Soon they arrived at the place in the bushes where they had left Pata-Pikki. They could tell from the broken brush that he had run straight towards the Narflbots. They found traces of the Snuffler as it ran amuck. Hoopy Looked down at the ground at the base of a tree and found bolts and springs on the ground. “Hurray for Pata-Pikki. He shattered their machine!”
Flur-Ella was sniffing the ground. “He came this way.” She walked to the edge of the tall hill and looked down. “Oh, Hoopy, what could have happened to Him?”
“Wait here Flur-Ella, I’ll go down to the bottom and see if I find anything. “ Hoopy started down the slope. Leaves were thick on the ground, they scattered as he ran. A gentle breeze was blowing the leaves around the bottom of the depression. Flur-Ella couldn’t stand to be left behind and hurried down after him.
“Look Flur-Ella, what’s that?” Hoopy ran to a spot where some black fur was sticking up from the leaves. He picked up the fur and held it in his paw. “It’s Pata-Pikki’s ear!” He screamed in dismay.
“Oh Hoopy, he’s been injured. Perhaps they killed him!” Flur-Ella howled in dismay.
“Pata-Pikki!” yelped Hoopy and Flur-Ella together.
“Come on Pata-Pikki, let’s get out of here!” Growled Hoopy.
“Are you all right, Pata-Pikki?” whined Flur-Ella.
Pata-Pikki put his paw over what was left of his ear. “My ear hurts but I am all right.” He barked. When he saw what used to be his ear in Hoopy’s open paw he looked startled. “The Narflbot shot my ear off with his pointing stick!”
“The Forest Beings?” He woofed, as he suddenly remembered his most important concern.
“They have already started, “ wuffled Flur-Ella, “we must go!”
Pata-Pikki felt around in the leaves for his pack and lifted it to his shoulders.
“What should I do with your ear?” Hoopy whined.
“Leave it,” barked Pata-Pikki. “It won’t do me good.”
Away Hoopy and Pata-Pikki ran. Flur-Ella stopped and picked something up from the ground, and then trotted after them. They ran through deep forest, up hill and down. Pata-Pikki found a soft little breeze and followed it as the other two came closely after. They made good time, keeping their eyes sharpened for Narflbots and Strange Contraptors until finally they reached the edge of the forest and looked down on the desert hills below.
“See the small lake over there. That is where we stopped before. Perhaps the Forest Beings are waiting there?” woofed Hoopy.
They ran along the edge of the forest at the rim, looking down on the Rolling Hills. The little breeze whispered in Pata-Pikki’s good ear, “Make haste, make haste!”
Pata-Pikki looked behind them. Nothing seemed threatening, but he knew the little breeze meant what it said. Turning to his friends he barked, “Run as fast as you can!” The Scrufflings dropped to all fours and kept to the cover of the trees. Soon they saw in the distance the small lake and the line of trees that surrounded it. A strange smell began to be apparent to Pata-Pikki.
“Downhill!” he howled, “Now! Narflgas! They are killing life in the forest! Hold your breath, don’t breathe!” Down the steep hill they went, sliding on their backs toward the lake. Once at the bottom they took a deep breath. Coughing they looked behind them. Pata-Pikki made the secret sign in the direction of the forest. Tears fell from their eyes at they looked up at the trees. “We can only hope that all of the Forest Beings escaped!” howled Hoopy.
“Poor Forest!” cried Flur-Ella, wiping her eyes with her paws. “I just can’t bear such cruelty!” Flur-Ella howled.
“We must go on, “ Pata-Pikki comforted her. “You are all right, and we must keep going.” He hugged her.
“I know ,” whiffled Flur-Ella. “It all seems so overwhelming and sad.” Hoopy nodded in agreement. They continued along the foot of the hills until they saw in front of them, the large welcoming trees spreading their branches, and the lake shimmering.
“Could we stop here and sleep?” Flur-Ella whined, “I am so tired.”
“We have been moving since we left the cave,” Hoopy barked. “Let’s find a place in the trees where we can sleep until we are rested.”
In agreement they followed Hoopy into the trees. He picked out a soft sandy place and set about digging a hole. When it was just the right size, he snuggled into it, and fell immediately asleep. Pata-Pikki and Flur-Ella circled close to him and lay down. They pulled up leaves around and on top of them, so if they should be seen from the air, they would be invisible.
With the rising of the sun they set off again following the valley as it led toward the East. The trees offered them protection and cover. They chewed on the last of the Scruffling sticks as they walked.
“We must go further North to find the Deep Road,” barked Pata-Pikki.
“Yes,” Hoopy responded, “I remember looking down from the forest. There are many low hills that we need to cross to find it.”
“By the One, may the Forest Beings already have found it,” woofed Pata-Pikki. “There has been no activity from the Narflbots. Let’s risk crossing the hills.”
“Yes,” agreed Flur-Ella, “I am anxious to be at least on the Deep Road. I wish we knew about the others.”
“We must trust that the One has them in His care,” whined Pata-Pikki.
“This way,” woofed Hoopy, and with that they dared the open hills and ascended the first one.
The Scrufflings continued up hill and down. Hoping they were going in the right direction. They could see the cliffs to the East when they climbed a hill, but they were a great distance away. The hills were covered with sand. Scrubby bushes were scattered here and there. Reaching the top of the third hill, they again surveyed the land in front of them.
“I wonder,” barked Hoopy. “If we went to the East if we would find the Deep Road? When we went down into it, it was already coming from somewhere.”
Pata-Pikki was silent. “Should we go East?” He asked the One. It was very still. No little breezes seemed to be blowing over the hills. He didn’t hear anything.