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The Beavers of Valley Forge (Excerpt 1)

It was a cold, foggy early spring night and not a living soul was awake except for six wandering beavers creeping along a dark highway. These beavers were considered nomads, as they had never lived in an area for longer than a year. Their names were Boss, their leader, and O’Wisey, O’Strengthy, O’Smiley, O’Lazy, and O’Worky. O’Lazy was extremely lazy, but he was allowed to stay only because he was good at tracking down and gathering food. O’Smiley was also lazy, but with his smile he could beguile any enemies that crossed the beavers’ path. O’Wisey was the mastermind behind all the construction work the beavers performed and O’Worky worked tirelessly on projects. O’Strengthy could handle the heaviest logs and branches. Together, they were a team.

This night they were on a quest. O’Wisey had heard of Valley Forge Park and had persuaded Boss to allow them to move to the park. Now they crept along the highway when O’Smiley saw a sign. “Hey let’s go look! Maybe we’re there!” The beavers snuck across the road and scuttled over to the sign. O’Smiley stared up and read, “Va… Valley Forge Nation… National Historical Park. Whoopeee!!!!! We’re there, guys!”

However, Boss wasn’t so excited. “Look at the trees, bro, aren’t ya hungry? Aim famished!” That was true, as the last food they had eaten had been early in the morning. So each of the beavers chose a tree and nestled at the base. Using their sharp teeth, they nipped off pieces of bark and munched. For a few minutes, all that could be heard was the sound of crunching. Then, Boss stated in a sleepy voice, “Don’t know about y’all, but aim goin’ ter nod off till morning.”

The last thing the beavers remembered before they drifted off was moonlight in their furry faces.
*

*


*

O’Strengthy growled as he felt something under his nose. “Ah…Apchoo!!!… Apchee!!!… APCHOO!!!!!!!!!!” He blinked his eyes open and was dumbfounded to discover Boss flying back at a speed of…O’Strengthy guessed it was no less than 30 miles per hour. All the beavers, who were already wide awake, heard a loud thunk as Boss collided with a thick pine. They rushed towards him, but he raised a paw and they halted. He motioned as if to tell them, Help me up already! As soon as he was standing, he huffed at them. Beavers huffed by making a ffff sound through their teeth. They huffed to express emotions, but it was almost a secret code, because only other beavers could comprehend was the ‘huffer’ was trying to express.

Boss was trying to tell the beavers to be quiet. “OK boys, I’d like to say a few words. I know that you guys have become accustomed to sleeping outdoors on the ground and would like to continue that practice-” here the beavers all frowned and thumped their tails smack on the ground to show their annoyance at this joke, “-but we really should start making a dam. The first stage is making lists that will help us. So after we take a little ‘nature walk’ to get accustomed to this place, I want each one of you to jot down a list of five things or steps related to our work here. Let me show you mine.”

As the other beavers sat down and got comfortable, Boss went over to a tall holly he was sleeping under, retrieved a scrap of bark he had written on, and jogged back to his pals. The list looked something like this:

Top Five Things to Avoid:
1.
Humans
2. Human Contraptions
3.
Deer and other Large, Four-
Legged Animals
4. Squirrels and other Smaller Animals
5.
Cars
He, like the rest of his friends, had a good knowledge of the human language and how to speak, read, and write it. Of course, their reading ability was about that of a first grader, but they were proud to have a basic knowledge of Humanspeak, as they called it. He read it out loud and mentioned, “I put cars separately from human contraptions because they are extremely dangerous. So, if you don’t want to be killed as fast as a butterfly can blink (which was one of his favorite expressions), then stay off the roads until absolutely necessary. Alright, create a new spot in y’brains, call it ‘Boss’s List’, save it, grab a brekkist, and then pick up y’bums and let’s go walkin’!” He abruptly turned and marched away, while the beavers looked at each other and shrugged. They chose a tree, sliced off a petite piece of bark, and chewed on it.
“Alrighty boys, follow me! An’ keep yer eyes out fer a good place ter build a dam.” All of them jogged after Boss. They strolled down a human pathway and kept swiveling their heads from left to right in search of a depression in the land. All they saw were lush meadows and thick woods. The also saw a bunch of buildings all close together. O’Wisey stated in a matter-of-fact tone that the house were ‘log cabins’ and the group was called a ‘village’. However, Boss was rather skeptical, but the rest gazed at the tall structures with awe and admiration. When they noticed a rather large area of large trees, Boss exclaimed, “Whoopee! That, boys, is exactly wot we’re going ter build our dam out of!” The rest of the beavers ignored him.
Suddenly a squirrel looked down at them and shouted, “Ho, ho, ho! Well, bless mae darned soul; y’all look jest laik a flock of owls. Why aren’t y’owls hootin’ away laik it’s the end of the world?” He then succumbed to extreme laughter until he fell out of his tree. When he saw their ignorance of his joke, he cruelly shouted, “Well, ye’ve made yer first enemy here. Stay offa ma turf and don’ even let a glimmer of a thought about cuttin’ down my trees go to yer thick heads!” The beavers strolled on until they chanced upon a colossal arch twenty beaver-lengths ahead of them. There was nothing that beavers, as a species, admired more than arches, bridges, and similar human structures. As for this arch, O’Wisey stated that it would take at least 100 beavers standing on top of each other to equal the height of the arch.
Following O’Smiley, who was going crazy over seeing his first arch, the beavers scurried towards the arch. It didn’t take them long to reach it but when they did, they were awestruck. “Wow, it’s beautiful,” whispered O’Smiley. O’Lazy was testing it because he wasn’t sure whether it was white food or white rock. He opened his maw and prepared to take a bite, but quick as a beaver could blink, O’Strengthy grabbed O’Lazy’s jaws and shoved them shut. O’Lazy could understand, from O’Strengthy’s action, that the arch was made of solid rock. His face was on fire as the others huffed in extreme amusement. The beavers then decided, by an unanimous vote, to take a quick break in the field near the arch.
Boss made sure that their break was quick. As they scurried through the arch, they saw a broad expanse of fields. Boss turned his view to the right a little bit and suddenly he shouted, “Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s it, me boys, we’ve found it! The perfect place to build a dam! An’ over there is a gorgeous creek!” O’Wisey understood exactly what Boss was thinking: to construct a tributary of that creek and have it flow to the place where their dam would stand. That would be the perfect pond.
O’Lazy trailed along after the others because he was, as usual, bored. When he reached the dam, he saw that everyone was busy jumping around, making a lot of noise and in general, a total calamity. “Seriously! Why don’t ya’ll stop clowning around and act like normal beavers for a while!” However, no one heeded him and suddenly Boss sat down in frustration. Everyone else did. Baffled, O’Lazy asked, “Well, what’s the problem, likkle kids? Lost yer energy? Oh… I get it! Y’all don’t know how to get the stream to flow into this land so we kin actually have a pond. Lemme give you my advice: give it up for today, go and rendezvous at the camp site, write our lists as Boss told us to. Maybe while we’re busy writing, a tiny spark of creativity-” here he stopped to glare at them, for creativity was exactly what most of them rarely had sparks of, “- will hit us and we’ll have the perfect idea of how to build the dam. Anyone wanna argue?” No one dared argue. When O’Lazy actually was this serious, getting in his way was extremely dangerous, like dealing with a mother fox protecting her pups.
The beavers then split up and headed into the woods to discover anything that would be of use to them for building the dam or for connecting the stream to the dam site.





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