As my foot descended, I was treated to the most wonderous experience! I saw trees fly by; birds who were going so much slower than me that they seemed to fly in reverse; best of all, I saw myself pass over a small river. My foot came to rest on the far bank of the river, and the mountain loomed larger than it had before. Still the eye slept.
I was about to take another step when I heard a cry from behind me. I turned to look, and I saw a strange sight: across the river stood a satyr, smoking a cigar and holding a hammer in his right hand. In his left was a large cup, and he had a pair of nails clenched in his teeth. His erection was noticable from where I stood, but it seemed to be only about nine inches or so, which struck me as very small for a satyr.
I raised a hand to wave to the creature, and this gesture was returned with a shout. The words were impossible to make out, so I called to the satyr for clarification.
I saw him remove the nails from his mouth, and he tried again. "Would you help me build a bridge?" he shouted, his question carrying clearly this time.
"I would," I called back, "but it seems like I'm on the wrong side of the river. You have all the nails, and I have nothing."
"You have an axe, I see. Could you not cut down trees for wood?"
"I suppose I could do that. How did you expect to build a bridge without an axe?" I called.
"I didn't. I expected a friend here to help, but it appears he has been delayed."
"How will you get the wood if I cut it down on this side?"
He thought for a moment. "The trees can be floated to me, across the river. Just cut them down and toss them in."
I knew that I wasn't on a schedule, or at least I hoped I wasn't, and so I decided to help the satyr build his bridge.
I started on one tree, which seemed strong and was close to the water. The axe bit into it, and soon the tree had fallen into the water, and began to float downstream. The satyr waded into the river and pulled it over to the dry ground on his side. I saw him go to work with a saw, and turned to the next tree, which was also close to the water. Soon, I had downed 6 trees, and had run out of trees near the water.
"We only need one more!" called the satyr. It was true. I looked at his work, and while it wasn't the prettiest bridge in the world, it was certinaly enough for a man to walk across, and probably enough for a man to ride a horse across. "Make it a large one just to be sure!"
I looked around me. Most of the trees nearest the water were young, and not very large at all. I considered each tree and ruled it out. The only thing I could do was look further in for a larger, better tree. "Make sure it's bendable, too!" the satyr called as I disappeared from his view.
I wandered in the shade of the trees for a bit, thankful to have the sun no longer on my back. The smell of the forest was welcome, and I was careful to avoid accidentally scarring any trees with the axe on my shoulder.
I walked for perhaps five minutes, looking at trees and ruling them out. I found a pair of tall oak trees, but knew their wood would be too hard. I came upon an ancient yew, but its crown spread too low to the ground, so it lacked the qualities needed to get the most out of it. I shook my head as I ticked them off, one after another.
I wandered for a few minutes, stepping over (and occasionally stumbling on) exposed roots and animal burrows. Even though I placed each step carefully, it seemed that the forest was playing a game where it very much wanted to see me fall.
Finally, I came to a clearing, and at the center stood the tree I was looking for.
To be continued. . .
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X