Now why on earth would Bill worry? I can imagine many reasons. It was a long way up and it was a long way to climb down. That’s only two. And Bill was worried about watching for fires and he was worried about his animals. But it was none of these.
This time Bill worried that the teacher would ring home to ask why he was not at school. But they didn’t do that until lunch time. Maybe he would be all right. Maybe they wouldn’t ring at all. Sometimes they didn’t ring. Not if they were busy.
He looked out at the forest again. This time he looked to the north. The forest went for ages. Mountain ranges spread out before him. Way off to the north he could see another fire tower on top of the mountain three ranges away. He could just see it.
He looked down closer to the bottom of the tree. In the little clearing he saw his kangaroos. He tried to look for the wombat but trees and bushes hid it from him.
As the time went by he stopped feeling scared and walked around quite freely. He looked at the radio. It was quite complicated but one switch said ON/OFF. He didn’t dare touch it. It might break.
He looked back at the school. No one was outside so recess must be over. But just then he saw his friends run outside and start playing. It was lunchtime. “Please don’t let them ring,” he pleaded in his head. He took out his own lunch and sat down and started to eat. One mouthful was all. He was too nervous to eat.
He looked back out to the ocean. Then round to the farms. He looked around to the forest and the mountain ranges. A real fire watcher would be looking hard at all the little valleys and ridges. He took up the binoculars again.
The tree moved!
“What was that?”
On a small post sticking out from the side of the watchtower was a thing with three cups. It started to turn.
Slowly at first and then it stopped. It started again. Faster this time. It was the wind. Do you remember the swooshing sound that we started with?
Well, here it is.
And for Bill it was the scariest sound he had ever heard.
And the tree started swaying. It wasn’t like being on a scary swing. It was much too bad for that. The swaying was scarier than the wind. Bill was frightened and sat down on the floor and started to cry. Maybe the tree will fall down. He was shaking with fright.
But the tree didn’t fall down and the wind stopped. Bill stopped crying and looked out over his forest. How silly can you be. His father had told him of days when the wind was strong. The tree was over one hundred years old and was very strong. It might sway about in the wind but it wouldn’t fall over. Bill thought of nights when he lay in bed and listened to gales and storms. And the tree had never fallen over.
But it was scary.
The little cups thing started again and the tree started to move in the wind again. This time Bill wasn’t nearly as frightened as before. A little bit frightened but not too much. He looked through the binoculars and saw something move. On the side of the ranges over to the west a truck moved. There was a track and the truck had logs on it. They were cutting trees down and taking them down to the ocean. There was a puff of smoke from the truck’s exhaust pipe, but it died away as it went downhill. There it was again as the truck revved up to go around a corner.
“Silly me,” he thought. But he was surprised at how easily he could see the smoke without the binoculars.
And he was very pleased that it wasn’t a fire. He looked back at the school. No one played outside and he knew lunch was over. The sun shone brightly in spite of the wind.
(The picture at the top with the title is a picture of Bill’s mum who went up later just to see how brave Bill had been.)