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“Quiet down! Silence now, please.” M. Driscoll exclaimed over the voices of the ladies and gentlemen occupying his sitting room. Once he had secured their attention, he continued his speech, with the flourish he was known for expressing when being the center of attention. “Now I’d like to introduce you to my new companion, Monsieur Ives. I assume he will have your utmost attention as what he says will shock, frighten, and disturb you.” A grave, unassuming man of about nine and twenty years rose from his seat near the window and approached the group. He paced the floor a few times, twisting his dark mustache and knitting his brows together as if trying to decide where to start. “When I was a boy, I had always wanted to be a doctor.” he began, in a thick, domineering voice seemed not to fit his frame. “I enjoyed learning medicine and techniques at a boys school which I attended near Aix Les Bains. During the holidays, my instructor would take the class up into the mountains, to the spas and springs. There he would teach us all sorts of fascinating scientific things, not worth repeating in this story. It was on one of these trips that I met a man by the name of M. Ezra. He was an odd sort of man and spoke of adventures he had gone on. Far lands and distances, filled with unimaginable sights and other gibberish. He had received an injury to the head on one of these trips, thus I did not credit much of his narrative. Yet his tales sparked a curiosity in me, a desire to see more than mountains and streams. I knew that with the strict rules of the school, I would not be allowed off grounds without written permission from my guardian, which was impossible as my closest relatives wish to have no interaction with me, hence my having been sent away.” He paused to clear his throat and scan the room to insure that the party was still listening. “I had a passion for learning, and though my tutors were skilled at their practice, I wanted more. I wanted new experiences and fresh air. Therefore, I did the only thing I could think of, I packed a suitcase and stole away into the night. I took with me 19 pistols, the only money I had to my name, and boarded a ship going anywhere. We left out of the Port of Rouen and my journey began. I knew very little about the sea, and the crew spoke only Dutch, a language I knew none of. It was a difficult trip, the first days at sea were smooth, then a series of storms blew through, cutting the water and rocking the vessel. Lightning crackled and thunderclaps were nearly palpable. I was frightened at the experience, it was much more aggressive than what I had expected, my only frame of reference being books and stories. The crew shuffled about the decks, tossing ropes and pulling the sails about. They worked like a fine machine, quite impressive.” He paused again, this time to light his pipe. M. Driscoll nodded for him to continue. “As you can imagine, I was constantly in the way. I’m sure that the crew and Captain Pascal were rather frustrated with my lack of knowledge. Though I will never know on account of not speaking Dutch, you see. We floated along for about thirty four days before catching sight of land. Bless the day when the blue water was broken by a mass of green and brown. The boat was rather out of repair, leaking in places, mildewing, and cluttered. The living quarters were not comfortable, or up to my previous standards to say the least. By the time we had reached land I would have chosen a dirt hut over another week at sea. By the next morning, the small mass had become a brobdingnagian land, covered in lush green trees and gleaming sands. We boarded smaller boats and paddled towards the blessed place. If I had not been as caught up in my emotions, I might have noted the strange behavior exhibited by the Dutch men I had tried to become acquainted with. In future explorations I will make a point to befriend the men in whose hands my life is held. Upon our arrival to the island I was knocked unconscious by one of the burly looking men, and when I awoke the ship was nowhere to be seen.” He was broken off by a snort from one of the women in company. “Exactly, never trust men. That’s my motto.” she said with bitter force. M. Driscoll frowned at her interruption. “Monsieur Ives, forgive her input. Please go on.” he continued. “I had quite a headache that day, both from the large knot I had obtained from my Dutch friends and from a lack of nourishment. They were not very generous with food portions, and I had been on the shore for several hours. I was disoriented and dehydrated, yet my spirits were never dampened. I had been taught well and knew, in theory, how to fend for myself out in the wild. I built a small fire, one that emitted minimal smoke so that I didn’t attract unnecessary attention to myself in the chance that I was not alone. I drank water from a nearby waterfall and tried to stomach fruit I found growing near it, though this made me rather sick for the remainder of the evening. After discovering a bunch of green bananas, I was able to nourish myself and set about the task of dissecting my situation. I knew that I could survive for a short while on the fruit and water I had found, and I was sure that there were animals running around in the jungle at my back, if I could gather the courage to trample the undergrowth. I had a feeling that the Dutch men would not come back to get me, and it did not seem to be a place often inhabited by kind humans who spoke French and were willing to accept me as a friend. Luckily I had brought with me my only reminder of my parents, a compass from my father, engraved with his initials, G.L Ives, and the year 1622. I had frequently been checking the device, and noted that we had been going south for some while. My guess was that I was somewhere in South Africa, though where, I could not be certain. I decided to climb the waterfall and look over the place I was to call home for my near future. The climb was much more rigorous than I could have expected, having been on a boat for a month, I was out of condition. I slipped a few times on the mossy rocks, and received many wounds to my legs and hands. My feet were blistered from the ill fitting shoes I had been wearing for many months. My grey stockings were torn and as the day grew warmer, I elected to remove them as well as my shirt, though I kept these things close in case I might need them for an animal trap or as a flag. I reached the top and looked across the land, which I made the executive decision to call Ivesville. The sight was breathtaking. Trees towered over rocks and sand, frothy ocean water rolled across the ground, washing away the footsteps of the wretched men who had left me to die alone. I saw a glimpse of life, birds fluttered above the trees, calling out to each other. The waterfall was on the side of a massive mountain, stretching up as high as I could see into the clouds and many miles to the left and right of me. It seemed as though it was a wall cutting straight through the trees. This was a curious sight, though my first priority was to locate another meal, then I could investigate further. I stumbled around the plateau from which the waterfall flowed and feasted, if you could call it that, on berries and more green bananas. Having spent a month on the ship, then days on Ivesville, I was more than ready to have a bit of iron in my diet. I began to descend the waterfall, hoping to capture fowl or perhaps a wild pig. When I was about halfway down the climb, a cave caught my eye. The sun was glaring and the dark rocks were highly reflective, the shade was welcome. I navigated the mildly treacherous path and rolled into the cave. My skin pricked at the sudden cool air that rushed out from the inside of the cave, and I caught the scent of something strange, a foreign smell that resembled old paper and bay leaves. The cave was dimly lit, and fairly narrow. The rocks were jagged and my head bumped against the stalactites. I was worried that I would become lodged in place and live the remainder of my days in the darkness, but after hours of crawling on hands and knees, the light grew brighter and the wind stiffer. Eventually I emerged into a forest, thick and humid. It was nearing twilight, thus I was not able to do much observing upon my first discovery of the place. I rested in the roots of a towering vine and resolved to explore when I awoke. When the sun rose and dawn came bright and new I crawled out of my cocoon of the night and refreshed my toilet in a stream near the cave. As I was laying my shirt out to dry I heard the calls of strange birds, they sang like opera performers, with music sweet and loud. I was entranced and wondered what species they could belong to, as I had never known such large, colored birds existed. As I walked around the stream I witnessed flashes of light coming from the water. Upon further investigation I deduced that the fish themselves were glowing bright yellow and magenta, they looked like flat, round disks with protruding eyes and rippled across the bottom of the stream like kites. It was a beautiful sight, the water flashing colors as I watched. The entire streambed was covered in bright, glittering rocks, small and round. I found a vibrant orange one and put it in my pocket. Then a butterfly alighted on a nearby exotic looking flower bloom. It was as broad as a dinner plate, and made a sound similar to that of crickets. The bird like insect flew more swiftly than any butterfly I had seen in France. Suddenly I was startled by an ear piercing click like sound. I whirled around and hid myself behind a cluster of vines, awaiting the creature who could have uttered such a sound.” He studied the group who was now completely enthralled by his tale. “As I crouched behind the vines, I felt a tapping on my shoulders, I slowly turned around,” M. Ives paused again as a