Part 34: The path least travelled (part 12)
2016-01-27 15:15:34 -

Metro Eireann presents the latest weekly column by the entrepreneur coach and business growth specialist, designed to help you overcome any obstacles and reach your dreams 

Previously: Near tragedy has been averted when a large tree branch crashed down on the tent that Electra was putting up. Though it pinned her saviour Preteritus to the ground, knocking him unconscious, Prostremo leapt to his rescue, using the others’ help to lift off the heavy bough.

Like all events that have happened to our travellers on their journey, they found inner strength and growth by overcoming adversity. However, Prostremo, the hero of the last near disaster, has returned to camp after gathering firewood to discover that the tents are deserted…

Realising the panic that was starting to take hold of him, Prostremo took a couple of deep breaths and calmed himself down. He remembered Nunco’s words as though he were speaking to him now: “Nothing can be gained from panicking; it ties up your mind and faculties and renders you powerless to make decisions which will enable you to improve on the situation as you accept its reality.”

Recapping on what had happened, Prostremo recalled that he had left the camp 10 minutes before, collected some firewood in the rain and returned to find the camp empty. That meant they could not have gone far, and must have at least gone in a different direction to the one in which he had travelled.

There are many occasions where we feel events can cause our emotions, but in reality this is not true. It is in fact our thoughts that we allow in reaction to our discovery of these events that influence our feelings.

At the precise moment when Electra’s family were killed, she did not know about it and continued her day as normal. She was only affected when she discovered what had occurred. This led her thoughts, which were projected into the future, and she started to anticipate what life would be like without them. It was these thoughts, of what she believed would be, that made her feel sad and depressed. It was only when she realised that she had a choice to live her life with happy memories that she began to allow her self-acceptance – the true beginning of the healing process.

While collecting the wood, Prostremo was calm; it was upon his discovery that there was no one around that his thoughts led to the feeling of panic. It was only when he remembered Nunco’s advice about staying in the now that he was able to shrug off the negative emotions that would serve him no good.

Given that it was now almost dark, it was near impossible for Prostremo to see where his companions had gone by looking for their tracks, so he stopped and listened. By focusing all his attention on his hearing, all feelings of panic had subsided, because he was no longer giving them a chance to grow. It was then that he heard a sound, coming directly from the far end of the clearing opposite to which he had gone looking for firewood.

Cupping his hand to his ear, he ran in the direction from where the sound appeared to be coming from. He stopped when he reached the trees and listened again. This time he heard what sounded like a wailing noise, but it was definitely not human. He listened again, and he thought he could hear Electra’s strident voice, but he could not make out what she was saying.

He broke into a run, in the direction of what was now becoming a commotion to his ears, and after stumbling a few times he found himself in another clearing in the wood. He could see Electra gesticulating wildly, while Preteritus was bent down, with Nunco crouched beside him. He heard a yelp, and suddenly Preteritus jumped back, uttering profanities. As Prostremo approached them, Electra came over, saying: “Oh there you are, maybe you can help these two incompetents?” 
At that point he saw the fox.

It was alternately thrashing around or lying crouched down, uttering a low keening sound. Preteritus was rubbing his arm where the fox had obviously tried to take a chunk out of him, and Nunco was looking around. Prostremo could see that the fox was attached to something, but in the dim light he could not make out what it was.

“Blasted poachers, it’s a flipping gin trap,” said Preteritus.
(The name ‘gin trap’ is given to a mechanical trap designed to catch an animal by the leg using spring-operated jaws, with or without a serrated edge or teeth. Gin traps have been illegal to use now for many decades.)

Nunco – all calmness and reason as usual, though it could be somewhat infuriating at times – said as he looked around: “They were probably trying to snare a rabbit, there is no reason to catch foxes up in the woods, and they are not actually harming anyone here… What I am actually looking for is a forked stick, so that I can hold him down by the neck and one of you guys can pry open the trap.”

“Him? Who said it isn’t a vixen?” retorted Electra, appalled at what she was seeing and hearing and taking it out on everyone around her. “I think that these things are barbaric, and besides, if it is meant for a rabbit, I thought that they used to set them near a rabbit warren. I can’t see any about, can you?”

“Here, this will do,” said Nunco as he picked up the end of a branch which had a fork at the end, about the width of a man’s hand. “I will try and pin him – or her – down, and Prostremo – maybe you can see if you can wedge the jaws of the trap open.”

With a grunt, Prostremo pulled the trap open and the vixen, as they quickly discovered, whipped her leg out of it, snarling with rage. “Nearly chopped my finger off!” Prostremo exclaimed as the trap changed shut. “Can anyone grab hold of her for a second and see how much damage is done to her leg?”

“We heard a loud yelp and ran over to investigate,” said Preteritus. “I guess it must have just happened then, so the poor girl did not have much time to struggle; that’s where most of the damage gets done…
“So anyway, how do you know it’s a vixen, Prostremo?” he added with a wink.

“I guess that bang on the head didn’t stop your pretty weak sense of humour, eh?” he retorted. “Maybe your inability to spot a creature of the opposite sex could be one of the reasons you are still single!”
“Hey, just because you managed to get lucky today, you’re in no position to cast stones!”

“Knock it off, you two!” said Nunco. “And will one of you please take a look at its leg, to see if it is safe to let it go. It’s a young one, all right, and the longer it is around us, the more chance that the other foxes will end up rejecting it because of our scent.”

“Men!” Electra yelled in exasperation. She moved in and took the vixen’s hind leg gingerly in her hand and started to examine it. “She seems okay, the bone is not broken, and the leg will heal quickly enough. I guess you can let her go now, Nunco.”

Nunco released his hold on the stick and the vixen scampered off into the undergrowth. “There she goes, no harm done,” he said. “I guess we were fast enough.”

The vixen stopped at the edge of the clearing and looked back at them; there seemed to be look of gratefulness on her face. Then with a quick flurry, she continued on into the undergrowth and disappeared in the approaching night.

The three companions and Electra all linked arms, a deep feeling of camaraderie over them, and they walked back to their camp. Without further ado, they climbed into their tents to settle down for the night.

“Some day, Prostremo!” said Electra with relief as she snuggled up beside him in their tent. “We will look back on today and realise how now is the beginning of everything else that will happen in our lives – the start of a new adventure, one with you and I as the central characters. The only difference is that now the characters now know each other.”

“It is so true and I agree entirely,” responded Pros-tremo. “But what if...”

To be continued next week
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