Action, adventure, humour, deceit, friendship and environmental awareness – all in one!
Whilst the other apes were trying to swing after him at the same speed, Gerald had an unfortunate accident.
He collided with a rather large, and not very friendly beast that, like Mungai, was of dubious origin. The beast had been asleep in the branches at the time, and was non too pleased by this unwanted intrusion into his dreams. He reared up on his hind legs, delicately balancing himself on the thinnest of branches, and lunged for Gerald.
“He looks like a monkey-meat lover,” thought Gerald, but he was frozen to the spot and could only think of his imminent death, followed by a prestigious military funeral, he hoped, for his few remains.The unidentifiable creature grabbed Gerald by the feet, and swung him round and round above his head, and then hurled him skywards towards the canopy roof, where he became stuck between two branches. He was so far up, the others lost sight of him. On his own, with no-one to help him, he thought immediately of his ‘military training’ and decided to bring in the ‘vacate the high location’ manoeuvre. This manoeuvre was something only to be used in emergency situations, which he quite rightly deemed this was. He did not have much time, so he started straight away tearing off branches and bits of other vegetation, and weaving them together securely. He kept doing this until he had a large piece, three times his own size. He took one corner in each claw, and let himself fall backwards, down from the top. It was a very crowded tree. The growth from top to bottom was extremely dense. It cannot be said he sailed down from above, more bounced than anything. He bounced and he bounced and he bounced. From one branch to the other…sideways, backwards and forwards. Hanging upside down, he could not see where he was going. It was like blindfolded skydiving with obstacles. Much to his surprise, he found the jungle floor. It was not a soft landing.
Bucky, Brewster and Bracken were happily, and busily, gnawing their way through masses of tree trunks in the forest. They had never felt better. They were doing what they did best, and savouring every moment of it. Not only that, they were going to be rewarded for all this fun. They too had noticed a large board at the edge of the forest, and another one at the edge of the jungle. It said: PRIVATE – CONSERVATION AREA – STRICTLY NO TRESPASSING – PENALTY IMPRISONMENT. Like Swallow Bustle and Caw-Caw, they could only wonder what it meant, and also, like Swallow, they decided not to worry too much about it.
They journeyed on, getting deeper and deeper into the jungle, and then changed tack and veered towards the edge, but not in the direction of the two-legs. They were in fact, quite far away from them when they eventually managed to track down the mysterious monkey.
They caught a fleeting glimpse of him, just as he caught a glimpse of Hogbog, and watched in awe as he disappeared with unparalleled speed.
“Wow!” said Bodger. “Did you see that?” he asked anyone who was listening. “No wonder he’s never been captured.”
“Hogbog,” called Caw-Caw. “You’re on again.”
Hogbog scurried round in circles near the spot where they had last seen him, and within minutes was on the trail again. He forged ahead, sniffing and snuffling after his quarry, refusing to be beaten (after all, he did have a reputation to uphold) until finally, there above him, in the highest part of a tree, sat the Oracle.
When Swallow arrived, he found the woodland creatures making more of the various items for exchange, and this time he was able to see them at work. Each and every one had a part to play. The younger badgers stripped the bark off the logs with their sharp claws. Those who had the keenest incisors and beaks, like the rabbits and woodpeckers, were using them as chisels for drilling, carving and shaping things. The more dexterous creatures, such as the squirrels and hedgehogs, were assembling everything by pushing wooden pegs into the holes the woodpeckers had made. This held everything together. They were making tables and chairs, and other wooden things that the two-legs used in their over-ground burrows; and well they made them too. The birds were weaving baskets, and the smallest animals were carrying bits and pieces backwards and forwards, where they were needed. The hedgehogs were rolling themselves into balls and collecting all the wood shavings on their spikes. They were excellent for recycling into linings and bedding, for nests and burrows. It was a wonderful, bustling scene of endeavour.
Recommended reading age: 9 years to adult