this deep when he had fallen in the last time, or he wouldn’t have made it out for sure. It was looking impossible to cross today, since the fallen tree was nowhere to be seen.
Jonathan paused at the edge of the creek and took his gloves off in order to scoop up some water for a drink, before deciding to go downstream in hopes of finding a way across it. He decided that it should be called Stony Creek, because of all the large stones and rocks in it. Jonathan and Sammy had a hard time working their way through all of the bushes and undergrowth along the creek bank as they searched for a way across.
Sammy had gone out in front, since it was easier for him to make his way through the bushes. Jonathan heard a soft bark and worked his way up to see what Sammy had found. They had just about forgotten all about the crows and riders and were having fun again on their adventure. Jonathan pushed aside a branch to see the fallen tree – exactly as he had remembered it! There it was, a tree trunk without any branches for the most part. The top of the tree had broken off and was lying on the ground nearby, probably the result of a lightning strike. The rest of the trunk leaned out across the river and was resting against the trunk of a tree on the other side – about ten feet above the far creek bank. The problem was that he wouldn’t be able to climb down the tree it was leaning against on the other side, since it was too smooth and big around for him to just shimmy down. Jonathan sat down on the creek bank beside the exposed roots of the fallen tree for a while to think things over, as Sammy played in the woods nearby.
It finally came to him. There was a small branch on the tree that the trunk was leaning against on the other side of the creek, that Jonathan could tie his rope to and climb down to the ground with. Once it was time to return from his adventure on the other side of Stony Creek, Jonathan would simply climb up the rope and make his way back home. He thought it was a great idea and broke out in a big smile as he congratulated himself on his ingenuity. Jonathan prided himself on having great ideas. He was good with ropes and a good tree climber, too. This wouldn’t be any problem at all – a piece of cake. Jonathan even tied knots in the rope about every foot or so to help him climb down and back up again.
What he hadn’t thought about yet was what to do about Sammy. Sammy couldn’t climb ropes or trees and would surely want to continue along with his master. Jonathan coiled up his rope and looked at it again. Gramps had given it to him. He said it was an original, braided rope made by an Indian tribe out in Arizona. It was dark colored and stiff and about as big around as Jonathan’s biggest finger. He had no idea how old it was. It wasn’t very long either, but it would make the distance from the small branch to the ground easily enough. Perhaps it was originally used as reins while bareback riding. It was impossible to really know, but Jonathan thought it would work well on a painted Indian pony.
Sammy was still off playing in the woods when Jonathan started out across the log. He was careful not to slip and fall into the raging water below. He had figured out a long time ago that the secret to climbing trees was never to look down. If you looked down, it gave you a reason to get scared. Jonathan just looked at the log as he made his way slowly out across the water – scooting a foot at a time as he straddled the log as if he was a bareback rider and the tree was a painted Indian pony. He always had a vivid imagination – it was just who he was. When Jonathan got to the other side, he carefully tied the rope to the small branch and tested it to make sure it wouldn’t come loose. If the knot came undone and he got stuck on the other side of the creek, he would really be in trouble – up a creek without a paddle so to speak – since he wouldn’t have a way back over to the other side.
With his backpack on his back, Jonathan put his gloves on again and started slowly down the rope. He wrapped his legs around the rope for balance, and kept a tight grip. The knots he made helped him keep a firm hold on the rope as he made his way down. He made good progress, but didn’t want to go too fast because he might get rope burns on his hands. The gloves helped out, too. All of a sudden, there was a loud crack and Jonathan was falling. He landed in a bush and rolled down the bank towards the swift current, reaching out just in time to grab a hold of something to keep him from rolling into the turbulent water. He was dazed but alright – and amazed in the fact that nothing seemed to be broken.
Sammy had been busy chasing butterflies and other things when he heard the crack of the branch breaking. He raced back to the creek and ran up the tree trunk that Jonathan had just used to cross the raging water with. Sammy barked from his perch high above the creek, as he looked down and saw Jonathan lying at the water’s edge, not moving a muscle. “Sammy, it’s okay. I’m not hurt. The branch broke and I fell, but I’m alright. I’m not sure how I’m going to get back across, but I think I’ll just rest here for a while and think about it first.”
Jonathan tried to be reassuring again, but this time it didn’t work. Sammy paced back and forth on the log not knowing what to do next. Jonathan knew he was in big trouble. Trouble with a capital ‘T’ that is. This might not be River City, but it might as well have been as far as he was concerned. Jonathan took inventory of his situation. He had with him the backpack and its contents, his gloves – and the rope was still in one piece. He took out a chocolate chip cookie and tried to come up with another bright idea, but was at a complete loss to think of one. There wasn’t another way back across the creek that he knew of and he didn’t dare try to wade or swim across the rapids. He’d be swept away and might not be as lucky this time as he was before.
