The enchanted forest

Once, a long time ago, there lived a family who was content. The father was a skilled gunman who provided for his beautiful wife and young son.

One day the parents put their young son to sleep under shaded bush while they sought water at the river where they were killed by a band of robbers. When the boy woke he found he was alone in the world and he cried and cried and cried until finally an old witchdoctor came upon him. He lifted the baby and his father’s gun and powder and followed the tracks to the river. When he saw the horrible scene of the dead parents the witchdoctor took it upon himself to adopt the young boy and raise him as his own. The witchdoctor loved his new son, but his wife was less taken with the boy and took to calling him Good-For-Nothing.

As the child grew he became a fine lad. He was humble, obedient and the witchdoctor loved him as if he were his own son, but his stepmother continued to take offence to the boy, treating him very badly.

Eventually the boy could take his step mother’s cruelty no more and, while it pained his father to see him go, he decided that he would leave.

The witchdoctor consulted the bones.

“All will go well for you, my son,” he said. “But you must avoid the enchanted forest.”

The boy promised and the witchdoctor gave him his own father’s gun and powder and knobbed stick as a kerrie. make the boy promise not to loose it, promising that it was a magical weapon and that no one could stand against him as long as he had it.

Promises made, the, boy went on his way. He walked and walked and walked until he came to the edge of a forest. He skirted its edge warily. Was this the enchanted forest his father had spoken of?

Suddenly he heard the cries of a bird. A beautiful bird! A magical bird! A bird whose cries hypnotised the boy and, without further thought about the forest and what could lay within it, he wandered into it. He had to find that  bird! He had to be with the bird forever. Little did he know it was a wood spirit that had transformed itself in order to lead people astray.

He walked on and on and on through the forest, following the sweet song of the bird. On and on and on until the sun set. On and on and on until the moon was high in the night sky.

Suddenly the bird was gone. There was no song, only dark. The boy tried to remember which way he had come from, but he hadn't kept track. He had been too absorbed by the bird.

But he was not afraid. He had his father’s gun and powder!

The boy built a fire and when it was high and roaring it lit up the area to reveal several skeletons laying about him and knew they were poor souls who had been lead into the forest.

But he wasn’t afraid. He had his father’s gun and powder.

In time the boy fell asleep. He lay, dreamless, until cla clack clack clack! He was awoken by a strange noise.

Looking over to the fire he saw the skeletons. Animated! Sitting and smoking! It was their bones that has made the odd noise.

Now the boy was frightened. Mustering his courage he stood up and called for the skeletons’ attention.He shouldn't have done that. All at once they rushed at him, their bones rattling together. Clack clack clack!

Realising his gun and powder would be no use to him here he reached for his magical kerrie.

Splinters and shards of bone flew.

When all was quiet he turned to find more skeletons hiding in the bushes. The pleaded with him not to strike them.

They were, they explained, his murdered mother and father, and they had followed him when they saw the bird lead him into the forest. They promised to lead him out of the forest in the morning. And that they did.

The boy lived a long and happy life. He never saw his dead parents again and he made sure to never eb tricked by a wood spirit again.