Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves: Installment Five

And I’m back with a bite-size installment of Chip’s adventures! Enjoy!

*

A thousand new smells greeted Chip, and he was overwhelmed and delighted by every one of them. He felt drawn in so many directions that he could hardly decide which to explore first. A sharp, tangy smell led him to the right, but no sooner had he discovered the deep orange and raspberry colored flower that produced it than a whiff of something delicate and soft sent him bounding in the opposite direction.

Chip went from the deepest, coolest shade of impossibly large trees only to emerge into blazing sunlight that warmed him all through.

Nothing about this place was less than glorious, and he wanted to see every inch of it.

He had just come to rest beneath a hazel tree when something small and hard landed on his head. Gingerly rubbing his paw against the spot, Chip looked up only just in time to duck out of the way.

Nearly a dozen hazelnuts came tumbling to the earth, and an outraged chattering followed them. A small, furry head popped out from behind a leafy bough, and the chipmunk’s eyes went wide with suspicion.

“Don’t you think for even a moment about commandeering my hazelnuts! I worked all day for those, and I won’t have some upstart, whiskered fiend take what’s mine! I’ll have you know –.”

The chipmunk, mercifully, stopped mid-tirade to squint down at Chip.

Before Chip could decide how to respond to being called an upstart, whiskered fiend, the chipmunk was down the tree trunk and sniffing his satchel quite carefully.

The chipmunk’s ears perked up when he saw the initials, “L.T.,” on the side, and he looked up at Chip, his eyes bright with barely contained curiosity. “This here satchel used to be mine. I gave it to a fearsome badger who rescued me when I found myself at the end of a fox’s snout. And there isn’t an unfriendlier place to be.”

The chipmunk paused, catching sight of the rabbit’s chipped ear. Without any invitation, he scampered up Chip’s back as if he were just another tree to climb. “Seems as though you’ve met with some danger yourself.”

Chip tried to disguise his aggravation with only mild success. “No, I was born with it.”

“Hmm,” was all the chipmunk offered for comment before hopping down, oblivious to the annoyance he’d caused.

“Did you know her?” he asked.

“Know who?”

“The badger!” the chipmunk said in a tone that suggested Chip really ought to have known.

“I know her nephew, Romulus Took. He gave the satchel to me.”

The chipmunk regarded Chip silently for a few moments, and then, apparently making up his mind, held out his paw. “Name’s Alfeus, and I count as friend anyone who’s on good terms with Leah’s family.”

“My name’s Chip.”

“What brings you to Almea, Chip?” Alfeus asked as he began gathering his hazelnuts once more.

Before answering, Chip opened his satchel, gesturing for Alfeus to store his hazelnuts inside. Alfeus gratefully accepted. Then, “I’m looking for Abaline,” Chip explained.

Alfeus stopped suddenly, then grinned. “Now, that’s just what Leah said. I suppose I’ll have to help you like I helped her.”

Chip smiled, grateful that his first discovery in this strange place had been a friend.

~

The pair were walking beneath some low-hanging boughs when Alfeus decided it was his prerogative as Chip’s traveling companion to know details of the rabbit’s business. “Why do you care to find Abaline, if I may ask? This treasure she guards must be a mighty thing to you if you’re willing to travel all this way.”

Chip hesitated to share at first. But if Alfeus was a willing friend, then why not? “Well, I asked God something a while ago now, and I haven’t heard anything back. So, I’m wondering if my prayers really matter to Him at all.”

Alfeus remained uncharacteristically silent.

Chip waited as long as he could (a whole minute, in fact), but then he could hold back no longer. “Have you ever wondered anything like that, Alfeus?”

“Yes, I have.”

Another unbearable pause.

“And?”

Alfeus stubbornly looked ahead, but Chip could see the beginning of a smile. “And you’ll just have to see for yourself.”

An answer and not an answer, Chip thought to himself, and he felt rather tired of those. But just as he opened his mouth to say so, Alfeus unceremoniously clapped a paw over Chip’s whiskered muzzle.

The young rabbit heard it then, too.

A rustle in the grass.

Could it be an innocent passerby? Chip wondered hopefully.

But then dead silence fell, as if something were waiting for them to believe just that, and for a moment, before chaos erupted, the little rabbit felt the greatest longing for home.

*

What do you think is lying in wait for Chip and Alfeus? We’ll find out next week 🙂

Until then,

Alexandria

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