Ch. 18.1 —
All Janine could see were trees, trees, and more trees. “Where’s that stream? I should have found it ages ago.”
The ground began to shake. Something rumbled in the distance, but it was getting steadily closer. It sounded like a herd of giant animals coming right at her. Janine gathered Freddie up in her arms and ran. She made it behind the trunk of a large tree just as the first of the creatures thundered past her.
“Home, home,” they all chanted as they ran. They sounded lost, afraid, and confused.
“Mome raths.” Janine peeked out from her hiding place and studied them. She had never seen one before, but she had read about them. Raths were green lizards roughly the shape of a pig, with a crest of white bristles along their backbones, and two short, prong-like horns erupting from their sloping foreheads. In size they ranged from suckling pig to adult boar. Their four-toed feet were clawed, and their jaws and teeth resembled those of a shark. People who had heard them said their calls sounded like pigs squealing, snorting, and grunting.
What were raths doing in the Tulgey Woods on this side of the mountains? They never changed their migration path. Yet it seemed they had.
The river of green reptiles seemed endless. As they ran, the raths tore up everything in their path, gobbling trees, plants, insects, mice and other creatures who couldn’t get away in time. They paid no attention to her, but Janine stayed hidden until the last baby rath had trotted past her, squealing, “Home, Home” in its sad little voice.
All was quiet again. Janine stared in wonder at the wide path of bare brown earth they had left behind. It looked as though the land had been ploughed. Janine shuddered. If she had been caught in their way, not even her bones would have remained.
Janine kept walking. When night came, she didn’t dare sleep on the ground, so she carried Freddie up a tree and then stuffed him into an empty owl nest. “Stay here, and don’t fall. Whatever you do, don’t make a sound.”
Janine gave Freddie a piece of gingerbread and then climbed higher in the darkness. She didn’t dare get out her light. Too many animals were calling out their hunger. Her stomach grumbled. She ate a piece of gingerbread and one of the lollipops. It was root beer flavored.
Janine tried to make herself comfortable. She squished herself down between what felt like large, smooth rocks and fell asleep. Sometime in the night a wonderfully warm feather blanket covered her. She snuggled beneath it and sighed happily.
In the morning Janine discovered that she had been sleeping in a Jubjub’s nest.
Ch. 18.1 —