gentleman sharply in took his breath and leaned forward in his chair. “I was expecting a dinosaur, or a monstrous face with glaring eyes and a haughty smirk. But surprisingly it was only a branch with hair like tentacles protruding from its leaves. I followed the vine with my eyes and realized that it was attached to a towering, massive tree. The trees roots acted as feet and it was completely moveable. The tree itself was walking around like its animal counterparts. The sight was odd indeed. I breathed a sigh of relief at this discovery, but I was calm only for a moment, then the vine wound itself around my throat and picked me up. Hovering feet off the ground, I was suspended for several minutes, as though the tree was deciding if I was worthy of its eating. Then it pulled me towards a hole in its trunk, a mouth I was to find out. When I deduced that the tree was carnivorous and planned on eating me for a snack, I began to panic and flail about, hoping to either startle the creature or at least get out of its death grip. The vines snapped as I ripped them off and struggled. It was the most frightening fight of my life and I had nothing more on my mind than escaping the nightmare. I realized that to die by becoming tree food was a very pathetic death indeed, this motivated me even more. Luckily, in that moment, I remembered the small dagger I kept in my shoe’s sole. I struggled to reach out and free it from its pocket and the tree realized my intentions. Its grasp tightened and it pulled me closer and closer into that grinding mouth of teeth and bark. I got a good look at the thing for a second as I freed the dagger, it’s leaves were as wide as carriage wheels, and its trunk was as broad as a Clydesdale is long. I was equally impressed as I was horrified. I slashed through the rope like vines and tried to run, but I was only caught by a second tree. It seemed that they travelled in packs and worked as a team to take down prey. I made a mental note to start recording all of the interesting observations I had made, if I ever got out of the struggle with the blood thirsty trees. The trees were at least a hundred feet tall and had mouths the size of a fainting couch. They seemed to walk swiftly on three large roots, taking the place of legs. I finally cut through all of the vines that encircled my waist and arms and out ran them, taking care to jump into the stream instead of hiding amongst bushes, in case they took a liking to human as well. I had the feeling that I was the first of my kind they had seen, especially since the area was cut off by the mountains. It was difficult to access other than through the caves, as I had used. The water was crystal clear, and only a little cool. Ah yes, I’m sure a few of you are curious about the weather there. It was a bit humid, and very hot. I was off somewhere around South Africa, so the weather is fairly easy to predict. It rained a bit each night, light showers as the sun set, but nothing too serious as to affect my exploration. It was just enough to dampen my firewood and cool the leftover embers. After I had crossed the stream, to get away from the trees I now call Piney Woods, I stepped onto the softest grass my feet had come in contact with. Oh yes, I had lost my shoes in the scuffle so I was now barefooted. As I scanned the ground I saw several holes in various places across the grassy hills. They resembled mole’s homes, though I highly doubted that tame, cute creatures like that would live here. They were slowly opening and closing and were about three feet across. This seemed suspicious, so I stepped near one and peered in. inside were hundreds of needle thin teeth rotating around the edge of the mouth. Putrid smelling liquid churned within, and gurgling noises were being emitted from some of them.” The group screwed their faces into disgusted expressions and urged M. Ives to continue. “That is correct, the ground was carnivorous as well as the trees and vines not to mention the Venus Flytraps. Now to the interesting part, as I was walking around, I discovered horse like animals, but their legs were attached to the ground and they did not move, nor did they make a sound, or breathe. So in essence, the plants were animals and the animals were plants. It was completely different from any textbook predictions of species I had read about at school. These creatures seemed to be foreign from anything found in the neighboring countries of France or even the remote islands Columbus discovered. As I strived to avoid the mouths on the ground I watched as short flowers crawled across the ground and drank up water through their petals. I looked up to see a bird overhead with red feathers and yellow blooms across its wingtips. Its shadow trailed along the ground beneath. Later on in the day I attempted a fire again, to cook a fish like creature that I had picked off of a stationary bush, one of the few that would not try to eat me. I had a pair of spectacles which I wore mainly for show. They made me seem more intellectual and wise. Luckily they were in my pocket when I was abandoned and thus I had a way to start fire. I held it carefully above kindling and patiently awaited the smoke. Within an hour it had alighted and I was able to roast the fish fruit. It was boneless and plain, but a nice change from the berries of the past several days. Ignorantly enough, I had not thought to record my time in Ivesville, I was unsure of how long I had been there, or would be there. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that was about day six. After the shock of the strange animals and plants of the area had worn off, I set about forging an escape plan. I knew that with my standing on the totem pole and lack of survival skills, it would not be long before I was starving, or prey. The best way to get off the land and back to France would be to catch a passing ship and hope I could communicate with them or at least be taken to familiar territory. The only problem with the solution was that I had gotten turned around when running from the hungry trees and was unsure both of where I was in relation to the cave, and how I would get back without being preyed upon. It was quite the predicament I had worked myself into, just in wanting a little excitement to add the stories I could tell my children. I decided to set off the next morning and hope to back track my steps and follow the stream. It would lead to the waterfall which was right near the cave. My reasoning seeming sound, and my stomach getting thinner by the day, I prepared my outfit and set off at sunrise. The first part of my trip back went well, I was able to locate the stream and swim back across it safely. Then the wind began to pick up and I got chilly. So I laid my clothes out on a rock to dry as I searched for more food. This was not a smart idea and I realized it after I had put some distance between me and my clothes. As I crouched to pick berries, a silent tree came up behind me and tangled its vines in my hair. I was lifted off the ground and thrashed about rather wildly. I narrowly managed to escape and run back to the stream to continue my quest. I redressed and started towards the waterfall again, the sun was hot overhead and sweat pooled on my forehead. Finally I had reached the end, constantly checking over my shoulder to keep alert to dangers. I located the cave and weaved my way through it as the wind brushed past my face, cooling my overheated skin. I left the cave and climbed back down the waterfall while mentally planning my trip from shore to boat. I thought about building a small raft to take me to civilization, but that would require much expertise and supplies, two things I was in want of. Also, I remembered how rough the seas had been when we were in the large boat, how much more violent they would be in a boat. I reached the ground and crossed the shore to lookout across the sea. In the bright, clear afternoon I could see for miles and noted a ship on the horizon. I built a large fire and burned leaves and other smoke producing paraphernalia that I found to attract their attention. Thankfully the ship saw me and sent a small fleet of rowboats to investigate. They spoke a little French and I found out that I had been dropped off along a common trade route and thus was not in much danger of being lost forever, as ships pass through weekly. They allowed me to board the ship on her way back to her native country and I breathed a sigh of relief at my luck. Within a month I was back here with my friends and acquaintances. I considered telling my story, but the things I have spoken of are strange and mythical. I knew no one would believe me and I had no desire to be called crazy. I have spoken of this only once, to this present group. So consider yourselves lucky to lend an ear to my tale.”
M. Ives was silent as he crossed the room and sat in an elaborately decorated chair, awaiting comments. The group was silent. One man by the name of Monsieur Rousseau had a gravely confused face about him and arose to pace by the fire. He stroked his chin and cleared his throat a few times before speaking. “M. Ives, the tale you have told, the story you just related, is farfetched indeed. You were right for not speaking of it to others. If the press were to find out about such a place, well just think of the chaos that would entail.” M. Robert inquired, “How did you document your findings there? Did you bring stationary to record statistics or was it all simply memory?” “It’s all up here sir.” M. Ives said, pointing to his head. “I’m not much of a writer, it takes up too much time. I’d rather just talk. But rest assured that what I have told you is completely accurate and if you were to witness the things I spoke of, they would perfectly match my descriptions. You see, I’m very observant, I’m very good at learning and paying attention.” M. Robert rolled his eyes at M. Ives’ high praises of himself.
