OLLIE-DARE AND THE RIVER BOAT PILOT
One day as Ollie-Dare was walking along the river on his way to see friends he saw a strange sight before him. Sitting on the river's edge was a giant float of some sort, with strange ropes and large white cloths blowing in the breeze. Now this worried Ollie-Dare that something had entered his forest, and he was not quite sure of what it was.
Ollie-Dare slowly walked up to the rivers edge and called out "Hello, is someone there?"
At first there was no answer from the strange float, and then suddenly a tall white-haired man came into view. He had a long white beard that hung to his chest, and on his head sat a wool cap. "Hello there and who may I be speaking with?" called the man.
"I am Ollie-Dare, and this is my forest you have entered. May I ask who you are, and what is this float that you seem to be riding on?"
"I am Max, the River Boat Pilot," the stranger said, "and I mean you no harm. This is the Queen Anne and she is the swiftest and best riverboat on this here river. But she has taken on a leak, that must be repaired. I am only stopping to see if I can repair her so I can continue my journey."
Ollie-Dare thought for a moment and said "Welcome, Max, come ashore and I will fix some fresh tea, and see if we, here in the great forest, may be of help to you."
Max lowered a strange looking rope that looked like a ladder and began to climb down. As Max reached land from his boat, he shook hands with Ollie-Dare and with a big smile said, "I don't think I have ever met a bear, and one that talks as well."
Ollie-Dare returned his smile and answered, "I, Sir, have never met a River Boat pilot before, so that should give us plenty to talk about over tea."
As the strange pair started toward the forest they began talking of their travels and Ollie-Dare spoke of the forest and its many problems. As they came upon Ollie-Dare's cave they could see Jimmy the Rabbit sitting on the porch waiting for his old friend. Ollie-Dare introduced Max, as they entered his cave, and told Jimmy of the boat and its leak.
Max sat and listened to all the wonderful stories Jimmy had to tell of his life in the forest, and Max told of his life on the river. Soon Ace the Coon and Banjo the Fox showed up, to the delight of Max, and they, too, told him of tales from the forest. They talked along, and the time went by so fast that soon darkness entered the cave. Ollie-Dare invited Max to spend the night and have breakfast with him and his friends, giving an invitation for a forest tour the next morning.
Max happily agreed for he needed some materials to repair his boat and thought the forest may be able to help. So Max settled in for the night, and Ollie-Dare set out some fresh tea bags and bread for breakfast the next morning. Jimmy, Ace, and Banjo left to get a few hours of sleep after the promise of returning the next day for breakfast.
And sure enough, just as Ollie-Dare had finished making the tea and toast, the voices of his friends could be heard in greetings as they entered the cave. Max was sitting, waiting on his new friends, and the fresh tea Ollie-Dare was preparing. Over breakfast they made plans for the day, and who they should visit for the supplies Max needed.
Soon they began their journey and made the way to the home of Nibbles the Squirrel. Of all the forest creatures, Nibbles was the one that knew where and how to find things within the forest, for she traveled the forest every day gathering nuts and berries for the long winter ahead. Everyone knew that Nibbles was a friend and gave help to everyone. Nibbles talked with Max and asked many questions of his travels before finally telling him about Beaver Joe that lived down river, and how he was the best water and woodsman around. So with a fresh bag of berries, Nibbles said good-bye to Max and sent him on his way to see Beaver Joe.
Along the way they passed many of the forest creatures, and Max took the time to stop and talk with each of them. He met Blossum the possum with her wild hat and bag of goodies, Shantey the groundhog waved from a distance, for he was shy and stayed away from strangers.
Soon they came upon a large pile of wood. Max thought to himself that he had never seen so much wood. Ollie-Dare called for Beaver Joe and soon he came scampering over the woodpile along with his sons Joey, Jr, and Jay. Ollie-Dare introduced Max and told Beaver Joe of his boat and its leak.
Beaver Joe left and returned with a nice, long, log from his woodpile. Max thanked Beaver Joe for his kindness and asked him to join him for a trip up river as soon as the leak was repaired. Off the group went to rest and have evening tea before taking Max back to the river.
As the evening sun began to fade, Ollie-Dare, Max, Jimmy, Ace, and Banjo headed for the river to see the boat and assist Max if needed. They were nervous attempting to climb onto the big boat, but soon found themselves laughing at the slipping and sliding as they tried to climb the rope ladder.
Before long they found themselves on deck of the boat, and were amazed at the sight before them. Ropes of all sizes, barrels, and boxes were everywhere. A small door led to a small room where there was a bed and a small kitchen.
Max explained in detail the operations of his riverboat, and the responsibility of his hauling merchandise from town to town along the river. He carried medicine for doctors, food, cloth and fuel, as well. Soon the time came for Ollie-Dare and his friends to leave, so with a promise of returning the next day to say good-bye before Max continued his journey, they headed home.
Bright and early the next morning, a parade of animals could be seen walking toward the river's edge. Max was up on the tip of his boat, laughing heartily at the merriment before him. Nibbles the Squirrel had brought along her best friends, Fanny the Robin and Henny the Wren. Blossum the possum was there and so was Shantey the Groundhog, Wood Chuck the Logger, and Beaver Joe and his family. They all carried gifts for Max of one sort or another. Ollie-Dare was pleased with the forest creatures, and smiled proudly as each came forth to wish Max well and deliver their gifts.
Max in turn gave the animals gifts of food, hay, and bright cloth for clothes and bedding. He soon had to say good bye to his new friends, and started off to deliver his goods along the river. Promising to return one day for fresh brewed tea, he said good by.
Ollie-Dare returned to his cave, and once again thought of the years gone by, and how each new thing that came his way brightened his tomorrows. He gave thanks for his old friends such as Jimmy, Ace and Banjo, and thanks for his new friends such as Max. While brewing his tea, he wondered at what the morning would bring - what new and exciting adventures lay in wait for him.
©2002 Rebecca Morris
Watch for the next chapter in the July-August combined issue!