Just then, in the middle of his indecision, a blur from the sky came down and caught Sammy by surprise – knocking him off balance. He made a heroic effort but was unable to keep his balance and stay on the log, falling into the swift current below. It happened so suddenly that Jonathan didn’t have time to react. He could only cry out to Sammy as he watched him hit the water and was immediately swept away by the rapids. In a blink of an eye, Sammy was gone! In fact, he had not even been able to see any sign that Sammy had fought his way back up to the surface. Sammy was nowhere to be seen. Jonathan was only able to yell at the crow as it filled the air with its sharp cries and flapped slowly higher before circling high above the tree tops. Jonathan picked up the rope and quickly began his search downstream for Sammy. He couldn’t leave him to drown – but there was also little hope that he could ever help him – or even find Sammy again!
Jonathan finally sat on the ground holding his head in his hands. He couldn’t remember how long he had searched for Sammy, or how far along the creek bank he had traveled. The realization of just how serious the situation that he now found himself in had only just started to sink in. The tears in his eyes caused everything he looked at to be out of focus. Sammy was his best friend ever and now he was gone! Jonathan couldn’t believe it. For the first time ever he started feeling really, really scared. It was after lunchtime. He looked at his watch. It was two o’clock and Jonathan wasn’t sure where he was. The sun felt warm on the creek bank as he wondered what to do next. He lay there for a long time thinking about Sammy, who was now lost forever.
A shadow moved across the ground as Jonathan lay there chewing on a long blade of grass. Startled, he looked up just in time to see the crow diving down toward his face on an attack. He managed to get his hand up just in time to catch the brunt of the blow and protect his face. The large crow cried out sharply as it flew off behind the trees, spoiled in his attack. Jonathan’s sweatshirt was ripped, but other than that he was unscathed.
Jonathan had to do something; he couldn’t stay out in the open with the crows around. He scooped up another drink of water, grabbed his backpack and made his way deeper into the woods. He was now on the far side of the creek and going further away from home. There really wasn’t any other choice for him, as there was no way to cross back over the creek – and the crows could see him out in the open on the creek bank. The only thing he could think of was to find another farm and call his dad to come and pick him up. His mother would be upset with him, but at least he wouldn’t miss dinner. He had already missed lunch and doing his chores, and this adventure was not turning out at all like he had planned. Funny thing, adventures. They seem to have a mind of their own – and you can’t ever predict what will happen!
The large, black crows. Jonathan couldn’t figure them out. Why did they want to hurt him and why did they want to get rid of Sammy? He missed Sammy already. Sammy was the best dog and friend a boy could ever have. Now he was gone and it was all the crow’s fault. He’d get even someday, he said to himself.
Jonathan wandered through the woods, dazed at all that had happened to him. It didn’t take long before he had forgotten completely which way he had come from, because he really hadn’t been paying any attention. The woods all looked the same to him now. The trees were very tall and there wasn’t any high ground from which to look out across the land in order to get his bearings. The sun was low on the horizon now and too low in the sky to see it through the trees. It was starting to get dark and Jonathan was getting worried. He had hoped to find a farm relatively easily, but there weren’t any plowed fields around here and there wasn’t any sign of civilization so far at all. There was a farm every mile or so along the road his family lived on – but Jonathan had never been here before. In fact, he had never been in a place like this before. Jonathan sensed that this place was very different from Ohio. He wasn’t sure how different, but there was something strange about this place. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was wrong – very wrong indeed.
Jonathan continued wandering for quite some time, until he just got too tired to keep going. After a while he came to the edge of a clearing, but it was getting too dark to see very much, for the sun had already set and dusk was setting in. Jonathan decided to stop here for the night and go to sleep. Tomorrow would be another day and he was sure that everything would turn out fine in the morning. It had been a long time now since his last chocolate chip cookie, so he ate two more and sat down in the leaves. There were five cookies and the orange remaining in his backpack. He was sure to find someone to help him out soon enough, he thought to himself.
Finishing his dinner of cookies, Jonathan climbed deep into a thicket of bushes to find a place to sleep. He knew no one would see him there while he slept – especially the crows. Inside the thicket there was just enough room for him to lie down. He gathered up all the leaves that he could find and pushed them into a pile in the middle to sleep on. He took his backpack and rolled it up to make a pillow and tightened the draw strings on his hood to help stay warm. It was already getting cold and he tried hard not to shiver – but it was a losing battle in the end.
Jonathan didn’t worry about the cold, too much, though. He had slept out in the hay loft before and had a tent that he would set up behind their farmhouse every now and then. In fact, he once made a snow cave during the winter and slept in it. A smile came across his face as he recalled his efforts. So one night out in the forest didn’t bother him too much – he was on an adventure after all! But deep inside, Jonathan was scared and had no idea how to get out of this predicament. “What to do next?” he kept repeating quietly to himself.
What a story he would be able to tell once he got home, though. He’d make sure not to tell his mother very many details, because moms get scared easily – but his friends at school would be able to hear the whole story – plus some! This was almost like going to Africa or someplace Gramps might go. Jonathan wasn’t thinking about that now though. There would be time enough for tall tales later on, but now he was bone tired. He lay down on his bed of leaves and quickly drifted off to sleep. He would face tomorrow when it came.
(End of Chapter One)