Chapter 11

  The Book

As Ben walked home from Frank's store, he couldn't stop thinking about what Otis asked him. "Are you a good
man?" Then he said that God was used to working with scraps. What did he mean? Ben wondered.

Alone in his cabin that night, Ben noticed Isaiah's Bible on the floor beside the bed. He decided to check it out.
Nobody would know, he reasoned, so what could it hurt to check it out. His parents and a lot of other people were
sold on it. But they were good people, Ben argued. He wasn't. But that comment about God working with scraps.
That was curious.

He picked up Isaiah's Bible. Now, where should I read? he wondered. He remembered Isaiah saying something
about starting in the Gospels. Ben didn't know much about the Bible, but he was pretty sure that was Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John. So he opened up the Bible and thumbed till he found "The Gospel of Matthew" written
across the top of a page.

He began to read. Ben read until the sun set and darkness began to overtake his wooded home. He lit the lantern
and continued his quest. He read deep into the night. Finally, as he finished the second gospel, the Gospel of
Mark, he put the book down in his lap.

He mumbled aloud, "I don't understand this. The smartest, nicest, most right-living man that ever lived was so
misjudged. Why did they kill him? And with all his powers, why did he let them? This just doesn't make sense!"
Ben was tired from his long day. He prepared for bed and then remembered his snake repellent. He opened the
corn starch and poured a line across the doorway. Then he lay down in his bed and enjoyed his first restful night's
sleep since his slimy visitor had come calling.

                                                                     Chapter 12

 The Skunk And The Slingshot

Ben arose in the morning very refreshed. His hand throbbed from the cleaning and stitching Kate performed. But
his body and mind felt rested from a good eight hours of sleep.

He took two eggs from the carton of six he had brought from Frank's store. He unwrapped the quarter pound of
fatback and sliced two thin strips that would serve as bacon. Without refrigeration his options were limited. When
the winter months came, he could wrap some things tightly in bags and refrigerate them in the river. But for now, he
would innovate. Ben set the frying pan on the campstove and lit the flame. He threw in the fatback and fried it until it
was crisp. It left a generous residue of grease in the pan with which he fried his eggs - well, almost fried.  They were
more scrambled than fried, but, as they say, "eggs is eggs, no matter how you cook 'em." He tried to make toast by
holding a slice of bread over the flame with a fork, but when the fork grew hot, he dropped his toast in the fire.

Rested and fed, Ben stepped out into the morning sun and took a deep breath of fresh air. But the air wasn't so
fresh. What was that smell? That's when he saw the skunk. It was eating the fish Ben had thrown into the bushes.
Then Ben had a brilliant idea. Just what I bought that slingshot for.  Big mistake! He went into the cabin and fetched
his weapon. He stepped off the doorstep and picked up a small rock. This should scare him. Now the last thing you
want to do is to frighten a skunk. Ben placed the rock in the cup of the slingshot, pulled the bands tight, and let the
projectile fly. The rock crashed into the bushes a couple of feet from the skunk. Close enough, Ben thought. Yes
indeed! The next thing Ben Wilson saw was the turning of the skunk and the lifting of the tail - with more speed than
he would have expected. There was no time to run, no time to hide, no time to breathe. Thank goodness for that! If
he had swallowed that stuff, Ben would have had to drown himself.

The skunk released its sole defensive weapon with instinctive accuracy. At ten feet, Ben got the full effect. He ran
for the river, eyes stinging from the pungent spray, lungs gasping for breath. He tripped twice before he reached
the water's edge. With reckless abandon he plunged into the river water. He dunked himself several times, rinsed
out his eyes, and scanned the riverbank for his attacker. He exited the water cautiously. No sign of the skunk. Still
gasping for a fresh breath he made his way back to the cabin. The frightened skunk was long gone, but his telltale
odor still lingered - and would for some time.

Ben shed his clothes outside and threw them on the ground. Later he would build a fire and dispose of them. He
went into the cabin and grabbed a bar of soap - no, it would take something stronger. He picked up a half-full box of
laundry detergent and went back to the river. He scrubbed his arms and head for hours, but the stench remained.
He found his toiletry kit and sprayed deodorant all over his body to no avail. Ben decided he would not be visiting
civilization for a while.