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Erik chooses Otterley Creek
No good ever came of messing with ogres. They were nasty, smelly beasts with no manners. Erik couldn’t imagine Lady Josie tangling with one, so he turned Benton toward Otterley Creek.
Benton stepped briskly through the snow, ears pricked, nostrils sorting the scents on the breeze. He seemed happy to be leaving the ogre behind. Sensible pony.
As they approached the creek, the ground grew rockier. Benton stumbled, and when he righted himself and walked on, Erik felt that he was favoring his left foreleg. “Uh-oh, buddy,” he said, hopping off. “What did you do to yourself?”
Benton did not answer. Not terribly surprising.
He lifted the pony’s foot and examined the hoof and sole. Wedged between the frog and the wall of the hoof was a large, pointed stone. “Ouch!” said Erik, “no wonder you’re limping!” He worked at the stone with his fingers, but could not get a firm enough grip or enough leverage to pop it out. “Yikes! That’s really in there!” He set Benton’s foot down gently and left him standing in the path while he scouted around for something that might work to pry the rock out with.
Benton was thirsty. He took a few cautious, uneven steps to the edge of the creek and lowered his nose to the water.
“Fun-fun and game-games!
Three otters shot out of the water, and tumbled up the path.
“Wanna play?” they asked eagerly.
Erik looked at the three friendly little faces with their bright eyes, twitchy whiskers, and spiky wet fur. “I wish we could,” he said, “but we’re searching for a lady on a black horse, and my pony got a rock stuck in his foot. I was just looking for something to pry it out with.” He lifted Benton’s forefoot again and gestured for the otters to take a look.
“Oochy-ouchy!” said the littlest otter.
“We can help!” said the middle one.
“Yes yes!” said the biggest. “Strongly are our paws!” He made a muscle to show off his strength.
“It’s very kind of you to offer,” said Erik, “but I couldn’t budge it at all. I think I need a stick or a knife or something to get it out.”
“Tee-hee-hee,” giggled the three. “He don’t know we strong-strong!”
The big one tried first, but his paws were too large to get under the edge of the rock.
“Lemme lemme!” said the little one. He placed his tiny fingers around the rock.
Out came the rock!
He brushed his paws together. “Many many river clams I crack-crack! Strongly be my paws!” he said proudly. “Now play?”
They looked so hopeful that Erik hadn’t the heart to say no. “Well,” he hesitated, “we are in a hurry, but I guess we could play one game!”
“Hurray!” chorused the otters. “Fun-fun and game-games!”
They raced back to the river, swam across, and were up the steep bank on the opposite side lickety-split. They lined up at the top and then one-two-three they belly flopped down on the snowy, muddy slope and shot headfirst into the river.
They raced in a circle back to the top and then one-two-three down they flopped and ZIP-ZOOM-SPLASH! into the river they went.
“Again!” they shrieked with glee, and up they went once more.
“I’m not sure they need us for their fun-fun and game-games, Benton,” said Erik with a grin. “They sure look like they’re having a good time!”
“We have to go,” Erik called to the little animals. “But thank you for getting the rock out of Benton’s foot and for inviting us to play with you!”
“Thank thank for coming!” cheered the otters. “Bye-bye!”
Erik hopped on Benton, and turned around. Lady Josie could not have come this way. She could never have resisted those cute otters. If she had come this way she would still be here playing with them!
To go back and face the ogre, click HERE