Marvelous four in and.., p.3
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       Marvelous Four - In and Out of Danger Zone!, p.3

           James Prakash J. C.
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  Chapter 3

  The Young Goatherd

  Next morning, Harshit awoke cool and fresh and cheerful. The strange noise was still going on. But Harshit had washed his hands off it last night and had concluded that he would never find the strange noise’s secret or source.

  He went out and had a wash in a nearby stream. Then he came back clean and fresh. He opened his satchel, and took a loaf of bread, his sharp knife, some cucumbers and carrots to be eaten raw, cashews, peanuts and some dried fruits. He also took out a plate on which he had his breakfast. He also spotted a mango tree and relieved it of the burden of two mangoes. And thus, having satisfied his hunger he went out of the cave and decided to practice some tree-climbing to kill time.

  He soon got exhausted and sat down under the tree to rest. It was then ten or eleven o’ clock or thereabouts. He resumed his practicing till noon, when he got hungry and had dinner under the same tree.

  Harshit kept up this practice every day. Though swinging from branch to branch like a monkey was no easy thing, he kept it up as he knew it would make him strong and active.

  Once he fell from a tree so heavily that he half thought he had broken his leg. After that he had to limp about and had to give up his practice.

  But in three days he was normal again and he resumed his practice.

  Harshit had read about Mowgli in The Jungle book and The Second Jungle Book. He mentally set Mowgli as his model, in his body fitness matters.

  So, the practice went on, and Harshit soon found to his delight, that he could swing from branch to branch, tree to tree as easily as he could walk. The palms of his hands got scratched no longer, for the palms of his hands had hardened into something like iron.

  Now, as he had learnt to climb trees and to swing from them, Harshit no longer felt that he needed the practice. He remembered the fall he had had from one of these trees, which had made him limp about for tree whole days. So, Harshit thought of practicing to jump from the trees, and so, to learn “the art of landing safely” so as to land safely when he fell from a height like he had before.

  So Harshit started his practice of “the art of landing safely”. He began jumping from the lower branches first. Then, when he had perfected his jumping from these, he began on the higher branches. And so and so, the week passed by. At the end of the week, he had perfected his jumping from the tops of some of the highest trees on the Andhar-ana-mana Mountains.

  Due to his hard practicing, the palms of his feet as well as his hands became hard as iron. His muscles strengthened, and he looked like (and was) a really strong boy.

  Harshit, now, began to feel bored. He had nothing to do all day. He perfected his climbing trees and swinging to and fro from the trees. He had perfected his “art of landing safely”. Now what must he do to pass the time? Then he thought of practicing to jumping from one branch to the other instead of swinging. But Harshit perfected this in less than two days. And again he had to rack his brains to kill time. Then Harshit thought of practicing to somersault in the air. He gathered some heather and moss and built a really thick bed. Then he flung himself into the air, performed a double somersault, and landed on the soft “bed”, on his back. Harshit wanted to land on his feet. So he tried again and again till he had got so perfect that when he flung himself into the air he got so high as to enable him to perform five somersaults in the air before landing safely on the hard ground (mind you, not on the soft heather and moss) on his feet. Harshit was not content with this. He started jumping from a branch, perform a complete somersault and then land on another branch!

  But though Harshit was delighted when he thought that he could do all this, he was again left to think how he must kill time again. This time he thought of taking his binoculars and siting on the top of one of the tree do a spot of “sight-seeing”. This plan he carried out next day.

  That night he found that he had flattened out the bed that he had made of some heather and moss. So he collected some more heather and moss and spread them on the flattened bed, and then, lay down to sleep.

  He slept soundly that night.

  Soon the sun showed its head over the horizon, sending its powerful rays into the cave where Harshit was sleeping, right into Harshit's eyes which woke him up at once.

  The morning was bright and pleasant. Harshit came out of the cave, and felt a cool morning breeze, finding its way around his head, ruffling his hair sideways. It brought with itself the sweet mountain air, in abundance. Harshit filled his lungs with the sweet, fresh air and at once, the sleepy state, in which Harshit was, left him; and Harshit felt cool and fresh in his head, as well as in the rest of his body.

  Harshit remembered that today he going to do some “sight-seeing” with the binoculars. But of course he should have his breakfast, first. “And…Oh!” thought Harshit, “I should have a bath before breakfast.”

  So Harshit walked to the stream, and plunged in. The stream was deep enough to let anyone swim, but it was icy cool this morning. So as soon as Harshit jumped in, he yelled, and hurriedly got out, gasping.

  “Phew!!” said Harshit. “That… wa…s col…ddd..” he stuttered.

  Harshit reasoned that if this stream was as cold as this, any other stream on the Andhar-ana-mana Mountains must be as cold. So he might as well bath in this as in any other stream.

  Thus, Harshit at last decided to tackle this stream, and tackle he did. He didn’t plunge in like before but went in little by little, till the water was up to his knees (that was the deepest point in the stream). Then he lay down, keeping his head well above the water. After a few moments he didn’t feel “the ice age sensation” in the water, and could afford to splash around.

  So Harshit had his bath and then went look for some fruits for breakfast. As usual, he had some fruit juice for a drink and besides, some fruits and bread. He also took an apple-pie for a change.

  It was wonderful to see, how Harshit ate his food so rapidly. It was almost like magic, Harshit just tucked it all in in five minutes.

  After breakfast, Harshit tidied up the cave and then took the binoculars went out, chose the highest tree around and climbed to the top. Harshit looked around feeling interested in all he could see. He could see for kilometres ahead, but when he turned around he saw the mountain, looming gloomily and silently; towering over him like anything. He felt slightly gloomy, but turned his head and looked at things that looked a bit more cheerful.

  “Ooooh! What was that?” asked Harshit to himself, taking up his binoculars and applying them to his eyes, “Well! Of all the curious things!” he exclaimed, “that is my cave! Who would believe it? It just looks like a rock from here. And now, if that isn’t the village where I used to live I’ll eat my head! And… Oh! Boy!! That is Mayank!” Here Harshit turned binoculars around, away from the village.

  “And look at that!!! There’s a deer climbing this mountain! No, it’s a goat. There’s another goat coming up! And there’s another! Another! And… another! Why! This is a herd. But where is the goatherd?”

  Harshit scanned the whole place around him with the binoculars, looking for the goatherd. Suddenly, a boyish voice called out:

  “Are you looking for me?”

  Harshit started. He looked down and saw a boy climbing up the tree on which Harshit sat. The boy had a flute in his left hand which hindered his progress up the tree, very much. When Harshit looked down, the young goatherd looked up and gave a broad boyish grin.

  “So you’re here? Heh?” mused the boy, “They’re looking everywhere for you!”

  “Oh bother!” thought Harshit, “now this ragamuffin will tell everyone about me, and they’ll be on my track.”

  Harshit hadn’t recognized the goatherd, or he wouldn’t have thought the goatherd as a “ragamuffin”.

  Soon the young goatherd came to his side and sat down on a branch near Harshit and grinned, a friendly grin.

  “Phew!” said the goatherd, wiping his forehead, where he had got some scratches. “What put it into your
head to choose this tree to climb?”

  Harshit looked at the boy with an astonished expression.

  “Now, there, what’s the matter?” asked the boy looking behind him, where, he thought, Harshit had seen something unusual.

  “Sumit!” exclaimed Harshit, “You here!”

  “Yes I’m here,” said Sumit, the goatherd, grinning. “So you hadn’t recognized me, Harshit?” Sumit laughed. His sides shook merrily, almost knocking him off the branch.

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