When they left the swamp for the first time in awhile Castor could breathe easily. The air was clear and dry.
It was dark by the time they left the swamp. Neither Castor nor Anneli knew if it was early morning or late night or how long they had been walking through the swamp. The northern mountain was still at least a week by foot. It’s peaks against the horizon. The swamp seemed much smaller now that they had passed it.
“Where are you going?” asked Anneli as Castor walked away, straying from the path.
“The river over there, I want to clean myself. I’m still covered on muck and dirt.”Anneli did not think it was a good idea but still followed Castor obediently. It was colder and still quiet dark, although compared to the swamp the moonlit night was bright as day. By the time Anneli reached the river Castor had already started to stop his clothing.
“You will get a chill if you bath on a night this cold,” said Anneli.
“Then we will make a fire.”
“How do you make a fire?” asked Anneli.
“Um…well… I’m sure we can manage. I pretty sure I know how to do it in theory.” replied Castor. Castor jumped into the river before Anneli could protest. All the rivers here flowed into the swamp.
“Anneli,” said Castor in a sweet lyrical voice.”Can you find some sticks or dry grass so that we can start a fire?”
Anneli did not reply but just watched Castor playing in the river and pouted.
“Anneli, please dear. I will show you something special if you.” urged Castor. Anneli complied and went to search for sticks and moss or dried leaves in the surrounding area. The trees a bit away from the swamp must have drier sticks thought Anneli.Anneli scampred to the trees that were a bit far away. The Apple trees were budding. In a few days the apple blossoms would bloom and fill the fields and hills with a sickly sweet scent.
If there are Apple trees here their must be people nearby as well. To Anneli’s dismay there was a village. Anneli could see steams of smoke and shapes of houses on the top of a nearby hill. Yet Anneli was comforted by the thought that no one from the village would come down to where they were so late at night. Anneli hopes that by the time the morning came he and Castor would be long gone.
By the time Anneli had come back Castor had finished bathing and was washing his clothes on the river.
“Castor!” called Anneli carrying sticks and dry moss in his hands. Castor turned to watch Anneli stumble back,”Welcome back!” shouted Castor with a smile.
Castor was wet, cold and shivering but he pretended not to be and Anneli pretended not to notice. Castor wore his pants even though they were still wet and even though it would probably make him colder. Anneli and Castor arrange the sticks into a pyramidal pile.
“I promised to show you something special didn’t I.”
Anneli nodded but did not expect much from Castor.