Off to the other side of the room, sitting quietly by himself, M. Driscoll pondered what was spoken of. He murmured to himself about how the man must either be insane or on to something that could revolutionize how we group the animal kingdom. “Animals that act as plants, and plants that act as animals.” he kept saying to himself as if to understand the idea. He rejoined the others, the seeds of an idea taking root in his young mind. “Well ladies and gentleman, I have reached a conclusion. Of course what has been spoken of my M. Ives may be very true. You may say we have no way of knowing. But on the contrary, we do. I will travel to Ivesville, I will journal faithfully and record the sights I see. Then I will come back here and give it to the press and scientists. They will call me the best explorer of this century!” he excitedly paced the room, mentally planning his ideas. A quiet woman by the name of Mademoiselle Camillei sat in a chair amongst the group, she was small in stature, an unassuming woman indeed. She was a journalist for the town’s newspaper and was always looking for her next story. The idea of a world changing headline excited her nerves and set her thoughts racing. “Brilliant idea! A revolutionary way to leave your mark on the world! You know you cannot go alone though, you’ll need a few people to help document the findings and protect each other. Safety first, and in numbers. You’ll need a doctor, a captain and ship crew, a botanist, maybe a paleontologist, and most importantly, a journalist.” M. Ives jumped up from his seat, “And you’ll need someone who knows the area, someone who can find the cave and stream and who already knows the animals a bit. Someone like myself! What do you say to setting off next month?” he asked. M. Driscoll’s eyes were shining as he spoke of his new adventures. “Yes Madame Camillei you are completely correct. I will take a whole group and we will explore the wonders of the world. M. Ives pack your bags, we will set off within the month. I’ll set out for a captain and crew in the morning and in the mean time I’ll approach a few of my learned acquaintances and find out if they are interested in joining us.” A boisterous man of seven and thirty stood up and offered his hand to M. Driscoll. “I would be honored to join you, as you know I studied medicine and apothecary for many years before opening my funeral home. My services would render themselves quite useful.” “I would be glad to have you M. Richard!” M. Robert spoke up, “I’ve studied botany for as long as M. Richard has studied medicine. I’d be honored to join the entourage as well.” “Look at those men, always eager to up and leave the ladies just so they can get their next little adventure. No wonder they end up dead before us.” The bitter woman, called Madame Devonna, spoke sharply. She had been betrayed by many men in her time and was quick to insult them all when an opportunity arose. “Thank you for your kind words of encouragement Madame Devonna.” M. Driscoll said sarcastically. “Then it is all settled, pack your bags friends, we are going to change the world.” Madame Camillei spoke in a soft, coaxing voice, “You need a journalist, M. Driscoll, someone who can record all that happens so you can focus on exploring instead of tedious writing. You need someone who has written of adventures like this, someone like myself. M. Driscoll, I would be very grateful if you extended your invitation to me.” She smiled and hoped he would consent. M. Driscoll approached her and looked upon her face with a gentle expression. “But Madame Camillei, it is simply not a woman’s place. You could get seriously injured or lost. And the crew, you know how they treat woman, with disrespect. It would be better, safer, if a man took your place.” Her eyes burned with indignation at how he had belittled her kind. She rose forcefully and spoke her piece. “I would be just as resilient as you there. I have skills that you men do not. I could cook the meals, I can record the data and wash the clothes. I can help nurse any wounds you receive and you know how ignorant men often miss things? Well that is why you need my help!” M. Driscoll pondered the idea. He desperately wanted her to be there, but if anything happened to her it would crush him. South America is a dangerous place and he may not make it back alive, he could not bear to hurt her. His emotions conflicted and he did not trust himself to make the decision, so he asked M. Ives to. “Well I say, may as well let her. I don’t like cooking.” He shrugged and she beamed. “Fantastic! I’ll start organizing my home immediately and you certainly won’t regret my accompaniment!” As the men began talking about financial logistics, the woman prepared to take their leave, glad to be home after the late night spent story telling. As they waited for their horses to arrive, they chatted in the foyer. “Are you sure you want to do that? It seems frighteningly dangerous, and you would be such a minority. And think about the conditions, the awful ship ride and then the hot weather and salt water, its dirty and sweaty, not the kind of place for one of us. Maybe you should just find a good, scandalous story to write about here instead?” Madame Fleurette said tenderly. She was an older woman, a motherly figure to M. Driscoll, who always wanted to keep her friends and family safe. She was timid and nervous, especially when matters concerned the well being of those close to her. “Yes, you know what is likely to happen, Madame Camillei? You will get there, and they will knock you over the head and you will end up like M. Ives, alone and hurting.” “Thank you, both of you, for your encouragement and respect for my wishes. I will go and I will enjoy the excitement and the change. I will be safe and it will all work out fine and in the mean time you two will have something new to gossip about to your friends. Now this topic is dampening our mood, don’t you agree? Let’s discuss something more lighthearted, like how ravishing M. Driscoll looked this evening. Did you see how brilliantly his eyes lit up? How fine they are!”
“Here sir, have another cigar! We’re celebrating, no need to be thrifty! And now I propose a toast.” said M. Driscoll. “I do not mind if I do take another. A toast to what?” asked M. Ives. “How about a toast to the fish fruit we will be eating this time next month? To bravery!” called out M. Robert “Perfectly said! To bravery!” they said in unison. “How about that Madame Camillei? You certainly dampened her spirits there for a minute M. Driscoll. If I did not know any better than I would say there is a little back story that we should know about?” hinted M. Richard. “Well… it isn’t a woman’s place. And if anything happened to her then I would feel completely responsible for her. And there is no back story, I think you are reading more into the situation simply for your enjoyment and conversing.” M. Driscoll spoke quickly as M. Richard and M. Robert exchanged knowing glances. “A wealthy bachelor must be in want of a partner, you know, just a thought.” M. Robert said nonchalantly.
M. DRISCOLL’S NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE, A STRANGE ENCOUNTER (WITH A COUNT), AND A LOST LETTER OF MADAME CAMILLEI’S
Bright and early the next morning, M. Driscoll ate a quick breakfast and set out towards town. It was a clear, cool morning, and town was only a mile away, so he elected to walk the distance rather than readying the horses. He walked with a bounce in his step and excitement coursing through his veins. He felt invigorated and refreshed with something new to think about and a distraction from the stress of his daily life, living only with a few servants, no family or wife, and managing the thriving hair net business his father had given him. It was a difficult job, with many more elements than one might expect. Finances, employees, staying on top of the newest hairnet technology, competing with hats, these were all things that M. Driscoll took very seriously. A break from managing affairs and his own personal life would be a nice vacation. The only drawback, if it could be considered one, is that Madame Camillei was coming with them. He had loved her from their Sunday school days when they were neighbors, playing all day in the fields behind the general store. Then she went to study journalism and became a popular figure around the area and moved into more intellectual social circles. He was quite wealthy, and well schooled, but M. Driscoll did not have the same passion for intelligent conversation as she did and thus he socialized with the more frivolous men and women who spoke mostly of current affairs and town gossip. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he did not notice the carriage that was barreling down the muddy dirt road at an alarming pace. It seemed that the driver had completely lost control of the horses and they had become spooked and bolted. He looked up just in time to jump out of the path of the carriage wheel that had broken off as they hit a rut in the road. The carriage rolled to a stop on its side and the man inside hollered for help. M. Driscoll was immediately on the spot and calmed the hysterical horses. He helped the man out of the back and stepped forward to examine the unconscious driver. The rider pulled smelling salts from within the carriage and aroused the driver. “Goodness sakes, what has happened here? Are you well?” M. Driscoll asked the very pale driver. “Yes, a little lightheaded, but otherwise just fine. I seem to have taken a bit of a tumble though.” he said, looking down at his mudded clothes and scratched arms. “I’m quite sorry Count de Lefèbvre, it won’t happen again, I just skipped breakfast to feed my family and was very hungry and…” “Nonsense Bernard, no need to apologize, I’m perfectly fine. I’ll see to it that you’re fed immediately and that your family wages are also increased. I apologize for not recognizing your need, though in the future you should mention to me that you are going hungry.” M. Driscoll watched this exchange curiously. It was a bizarre occurrence and he was still recovering from the shock of nearly getting impaled by the carriage wheel. “Do you need anything? Should I call a doctor?” he asked the men. “No sir, I think we are all set, to whom do I have the honor of thanking for calming my horses?” the Count asked. “Monsieur Driscoll, and it was no trouble sir.” “Well it was nice meeting you, but I am late for an appointment, so I must get back on the road. Thank you again, bless you sir!” the Count called as they secured the wheel back onto the carriage and boarded it again. A few minutes later they rode off in a hurry and M. Driscoll continued his walk to town.
