The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
Little Follies
Life on the Bolotomy
Chapter 15: At the Source
by Eric Kraft, as Peter Leroy
Little Follies cover



The upper reaches of the river are not navigable by any but the most specialized craft.  Those interested in exploring these areas might be better off on foot, wearing some of those funny-looking waders that fishermen wear.
Boating on the Bolotomy

IT IS NOT WISE to try to prolong an episode that is approaching its natural end—best not to try to fan the embers of a dying conversation; best not, when dinner is over and the wine is gone, to call for another bottle.  I thought for a moment of suggesting to Raskol that we just hang around where we were for a couple of days, living on a diet of nuts and berries, before we finished the trip, but I could see that it wouldn’t be right to do so, and I resigned myself to having the journey end.
    The stream—too narrow, really, to be called a river here—flowed from a tangle of vines and bushes, bearing no traces of the constraints of civilization, emerging small and clear from the vital chaos of the wild.  The stream was so small and shallow, the vines so thick, the shadows so dark, that I was sure that within this tangle, hidden, cloistered, must lie the source.  Raskol and I plunged into the thicket, pushing on our paddles with all our might, and came to a halt at once. 
    “What’s the matter?” I called forward. 
    “I’ve got to go to work with the machete,” he said.  “These vines are like a wall.”
    “A wall,” I said, and a philosophical inclination swept over me, like a breeze.  Something like a chill ran down my back, and I shuddered.  “Yes.  The wall that Nature builds to hide her mysteries, the veil she keeps before her lovely face.  How many of us are content to look at the veil; how many of us mistake it for the face of nature herself.  Few dare tear the veil aside, to bare the inner beauty.” 
    “Get out,” Raskol commanded.  “We’re going to have to push the boat through.”
    We climbed out and got behind the boat.  We pushed against the tangled vines and felt them yield, but when we relaxed, the boat sprang back against us. 
    “Try again,” said Raskol.  “One, two, three, heave!” 
    We pushed the boat against the vines again, and again it penetrated partway and then sprang back against us.  We pushed again.  Again we failed to penetrate the vines. 
    A cry came from the woods.  “Come on, let’s give ’em a hand.”  Dozens of boys ran crashing out of the woods, and they ran into the water and gathered around the boat, pushing and shoving for a spot where they could get a grip on it.  I was squeezed out of contact with it.  There was no room for my hands.  Many of the boys were wearing caps, and on the front of the caps were the words 


    Grunting with each exertion, each thrust, the mob of boys pushed the boat with a mighty effort, and the vines were rent asunder.  The boat thrust through the snug opening, and the boys fell back, self-satisfied.  Raskol and I stepped through the opening they had made and into blazing sun.  The Bolotomy lay ahead of us, running for a hundred yards or so as an ornamental stream. On the banks were trim lawns and topiary plantings, commemorative statues, and benches, maintained by the Babbington Department of Public Works.
    Neither of us looked at the other.  We walked along in the stream bed, leaving the boat behind.  Ahead of us, water spilled over an artificial waterfall, embellished with concrete Cupids, and above the tiny waterfall, contained by a grassy embankment, lay a pond.  On the surface of the pond white swans drifted lazily, and to one side little children threw bits of bread into the water and called “Here, ducky, ducky.”  The fat swans ignored them and drifted along. 
    A crowd was gathered on the other side of the pond, and a banner was suspended above them, hung between two trees.  Raskol and I exchanged glances, and I stopped a moment to tuck in my shirt.  Though I’d dreamed of it, I hadn’t really believed that we’d get this kind of reception.  I was surprised that word had spread so far and fast.  We drew ourselves up to full height and marched toward the crowd with the boat between us. 
    As we got nearer, I began to be able to make out the words spoken by a man in the middle of the crowd, standing above them, on a platform. 
    “Life,” he was saying, “as the Christensen sisters so aptly put it, is like a journey down a river.  We know not what lies before us when we start out, what perils we shall encounter, what rapids, mosquitoes, or other riverine terrors lie ahead, but we know one thing with certainty, and that is that every river winds somewhere to the sea.  And from that knowledge we can take heart, for we know that at the end of our journey we will come at last to the great gray rolling mother of us all, and rock in bliss and comfort, when she draws us to her soft and ample bosom.” 

  Little Follies Dust Jacket

Candi Lee Manning and Alec "Nick" Rafter
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Little Follies is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

“My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” “The Fox and the Clam,” “The Girl with the White Fur Muff,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Call Me Larry” were originally published in paperback by Apple-Wood Books.

Little Follies was first published in hardcover by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.


For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail the author’s imaginary agent, Alec “Nick” Rafter.

The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.

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