Adventure tale -- Henry and his friends

December 23, 2008|By DUNCAN SMYLY / Pulse contributor

Editor's note: Students in Lisa Prejean's English classes at Heritage Academy read Mark Twain's "Dawn in the Forest" and "What Stumped Blue Jays." They were then challenged to creatively personify an animal, object or idea.

Over the next several weeks, we'll be running examples of their work.

It was a cold October morning in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state.

Not the slightest breath of wind stirred the peaceful autumn morning. Trees, tired of their hefty burden, released their payload of leaves that rained steadily to the ground, forming a natural carpet. The sound of millions of leaves softly brushing the forest floor caused a constant pitter-patter that resembled the echo of raindrops.

Birds chirped contentedly in the canopy as they prepared for their migration south. They planned to escape the winter that awaited just around the corner. Squirrels and other small creatures rummaged through the leaves, already consuming some of the stores of food they worked all summer to refresh.


A hawk perched at the apex of a dead sycamore tree, spying the forest floor for an easy meal. A weary mother fox silently crept through the undergrowth returning to her week-old litter, after spending the whole night out feeding herself. The hustle and bustle of the heralding of winter was at hand.

Henry was awakened by the rustling racket of a hyperactive chipmunk rummaging through the leaves before him. Henry glared at the chipmunk, trying his best not to chuckle at the comical little fur-ball.

"Go away you annoying miscreant, I'm trying to sleep here," Henry said as he did everything he could to hold in his laughter, but he had to add a small snicker to the end of his statement.

"Finally, you're awake, (crunch, crunch, crunch), you know I've been out here for the last half hour trying to wake you up, (crunch, crunch, crunch)," said Chumps in a comically loud tone over a mouthful of nuts of some sort.

"Well, I had a long day yesterday. Besides, I like it right here," said Henry as he observed his surroundings. He saw that he was in the middle of a small clearing beneath a small oak tree. He bedded down in a tuft of supple, tall grass that caused Henry to feel like laying his head down and going back to sleep. He knew, though, that Chumps wasn't going to leave him in peace, so he didn't even attempt it.

"All you did was have a little fight with Bruce. I can fight all day and not get tired, not the strongest beast can beat me," Chumps said as he stood on his back legs and crossed his paws, puffing out his chest pridefully with a comical frown.

Out of nowhere, Dossen the blue jay glided in to perch on the lowest branch of the oak tree, under which Henry bedded.

"Hey, Henry, the sun shines brightly; we have much to do today," said Dossen, as he landed on the branch with outstanding grace. Dossen glared down at Chumps and then at Henry. "Chumpy, do you not have nuts to attend to?" Chumps glared aggressively at Dossen, going back onto all fours, tail rigidly pointed behind him.

Like a lightning bolt, Chumps ran up the tree and chased Dossen off the branch, but in doing so he fell off the branch himself and landed on Henry's stomach. Then, as if from thin air, Gaselda the deer walked around the bush next to Henry. With as much dignity as he had left, Henry jumped to his feet, waiting for whatever was coming.

Before either one of them could speak, Chumps jumped between them and glared at Gaselda with fierce eyes saying, "Why are you here? You're not part of our club. Go away and don't come back!"

With cheerful eyes, Gaselda looked at Chumps, holding in her laughter.

"Chumps, you are the cutest creature I ever did see," laughed Gaselda.

As if his pride were damaged, Chumps stood on his rear legs and shook his right paw viciously at Gaselda, challenging her to a fight. Chumps was basically looking straight up at Gaselda, considering she was a fully mature doe and he was a diminutive chipmunk.

Dossen returned to his branch and observed the commotion.

"Away with you, Chumpy, important matters are at hand."

Chumps then averted his gaze to Dossen and was going to retort, but Henry spoke first.

"Uh, Gaselda, hi, um, what can I do for you?" Henry sheepishly stared at Gaselda, fearing she was mad at him for sparring with her brother the day before.

"Hi Henry, um, do you want to go for a walk? There's this place in the middle of the forest that's peaceful, where we can talk," said Gaselda, her gaze basically forcing him to say yes.

Before they could move, though, Chumps swiftly ran up Henry's leg and then up to his nose. Chumps glared into Henry's eyes threateningly.

"Are you brain dead? Get some sense into that thick skull of yours. She's an evil monster; she's kidnapping you. Me first, others later, got it?" Chumps said as he dug his needle point claws into Henry's long nose.

Henry squinted, trying to hold in the pain. By now Chump's tiny eyes were right up to Henry's eyes as they stared at each other. Again Chumps was being seriously sarcastic - a trait Henry truly disliked.

"Hey, Chumps why don't you come along, and you too Dossen, so then we all can have fun together?" said Gaselda. "Chumps, you can gather nuts on the way, and Dossen, there's lots of bugs where we're going."

They all agreed and set off together on a friendly hike.

The Herald-Mail Articles