Madame Camillei lived in a small house in town above the post office. She enjoyed this apartment because the floors were thin and the post office was a major source of town gossip. She could hear every word uttered below, unless it was spoken in a conspirator’s tone. It was a convenient place to live due to her occupation, if anyone knew what was stirring the area, it was her. Madame Camillei’s home consisted of a small bedroom, with a bathroom and tight kitchen. There was a small sitting area at the front where she had her work desk and paper. This was where she formulated the stories she produced for the town’s newspaper, which she was the main writer for. It was a small area, but fit her needs. It was furnished with overstuffed furniture and neat bookshelves stacked with novels and past newspapers. The kitchen was always straight and clean, as she liked her house to be kept in order. Her bed was always made, and clothes cleaned up. Madame Camillei was the picture of the perfect housewife, though she had never married, or even considered someone for the role. She was a lonely woman who had many companions, but no close friends or relatives. Work kept her too busy to keep up much of a pleasurable social life. Her main activities were geared towards catching news of the next story. That’s why she made many social appearances around town, but never had much of a chance to relax. Madame Camillei, like M. Ives, longed to see something different than the towns of France, animals unlike what she had read about and seen in the woods. It was an opportunity for her to find herself, and have an interesting story to tell her future children. She kept a daily journal of interesting happenings around the area that she might choose to investigate further later on and that night she wrote of the behaviors of the newcomer, M. Ives, and how uncharacteristically M. Driscoll acted. She included a brief summary of what M. Ives had spoken of, insuring to copy it accurately so she could compare it to her personal experiences in Ivesville. One thought stuck out in her mind, and that was how the civilization there could survive with such unusual creatures. Logic said that the animals would die out due to their lack of useful traits and defenses. With the food chain being set up as M. Ives said it was, it would seem that the walking trees would die, as there was not enough food to go around. His observations were only halfhearted and left many unanswered questions that she hoped to solve. She reorganized her papers and prepared for bed, knowing that she would not sleep for all that was on her mind that night. There was much to be done, a new writer needed to be found temporarily for the paper, her bags must be packed, and she needed a new sunhat. Madame knew that a little knowledge of the sea and South African geography would be quite useful and made a mental note to pick up a few informational books at the library. In the shuffle of reorganizing her desk, an embossed letter, held between the pages of that week’s newspaper, dropped beneath her chair. This letter was to stay unnoticed there for some time, its contents unknown to the world. It is thought provoking how one single chance occurrence can alter someone’s life without them knowing anything could change.
M. Driscoll’s first action was to visit the docks to find a captain and crew. He wanted men who spoke decent French, and were willing to invest in a long trip, rather than the usual trade routes. He needed trustworthy men who would not take his money then leave him and the group in Ivesville, which was a major fear of his. After asking around a bit at the nearby bars and restaurants, M. Driscoll located Captain Trètin and crew. Those he had spoken to said that he was a trustworthy man who had braved the seas on various exploratory missions around the world. Rumor had it that he had even circumnavigated the globe, but he was not able to show any proof. These statements impressed M. Driscoll enough that he decided to visit the man and offer him the job. He approached the docks where a massive ship, with a towering mast, floated, tethered to the pier. He heard the sounds of many men jesting with one another, drunkenly quite likely. They had just returned from a trip to China for spices and were glad to make it back safely, as they hit severe storms many days into the mission. The ship was damaged by the waves, and they were waiting to depart again until it was in working order. M. Driscoll carefully crossed the plank onto the ship and called for the captain. He navigated celebrating crewmen, a haggard and varied group indeed. In the main room, he met the legend of a sailor and introduced himself. “M. Driscoll sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you. How can I be of service?” he asked in smooth, accented voice. “Well Captain, I would like to propose an adventure. Think of it as a spice mission, only more dangerous, more exciting, more unique.” M. Driscoll paused to watch the countenance of the captain, then continued explaining. “I need a captain and crew whom I can trust to take me and my intelligence group to a remote area to study the flora and fauna there. The trip should take three months or so and we are willing to pay well for the services.” Captain Trètin’s eyes widened at the words of the client. He relished in sea challenges like the one being offered to him, and was curious about this mysterious idea. “A foreign land you say? How will we know where to dock? And what of my crew, would they be allowed on land to aid in the exploration?” he asked. “Yes, somewhere along South Africa’s coast, an acquaintance of mine recently went there and spoke of things he had seen. He was abandoned by a crew and stuck in the area for many days before catching the attention of a passing ship. I am to travel back to where he spent the time and study it for myself, find out if what he fabricated is indeed reality. It’s a dangerous mission, and I will need help, so your men are welcome to join us, though I cannot promise that they will all make it back to the ship... alive.” This last statement was made by M. Driscoll on purpose to excite the boy like hunger for adventure that every man had deep within him. He knew that Captain Trètin was on the edge of saying yes, but needed a little extra incentive, such as the idea of life or death situations he could triumph through and tell tales of during those drunken nights sailors spend together. Emotions flashed across the captain’s face as he pondered the idea. Finally he spoke, “What you say interests me greatly. I have longed to put my name in the history books, and what you speak of sounds like something profound enough to accomplish that goal. In essence, for the right sum, I will sail you there and back. Provided that you will mention my name in any articles written relating to the trip. Do you agree to these terms?” M. Driscoll smiled triumphantly, “Indeed sir, you have yourself a fair deal.” They shook hands, and Captain Trètin offered M. Driscoll a fine cigar. “A month you say? Well I will have to have my ship repaired rather quickly, that will figure into the fee. Then I will have to replace a few of my men as one got his arm severed off in a tussle involving a Chinese monk and a couple cutlasses, and another has a nice wife who recently bared twins.” he shuddered at the mention of small children and the two stepped out to inform the crew of their newest task. “Well men, finish off your bottles, call your mistresses, and pack your things, we are setting off at dawn next month!” he said to them. They cried out masculine phrases and grunts to the extent of “Grr. Let us get this tough stuff done. We do not get tired, we do not need sleep, or a break. We are men.” They sang out an old sailor song,
“On deck five hundred men did dance,
The stoutest they could find in France,
We with two hundred did advance,
On board of the Arethusa.
Our captain hailed the Frenchman, "Ho!"
The Frenchmen then cried out, "Hallo!"
"Bear down, d'ye see, to our Admiral's lee,"
"No, no," says the Frenchman, "that can't be,"
"Then I must lug you along with me."
Says the saucy Arethusa”
Meanwhile, Madame Camillei was in town as well, purchasing sea clothes and visiting with the townspeople to catch up on the most recent news. She went into the hat makers store and asked to see water and wrinkle proof fabric in yellow, her favorite color, to make a few new hats. “Well we have this oiled fabric, it is the latest in hat technology, it repels water and usually stays wrinkle free, we can also supplement it with bows and ribbons, to give it a feminine touch.” Madame Camillei studied the fabric and confirmed that it met her needs. “Excellent, I’ll need a sun hat, one with a very wide brim, then a smaller one, so that it won’t come off if I’m say, in a cave or something like that.” The fabric maker smiled and promised to have them ready by the end of the week. “Oh and have you heard the latest scandals?” They talked for a moment, then she thanked the woman and left to continue shopping. Next, she stopped at the men’s clothing store and timidly stepped inside. She had never been there, on account of it being a place for men, and hoped that she wouldn’t get a bad reputation for it. Weaving her way between racks of pants and jackets and trench coats, she approached the counter. A clerk eyed her suspiciously and asked how he may be of assistance to her. “I’d like to buy… the smallest pair of work pants you can make.” she said bravely. The burly man chuckled loudly and called another man from the back room. He explained to him that she wanted to try on men’s work pants and the two laughed heartily like it was a trick. “You may laugh, but I’m quite serious gentleman. Now if you do not direct me to a fitting pair of pants, I will take my business elsewhere and you can rest assured that every person between here and there will hear of your not servicing me!” she said forcefully, knowing that the only way to be taken seriously was to be firm. Seeing that she meant business, the two straightened up immediately and helped her. “We will gladly make them extra extra extra small for you Madame. Now we have this water resilient fabric here, it will keep you fairly dry and warm. Then we have this kind that is sturdy and tough, it will keep out thorn bushes and other things of that nature. Do you have a preference? And would you mind if I asked why a pretty young lady like you would need such clothing?” she blushed slightly, “I’m going on a trip, I’ll be outside for a month or so trekking across land and forest and want to be prepared. I’ll take two pair in both fabrics, with extra pockets. Oh and I’ll also need a few shirts, with the buttons of course, in yellow.” He directed her to the measurement mirror and called out numbers for the other gentleman to write down. They discussed design ideas for a few minutes then dismissed her, saying that they would be finished within a few days. Madame Camillei smiled to herself as she left the store and received a few curious glances from the women who saw her exit. “It took a lot of courage to stand up for yourself like that! Doing great so far!” she thought to herself.
