The Story of the Whos as of 3 31 15.pdf

Preview of PDF document the-story-of-the-whos-as-of-3-31-15.pdf

Page 1 234473

Text preview

“Come on,” Peter's father said, with a last contemptuous look back at the old man, before
dragging him back along the path.
That was Peter's last visit with his teacher. Three days later, old Professor Harling died in his
sleep. Peter's parents went with him to the funeral, though his father had a strained look on his face
throughout the entire ceremony.
When the local officials examined his will, it was found that he had left something to Peter,
which was odd, as Peter had been neither one of Professor Harling's favored pupils, nor related to him in
any way. Yet he had been left two items nonetheless.
One was the star-shaped belt buckle he'd always worn, something Peter had seen every day and
had admired. The other was something new; a slender knife, the blade about seven inches long and the
handle about four. But Peter had only a few seconds to stare at it wonderingly, before his father snatched
it up, placing it on the mantle above the fireplace. His sister, Rebecca, a few years older, watched from
the door to her room, her long, golden-brown hair framing her curious eyes.
“He's too young to have a knife,” he said to Peter's mother, answering her questioning look.
“You let him use yours for carving wood,” said Peter's mother.
“I don't care; this is different,” said Peter's father.
“This is only because its Harling, isn't it?” Peter's mother said. Peter's father walked out of the
room without a word. Peter's mother followed him, repeating, “Isn't it?” more insistently. Both of them
walked into their room, closing the door firmly behind them so forcefully that the paintings on the walls
shuddered. Peter sat on the couch, and examined the buckle he had so unexpectedly inherited.
It was about two inches wide and had the reddish shine of bronze. The metal was shaped into a
star with two thick lines crossing through it. One had a circle at either end, the other had a triangle at
either end. Peter stared at it, remembering the professor's words, trying to make sense of them. He stood
up, and went to the small drawer that held his mother's string, Rebecca watching him as he did.
He pulled a two-foot length of the brown, crusty twine free of the bundle, and cut it on the sharp
edge of the drawer. He threaded the twine through an opening in the buckle, and tied the ends of the
string, then hung the makeshift medallion around his neck.
“There,” Peter said to himself, “Now I can always remember him.”
Thirteen years later, Peter Green stood at the front of an air sloop, the chill wind numbing his
cheeks, as the ship soared hundreds of feet above the ground. It wove between the massive trees that lay
beyond the valley, the roar of the engines behind him lost to the wind. The medallion still hung around
his neck.
The air sloop, a fifty-foot long aircraft powered only by two strong engines attached at the back,
relied on its wide, curved body for lift, and faintly resembled a sailing ship in flight, hence its name.
The landscape below looked like a rumpled green carpet to Peter's eyes; among the forests and
hills, great gray trunks, a kilometer in diameter and at least a dozen tall, reached high into the sky.
“Bear right!” Peter turned and shouted in a loud voice that defied his normally quiet nature. He
had dreamed of joining since age thirteen; but the urge to roam had been with him much longer.
His thoughts distracted him; Peter started when the ship turned again, flying tangent to the thick
trunk of the titanic tree, following the curve around to the other side before breaking away. The gray
bark whizzed by at dizzying speeds, providing a dazzling visual effect, like a monochromatic rain.
Now the ship began to descend, gliding smoothly toward a group of hills that the massive trees
surrounding them dwarfed easily in comparison. A stream ran down the rocky slope, into a wide lake at
the bottom, whose surface was punctured by the roots of one of the huge trees. Peter had always
wondered what had allowed a tree to grow so far beyond normal natural limits, let alone a whole forest
Page 2