The Kelly Family looked forward to their regular visits to
Bessie and Will Kelly had inherited the very primitive four
room cottage many years earlier. It served them year after year
nicely, as it provided for a weekend of quiet and relaxation. It was
a place where one could think clearly, without the frequent
interruptions of big city life.
It included a screened front porch with a number of small
beds. In this area one could sleep well in the cool of darkness.
The cottage had just four light bulbs. A light bulb did not
serve the front porch.
There was no light bulb in the outhouse. The indoor
plumbing consisted of the big handle at the kitchen sink where
one could pump water up from the well.
Bessie and Will had three children. Michael, age 13, was at a
stage in life where his primitive urges of mischief would soon
Eileen, age 8, was a pleasant and sensitive child. She adored
her older brother.
Jimmy, age 7, also a pleasant child, was still in the
development stages of his persona.
Upon arrival on any weekend, shutter boards were opened
over the screens of the front porch. Most of the resident bats on
the inside of the shutters shifted, but usually remained asleep. A
few would wake and fly off.
“Don’t let a bat get stuck in your hair, Eileen,” Michael said
While the adults were opening the cottage up to welcome in
the fresh air, Michael approached Eileen from behind. He dangled
a small leafy branch over her head.
“Stop it, Michael” is all Will had to say.
“Get your bathing suits on,” Bess yelled as she pulled open
Michael, Eileen, and Jimmy complied readily without
Then the walk. It was two long blocks down the road along
the forest to Canaan Lake.
Heaven for the kids. Splash and swim.
Heaven for the adults. Open the cooler and pass out the
Life was good.
Bess returned to the cottage a little early to prepare the
simple pasta dinner.
In the late afternoon, Will and the children gathered up their
goods to head back to the cottage.
Cooking dinner was a labor of love. Not that she missed
activities at the lake, but putting a meal together in primitive
circumstances was most definitely challenging, an adventure
It was difficult for her to pump the water up from the well
and into the sink.
The crew returned from the lake. The children were
exhausted from splashing and swimming.
Eileen had consumed most of the lemonade.
The adults were very relaxed from the numerous beers.
Dinner commenced shortly. Usually, after such an active, fun-
filled afternoon, dinner plates were left totally cleaned, which then
qualified each person to be a member of the “Clean Plate Club.”
All three children passed with flying colors.
Exhaustion . . .
Then the lights! All four light bulbs were then dashed!
No candles and no preparation for something like this.
The squirrel did not make it. After tripping the power failure,
he fell to his death with nary a witness to his demise.
Hoot owls could be heard discussing the matter at hand.
Will groped his way to the truck to fetch his flashlight.
The flashlight became the lifeline to survival.
“I have a tent in the truck. Do you kids want to camp out in
Using the flashlight, Will was able to set up the tent with
The tent was purposely set up very close to the outhouse.
Will made a point to show the children the proximity of the
tent to both the cottage and the outhouse.
“Call for me if you need me to come with the flashlight,” Will
offered. “You will love having a campout!”
All settled in for a good night’s sleep.
“If you need any help with something, wake me up,” Michael
said to Eileen and Jimmy.
The devil was in Michael.
“There are critters roaming around at night out here. Be
ready to run for the house,” Michael said. “Good night, sleep tight
and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
“What’s a bedbug?” Jimmy asked.
Eileen was already asleep.
“Good night, Jimmy. Go to sleep,” Michael directed.
Michael waited for about ten minutes. He carefully slipped
out of the tent. He scratched the sides of the tent, growling loudly.
“Michael, Michael!” Eileen screamed.
Michael slipped back into the tent.
“I heard something growling and scratching!” Michael said.
“So did I,” Eileen said with fright.
Jimmy was now awake. He sat with fear written across his
face. Unseen, as it was pitch dark.
“I think I chased it away,” Michael said. “Let’s go back to
So, they did.
Three hours passed. Eileen woke to realize that she needed to
Eileen was getting close to being grown up like Michael. She
would be brave and take the matter into her own hands. She
slipped out of the tent and felt for the outhouse. She would not go
into it, of course! She dropped her pants and let the urine flow.
She was in command! When done, she pulled up her pants.
Unbeknownst to Eileen, a natural event had occurred during
the process. A toad had innocently hopped into her pants!
Her screams woke everyone up.
Jimmy sat in the tent and was petrified.
Michael woke up and was confused.
Michael slipped out of the tent rapidly, but could not locate
where the screams were coming from. What happened to Eileen
and where was she?
A light appeared shortly.
“Michael!” Will yelled. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. I heard Eileen yell. But I can’t find her,” Michael
said with panic.
With the flashlight, Will spotted Eileen in front of the
outhouse. She laid in front of the outhouse with her pants down.
She was crying quietly.
Equally traumatized was the toad. It was confused as it sat
inside her pants.
Will picked Eileen up and carried her into the cottage. He
placed her comfortably into bed next to Bess.
Will kissed Bess and Eileen goodnight. Eileen, comforted in
her father’s arms, was already asleep as he placed her on the bed
He placed the flashlight on the night table and felt his way out
to the tent. This would be the boy’s night out in the tent.
Michael still lay awake.
Jimmy was back to sleep.
Will felt for the outhouse. He now needed to pee. He, too, did
not want to venture into the darkness of the outhouse.
So, he did what many males do.
It’s only natural.
He had the luxury of not having to worry about toads!
After all, toads hop, but they do not climb mountains!