Finally, all of M. Driscoll’s affairs were in order, the ship was prepared, and the group was assembled at his house. It was the night before they were set to leave and nervous expectation rippled throughout the room. Their trunks had already been stored on the ship and they were having a final meeting to ensure that everything was in line. “Well friends, it is a good thing that we all enjoy each other’s company, we will be spending the next three or more months together. That is an abundance of togetherness time. Perhaps we should start by organizing some sort of government, someone to make rules and someone to enforce them. Then maybe start our own Ivesville currency? I have big plans for the structure of our trip…” M. Richard droned on into the night, he was the type of man who had better learn quickly when to hold his words or else end up thrown overboard or gagged in the backroom. “How about we just focus on getting there and learning, too much planning will just cause conflict. We will just handle what comes.” M. Robert explained calmly.
Bright and early the next morning, the party assembled at the dock. Present was M. Ives, who knew the area well, M. Driscoll, who was the wealthy bachelor funding the trip, Madame Camillei, the journalist, M. Robert, the botanist, M. Richard, the doctor, and Captain Trètin with his crew. They set sail with good conditions; the sky was clear and the wind stiff in the right direction. Their journey had begun. The crew taught the group about the sea, and how to sail the vessel. They spoke of past trips they had gone on and what this one might entail. The days passed quickly, with morning and evening running together, each rendering a breathtakingly vivid sun, and bold, vibrant reds and purples. M. Robert practiced his artistic skills by drawing and shading in the sunrises of each morning, but even his steady artists hand could not do justice to the actual scene.
A few crew members had gotten minor illnesses and by the time their first sea leg was nearing completion, M. Richard had already gotten much practice nursing them to health. It seemed that they had eaten rotting fruit and had upset stomachs to prove it. “But it’s better to have an upset stomach than scurvy, correct?” they would argue.
About two weeks into the sea leg of the traveling, a storm approached from the south. It looked small enough and the captain predicted that it would pass over within the evening, bringing with it minimal rain. It was good practice for the inexperienced Frenchmen and woman who had never sailed. Captain Trètin’s prediction was correct, the ship was rocked a bit, but no worse for the wear. Madame Camillei nonetheless was rather shaken by the change in motion and became sea sick for a number of days. She was not the only one, M. Robert was not a good friend of the sea either.
Eventually land was spotted and everyone in company breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the first sea trip. That afternoon they approached near enough to land that they could release the small boats and paddle the rest of the way. M. Ives led the troupe and they pulled the boats up onto shore, careful to tie them up well to ensure that they would not float away. M. Driscoll took in the scene before him, it was just like the pictures in books he had read, with tall tree wide with leaves, and reflective sand that was hot underfoot. It was late summer by then and the sun bore down relentlessly on the backs of their necks. Madame Camillei was glad she had gotten wide brimmed hats and had some relief from the heat. They camped out beneath a cluster of trees that provided shade and M. Robert and M. Richard set out to look around a bit. The mountain was very near to the shore and they were able to get a better look at it up close by taking only a few minutes’ walk. It seemed to be composed of limestone. “How do you think such a place could have formed?” asked M. Robert. “I do not think we have any way of knowing. A hollowed out mountain still sounds farfetched to me, so I won’t hazard a guess until I’m within.” replied M. Richard.
M. Ives started a fire using the flint they had brought with them, and soon small plumes of smoke were visible through the trees. M. Richard and M. Robert returned to camp with fish they had caught in the stream with their hands. “Look here look here! I used my very own two hands to catch this fish! How many of our French friends can say that? Not many I would guess.” exclaimed M. Robert. “Indeed! I feel like a wild adventurman out on his own against nature! I’m connected back to my cave man ancestors and I can feel them applauding our efforts! How invigorating! By golly M. Driscoll you truly must join us sometime.” M. Richard added excitedly. “I’ll get right to preparing them!” Madame Camillei said as she gathered the fish and began chopping their heads off with the machete. She scaled them and set them cooking in a few minutes and the gentleman were impressed by her lack of disgust at the slime and scales. The fish hissed and popped over the flames and the scent of protein wafted across the forest. Soon echoes of birds and calls of animals could be heard at a close distance. This was a little nerve wracking for M. Ives as he recalled the creatures that tried to devour him a few months before. But he felt assured that they could not reach him outside of the mountain.
The fish was a delicious change from the fruit and salted meats they had been eating on the ship for the past month, and there was just enough for each member to have a few bites. Coupled with banananas it made a decent, well rounded meal. They still had reasonable portions of food aboard the ship, but were trying to save them for the travel back home, in case they were blown off course and it took longer than expected.
Madame Camillei and M. Richard became fast friends during the ship ride, and they conversed over politics and religion while preparing beds for the night. Meanwhile, M. Ives, M. Driscol,l and M. Robert went over plans for the next day. “If it is not raining then I say we may as well find the cave and venture in at dawn. Why wait?” argued M. Driscoll. “I feel like we need more time to prepare, I do not want anyone getting hurt because we rushed into things. It is dangerous there.” whispered M. Ives, as though the creatures could hear him. “We need maximum time to study things and get to know the area, we need to map it out and explore every corner and get to know ever creature. We can put ourselves at the top of the food chain and then take over the area. It would just take time. Which is why I agree with M. Driscoll, though you know the area better, you perhaps do not realize our time crunch.” said M. Richard. “I know! I know! We cannot stay forever. However I’m a bit concerned for our safety…” M. Ives trailed off. “Are you frightened M. Ives? Are you too intimidated to go back? Are you so fearful that you are stalling?” M. Driscoll confronted him. “Well… yes I am a little worried. Or very much worried actually. I do not know that are fully aware of what we were getting ourselves into, coming out here like this with all of these people, and just expecting that our cutlasses and daggers to keep us safe. We did not even bring arms you know? Oh dear, why did we not bring arms?” M. Ives began having a small nervous breakdown realizing what he thought would be great dangers. Luckily, M. Richard was able to calm him down before his hysteria spread to the others. “M. Ives, we are travelling in a group of 15, we will be perfectly safe. The only real danger is not finding enough food for all of us. We will stay together and take turns keeping watch, just relax and enjoy the sights again.” he said patiently. “Well men, we will leave at dawn.” M. Driscoll said importantly while pointing his arm towards the sky and resting his foot on a rock. Confident that they had a plan worked out, they rejoined Madame Camillei, M. Robert, and the crew around the fire. They explained their intentions of leaving the next morning and the announcement was met with immense excitement. They organized shifts to keep guard and watch the fires, then went to sleep beneath the myriad of stars. The night passed uneventfully, though no one got much sleep, other than Captain Trètin who snored rather loudly and made it difficult for anyone to rest.
“Let’s get moving lady and gentleman, we are using daylight!” said M. Driscoll as he tried to hurry the party. “Just a moment, I need to finish clearing our breakfast mess, I do not want anyone coming here and thinking that we are vandalizing Ivesville. If it becomes a tourist area we will need good trash guards.” Madame Camillei finished cleaning up and they set off. M. Ives led them to the waterfall and they began climbing. It was a steep and risky path, made more dangerous by the number of people on it. A few times someone would slip and be caught by the person beneath them. This made the climbing very slow and the sun was already well overhead when they stopped on a small plateau to rest. They caught their breath for a moment then continued the climb. By that time, a few crew members had fallen behind. The two with peg legs found the climb to be very challenging and the crew men with one arm was also having difficulties. They fell behind and were frustrated with the difficulty of the climb. “I hope it isn’t like this the whole time… if only I had not provoked that guard.” one mumbled to himself.
“Here it is! I’ve found it! The cave entrance!” M. Ives yelled down excitedly. “Oh joy, we can finally have some fresh air and cool down. We should be there by dark!” he continued. As the sun was setting, the majority of the party had made it through the cave, though one peg legged man went back to the ship claiming that the cave would be too difficult for him, and the one armed man accompanied him, as they were instructed to utilize the buddy system.
