Nathan had no doubt this was the creature for which he was searching. Its eyes were red, though its appearance was somewhat less menacing in the full light of day, even in the Wild Woods. The creature was about three feet tall, standing upright on its hind legs. It was sort of scrawny and looked like a cross between a weasel and a chihuahua. In front it had a pocket like a kangaroo. "I am the fear weevil," said the creature. "That is what I am." "Do you live here in the Wild Woods?" asked Nathan. "Come and see," replied the fear weevil, and Nathan dutifully followed. The fear weevil led him to a rugged mountain, hidden in the heart of the Wild Woods. They approached a cave opening at the base of the mountain. "This is the House of Fear and here you are in my power,' shrieked the fear weevil. Terror took hold of Nathan as the fear weevil seized him in its icy cold grip and hurled him into the cave. Nathan hit hard, and before he could collect his senses, the fear weevil had rolled a great rock in front of the opening. Nathan sat trembling in the dark, wondering how he would ever get out. After a while, his common sense conquered his fear, and he decided to explore the dark cave by touch. Crawling about on hands and knees, feeling his way in front of him, he eventually found a small tunnel leading out the back of the cave. It grew smaller and smaller as he went. He could barely squeeze through. Just when he thought he might be trapped, wondering if he ought to back up, he found himself coming out the other end. He sensed that he was now in another, larger room. He was still completely in the dark. This room was not wide, but it was very high. He stood up, took two steps, and stumbled forward. He had fallen onto some steps, a rough hewn stone stairway which wound upward. As soon as Nathan began to climb, he became aware of a faint light somewhere very high above. Up and up he carefully climbed for what seemed like an hour or more. He was very tired and all that kept him going was the light above him. At first, it was small as a pinhead. Now it was as big as a button, and he was sure it was sunlight. Finally his face felt the warmth of the sun. He was standing on the very last step, and his head was sticking out through a hole in the rock. He found the opening large enough to extend his arms through, so he pulled himself up and out to see where he was. He was standing on the top of the topmost peak of the rugged mountain. It was a perfect natural lookout point. There was even a little room to walk around. He could see for miles, beyond the end of the
Wild Woods. He thought he could spy his small cottage far in the distance. All that kept his spirit from soaring with the view was the sobering realization that there would be no getting down from here, except by the dark way he had come. The top of the mountain was sheer rock and the sides were very steep. Nathan could not bear the thought of going back into that dark hole. Where would that get him but back into the House of Fear? He slumped to his knees. He felt like crying. He surely would have cried if a large bird had not suddenly distracted him by flying up and landing on a nearby rock. The bird looked at the boy curiously, almost intelligently, Nathan thought. Rising, it stretched out its great wings and began to take off. Nathan had a sudden, wild idea. He leaped up and grabbed the bird's feet as it lumbered over him. Its low trajectory was further lowered by the weight of the boy. The bird continued to flap its wings while steadily losing altitude. In fact, Nathan's weight was just enough to turn this flight into something like a parachute ride. The only question in Nathan's mind was could he hold on long enough. The ground was a long way down. He closed his eyes. His fingers slipped. He was falling fast.