Mrs. Porcupine's Garden

Part III

The Flood

The next morning dawned clear and cool. It was another great day for tunneling and ant following, except that there were no ants to follow. Last evening, Petunia, had again placed sesame seeds under the dish for the ants. This morning was a repeat of yesterday morning. The seeds were gone, and the dish left right-side up. Petunia was pleased but wished she could make more of a connection with them. It was time to think about that. Meanwhile, she would continue to place seeds on the back porch each night.

Last evening, Finn had sent a message to Birch Beaver asking if he could join the group for breakfast. The message said that his talents were needed for an important project. Birch responded back that he would be pleased to join them, and indeed, he did.

Before breakfast, Finn explained to Birch his important role in finishing the tunnel. Birch saw no problem with the plan and said he would be happy to help. He would stand by awaiting instructions.

Finn mentioned the weasels to Mrs. Porcupine at breakfast. She wasn’t surprised.

“They have been sampling my fruits and vegetables for a long time now when they do their rounds. I haven’t mentioned it to them because I would like them to think that they are getting away with something. It helps satisfy their urge to be mischievous. I think it’s amusing that you caught them. They must have been surprised.”

“Oh yes, they were,” exclaimed Finn. “We snuck up on them and caught them in the act.”

“I’m proud of you boys,” Petunia said and gave each a kiss on the cheek. Everyone blushed, especially Merwin. Birch was happy that he escaped the kiss, although he blushed anyway.

Word got around that Finn had a tunnel project going on at Mrs. Porcupine’s cottage. When the four boys walked to the garden after breakfast, they were greeted by about ten curious animals. Among them were Brie Bluebird, the whole Squirrel family, Craig Chipmunk, Diedre & Declan Duck, Robbie Rabbit, and Finn’s family.

Finn was a bit surprised at the unexpected audience but welcomed them.

“We appreciate everyone coming. Today, we’ll complete the first onsite water system in Ballymore. Water will come directly from the pond to this location automatically and continuously. You are most welcome to watch, but please don’t get too close to the hole because we need space to work. Thank you again for coming.”

Finn said good morning to his family. They wished him luck and asked if they could help. He thanked them but said that the tunnel was small, and there was no room in it for anyone else.

With the introduction finished, the boys began their work for the day. Melrose crawled back down the tunnel and resumed digging. Merwin was behind him and pushed the loose dirt to the hole where Finn lifted it and piled it near the garden.

Around noon, Melrose noticed something unexpected. The dirt he was removing was now moist.

He said, “Merwin, come and look at this.”

Merwin moved up beside Melrose, and they stared at the moist dirt.

“I don’t understand,” said Melrose. “We should not be that close to the pond already. We better go up and check our location.”

“Maybe the water is coming from somewhere else,” said Merwin.

“Let’s go,” said Melrose.

Before they could take two steps backward, a stream of water began to spurt through the wall of dirt.

“Run!” yelled Melrose.

It was too late!

WHOOSH! WHOOSH! WHOOSH!

The wall collapsed, and a torrent of water poured over them. The mud and water rapidly carried them the length of the tunnel.

From above, Finn and everyone else heard the sudden whoosh and the yells that followed. Within seconds water, mud, and moles shot out of the hole. The soaked and muddied moles landed roughly on the grass. They were unbelievably filthy and scared but apparently unhurt. The mud and water covered the grass and all of the spectators. A particularly large blob of mud caught Finn directly in the face and slowly dripped off of the most frightened and most sad frog you have ever seen.

Map

Mud and Mole Geyser


The geyser ended as quickly as it had begun, and a few seconds later, the long tunnel collapsed with a flump. All that was left of the project was a small mud hole.

Petunia, who escaped the flood because she was in the kitchen preparing lunch, ran out to witness the biggest mess she had ever seen. She stood there speechless.

She rushed over to Finn and asked, “Are you okay, Finn? What, in the world, happened?”

His family was already beside him.

Finn stood there and could not speak. His mind was in a whirl. Eventually, he said, “I don’t know.”

After a few moments he said, “Let’s see about Melrose and Merwin.”

They walked towards the moles who were surrounded by several animals. Finn pushed his way through. The brothers were wiping mud from themselves.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I think we are,” answered Melrose. “Is everybody else okay?”

“I think so,” answered Finn. “Do you know what happened?”

“The soil became moist where I was digging. Before we could get out, it flooded. Unfortunately, I think we were closer to the pond than we thought we were,” explained Melrose.

It was a simple and correct explanation.

Finn shook his head, sadly and patted the moles on their backs. This was not the way they wanted to prove themselves to their parents.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

The moles said they were sorry, also.

Finn walked slowly to Old Seth to be alone. His family tried to follow, but he asked them to please let him have some time by himself. They understood. He told them he would be home before nightfall.

The spectators stood around, wiping off mud and chattering excitedly about the events they had just seen and felt. Petunia suggested that everyone go down to the pond and clean up. They did as she asked. When Brie Bluebird returned from the pond, Petunia gave her a message for Bartholomew. The message explained what had happened and asked if he could come as soon as possible. Brie left immediately.

Bartholomew was at home when Brie arrived. He quickly composed his response and sent Brie back to Petunia. His reply said he was sorry to hear about the difficulties and that he would be there at about 6 bongs. Petunia was relieved to hear that Bartholomew was coming. She knew he would sort things out..

By then, everyone had left except Melrose, Merwin and Finn. She told the moles that Bartholomew was coming around dinner time, and they were welcome to stay. Melrose said it would be better if they went home now. Petunia agreed, and they left shortly thereafter.

Finn was still sitting against the trunk of Old Seth staring at the ground. Petunia approached and sat down beside him.

“I’m sorry that the project didn’t go as you planned. The good news is that no one was injured, and it won’t take long to clean up.”

Mud still coated the frog.

“Try not to be too hard on yourself. You had a good idea, but you’re still young and need to gain more experience. Most animals wouldn’t have had the guts to even try this project. Now, come on down to the pond, and clean yourself up. Then, help me with the mud on the grass, please. Bartholomew will be coming for dinner, so let’s try to make the place look respectable.”

Finn said nothing but eventually rose and walked to the pond with her.