Whispering Wind was digging leaves out of the creek when he heard a cry for help. He jumped to his feet and ran to where the sound was coming from. There, almost hidden from sight, he saw a little fellow with a tuft of yellow-green hair, a green face, slanted yellow eyes, and a long green tail that was stuck between a few fallen birch branches in the ferns . . . a green imp! He was pulling at his tail, calling for help. When he saw Whispering Wind his eyes flashed and he yelled out,
“Hey there, you! Boy! Get my tail out from where it’s stuck would you!?!”
Whispering Wind pulled at and the imp’s tail came free. Without a thank you nor a backward glance the little fellow ran off into the ferns and skunk cabbages and was gone, sack and all.
Whispering Wind went back to where he was pulling out layers of leaf from the nooks and crannies between rocks. From time to time he’d find a crawdad or a newt and he’d sit with them while they crawled around and watch what they’d do. By the time it was late afternoon, he had a pile of soggy leaves and a heap of twigs and branches on the bank; the sounds the water was making had changed since he’d started out early in the morning.
He stretched out and twisted from side to side then set out to fetch a bucket for the leaves. He would give them to his mother, Willow; she’d like that he knew. As he was headed to the shed, he heard another cry for help. Could it be? He wondered. It was indeed, the very same green imp and this time he was backed up against a great old tulip poplar trunk, with the dog snarling and snapping at him.
“Get this beast away from me, help!! Get away! You boy, get this beast off me!!” the imp was flailing at the dog with his legs and swinging wildly with the sack.
Whispering Wind whistled and the dog, Smoke, came to him. He rubbed her head and watched as the green imp ran off again into the woods. Most peculiar, he thought, as he played with Tigger in the grasses. He snacked on some ripe wineberries; popping firm bright red ones into his mouth then darker softer burgundy berries then a mix of the two, feeling the flavors in his mouth change with each bite.
He smiled as he made jam the no-cook way then headed on to get the bucket for the leaves. He found one and headed back to the creek, where he filled it only to find there were more leaves than the bucket could hold. He went back to the shed and returned with the wheelbarrow. Once he’d loaded all the leaves he cooled off in the creek again. It was almost evening when he was done and rolling the wheelbarrow toward the garden he heard a call for help coming from the chicken coop.
There was the green imp once more, what had happened to him this time?! One of the roosters had a hold of his tail and the imp was trying unsuccessfully to hit him with his sack. Whispering Wind went over and just then some of the contents of the sack fell out::to his great surprise there were packages, addressed to some of his neighbours! The rooster had let go of the imp, who grabbed the packages and stuffing them in the sack ran off. Whispering Wind set out after him calling,
“Hie! Stop, imp, those aren’t yours!”
But the green fellow was paying him no heed and ran into the pine forest behind the chicken coop, scurrying between purple mushrooms, zigzagging through cohoshes, leaping over logs, and up the slopes and over. Whispering Wind was in hot pursuit and right on the imp’s heels. They ran through the meadow on the ridgeline, crushing mint and yarrow; sending busy bees and butterflies here and there! Under the apple trees’ bending boughs, over the barbed wire fence and rhubarb stalks, down through the fields of tall milky oats, over the ditch and up and over more slopes into a deep stand of hickory and locust in the midst of which was a sunlit clearing. There was a hole that the imp jumped into and Whispering Wind dove in after him, grabbing hold of his tail tightly. The green imp screeched and Whispering Wind pulled his tail, drawing the imp closer to himself. Dropping his sack the imp struggled and bit Whispering Wind who let the imp go and snatched up the sack before the imp could get it. The green imp ran off and Whispering Wind climbed out of the hole and sat down on a stump of wood. Looking around he realized he’d never been to this part of the Forest before but he was certain he’d find his way back home sooner or later.