As soon as M. Ives had emerged out of the cave, he set out to build a fire. Fire was his passion, as it was something he could build with his hands and have complete control over. It also seemed to be the smartest way to keep the predators off and away, as it was almost dark out, and they would have little protection from any hungry animals. Soon the flames were blazing high and they gathered around it to roast the fish fruit they found growing near the stream, the very same bush that had nourished our lost friend the first time.
Exhausted from the climb, no one wanted to volunteer to take the first guard shift. Finally, Captain Trètin offered to, since he had kept the group awake the previous night. As was expected by the slacker type that he was, he fell asleep soon after starting his post, endangering the whole group and deeming himself as untrustworthy. Luckily, the creatures had no taste for humans that night and kept their distance, both afraid of the flames, and intimidated by the large number of them.
The silence of the night was only the calm before the storm. After they had awoken and gone to the stream to wash off the salt and sand of the previous days, a massive army of tree animals came rushing down the hill. They were clicking and groaning, making strange sounds that did not match the bodies they inhabited. Their mouths hung open, ready to attack and devour the nearest human. Madame Camillei was the first to feel the ground shake and see the mass, she called out to M. Ives, but it was barely audible, as she was caught in the approaching vision. It was mysterious and majestic, beautiful even, to watch trees run on their roots across the ground They seemed to be almost floating. It was a vision from nightmares, an enthralling image. The wind caught loose leaves on their branches and twirled them about, they seemed to run almost in slow motion as cries of alarm made their way through the assembly. “Get in the stream! Get in the water now!” M. Ives yelled over the panic. They ran for the water like spooked, dehydrated buffalo, and the trees pursued them there. Safely submerged in the water, the group watched as the trees surrounded the stream and seemed to wait in ambush. “Are they just going to stay there and wait until we have to get out?” whispered M. Richard. “They seem to be making themselves comfortable there…” M. Robert trailed off. “Maybe I can reason with them?” Madame Camillei whispered back. She stood in the water and neared the shore. “Hello there! We arrive in peace! Do you speak French?” she asked, slowly and loudly. The huge tree seemed to glare at her with its small, black, beady eyes. Madame Camillei immediately crumpled to the ground, holding her head. She cried out in surprise. “Madame Camillei! Are you alright?” M. Driscoll waded to her and helped her regain her balance. “Yes I’m fine, I just heard yelling, it was so loud that my brain ached. Ah!” she yelled again and fell into his arms. “I can hear them talking! It is so loud in my head! Oh please stop doing that!” she yelled at the trees. “What are you talking about? Are you feeling okay? Should we get you some water and a place to rest?” M. Driscoll asked caringly. “By Louis! The trees are speaking to me! In my head!” she said surprised. “In your head you say? By way of telapathy? What a fascinating concept! I wonder if all the creatures here speak to one another in that manner?” M. Robert exclaimed, glad to have an extra important thing to study as a botanist. Madame Camillei was silent for a few moments and stared at the trees. “Are you talking to them?” asked M. Driscoll. “Enough with the questions, let me think.” she replied quietly, deep in thought. By that time, the whole party had gathered around her and were asking questions, trying to understand what was going on. “You say she is talking to the trees? Do they even have brains to communicate back with? Who has ever heard of a tree with a brain? This is very odd indeed!” M. Ives said mostly to himself. “What are you saying to it? How does the tree know French? Where does a tree keep it’s brain?” M. Driscoll prodded. “I’m asking it to please not attack our group, we are simply coming to study them. It does not need to know French, the language of thoughts is universal.” she told them, with an air of self importance. “Why can I not hear it? May I speak with them?” begged M. Ives. She paused for a few moments then said, “Yes, you may try, just focus on the tree and clear your mind, otherwise they will hear all of your thoughts.” He focused and got quiet, an uncommon thing for the wordy M. Ives. “Ah ha! I’m doing it! I’m talking to a tree! Ah ah just wait until I get back and tell the world about this!” “They do not like us being here, they wish that we would leave. We are eating their food and leaving our mark on things. Perhaps we should cut our trip short?” she translated. “Cut it short? Absolutely not! I’ll tell them that we will be gone by the next moon cycle. That’s a month. They can live with us symbiotically until then, aye?” said M. Ives. Soon the whole group was attempting the human to tree communication. They were all silently staring at a tree and some were smiling victoriously, some with wonder, and some were frowning at the effort of thinking. “They have given us permission to stay that long. If we do not upset their ecosystem that is. Otherwise we will be forced to leave or be eaten. They are very hungry and are in a great famine right now, that’s why they so targeted us.” M. Ives spoke unnecessarily, as no one was lending him an ear. We will allow you to stay, but you must learn our ways and our customs. When you return you can speak of us knowingly. We will instruct you on how to eat, how to avoid becoming prey, and how to expect what seems impossible. The trees thought to the people. We are ready, thank you for accepting us and we will work hard to be good students. Madame Camillei thought back. They got out and dried themselves off, this did not take long as the sun was quickly evaporating the water. What are these holes in the ground with liquid in the bottom? she asked a tree. They are the mouth of the Uberdangerites. Do not step near one, you will be devoured instantly. It explained. They learned that the trees did not name themselves, or have any sort of chain of command. If one had an intelligent idea, they tested it, no laws or rules. It was an ingenious society built on the honors system with an appreciation of right and wrong. They had no need for laws because no tree had a desire to do wrong. You have no wars? No territory disputes with other trees? No criminals or rebels? M. Roberts asked curiously. Indeed, no need for wars or territory issues when we all live together in peace. No criminals or rebels because it is better to simply be good. This was a foreign concept to them, but certainly one that could take back to France. Being noble simply because they could be.
Notice the fruit, you call it fish fruit and roast it over light. We call it Manna, and we eat quite a bit of it raw. These berries are not good for eating, we leave them for the birds, so that everyone is full. This fruit is not good either, it will destroy your insides. This is good, it is sweet and full of vitamins. A tree explained as they nibbled on the fruit. The berries mentioned were the ones that M. Ives unknowingly ate during his first trip there that made him violently ill for a number of days. Now he knew to consult a tree before eating a new fruit. Are there other animals here? All I’ve seen are trees, vines, fish, and birds, where are the rest? M. Robert asked a tree. They are hiding at the other end of this place you call Ivesville. They do not wish to be seen. I advise that you stay within the boundaries we have set for you and do not try to find them. Not every creature here is as friendly and accepting as we are. Some are hungry monsters who would not think twice before eating an entire group of humans. They are vicious beings. We avoid them when at all possible and you should too. The tree said sternly. It was no matter to be taken lightly. Late at night, when the moon was at its darkest, rumbles and calls could be heard across the land. Who knew what sort of creature could make noise like the thunderous ones that were audible.
“What sorts of animals do you think are hiding? Perhaps dinosaur like animals? Maybe giant elephants? That’s what the noises sound like.” Two crew members conversed to keep themselves awake during their night guard shift. Since Captain Trètin’s accident involving the night shift, they had begun taking it in twos. “Maybe it’s some kind of mythical dragon, just waiting to burn us to ash!” he said mysteriously. The other man shuddered. “Let’s hope they just stay where they are until we leave. I’d like to make it out of here better off than the man with one arm or one leg…” he trailed off and paced around camp.
They had been in Ivesville for many days by this point, and were fluent in the tree thought language pattern. The Frenchmen and woman had adopted a sort of routine and were settled rather nicely there. They were not keeping track of the days gone by, but would guess they had been there for about three weeks. “We have about a week and a half left here, you know. How strange it will be to return to our normal lives after living like this. I will look at people and expect them to know what I’m thinking!” M. Richard said to M. Robert as they were drawing diagrams of flowers. “I know precisely what you mean. I greatly enjoy thought talking and will miss it fully when we return. When I show these drawings to my colleagues I know they will be completely shocked at the complexity yet simplicity. And yet, they will be even more surprised when I tell them of the things we have learned from trees. Who would have known that they were so intelligent? Or that they even had brains!” M. Robert replied. “I will be glad to eat chicken and goat again though, how I have missed a good meat! And fine cigars. It will be good to return despite the things I will miss. I hear that M. Driscoll has been trying to persuade the trees to let him live here for the rest of his life. It that not the most absurd thing you have heard recently? Living here for good! Pah, it takes a strong man.” M. Richard said. “Indeed? Live here? Well I would not be surprised if he did. And even less surprised if Madame Camillei chose to stay with him here. This was good for the both of them I would venture to say.” Just then they heard screams and calls for help from across the stream. “Let us go find out what the hubbub is! Sounds like danger! Maybe we will get a chance to live a bit wildly!” they proclaimed as they swam the flooded stream.
