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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Hidden Valley


The tall mountain peaks poked out through the mist-filled valley below. "I wonder what is below all that mist. All Iíve ever seen are the tops of the mountains," Gruffy said.

"I know whatís down there! Thereís nothing but monsters, bubbling pools of acid mud, and dead trees," answered Curly.

"How do you know that?" Scratchy asked.

"He doesnít. Heís just guessing," Stubby replied.

"Iím not guessing. Look at the mountaintops. They are green, rich with pines, birch, and aspen. Suddenly the mist begins and it always stays there, in the same place. Surely nothing green grows below it," Gruffy said.

"Why donít we go and find out," Scratchy suggested.

"Weíre mountain goats. We live in the mountaintops, not in the valleys. Iím not going," Curly said.

"Me neither," said Stubby.

"Well, Gruffy and I will go then," Scratchy said. The four goats stood at the edge of the cliff, gazing down into the mist. "Well go down the path. Iíve never been past the pine tree that was struck by lightning. Itís time to find out where that path will take us."

"Iíll go with you. You two stay up here and weíll come back in a few days and let you know what weíve found," Gruffy said.

Scratchy and Gruffy trotted down the path. Stubby and Curly stood watching until the other goats had disappeared into the mist. Stubby gulped, "What if they donít ever come back?"

Curly shook his head. He didnít know the answer. His tummy began to rumble. "Iím hungry. I saw a bush of wild raspberries growing around the corner and up the hill. Letís go." He trotted off in the opposite direction. Stubby was worried about the other goats, but the raspberries did sound delicious, so off he went, following Curly.

"I canít see a thing," Gruffy whispered. "Weíre right in the middle of the mist. Be careful not to step in the acid mud, in case there really is some down here."

"I can hardly see my hooves, never mind anything else," Scratchy replied. "I do see a lot of dead trees though. What if there is nothing but dead trees and what if there are monsters down here?"

"Donít be ridiculous. The trees arenít covered with leaves because weíre so high up on the mountain. Soon theyíll have leaves. Curly was just saying that about the monsters to scare us," Gruffy said, but looked around cautiously as they trotted down the path.

"I hear a noise," Gruffy said. "I smell something too, but it smells rather nice, like fruit."

"The mist seems to be thinning out. Look! I can see trees, and they arenít dead ones. At least Curly was wrong about that!" Scratchy nervously giggled.

"Wow! Look at that!" Gruffy said. "The mist has cleared up. I can see the whole valley. Itís beautiful! There are fruit orchards over there," he said, pointing with his horns. "I can smell apples, peaches, and pears."

Scratchy ran over and stood beside him. "Wow!" He started to sniff. "I smell cheese. I smell roasted chickens. I smell spices and herbs and best of all I smell chocolate cakes."

"Youíre right. Letís go all the way down, but watch out for acid mud. Iím not sure about that yet," Gruffy cautioned. They ran down the path, passing streams filled with fish, vineyards covered with plump, purple grapes, and fields of golden corn. They saw horses, cows, and sheep grazing on the grasses. When they reached the bottom, they stopped. "Should we head into the village or go right over to the apple orchards?"

"Letís go into the village. I want some of that chocolate cake. It smells delicious," Scratchy smiled.

They trotted towards town. "Look at the buildings. Thereís a bakery. Mmmm, I can smell bread, and hot rolls, and pastries. Maybe thatís where weíll find the cakes," Gruffy said.

The two goats ran over to the windows and peeked inside. "There it is. Thereís a chocolate cake. Oh my, there are cherry tarts too, and apricot buns filled with cream cheese. I must have some," Scratchy said. He ran into the bakery and started eating the cakes.

"Hey! You goats get out of here. No animals are allowed in my bakery," shouted the baker. He picked up a broom and started to hit them on their backsides. "Out of here!"

Gruffy and Scratchy ran outside. "I didnít even get to try the apricot buns," Scratchy whined. His face was covered with chocolate icing.

"Weíll have to find food somewhere else. Look, thereís a grocer shop. I see ears of corn, celery stalks and a few delicious looking red peppers," Gruffy said. The two goats ran over to the grocers and started gobbling down the corn on the cob.

"Hey! You goats get out of here. No animals are allowed in my grocer shop," shouted the grocer. He picked up a broom and started to hit them on their backsides. "Out of here!"

Gruffy and Scratchy ran out the door and down the street. "Well, that wasnít very nice. I didnít get to have a red pepper," Scratchy pouted.

"Iím sure weíll find something else to eat," Gruffy assured him. They went into the butcher shop, the fishmongers, and even into a restaurant, but were chased out with broom each time. "Out of here!"

"I donít think I like it down here in the village. Letís go into the orchards and have some apples," Gruffy suggested. Scratchy followed him into the grove of apple trees. "Look at them all! Theyíre red and juicy and sweet. Here, have one," he said, pulling a few off the branch. The two goats gobbled them down. Scratchy was about to get another when he heard, "Hey! You goats get out of here! No animals are allowed in my orchard!" The farmer picked up a broom and hit the goats on the backside with it. "Out of here!"

"I think weíll starve if we stay down here. Letís go back up to the top of the mountains and see Curly and Stubby," Scratchy said.

The two goats clambored up the path to the top of the mountains. They burst through the mist and ran around the corner. They saw Curly and Stubby nibbling on some fresh raspberries. "Your back!" shouted Stubby. "What did you see down there? Was the monsters, and acid mud, and dead trees?"

Scratchy looked at Gruffy. "Yes, thatís what is down there. Lots of monsters! Weíd better stay up here in the mountaintops and enjoy eating wild raspberries, pinecones, juniper berries and leaves. Itís much safer here."

"Iím glad I didnít go," Curly said.

Gruffy winked at Scratchy and the four mountain goats spent the rest of the day nibbling on the wild raspberries.


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