Henry and Kelvin were both now sitting upright in the boat trying to comprehend what had happened to them. “I can’t believe we are still alive,” commented Kelvin. “The gods were on our side last night,” replied Henry. Kelvin nodded in agreement. “I’m really thirsty. I wonder if we can find any fresh water.” “Yeah, and some food,” responded Henry, feeling the pain of hunger in his stomach. They both got up and stepped out of the boat onto the first dry land they had touched since the previous morning. “Ah, it feels good to stretch the legs,” said Kelvin, feeling the blood circulating through them again. Henry surveyed the area. They were on a desolate white, sandy beach. The tide was at its peak, leaving only twenty feet of beach before an abrupt transition to a heavily wooded forest. The beach seemed to go on for miles in each direction. The width of the sandy shore varied but the distinct line between sand and forest continued as far as the eye could see. Turning back to his boat, its condition brought about feelings of doubt in Henry. “This doesn’t look good,” he said, eyeing the large gash in the side of the hull. “I guess we found the weakness in this style of boat building.” “It didn’t sink, so I don’t think it’s a weakness at all,” replied Kelvin. “We were pounded by some massive waves last night, and we’re still here!” “Good point,” pondered Henry. “A dugout would have become water-logged from the inside and sunk.” Inspecting the large hole in the side of the boat, Henry discovered that a seam in the skin had pulled apart. He tried to pull the two sections together, but there was still air between them. “Oh, I see the problem,” he said. “A piece is missing.” “It looks like it was torn off this edge,” replied Kelvin, looking at one side of the open seam. “We could try to find what we need to fix it in the forest,” suggested Henry, pointing to the nearby trees. “I would need the bark of a birch tree and sap from a pine for the adhesive. Then we might be able to patch the hole long enough to get us home.” Kelvin wondered if he would ever see home again as they walked toward the forest. He could almost smell Ms. Parkinson’s freshly baked biscuits as he thought of the two hummingbirds that fluttered past his bedroom window each morning. Reaching the vegetation, they saw a nearly impassable forest floor. Thick, bushy plants of various types combined with heavy grass filled in the undergrowth. Hiding underneath, broken branches and fallen trees made traversing the forest nearly impossible. “Look at the size of those thorns!” exclaimed Kelvin, pointing at a bristly plant with long sharp barbs for its defense. “Let’s walk up the beach and see if it thins out at all,” answered Henry, bristling at the thought of brushing up against the frightening shrub. Walking what seemed to be east, based on the position of the sun, they studied the new land. The sand on the beach was not soft but not hard either. Their trail was washed away by the incoming waves, but the sand gave enough support for them to advance at a normal pace. After walking for nearly three quarters of an hour, they finally found success. “Look,” said Henry, pointing at the break in the foliage. “This path looks manmade,” replied Kelvin, nervously. “It must be the wild men Borin spoke of.” “Let’s hope we can go unnoticed,” said Henry, looking back at Kelvin apprehensively. They were surrounded by tall trees with thick foliage high above their heads that blocked out the sunlight. The forest floor just off the path was dense with bushes, grasses, fallen trees, and broken branches. The light breeze rustling the leaves gave them an unnerving feeling as they walked down the trail. Cautiously looking back and forth, they were startled by the sound of a woodpecker beating its beak into an oak tree. Their senses were on edge as they searched for the needed building materials. Listening for footsteps or voices, the two explorers were ready to jump into the bushes and hide at the sound of any unknown noise. The trail, being so well worn, had to be travelled often, so they fully expected to encounter someone or something along the way. Kelvin, having spent so much time in the forest as a youth, knew that a path like this could not have been made by anything other than humans. That, however, didn’t mean that animals wouldn’t also use it. After walking for about a mile, Kelvin remarked, “I can’t believe we haven’t found food or water yet.” “How can a forest this size not contain any birch or pine trees, either?” complained Henry. “Do you believe Borin―about the wild men?” asked Kelvin. “Do you really think there are other people out here?” He was just trying to find a way to calm his nerves. His heart seemed like it would beat out of his chest from the nervous energy, and he thought conversation would calm him. “He seemed like he knew what he was talking about,” replied Henry. “He didn’t seem like the kind of guy who jokes around.” “You’re right about that,” Kelvin replied with a laugh. “Water!” yelled Henry excitedly. Henry was pointing ahead and to his left. A small stream was trickling through the forest. This section of the stream was where it came nearest to the trail. From here, it meandered away from the path on both ends. Their mouths were bone dry, and the weariness of dehydration was beginning to set in. Kelvin knew his mouth would be watering right now at the sight of the stream if he were able to produce any saliva. Both men, forgetting the need for silence, bolted toward the fresh water. Voraciously, they cupped their hands together and brought handful after handful to their lips, slaking their thirst. Splashing water over their faces and clothes, they didn’t care as they drank. The feeling of water filling their mouths and wetting their throats as it made its way to the stomach was invigorating. Having their fill, they stepped back and basked in the glow of hydration. “That felt great!” exclaimed Kelvin. “I didn’t know how much longer I could go without water.” “I was thinking the same thing,” agreed Henry. “Now we need to find food.” Knowing the potential danger of staying in one place too long, they made their way back to the trail. Not far past the creek, they came to a sharp corner in a particularly dense section of the forest. The thick stand of trees hindered their ability to see what lay ahead. “By the gods!” exclaimed Henry, as they finished the turn. Kelvin didn’t have to ask what Henry meant because he saw it too. They both gazed in awe at the outskirts of a city.