Madame Camillei and M. Driscoll were sitting with young trees learning about how they were taught life lessons and such when the ground began to shake, just as it did when they were first pursued by the trees. What is that? Who is coming? She asked an older, wise tree. You must go, hide yourselves quickly! I sense danger on the horizon! Quickly tell the others! They yelled for everyone’s attention, “Go hide! Now, hurry!” The crew climbed into a few nearby trees branches, much to the tree’s annoyance. Madame Camillei and M. Driscoll scaled a small cliff edge and rested on the plateau. M. Robert and M. Richard came running, dripping wet from their swim across the stream. They rushed to join them on the plateau and awaited the coming danger. What is this? Are we in grave danger? M. Driscoll asked a tree. Yes, just stay where you are and let us do the negotiating. M. Driscoll pushed rocks around to form a barrier between them and whatever was coming, hoping that they would not notice the humans hiding there. “Wait! Where is Captain Trètin? Did you see him while you were out studying?” Madame Camillei asked. “No, I’m unsure of where he is.” M. Robert said gravely, realizing that his friend was in danger. “But we cannot worry about that now. Our main priority is hiding here. We cannot help him if we are dead.” The word rang out heavily as they got their first major brush with true fear. The ground shook more violently with each step. An army of something seemed to be approaching. Though what it could be, they had no way of knowing. Just then they heard cries from the stream. “Ahhh help! Please help! Someone!” It was the captain, he was greatly distressed and they could hear it in his voice. “I’ll go. You three stay here!” commanded M. Richard. He carefully picked his way down the rocks and bolted towards the voice. “Help! Help!” screamed Captain Trètin. “I’m coming! Do not worry!” yelled M. Richard. When he arrived at the stream, he saw the captain with his head underwater, his face was bright red and he had a look of panic. “What is the matter? Are you hurt?” asked M. Richard. “Yeth my tongue! I at zee wrong fuit!” he babbled and continued to dunk his head under the water to wash the fruit out of his mouth. “You did what? Ate the wrong fruit? Oh good heavens! Your tongue is the size of a shoe! Keep rinsing keep rinsing!” he instructed, trying very hard not to find humor in the situation. The captain whined and drank more water, hoping that he would not lose his tongue. Sure enough, within a few minutes it fell out into the water. “That’s quite disgusting you should probably get that looked at when we get back to France. Why did you eat the Fruit of the Poisons of Evil? We named it that for a reason you know.” The captain could not answer for drinking more water and being in shock at losing his tongue was more than he could comment on at the moment. “At least you will have good sign language skills now. You know it is all about looking for the brighter side in things. Speaking of brighter side, did you know that we are currently being ambushed by some sort of loud, heavy, hungry animal? Why yes! We are! So how about you take your little canteen of water and we can fill it up then find a nice hiding spot? How about the cave? That sounds like a great plan. Well huphup come on now!” M. Richard drug Captain Trètin over to the cave and they hid inside. “Hopefully your babbling did not alert them as to our hiding place. You should really stop trying to talk now. It’s just pathetic.” M. Richard said as he eyed the horizon. “There! Up ahead! What is that dark mass moving towards our camp? It is a flock of birds? No no, I do not think it is. Is it a tangle of snakes? No, that would not make sense. Well I just do not know. I guess we will have to wait and see!” so that is exactly what they did.
Back on the plateau, Madame Camillei, M. Robert, and M. Driscoll quietly awaited what was to come. They remained quiet as the tree had suggested. Why are you here? We had an agreement that you would stay away. A tree said to a Scarasall leader. I’m aware of this, but it has gone too far at this point. The captain one had entered our territory. It is a distraction to our civilization. They need to leave. And as a little reminder we have a surprise in store for the trespasser. You have one day to get rid of them or else we will take forceful actions much like the ones we already have. Threatened the Scarasall leader. I will let them know of the new plans. Now please return to your territory, quietly and quickly. said the tree. Not so fast, we will frighten them a bit first, to get the point across. Do not worry though, we won’t hurt them, or at least the important ones. The leader chuckled and then roared ferociously.
“What was that?” Madame Camillei asked shakily. She peered around the rock barrier and shrunk back in horror. “Oh good heavens. They’re huge. Massive green, scaly elephant like creatures, mammoth sized monsters with sharp tusks and blood shot eyes. There must be hundreds of them all in rows, like an army.” she said fearfully. “They sound powerful. I wonder why they have not gotten us already. If they were truly in a famine then it must be taking a great deal of willpower to stay away. Why do the trees have control over them? I think we are missing a piece of this puzzle.” said M. Driscoll. “We can worry about dissecting the situation later, for now let us worry about making it out of here in one piece.” said M. Robert. Moments later his hair was ruffled by a cool breeze that reeked of rot and mushrooms. It was not wind though, as Madame Camillei was soon to find out. She craned her neck to look around the rock. She sharply took in her breath at the sight of the multitude of Scarasalls mere yards from their hiding rocks. The animal’s heads came up almost to their plateau because they were so tall. “They know we are here…” she breathed softly. Indeed we do know, you forget that we can hear your thoughts here in Ivesville! I suggest you come down from there slowly and carefully, then line up and follow us into our caves.” the Scarasall said maliciously. “Think of nonsensical thoughts! Quote Shakespeare or something of that nature to confuse them, then we will line up and bolt off to the exit cave by the stream. The huge, bulky animals do not seem like they are all that swiftly moving. Then hopefully the crew will see our intentions and follow us. We need them with us if we are going to get home, you know.” explained M. Robert. “Alright then, at my signal we will run, are we all clear?” asked M. Driscoll. They nodded their heads in agreement and rose from behind the rocks. We are willing to cooperate now, here we go, standing in line, just like you told us to. Promised M. Driscoll. They lined up between two rows of the eye sores of creatures and began marching in time to their earth shaking steps. Their calls and voices sounded like haunting tribal music which only added to the nerves of our French friends. Just as they rounded a group of trees, M. Driscoll whistled an ear piercing bird call and immediately they began full out running towards the stream. They ran for their lives and the Scarasalls pursued them relentlessly. They were actually running at less than full speed, purposefully allowing the humans to escape, however narrowly it seemed. They located the cave and shoved M. Robert and Captain Trètin aside to get in. the opening was narrow enough that the Scarasalls could not get in. They exchanged looks of collective relief and caught their breath, which was coming out in short, ragged bursts. M. Richard and Captain Trètin asked what was going on out there that was causing such racket and earthquakes. “We are under siege by massive, horridly ugly elephants. They want us to follow them and be slaves or food or goodness knows what other awful ideas they have in mind. It is terribly frightening. We must leave now before someone gets seriously hurt.” said M. Driscoll quickly as he prepared to crawl through the cave and leave. “But what of the crew? We do not know enough about the sea to sail ourselves, we need their help. And we cannot sail away and leave them here.” reasoned Madame Camillei. “But we cannot stay here with them. We must devise an escape plan even better than the last one!” said M. Richard. “Do you have any ideas?” he jokingly asked Captain Trètin. “We would love to hear them if so! Well go ahead man, speak up!” the captain glared at them and did not speak. He simply and dramatically opened his mouth and showed that he had no tongue with which to talk. They all gasped in unison and M. Driscoll began chuckling. “Had a little accident there it looks like. Maybe someone will have to voice your opinion for you now!” The captain began to cry, and Madame Camillei crawled over to comfort him. They all laid huddled together in the cave awaiting what ever was to come next. It had certainly turned out to be an adventure they would remember if they ever made it back, that is. “I’ve got it! I’ve concocted a plan for our escape! Gather around and I will explain it all to you!
