Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 2. March 12, 1968
The Return Of The Triboldies — Part 2
The Return Of The Triboldies
Excitement is mounting. The first group leaves tomorrow at the crack of dawn, to return in time to farewell the other group at noon. However there is so much intoxication abot today that it seems to me doubtful whether we shall leave at all. I am in the second group to leave.
Dawn has cracked, and they are off! The beasts of danger are travelling first: the basilisks in their velvet cloaks, the dragons, the giant moles, and so on. The farewell so carefully planned failed to happen, because of intoxication on the part of the money. I am glad to relate, however, that I was there myself to see them off. waving my handkerchief emotionally in the air.
The first of them are back already, more sober than when they left, the jolts of travel perhaps having sobered them. Something indicates to me that the second farewell will be heartier than the first. But this is unfair to those who left first. Perhaps we could give them another ceremony of farewell on an occasion such as leaving the mountains.
We are on the way. I am travelling in the third wagon, drawn by a giant (but docile) elephantgiraffe. On top of our wagon is a platform and shelter for the roc-albatross. Buxtehude, because of his small size and little weight, rides the bird. The others with us are the old woman Olla Podrida, her daughter Mazinta, her son Pecadillo, his friend Cumulonimbus, the child Nenuphar, the magician Nostradamus, and his present mistress, Onomatopcia.
It is late afternoon and we are at the appointed spot, waiting for the first group to catch up. There is no sign of them yet. Perhaps they are confused about the arrangements and are waiting for us to return in order to farewell them once more. If they do not arive within an hour, somebody will have to go back and get them.
They have not come. We have drawn lots to see who will go back. Since this is safe territory, well known to all, two wagons and one beast of danger should be ample. This wagon, and that of the magician Ottoman, are chosen. Since Ottoman's wagon is fourth in the procession, it could be that the cards were not shuffled. No matter! On a fine July afternoon such as this, it is more pleasant to roll across the tussock than to wait impatiently.
We arrived just before sunset at the gathering-place where all the wagons were assembled last night. Deserted! The signs showed that they left hours ago. We followed their tracks, which ran parallel to ours made a few minutes earlier; but theirs run closser towards the hills. They must be miles ahead of us. Never mind! It is a very pleasant evening.
We have just arrived at the appointed spot. To our dismay we have found nobody here. They have gone ahead. Ottoman surmises that while waiting they saw the other half, winding its way up towards the first pass. Buxtehude is flying off on the noble bird, to test Ottoman's guess.
Ottoman was right. Buxtehude has seen all the rest of our people camped just over the other side of the pass, waiting for us. An impressive sight, he says; all snakes are standing on their heads. It is almost dark. Shall we travel by night? Why not? On this desolate plateau all creatures must struggle to keep alive . . . . They have no time to be dangerous. It is a calm night. There are no pitfalls in the path. Many times I have ridden to the top of the pass and up the hill beside. On the flat top of that hill I have sat and looked eastward, to the valley and the next line of hills, and behind them is a valley, and another line of hills, and behind them is a valley, and another line of hills, and behind them is a valley 1 presume, and behind (hat I do not know, except that is where the sun sets. But the earthquake may have created chasms and abysses. In darkness, one might easily fall down such a hole, never to be seen again. Imagine waiting, month after month, at the bottom of such a pit, scarcely able to see the sky, calling for help that will never come because all the other people have rediscovered the ancestral homeland where they are at once enveloped in peace and luxury; slowly starving; and at length collapsing from the heat experienced towards the centre of the earth; and when the pit shrugs it will be the earth closing its mouth.
However, we may as well subject ourselves to this risk, since we could all My out of the hole on the back of the roc-albatross.
So we lit torches and set out, and at midnight rejoined the remainder of our people. Most were asleep. Unusual! It must be the travelling that tires them. Some of the elders who never sleep were strolling around the camp. A few I could see on the hill I described earlier. Cagliostrstro, Quidditas, and such magicians were hard at work in the bronze wagons, continuing as fervently in their search for the alkahest as if they had never left their ancient cavern deep in the rocks. Others, including Sparadrap, were gathered around a small fire, talking of old times: it was only this group who welcomed us. and thanked us for our trouble. Myself and a few others joined them. We talked till dawn.
The path that we have worn down over the centuries finishes here. Most of us have made trips as far as the next pass; some years ago I even ventured into the valley beyond, and for several days travelled up the river there. But I do not think that any of us has been as far as the pass after the next. The danger—if in fact there ever was any —must have been passed years ago; but there is something that makes people uneasy at the third pass, says Sparadrop, who has been there several times. Last night he described his feeling at that point as a "vestige of fear" (well-put, I thought) . . . I wonder what we shall experience when we all arrive there.
I do not like to discredit the ancients, but upon rereading the Journal of Duodecimo (and also, to a lesser degree, that of Niddle-noddle), I am forced inescapably to the conclusion that in fancying that they were pursued beyond Aggabug, the melon-tree of their suspicions overpowered the carthame of their reason. The enemy must have been idiotic indeed not to have captured us. Our strategy was lamentable, to say the least.
I do not with to encourage dissension; nor do I wish to disappoint Sparadrap, who so kindly allowed me to be the writer of this official journal; therefore I shall later tear off this page, pretending that I spoiled it.