Chapter 14  

Fighting Fire With ... Whatever

It was early morning. Ben lay sleeping in his bed. The cool night air was giving way to the heat of the sun peeking
through the trees. Ben was smiling in his slumber.

In his dream, he was lying in his parent's family room playing with the family cat. The cat was sitting on his chest
breathing in his face. Its fur tickled his chin. His eyes fluttered open, and he realized he was just dreaming. Then he
realized he wasn't just dreaming. He was staring into a black face wearing a white mask. He jumped up and rolled
onto the floor. The raccoon scurried out of the door.

Ben caught his breath. So much for life in the great outdoors, he decided. After some breakfast, he went out
scouting again. He walked for a few hours and returned to the cabin. He spied his hammock spanned between two
trees where he had hung it, and he decided to lay back and enjoy some relaxation in the shade. He threw himself
into the hammock.

Thud! Here he was seeing stars yet again. He picked himself up off the ground and examined the hammock.
Apparently his raccoon friend, or some other critter, had chewed the ropes to shreds. It was beyond repair.
In the afternoon, Ben went fishing. He caught two small fish.  He cleaned them and prepared to fry them. He poured
some canned vegetables into two pans and started them simmering on the campstove. He had yet to try cooking in
the fireplace. Now was as good a time as any to give it a try.

Ben had pre-cut some limbs he had gathered from the surrounding forest while on his scouting trips. He had found
a small bow saw hanging from a nail on the wall in the cabin near the door with which he cut the wood.

Ben piled seven small logs into the fireplace. He struck a match and threw it into the fireplace. Whatever he was
expecting to happen, didn't. He lit another match and carefully placed it underneath the logs. The match went out.
He lit a third match and tenaciously held it against the bark. It went out. This was not working too well.

Then Ben decided to douse the wood with kerosene. He did. With gusto. He opened the lid and thrust the
container forward, sloshing a generous amount of kerosene on the pile of wood in the fireplace. He repeated this
process three times to make sure he soaked the wood. Some kerosene splattered on the floor around the fireplace
unnoticed. Fortunately, Ben set the kerosene container back outside.

He lit a match and threw it into the fireplace. The flame started slowly, but quickly became a raging fire. By the time
it dawned on Ben that he had made a mistake, the fire had leapt onto the floor and was spreading everywhere that
the kerosene had splashed or dripped.

Ben started stamping out the flames on the floor. He soon became aware that this would not contain the damage.
He ran to the water pump, grabbed a bucket and pumped hard and fast. He rushed into the cabin. Where to start?
The floor first! Then the fireplace! He splashed water around the floor. He managed to get most of the flames out,
but he saw that this was not the best solution. Rushing back out to the yard, he scooped up a bucket full of dirt.
Returning inside he threw handfuls of dirt at the flames. Several trips later he had the fire under control. To top it
all off, he had burned his vegetables. He buried the burned food. (He didn't want a return visit from the skunk.)
Then he cooked his fish on the campstove. As soon as the sun set, Ben lay down for the night.