Madame Camillei was the first to step out of the cave. She ran out and towards the stream. Immediately the multitude of Scarasalls followed her as she jumped into the stream. For some reason, no creature of Ivesville would dare follow her into the water. In fact, they avoided the water at all costs and would dehydrate themselves before they would drink it. It was another mystery she hoped to solve soon. She attracted their attentions and while she was causing a distraction, M. Robert, being sure to keep him mind clear, signaled to the crew in the tree branches to join them in the cave. Then he followed her to the water. M. Ives and M. Driscoll did the same. Each time a man would leave the cave for the stream, two or three men were able to escape into the cave. It was a simple, yet affective method of transporting them. Then M. Ives started a small fire on the end of sticks and waves it around wildly. He had soaked the sticks in the nectar of large, blue flowers hoping that it was flammable. He was successful and the flames burned brightly, frightening the elephants. Put that away immediately! Do as we say or else you will pay heavily! They commanded. But the humans had the upper hand because the Scarasall’s attacks were only half hearted. As M. Ives fire danced, the remainder of the crew entered the cave and those in the river were able to return also. All except for a single crew member, as he was running back, he was not watching the ground and stepped into a hole. The hole was a mouth which swallowed him whole and digested him quickly. Before anyone had noted his absence, he was already a goner. Finally M. Ives threw his fire stick at the Scarasalls and made a run for the cave. Just as he was about to reach it though, one used their tentacles to grab his ankles. He was pulled back, screaming, into the group of nightmarish animals. They hoisted him onto one’s back and began returning to their territory. You cannot do that! It was not part of the agreement! Put him down this instant! Commanded a tree. Do not tell me what to do. He will be our prisoner, we will show him off in the neighboring areas and make a fortune off of him. We will be the dominators! Cried the Scarasalls using telepathy. The trees began an attack on the elephants, winding their branches and vines around the animal’s legs and slowing them down. They catapulted fruits at them and used their leaves as rope. It was the most enthralling fight that the humans had ever seen, something straight out of a child’s fairytale book. Eventually, the Scarasalls released him and ran off into the hills. Finally they had victory and were once again safe. “I think it is time we go home. We have been here for a month, and studied all we came to study, so shall we leave?” asked M. Driscoll. “Yes!” they all cried in unison. “We will depart at dawn then, if that’s okay with you Captain?” he jested. The captain nodded in agreement.
It was finally time for the group to return home. They had a little food left, and gathered much extra fruit and fish they had salted for the return trip. Madame Camillei made sure that everyone had cleaned the area up so that when scientists came in a few months they would be impressed at the conservation of nature. All in all, things were wrapping up for our French visionaries. They had filled many books with drawings and statistics, living patterns, and notes about the animals. That morning dawned new and fresh, the sun was bold, the clouds were tall and puffy, and the winds were optimal for sailing north. The group was almost as excited to leave as they were to go there. The entire time they were crawling through the cave they were chatting excitedly about getting back and what they would do first upon returning. “I will eat bread!” Madame Camillei said with a smile. “I’m going to do a little gambling and card playing, it has been awhile since I’ve gotten to use my poker face at a table.” said one of the crew who had made it out alive. “I’m going to get married.” M. Driscoll whispered to himself.
The ship rocked slowly back and forth across the shore as they paddled from land back to the vessel. They climbed aboard and the crew began singing as they pulled on the masts and set sail to France.
“ The fight was off the Frenchman's land,
We forced them back upon their strand,
For we fought till not a stick would stand,
Of the gallant Arethusa.”
They sang out victoriously. Earlier that morning, the lady and gentleman had held a small service for the fallen men. The men who had given their lives for a little taste of adventure. They had a moment of silence during which they remembered how the men had fought to the death to keep Ivesville in order. Among those recognized were the man who had fallen in the hole, the man who had fallen off the waterfall during their first climb up, and the man who knew not how to swim and drowned while bathing. “They will be dearly missed for their wit, for their positive attitudes, and for their contribution to our travels. Rest in peace friends.” M. Driscoll spoke over the memorial of shells and rocks they had made on the beach. “Now onward ho! Let us be gone!”
It was a week and a half into the ship ride back and Madame had just finished her first breaking news story about Ivesville. It summarized what they had seen and done and provided facts proving that she was telling the truth. It was a fine piece of journalism and she could not wait to dock so that she could send it to the presses. M. Robert had also finished his journaling, though his books were composed of pictures of beautiful flowers with hundreds of petals and delicate, lacy leaves. He also recorded the animals they had seen, the birds with blooms on their wings, the trees, of course, and the fish fruits where his favorite drawings. He had tried a few times to roughly sketch the Scarasalls, but the memory was still too frightening for him to recall it and record. He hoped that upon his return he could make a name for himself in the scientific botany world. M. Richard had offered to go on the trip, claiming that he was a doctor and apothecary. In truth, he was neither, and only wanted an excuse to get away from his wife for a while. So while he did have a goal in going, he did not accomplish anything of any importance, except helping Captain Trètin save his tongue, which he did not succeed at. He was not much of a journal or drawer and thus had few records of the trip to show for his time. Other than a colorful rock he had found on the bottom of the stream. Captain Trètin had not been fond of talking in his life. He had little respect for men who babbled constantly about nothing of any importance. Thus, the loss of his tongue did little to affect his life. He learned a few signs to help him with the necessary communications of life, whether he wanted his scotch shaken or stirred, and how many bottles of beer were on the wall, being the most used of these.
After over three months abroad, they arrived in France. It was wonderful to feel firm ground beneath their feet and the familiar sights and sounds of the town. The crew and French men and woman said their goodbyes and went their separate ways to rejoin their separate lives. M. Driscoll, after spending months with her at his side, realized that he needed to make Madame Camillei his wife. So he gathered his funds and bought her a ring. She said yes right away and the two would be happily wedded for many years.
When she arrived home, Madame Camillei noticed a letter laying under her desk chair. “Oh goodness, how long has this been here? Probably since before I left. I hope it is not a bill or a funeral notice.” she murmured to herself. The letter read as follows,
Madame Camillei of France,
We have enjoyed reading your literary pieces in your town’s newspaper for many months now. The pieces are well researched and easily read by citizens of any age, background, or schooling. They are conservative, yet agree with both sides of every issue. Our team here at Le Journal de Paris values talented journalists. That is why we would like for you to become one of our main headlining writers. If you are willing to take to office, we will negotiate pay and viewer frequency.
The news team at Le Journal de Paris
“Le Journal de Paris? Why that is the most read newspaper in the country! I am going to be famous!” she squealed like a young schoolgirl and danced around the house. “My name in print! My stories for the country to read!” Having spent the last three months with constant companions, the silence and lack of people to converse with made her feel lonely. Madame Camillei was eager to tell of her good news, so she paid M. Driscoll a visit. Though they had only been apart for a morning, she missed his company greatly. When she arrived, he took her out to the gardens and made a marriage proposal. It was indeed a full day for our kind friend.
“Edward? Edward Ives! Hello there! Can you hear me?” Edward slowly opened his eyes and squinted at the light of the candles in the room. “Ah yes, he is waking up. That is a good sign, his fever must have broken, the bed is damp with perspiration. I would say he will be back in working order within the month.” the doctor explained to the worried schoolmaster. “Are you sure he won’t suffer from permanent damage, sir? He fell pretty hard, and with scarlet fever on top of that?” the schoolmaster asked while wringing his hands. “Well he might have a bit of memory loss, but he should be just fine for the most part. I’ll check back in in a week or so, just to be sure. Good day Edward.” he said as he left the room, medicine bag in hand. “How are you feeling Edward? Does your head hurt a bit?” he asked. “Why are you calling me that? You shall address me as M. Ives. Especially now that I’m famous for discovering Ivesville. You should have utmost respect for me.” he said with importance. “Ivesville? What is this place you speak of? Edward, you know you fell and hit your head last month, remember when we visited the springs? You slipped on a wet rock and fell unconscious. While you were being seen by the doctor for a minor concussion, you contracted scarlet fever, you have been delirious for weeks. You would yell out names of fictitious people and animals and thought you were being chased by plants. But that is okay, you are better now. Just rest.” the schoolmaster spoke quietly and calmly, hoping to relax Edward. “Fever? Are you sure? Where is Captain Trètin? And Madame Camellei?” he asked worriedly. “I’m not sure whom you are speaking of. Here, have some water and go on back to sleep. You need to rest, alright? You don’t want the fever to come back now, do you?” “It was all the fever… all a dream…” he murmured to himself as he laid back in bed. Out of his pocket fell a small colored rock.
Henderson , Nevada
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